Two recent district court decisions from Illinois and Kansas held plaintiffs’ Hunstein claims could not proceed in federal court because the claims, as alleged, failed to demonstrate an injury-in-fact sufficient for Article III jurisdiction. 
The cases are especially noteworthy for the courts’ skepticism toward (but without ruling on) the actual merits of the claim. The Illinois decision also creates a split within the Chicago federal district.
In Quaglia v. SN Servicing Corp., et al., No. 1:21-cv-03252 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 12, 2021), Judge Charles Kocoras parted with the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Hunstein, and 3 prior decisions within the Northern District of Illinois, that each found an alleged violation of § 1692c(b) for use of a letter vendor raised core privacy concerns for Article III standing. Judge Kocoras found more compelling the analysis set forth in In re FDCPA Mailing Vendor Cases, 2021 WL 3160794 (E.D.N.Y. July 23, 2021), explaining that communicating a debt to a letter vendor is not the type of disclosure that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. 
Judge Kocoras further noted Hunstein preceded the Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021), which clarified the standard for privacy-based injuries and cast doubt on the theory that “disclosures to printing vendors [are] actionable publications.” While only a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, the court made clear what it thought of plaintiff’s claim:
  • [It is] difficult to imagine Congress intended for the FDCPA to extend so far as to prevent debt collectors from enlisting the assistance of mailing vendors to perform ministerial duties, such as printing and stuffing the debt collectors’ letters, in effectuating the task entrusted to them by the creditors—especially when so much of the process is presumably automated in this day and age. 
Just days later, Judge Holly Teeter in the District of Kansas similarly found it lacked jurisdiction to hear a complaint that included a Hunstein claim among other allegations. In Shields v. Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc., No. 2:20-cv-02205-HLT-GEB, 2021 WL 4806383 (D. Kan. Oct. 14, 2021), the court dismissed all claims, finding with respect to the Hunstein claim that the disclosure of the debt to a letter vendor would not be highly offensive and, further, that “publication requires evidence that the document was actually read and not merely processed.”
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