United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division
GLEN E. CONRAD SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kena Drew brings this action against defendant Valley Credit
Service, Inc. ("VCS") under the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (the "FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692 et seq. The matter is currently before the court
on defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated below, the
motion will be denied.
April 26, 2017, VCS mailed a letter to Drew informing her
that she owed $465.00 to a creditor for unpaid medical
expenses. Compl. ¶¶ 21, 24, 27, Dkt. No. 1. The
letter stated that "'[t]his debt may or may not
already be in your file with credit reporting agencies.
Regardless VCS, INC. is a data furnisher to credit reporting
agencies and might report this debt to such
agencies.'" Id¶38. Drew did not make any
payments toward the debt at that time. Id. ¶
24, 2017, defendant mailed a second letter to Drew.
Id. ¶ 30. This second letter stated that Drew
owed $175.00 on the debt identified in the April 26 letter
and contained a signed statement by "Natasha L, "
who asserted that she had verified with the creditor that
Drew owed $175.00. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. After
receiving the May 24 letter, Drew called VCS, which informed
her that she owed $465.00, not $175.00. Id.
December 6, 2017, Drew filed a complaint against VCS alleging
three violations of the FDCPA: (1) the use of false,
deceptive, or misleading representations in connection with
the collection of plaintiff s debt, in violation of 15 U.S.C.
§ l692e; (2) the false representation of the character,
amount, or legal status of the plaintiffs debt, in violation
of 15 U.S.C. § l692e(2)(A); and (3) the use of a false
representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to
collect the plaintiffs debt, in violation of 15 U.S.C. §
l692e(l0). Drew alleges that the conflicting amounts of debt
in the letters "left [her] unsure of the true amount of
the Debt." Id. ¶ 37. Additionally, she
claims that the "equivocal and ambiguous statement"
concerning credit reporting agencies "would leave the
least sophisticated consumer-or even a reasonable
consumer--confused and left to guess at whether Defendant
intended to report the Debt to the credit reporting
agencies." Id. ¶38. The complaint states
that "a failure to honor a consumer's right under
the FDCPA constitutes an injury in fact for Article III
standing." Id. ¶5.
January 12, 2017, defendant moved to dismiss this action for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The parties have
submitted the motion on the briefs, and the matter is now
ripe for disposition.
12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a
party to move for dismissal of an action for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff bears the burden of
proving that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Evans v.
B. F..Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999).
Dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is
appropriate "if the material jurisdictional facts are
not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as
a matter of law." Id. (internal quotation marks
III of the United States Constitution limits the jurisdiction
of federal courts to actual cases or controversies. In
ensuring that a matter presents an actual case or
controversy, courts consider whether the plaintiff has
standing to sue. Standing requires that the "plaintiff
must have (1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly
traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3)
that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial
decision." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins. 136 S.Ct.
1540, 1547 (201.6).
establish injury in fact, a plaintiff must show that he or
she suffered an invasion of a legally protected interest that
is concrete and particularized." Dreher v. Experian
Info. Solutions, Inc., 856 F.3d 337, 343 (4th Cir. 2017)
(internal quotation marks omitted). An injury is concrete if
it is de facto or real; however, it need not be tangible.
Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1548-49. In determining whether
an intangible harm qualifies as an injury in fact, courts
consider historical practice and congressional judgment.
Id. at 1549. However, "Congress' role in
identifying and elevating intangible harms does not mean that
a plaintiff automatically satisfies the injury-in-fact
requirement whenever a statute grants a person a statutory
right and purports to authorize that person to sue to
vindicate that right." Id. Thus, a plaintiff
who alleges "a bare procedural violation, divorced from
any concrete harm" cannot establish injury in fact.
a plaintiff may allege that Congress has "elevate[d] to
the status of legally cognizable injuries concrete, de
facto injuries that were previously inadequate in
law." Id. (alterations and internal quotation
marks omitted). Procedural violations also satisfy the
concreteness requirement when such violations create a
"risk of real harm" to the substantive right that
the procedural right is designed to protect. See id.
In these cases, a plaintiff "need not allege any
additional harm beyond the one Congress has
on Spokeo, the defendant argues that the plaintiff
lacks Article III standing because she has alleged only bare
procedural violations of the FDCPA. The plaintiff counters
that she need not allege any harm beyond the harm Congress
recognized in § l692e because a * ...