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A district court out of Missouri has served up a reminder as to the limitations of a motion to dismiss based upon subject matter jurisdiction. In May v. Consumer Adjustment Co.,the consumer filed an FDCPA complaint is state court alleging that the initial demand letter violated 15 U.S.C. §1692g. May v. Consumer Adjustment Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7401 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 19, 2017). Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that defendants had failed to disclose the amount they sought to collect included accruing interest. The plaintiff, however, failed to allege that she incurred any actual harm as a result. Instead, Ms. May alleged only a statutory violation. The debt collector removed the case to federal court and then proceeded to file a motion to dismiss asserting that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff had failed to allege a concrete injury.
In reviewing the substance of the complaint, the court agreed with the debt collector that Ms. May had failed to show a concrete injury. While the court acknowledged that violations of the FDCPA disclosure requirements might result in concrete injuries, the plaintiff had pled none in this matter. “[H]er only alleged injury is that Defendants failed to include in the collection letter that interest was continuing to accrue. Such a bare procedural violation does not constitute an intangible harm that satisfies the injury-in-fact requirement.” Id. at *12.
Had that been the end of the story, it would have been good news: case dismissed. In fact, had the case been originally filed in federal court that would have been the end of the story and the case would have been dismissed. However, because the case had been removed from state court based upon the federal court’s jurisdiction, the court (now divested of subject matter jurisdiction) had no alternative but to remand the matter to state court.
The case brings home a couple of key points about the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo v. Robins:
Caren Enloe is a partner who concentrates her practice in consumer financial services litigation and compliance, bankruptcy, and commercial litigation with an emphasis on creditor’s rights. She has a deep understanding of the complex compliance environment surrounding the financial services industry and regularly advises financial service companies on licensing and compliance issues involving state and federal consumer protection and finance statutes. Caren is the author of a daily blog titled: Consumer Financial Services Litigation and Compliance where she posts timely and informative updates regarding the CFPB, FTC, and a host of topical litigation issues involving consumer protection law....LEARN MORE