COURT PROVIDES FAVORABLE GUIDANCE | Key Points

  1. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of an FDCPA case filed by Gustav Buchholz (“Buchholz”), a debtor, against Meyer Njus Tanick, PA (“MNT”), a law firm engaged in debt collection activities. Buchholz v. Meyer Njus Tanick, PA, 18-2261, 2020 WL 35431, at *1 (6th Cir. Jan. 3, 2020). Buchholz was behind on payments on two credit cards, so MNT sent two letters which contained information about the past due amounts for each account.” Buchholz did not dispute the veracity of the letters, but the “letters made him feel anxious and fear that MNT would sue him if he did not promptly pay” so he sued MNT.
  2. The Sixth Circuit found Buchholz could not satisfy any of the three elements of standing: (1) injury in fact, (2) traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. The Court rejected Buchholz’s argument that anxiety he allegedly suffered as a result of receiving the two collection letters constituted an injury in fact that could be traced back to MNT’s collection letters. The Court concluded MNT’s conduct was not adequately extreme and outrageous and Buchholz’s anxiety was not adequately severe. The Court also found Buchholz’s failure to pay debts he did not contest as due resulted in self-imposed anxiety which could not be an injury in fact.
  3. In any lawsuit it is imperative standing be analyzed and addressed first – for a plaintiff before bringing suit and for a defendant before answering the complaint. Both Buchholz and Spokeo demonstrate that standing is procedural hurdle that is not easy to overcome and cannot be fixed retroactively. In the context of FDCPA and related claims, a defensive filing based on lack of standing, if applicable, is crucial as it can serve to wean out claims early.

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