Hunstein suit dismissed: Court finds no publicity = no harm

Author: Melissa Manning

A New York District Court has dismissed a Hunstein lawsuit for lack of standing, finding that plaintiff’s failure to plead an invasion of privacy was fatal to his claim. For followers of the Hunstein litigation saga, the facts are frustratingly familiar. In Weisz v. Sarma Collections, Inc., plaintiff alleged that defendant debt collector’s alleged disclosure of plaintiff’s personal information to a third-party vendor to send collection letters to plaintiff violated section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA. The relevant provision states, “a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.”

In granting defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the mere disclosure of his private information to a third party is analogous to public disclosure of his private information and presents the same kind of harm as common law invasion of privacy. Notably, plaintiff did not allege that anyone at the letter vendor ever viewed his private information. Moreover, the transmission of plaintiff’s information to a letter vendor does not remotely rise to the level of disclosing plaintiff’s private information to the public at large.

Here’s to hoping common sense gains traction throughout the courts.

Weisz v. Sarma Collections, Inc. (S.D. N.Y. 21-CV-06230 April 20, 2022).