In March, a district court in the Eastern District of California followed other courts holding that an undated, model form debt validation notice does not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Specifically, the court found that the plaintiff’s barebones allegations about purported financial, reputational, and emotional harm did not confer Article III standing.

In Manzanarez v. Madera Collection Services, the plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit after receiving an undated debt validation letter. The plaintiff claimed that because the letter was undated he was misled, the missing date made the letter seem “illegitimate,” and was “out of character for a legitimate debt collection.” The plaintiff claimed that the date’s exclusion equated to withholding a material term, which confused him, and also complained the letter did not advise him about the potential impact of interest. He claimed he suffered an “informational injury,” which affected his ability to pay the debt. In response, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss.

The district court sua sponte took up the question of Article III standing. The court found that in 2021 the Supreme Court clarified that Article III standing requires a concrete injury, i.e. “either a ‘physical or monetary injury to the plaintiff,’ or alternatively, if intangible, that it bears ‘a close relationship to harms traditionally recognized as providing a basis for lawsuits in American courts.'” Under that clarification and further guidance from three New York federal court cases, the district court found no Article III injury based on “alleged emotional, financial, and reputational injuries, including their allegations of stress, anxiety, and confusion over receiving an undated collection letter.” The district court similarly discounted the plaintiff’s conclusory allegations of standing simply because the FDCPA gave him the right “not to be misled or treated unfairly.”

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction but granted the plaintiff one last chance to amend to adequately plead a concrete and particularized injury.