In Church v. Accretive Health, Inc., here, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that collection on a debt that was not in default at the time of the assignment does not trigger the FDCPA.
Thus, if the debt at issue was not in default at the time it was obtained by a third party agency, the agency’s efforts to collect that debt are not governed by the FDCPA, and the FDCPA-mandated disclosures would not be required. Unfortunately, the Act does not define the term “default.” Accretive Health argued below that Church’s debt was not in default at the time it obtained the debt from the Hospital, and thus, the FDCPA does not govern the letter sent to Church. The district court agreed and granted Accretive Health’s motion for summary judgment. Church challenges the district court’s determination that the debt was not in default and invites the Court to hold that a debt can be in default before a debtor is ever asked to pay a balance. We decline such invitation. . . .Satisfied this case is properly before the Court, we now turn to the merits of the appeal. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable law, we affirm and adopt the district court’s well-reasoned opinion granting summary judgment in favor of Accretive Health, filed November 24, 2015. The debt at issue was not in default at the time Accretive Health obtained the debt, and thus, the FDCPA does not govern Accretive Health’s letter to Church.
The above-quote is out-of-sequence because the Court of Appeals took the opportunity to launch on whether an FDCPA letter case with no actual damages conferred standing under Spokeo — which, apparently, it does:
Just as the tester-plaintiff had alleged injury to her statutorily-created right to truthful housing information, so too has Church alleged injury to her statutorily-created right to information pursuant to the FDCPA.Thus, through the FDCPA, Congress has created a new right—the right to receive the required disclosures in communications governed by the FDCPA—and a new injury—not receiving such disclosures. It is undisputed that the letter Accretive Health sent to Church did not contain all of the FDCPA’s required disclosures. Church has alleged that the FDCPA governs the letter at issue, and thus, alleges she had a right to receive the FDCPA-required disclosures. Thus, Church has sufficiently alleged that she has sustained a concrete—i.e., “real”—injury because she did not receive the allegedly required disclosures. The invasion of Church’s right to receive the disclosures is not hypothetical or uncertain; Church did not receive information to which shealleges she was entitled. While this injury may not have resulted in tangible economic or physical harm that courts often expect, the Supreme Court has made clear an injury need not be tangible to be concrete. See Spokeo, Inc., 578 U.S. at ___, 136 S. Ct. at 1549; Havens Realty Corp., 455 U.S. at 373. Rather, this injury is one that Congress has elevated to the status of a legally cognizable injury through the FDCPA. Accordingly, Church has sufficiently alleged that she suffered a concrete injury, and thus, satisfies the injury-in-fact requirement.