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Posts published in “FDCPA”

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

FDCPA Decision of the Day: Grant-Hall v. Cavalry Portfolio Services

In this March 6 decision from the U.S. District Court from the Northern District of Illinois, the court enters judgment dismissing a putative class action, holding that an assignment of only the rights to collect and sue on a debt is sufficient for purposes of   §8(b) of the Illinois Collection Agency Act.  Hat tip to Katrina Christakis of Pilgrim Christakis LLP in Chicago.

FDCPA Decision of the Day: Plaintiff’s Attorney Disqualified

Those of us who engage in consumer financial services defense work are often not surprised to see some awfully strange situations on the plaintiff side of the aisle. But it recently got very strange in a case out of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, as you can read below. Hat tip to Manny Newburger of Barron & Newburger, P.C. in Austin, Texas.  

SCOTUS – Unsuccessful Plaintiffs in FDCPA Cases Can Be Liable for Costs Without Showing Bad Faith

In a seven to two opinion released this morning, the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff, who is unsuccessful in a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) 15 U.S.C. 1692, et seq., can be liable for the defendant’s costs even if the lawsuit was not brought in bad faith. The opinion was delivered by Justice Thomas. Justices Sotomayor and Kagan dissented with Justice Sotomayor on the dissenting opinion. Marx concerned whether the FDCPA’s section 1692k(a)(3), which provides for an award of attorneys fees and costs if an FDCPA suit is brought in “bad faith and the the purpose of harassment,” prevents the awarding…

Multiple Calls to Same Party to Obtain Location Information Ruled OK in Some Instances

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a debt collector did not violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) when it made multiple calls to a third party in an effort to locate a debtor. In Worsham v. Accounts Receivable Management, filed yesterday, a debt collector, who was unable to locate a debtor, instead placed 10 telephone calls to the debtor’s brother-in-law, Worsham, in May 2010.  Worsham answered two of the calls and heard an automated message prompting him to press “1” if he was the debtor or “2” if he was not. On one occasion  Worsham pressed “2” and then hung…

Marx v. General Revenue – SCOTUS Oral Argument Transcript

I have today’s transcript from oral argument before the Supreme Court in Marx v. General Revenue. Ms. Marx lost her Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) case against General Revenue. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), which permits the court’s clerk to tax costs to a prevailing party, the trial court taxed her with General Revenue’s defense costs — not attorneys fees, just costs, and limited ones at that. Marx appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and argued she should not have to pay these costs because the FDCPA, at section 1692k(a)(3), only exposes her to costs if she brought the…

Fee Order Admonishes Plaintiff’s Firm for Claiming “Cut & Paste” Work as Original – Slices Fee Request 75%, Warns of Future Sanctions

While the use of form pleadings is not unusual, it becomes dicey when attorneys seek fees from their use of forms as “original work.” But when you use a fee petition that itself is a form pleading and claim it too is “original work,” you are going to draw the ire of several federal district court judges in the Third Circuit. Yesterday, one plaintiff’s firm was front and center for a lesson on the use and abuse of form pleadings, drawing an admonishment from a Federal Judge sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that “it may not continue with…

NJ Ethics Opinion Deems Sending Collection Letters as the Practice of Law

When a law firm uses its letterhead to collect debt for its client, it “cannot disclaim the fact that he or she is engaging in the practice of law when using law firm letterhead,” states a recent joint opinion by the New Jersey Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics. 1 Rejects Lawyers’ Use of Greco Disclaimers The Opinion directly contradicts the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Greco v. Trauner, Cohen & Thomas, LLP.2 In Greco, the court explained that: attorneys can participate in debt collection in any number of ways,…

FTC Suggests Use of Confusing Language in Debt Collection Letters

Prelude: In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission released a study entitled “Repairing A Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration.” What follows is part two of a report on their latest repair efforts. In a February blog post, I explored the Federal Trade Commission’s press release equating a potential defense (the expiration of a limitations period) with a legal right. I’m headed back to that same press release to consider another questionable call from the FTC’s efforts to “repair a broken system.” So today, here is Chapter Two: “How to Confuse People Into Believing You Are Furnishing Negative Credit Information Concerning Them.”…

Section 1692g Written Dispute that also Contains a Cease and Desist Does Not Prohibit a Debt Collector From Sending Verification

Sending verification in response to a consumer’s written demand for verification under 15 U.S.C. § 1692g, which also contains a cease and desist demand, does not violate § 1692c under a holding from the Western District of New York in Marino v. HoganWillig, PLLC, 11-cv-453 (W.D. NY April 24, 2012). The Court refused to read § 1692c(c) to prohibit sending a consumer § 1692g(b) validation because it would place a debt collector “into a frozen state where it could not seek to collect the debt because compliance with Section 1692g(b) would violate Section 1692c(c).” The court cited the unpublished opinion in Recker…

The Folly of the FTC’s Take on Statutes of Limitation

The Federal Trade Commission had an epiphany last week – debt collectors must disclose in their communications that a debt subject to a statute of limitations defense creates a “legal right” which prevents a creditor from filing a lawsuit. Read it here: FTC Press Release, 1/30/12. It only took the federal agency 33 years of enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. § 1692) (the “FDCPA”) to come to this conclusion. Quite a milestone and quite a reflection of our times. Although I haven’t been working on FDCPA issues quite as long as my colleagues in Washington, I’ve…

Third Circuit Holds §1692g(a) Claim must be Brought Within One Year of First Communication

A claim that a debt collector violated §1692g(a) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) must be filed within one-year of the first communication, the Third Circuit recently held in Peterson v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, Case Nos: 10-2824 & 10-4013, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 11453 (3d Cir. June 6, 2011). In this decision, the first by a circuit court on the issue, the court specifically rejects the notion that subsequent communications by a debt collector can constitute separate and discreet violations of §1692g(a). Section §1692g(a) provides that a debt collector must provide a consumer with certain written disclosures…

Collecting Time Barred Debt is not a Per Se Violation of the FDCPA Third Circuit Holds

A debt collector who attempted to collect a debt barred by a New Jersey statute of limitation did not violate the FDCPA by simply demanding payment of the debt, as held by the Third Circuit’s decision in Huertas v. Galaxy Asset Management. The court noted that New Jersey’s statute of limitation was procedural and did not extinguish the debt only the means by which it can be enforced.  Thus, the court wrote, “the FDCPA permits a debt collector to seek voluntary repayment of the time-barred debt so long as the debt collector does not initiate or threaten legal action in…