In Bassett v. Credit Bureau Servs., Inc., Nos. 21-2864, 22-1206, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 4428, at *7 (8th Cir. Feb. 24, 2023), the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment for the class, finding that the Plaintiff had no Art. III Standing. The procedural background was as follows:
The collectors sent Bassett (and her deceased husband) a letter demanding payment for medical bills. The letter listed amounts owed without distinguishing interest from principal. The letter said, “Interest and other charges may accrue daily.” The amounts included interest on Bassett’s debts for which assessing interest was disputed and legally uncertain. Tighe drafted the template for the letter (which the collectors used at least 9,796 times). Bassett brought a class action against the collectors, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 (“FDCPA”), and the Nebraska Consumer Practices Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 59-1601 (“NCPA”). The collectors moved for summary judgment, alleging Bassett lacked Article III standing. The district court denied the motion. A jury returned a verdict for the collectors on all counts except the NCPA claim, which was not tried before a jury. After trial, the district court ruled it had provided inaccurate instructions to the jury and, sua sponte, entered judgment as a matter of law for Bassett on the NCPA and FDCPA claims. The district court specifically ruled that the NCPA does not authorize collection of prejudgment interest without a judgment. The collectors appeal[ed].
The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Plaintiff lacked standing.
Bassett alleges that the collectors violated the FDCPA and NCPA with the contents of their letter, which gives her standing. But the Court has rejected this proposition. See TransUnion, 141 S. Ct. at 2205, quoting Spokeo, 578 U.S. at 341. . . .Bassett received a letter. Without more—without a concrete injury in fact—Bassett is “not seeking to remedy any harm to herself but instead is merely seeking to ensure a defendant’s compliance with regulatory law (and, of course, [*10] to obtain some money via the statutory damages).” Id. (citation omitted). This conclusion comports with other circuit courts. See, e.g., Pierre v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 29 F.4th 934, 939 (7th Cir. 2022) (dismissing for lack of standing a similar FDCPA claim by a plaintiff in receipt of a debt-collection letter because “critically, [plaintiff] didn’t make a payment, promise to do so, or other-wise act to her detriment in response to anything in or omitted from the letter”); Smith v. GC Servs. L.P., 986 F.3d 708, 710 (7th Cir. 2021) (“[Plaintiff], who says that she was confused by the letter she received, does not contend that the letter’s supposed lack of clarity led her to take any detrimental step, such as paying money she did not owe. She therefore needs some other way to show injury.”); Brunett v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc., 982 F.3d 1067, 1069 (7th Cir. 2020) (dismissing FDCPA claims for lack of standing where a plaintiff received a misleading debt-collection letter but did not rely on it to her detriment); Shields v. Professional Bureau of Collections of Md., Inc., 55 F.4th 823, 830 (10th Cir. 2022) (dismissing FDCPA claims for lack of standing because plaintiff “never alleged the letters caused her to do anything”); Trichell v. Midland Credit Mgmt., 964 F.3d 990, 994 (11th Cir. 2020) (holding that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring FDCPA claims that debt-collection letters were misleading when “neither of [the plaintiffs] claims to have been misled”); Frank v. Autovest, LLC, 961 F.3d 1185, 1188 (D.C. Cir. 2020) (holding that plaintiff did not suffer “a concrete personal injury traceable to the false representations” because she “testified unequivocally that she neither took nor failed to take any action because of these statements”). Because Bassett did not suffer a concrete injury in fact as a result of the alleged statutory violations, she lacks Article III standing. The judgment is vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.