The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has scheduled the oral argument for the rehearing en banc in Hunstein vs. Preferred Collection & Management Services, Inc. for February 22, 2022 (en banc means the full panel of 11th Circuit Judges will hear the matter). The order setting oral argument follows the November 23, 2021 Order in which the Court instructed counsel to focus their briefs on one issue: Does Mr. Hunstein have Article III standing to bring this lawsuit?
A Brief History:
In 2019, the Middle District of Florida dismissed Mr. Hunstein's case for the failure to state a claim. On Appeal, the Eleventh Circuit held that transmitting data to a mail vendor is an unauthorized third-party disclosure. In May 2021, the debt collector defendant, Preferred Collection & Management Services, Inc (Preferred), filed a petition for rehearing en banc. In late May and June 2021, parties with an interest in the outcome, including the Consumer Relations Consortium, filed amicus briefs to ensure all the legal issues surrounding the case were presented to the Eleventh Circuit.
Later in June 2021, the Supreme Court issued its order in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190, 2204 (2021), which held "no concrete harm, no standing". Preferred immediately filed a notice of supplemental authority arguing that the Transunion opinion supported Preferred's request for rehearing en banc. In October 2021, the three-judge panel which issued the April 2021 Hunstein opinion issued a substitute opinion to take the place of its original opinion.
Although the substitute opinion reached the same result, one of the three judges broke from the other two and included a scathing dissent. On November 17, 2021 the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals sua sponte vacated its opinion in Hunstein and set the matter for rehearing en banc (sua sponte means on its own, without prompting).
This case seems to have touched just about every aspect of the ARM industry. It's has provided a boon to consumer attorneys, while offering no real additional protection for consumers. Whether a ruling on the standing issue will change any of the issues remains to be seen. At the very least, the case is moving along and maybe that means there is some relief on the horizon... or maybe not. We'll continue to provide updates as we have them.