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Plaintiff Takes Several Swings at Establishing Standing, but Ultimately “Struck Out.”

  • Written by Steel Rose

Adams sought a motion to dismiss under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing Cheatham did not suffer a concrete injury as a result of the omission and therefore did not have standing to sue. The court granted Adams’s motion, noting that while Cheatham took “several swings” at establishing standing, he ultimately “struck out.”

The court, relying on Spokeo v. Robins, 578 U.S. 330 (2015) and TransUnion v. Ramirez, 594 U.S.___, 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021), found that although Cheatham could point to a particular violation of the FDCPA, he had not alleged that he was ever exposed to real harm by the Adams’s alleged failure under the statute. The court found that Cheatham had not alleged a concrete injury or “downstream consequences” of Adams’s failure. Thus, Cheatham did not have Article III standing.

The court’s analysis centered on the fact that Cheatham was made aware of all necessary information despite the defendant’s failure, noting that “[b]y the time the alleged violation occurred, Mr. Cheatham had hired an attorney, filed an Answer, and sent discovery requests to Ms. Adams. No matter how favorably one reads his Complaint, his allegations make it impossible to believe that Mr. Cheatham was unaware that Ms. Adams was a debt collector.” The court emphasized that after prevailing in state court, Article III “does not allow [the plaintiff] and his attorney to treat the FDCPA as a green light to take a victory lap in federal court.”

This case provides another example of the concrete injury requirement for claims under the FDCPA. In addition to showing a technical violation of the statute, a plaintiff must show that he has suffered “downstream consequences” for his claim to have standing. To read more click here.