As much as I like to brag, I have to be brief because I’m a very busy czar these days.
Here’s the news: I was right all along. hunstein is dead, and for the very reasons I foretold.
Harm caused by non-public disclosure of information to a debt collector‘s mail seller — to the extent there is any — is simply not actionable. The hunting the court’s effort to equate it with the tort of public disclosure of a private fact simply does not work in this context. There is simply no harm to a debtor when basic information is provided to a seller for the sterile purpose of sending notices and payment requests.
As I wrote in May of last year:
Yes, public disclosure of private facts has long been prohibited by privacy law. But private disclosures of private facts are not, unless the facts are false. In addition, public disclosures must be “highly offensive.” In Hunstein, the applicant’s data was only shared with an email provider and for one purpose: to send them email. There was therefore no public disclosure of private facts and the private facts disclosed were accurate. Further, the disclosure was made to an interested party to facilitate a lawful activity. There is no corollary common law protection for this type of “disclosure” and no real-world harm has resulted.
The in bench Today’s decision by the Consolidated Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit echoes that decision: Hunstein does his best to push a nonpublic transfer of information into a tort aimed at public disclosure, but it just doesn’t add up.
Following today’s decision – which you can read here Hunstein En Banc –hunstein is officially dead, and collectors can resume the practice of providing information regarding a debt to sellers who provide mail and other contact efforts.
Sorry again for being a bit short with the analysis. But I have to get back to it. Always there to chat!
© 2022 Troutman CompanyNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 251