On April 21, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in the case of Hunstein vs. Preferred Collection and Management Services. The Court found that the debt collector’s use of a third-party mail vendor violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This ruling resulted in an increase in lawsuits against debt collectors (third-party agencies) and raised serious compliance concerns for creditors under the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act.
On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order vacating the previous decision. Additionally, the Court issued an order to rehear the case before the full Court panel. The original case was heard before a panel of three judges.
The case was reheard before the full panel of judges for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The court issued their latest opinion on September 9, 2022. The court has reversed the original decision. The court found that the Plaintiff did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because the Plaintiff had not suffered a “real” injury. The court focused on the fact that the Plaintiff had not suffered any harm. It is important to note that the court did not get to the issue of whether the use of third-party mail vendor violated the FDCPA.
The effect of the Court’s action is that the prior opinion of the court is no longer valid and does not have authority over lower courts. The Plaintiff could seek to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, or the Plaintiff could refile the suit in state court in Florida. Florida law provides a different standard for standing that may allow the case and allegations to move forward. We will continue to monitor this matter and will provide updates as this case moves forward.