In Snyder v. LVNV Funding LLC, et al., the plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit against LVNV Funding LLC (LVNV) and Sequium Asset Solutions, LLC (SAS), alleging a letter from SAS offering a settlement of her debt violated sections 1692e(2)(A) and 1692g(a)(1) of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The court held that the plaintiff could not establish a concrete injury and granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
As background, the plaintiff filed suit after receiving a collection letter from SAS, stating the total due on her debt was $2,017.83 and offering to settle for 65% of the balance. The debt stemmed from a 2014 judgment on a credit card debt for $1,015.20, which included pre-judgment interest of 9% and certain fees and costs. Under New York law, post-judgment interest accrues at 9%.
The plaintiff argued that because interest accrued automatically, SAS’s failure to state whether interest was continuing to accrue created confusion and falsely stated the amount due. She further argued the failure to put an end date on the settlement offer was misleading. According to the plaintiff, she could not make an informed financial decision whether to try to borrow money or to accelerate her search for employment to obtain funding to take advantage of the settlement offer. LVNV and SAS presented evidence that no interest was accruing on the debt while placed with SAS and the settlement offer was still open at the time the plaintiff filed suit.
The court found the plaintiff failed to show any concrete injury. There was no evidence the amount due had changed between the time when the plaintiff received the letter and when she filed suit, so she did not suffer pecuniary harm. The fact that she may have attempted to seek a loan to take advantage of the settlement offer did not prove that she could have received a loan and accepted the settlement offer. She also did not obtain a new job until after she had filed the lawsuit, making the possibility of paying the loan off with her new income also irrelevant. The court found, “[p]laintiff, then, was not faced with an increased payment obligation, but only the risk that in the future Defendants or some other entity would seek more money from her than what she was offered in the Letter. That hypothetical set of circumstances represents only the risk of future harm, and is thus not concrete.”
The court held the plaintiff could not establish concrete harm and had no standing, depriving the court of subject matter jurisdiction and requiring dismissal without prejudice. By footnote the judge added that had she been able to rule on the merits, summary judgment would have been granted and the dismissal would be with prejudice because prior cases had rejected the plaintiff’s argument that not informing the debtor interest was accruing or providing a deadline to accept the settlement offer is misleading or fails to represent the true amount of the debt.
This case adds one more arrow to the quiver for arguing standing in FDCPA cases.