United States District Court, D. Minnesota
CHRISTOPHER M. BARTL, Plaintiff, 
ENHANCED RECOVERY COMPANY, LLC, Defendant.
N. Ericksen United States District Judge
Christopher M. Bartl brought claims against Defendant
Enhanced Recovery Company, LLC (“ERC”) for
unlawful debt collection activities in violation of the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Bartl
primarily claims that ERC violated 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b)
when ERC continued to collect a debt, without verifying the
debt, after Bartl disputed the debt by letter. ERC moved to
dismiss on the theory that Bartl lacks standing to bring this
action for want of a concrete injury in fact. (See
Dkt. No. 46.) Bartl moved for summary judgment. (See
Dkt. No. 49.) For the reasons that follow, the Court denies
ERC's motion to dismiss and grants summary judgment in
Bartl's favor on the § 1692g(b) claim.
had a personal phone account with Sprint. (See
Deposition of Christopher M. Bartl (“Bartl Dep.”)
21:7-22:17, Dkt. No. 41-1.) Sprint engaged ERC to collect a
$1, 024.88 balance on the account (the “Sprint
debt”). (See Dkt. No. 41-1 at 34.) ERC, in a
collection notice dated March 18, 2015, informed Bartl that
Sprint placed the account with ERC for collection. (See
to receiving ERC's collection notice, Bartl was in the
process of improving his credit. (See Bartl Dep.
45:7-46:22.) He engaged a third party to help him achieve
this goal. (See Id. at 46:11-22.) After Bartl
received the collection notice from ERC, the third party sent
a dispute letter to ERC on Bartl's behalf. (See
Id. at 25:3-5, 68:2-11; Dkt. No. 41-1 at 36.) ERC
received the letter and recorded it in its system as a
dispute letter on April 15, 2015. (Deposition of James Davis
(“Davis Dep.”) 37:6-9, Dkt. No. 37-2; Dkt. No.
42-3 at 2.)
receiving the dispute letter and treating it as such, ERC did
not investigate or verify the debt. (See Davis Dep.
45:22-46:1, 52:22-24.) ERC reported the debt to credit
agencies Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax on May 3, 2015.
(See Id. at 52:22-24; Dkt. No. 42-3 at 2.) These
agencies added the debt to Bartl's credit reports.
(See, e.g., Dkt. No. 41-1 at 41.) Due to ERC's
reporting, Bartl suffered irritation and anxiety; he worried
about his ability to obtain a mortgage to purchase a home.
(See Bartl Dep. 70:14-73:1, 74:21-77:23.) The
reporting also delayed Bartl's process of obtaining a
mortgage, (see Id. at 51:19-53:1), and negatively
affected his credit score, (see Dkt. No. 41-1 at 49,
52-53, 56-57, 60). ERC later reported the debt deleted on
July 19, 2015. (Davis Dep. 52:25-53:2; Dkt. No. 42-3 at 2.)
claims that ERC violated the FDCPA when it reported the
Sprint debt without verifying the debt (under 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692g(b)), failed to inform Equifax that Bartl
disputed the Sprint debt when ERC nevertheless unlawfully
reported the debt (under 15 U.S.C. § 1692e and §
1692e(8)), and used unfair and unconscionable means to
collect or attempt to collect the Sprint debt (under 15
U.S.C. § 1692f). (See Am. Compl. ¶¶
17-20, 57-60, Dkt. No. 8.)
filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), asserting that
Bartl lacks standing to bring this action. (See Dkt.
No. 46.) One day later, Bartl filed a motion for summary
judgment on all claims. (See Dkt. No. 49.) The Court
heard argument from the Parties on both motions,
(see Dkt. No. 57), and addresses both motions
Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) for Lack of
makes a factual challenge to the Court's subject-matter
jurisdiction and argues that Bartl lacks standing to pursue
this action. (Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Its
Motion to Dismiss (“Def. Dismiss Br.”) 5, Dkt.
No. 48.) In a factual challenge, the Court evaluates
subject-matter jurisdiction by considering matters outside
the pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits. Branson
Label, Inc. v. City of Branson, 793 F.3d 910, 915 (8th
Cir. 2015). The Court does not accept the facts alleged in
the complaint as true, and the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. at
order for the Court to exercise its judicial power, Bartl (as
plaintiff) must establish the “irreducible
constitutional minimum” of standing, which is shown if
he “(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly
traceable to the challenged conduct of [ERC], and (3) that is
likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial
decision.” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct.
1540, 1547 (2016) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)). ERC primarily
argues that Bartl lacks an injury in fact. (See Def.
Dismiss Br. 9-19; Defendant's Reply Memorandum in Support
of Its Motion to Dismiss (“Def. Dismiss Reply
Br.”) 3-5, Dkt. No. 56.) To show injury in fact, Bartl
must have suffered “an invasion of a legally protected
interest that is concrete and particularized.”
Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1548. (internal quotation marks
omitted). Such an injury must be “actual or imminent,
not conjectural or hypothetical.” Id.
to ERC's reporting, Bartl had other disputed debts on his
credit report. (See, e.g., Bartl Dep. 58:9-59:10,
62:2-17, 63:2-64:9.) He previously applied for a mortgage as
early as late 2014, but was told that he did not qualify for
a mortgage at that time. (Id. at 45:7-46:6.) Bartl
sought help improving his credit score and decided to dispute
certain debts. (See Id. at 46:11-22, 51:10-18.)
ERC's reporting occurred during these efforts. (See
Id. at 51:19-52:1.) Bartl was told he had to wait to
apply for a mortgage after ERC reported the Sprint debt
because it would be more difficult for him to get approved
with the disputed Sprint debt on his credit report. (See
Id. at 52:2-21.) This caused Bartl to suffer emotional
distress in the form of frustration, anxiety, and irritation.
(See Id. at 70:14-73:1.) He further suffered a
“meltdown” that included “crying, shaking,
[and] convulsing” due to the pressure caused by
ERC's credit reporting and his concerns that he would not
close on a home. (Id. at 74:21-77:23.)
emotional distress Bartl suffered constitutes concrete and
particularized injury in fact sufficient to meet the
“irreducible constitutional minimum” of standing.
See Krottner v. Starbucks Corp., 628 F.3d 1139, 1142
(9th Cir. 2010) (holding that “generalized anxiety and
stress” was sufficient to confer standing);
Potocnik v. Carlson, No. 13-CV-2093 (PJS/HB), 2016
WL 3919950, at *3 (D. Minn. July 15, 2016) (“There is
no doubt that emotional distress is an injury in fact . . .
.”); Davis v. Astrue, 874 F.Supp.2d 856, 863
(N.D. Cal. 2012) (“[M]any courts have found that
emotional distress may constitute an injury-in-fact for
purposes of standing.”); cf. Czyzewski v. Jevic
Holding Corp., 137 S.Ct. 973, 983 (2017) (stating that,
“[f]or standing purposes, a loss of even a small amount
of money is ordinarily an ‘injury'”). This
injury is fairly traceable to ERC's conduct because it
resulted from that conduct. See Braden v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 592 (8th Cir. 2009). And the
injury is redressable under the FDCPA. See Edeh v.
Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 748 F.Supp.2d 1030, 1041 (D.
Minn. 2010) (“A consumer who has suffered emotional
distress has suffered [actionable damage under the FDCPA]
even if the emotional distress was not severe.”),
aff'd, 413 F. App'x 925 (8th Cir. 2011)
(unpublished). Therefore, Bartl has standing.