Financial institutions, debt collectors, debt collection law firms, and consumer-facing businesses should take note that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the prior panel’s decision and has ruled that merely providing a consumer’s information to a mail vendor to send a debt collection letter did not violate the FDCPA since it is not a public disclosure and, therefore, the consumer did not suffer concrete harm sufficient to confer Article III standing. The Eleventh Circuit En Banc Panel’s decision should result in the dismissal of other pending FDCPA actions based on this mailing vendor theory and reduce future actions. Further, the decision has broader implications beyond FDCPA cases, as it outlines the Eleventh Circuit’s overall approach in evaluating whether a plaintiff has sufficiently alleged concrete harm.
In Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc., 2022 WL 4102824 (11th Cir. Sept. 8, 2022), the Eleventh Circuit’s En Banc Panel reversed the prior panel’s decision and held “no concrete harm, no standing,” citing the United States Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021). As such, the Eleventh Circuit held that the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (“District Court”) lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate plaintiff’s claim, vacated the District Court’s Order, and remanded with instructions to dismiss the case without prejudice.
Summary of Facts and Background
After Richard Hunstein (“Plaintiff”) failed to timely pay a medical bill, the hospital transferred the debt to Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc. (“Defendant”), a debt collection agency. Defendant sent Hunstein a debt collection letter through a commercial mail vendor. In preparation for mailing the letter, Defendant provided the mail vendor with certain information, including Hunstein’s name, his son’s name, and the amount of the debt.
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