FDCPA Standing: Seventh Circuit District Court Affirms That “Annoyance and Confusion” Without Detrimental Action is Insufficient to Establish an Injury in Fact

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In O’Toole v. Bob Roache Law, a Seventh Circuit District Court in Indiana granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case for lack of standing. In its holding, the court emphasized that allegations of “annoyance or confusion” without allegations of detrimental action taken as a result of the alleged annoyance or confusion, is insufficient to establish an injury in fact necessary to confer standing to an FDCPA plaintiff.

In that case, the plaintiffs incurred a debt with Smokey Ridge Homeowners Association, Inc., and the defendant sent the plaintiffs a collection letter to collect on the debt. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant’s letter provided “confusing and conflicting information” regarding their rights under the FDCPA and, consequently, that “‘[the] [Plaintiffs’] rights under [the FDCPA] [had] been violated and the Plaintiffs ha[d] been damage[d] thereby.’”

Consistent with recent Seventh Circuit precedent, including Gunn v. Thrasher, Buschmann & Voelkel P.C. and Brunett v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc., the court emphasized that allegations of “annoyance or confusion” without evidence that a plaintiff acted to his/her detriment based on the confusion, is insufficient to evidence an injury in fact for standing. Here, as the plaintiffs failed to allege that they took detrimental action based on their confusion, the court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

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