Looking at Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s FDCPA, TCPA Rulings

President Trump on Saturday nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. Judge Barrett has been sitting on the bench for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since 2017. With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments in a number of cases that could impact the direction of the credit and collection industry, many are wondering what impact the nomination — and likely confirmation of Judge Barrett — will have on the Court’s direction. AccountsRecovery.net went into its database of rulings and found a number of Seventh Circuit cases in which Judge Barrett was involved. Here is a summary of those cases:

March 21, 2018: Walton v. EOS CCA

The Court upheld a lower court decision which granted summary judgment in favor of a debt buyer who inadvertently transposed numbers in an individual’s account number when sending a collection letter and subsequently reporting the unpaid debt to two credit bureaus. Judge Barrett wrote the ruling, in which she said, “It would be both burdensome and significantly beyond the [Fair Debt Collection Practices] Act’s purpose to interpret § 1692g(b) as requiring a debt collector to undertake an investigation into whether the creditor is actually entitled to the money it seeks. Section 1692g(b) serves as a check on the debt-collection agency, not the creditor. We thus join other circuits in holding that the statute requires ‘nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed.’ “

A copy of the ruling can be accessed here.

June 4, 2019: Casillas v. Madison Avenue Associates

The Court ruled that the oversight of not mentioning in a collection letter that disputing a debt had to be made in writing does not rise to the level of suffering an injury under the FDCPA and affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit against a collection agency. Judge Barrett wrote the ruling in this case, too, saying, “The bottom line of our opinion can
be succinctly stated: no harm, no foul.”

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

April 29, 2019: Abdollahzadeh v. Mandarich Law Group

The Court upheld a lower court’s summary judgment in favor of a defendant that was sued for allegedly violating the FDCPA by improperly attempting to collect on a time-barred debt because the defendant properly applied the FDCPA’s bona fide error defense.

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

May 15, 2019: Paz v. Portfolio Recovery Associates

The Court affirmed a lower court’s decision that, when given multiple “meaningful” offers to settle a lawsuit, plaintiffs and their attorneys should accept it, lest they lose the big payday they were hoping for.

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

December 30, 2019: Dennis v. Niagara Credit Solutions

The Court upheld a lower court’s ruling in a “meritless” case against a collection agency that was sued for allegedly violating the FDCPA by mentioning the original and current creditor in a collection letter.

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

January 21, 2020: Preston v. Midland Credit Management

The Court partially overturned a lower court’s dismissal of a suit in which a collector was accused of violating the FDCPA by including the statement “Time Sensitive Document” on the envelope.

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

January 21, 2020: Steffek v. Client Services

The Court reversed a lower court’s summary judgment award in favor of a defendant and instead remanded the case back for summary judgment in favor of a plaintiff who sued a collection agency for allegedly violating the FDCPA by not correctly identifying the current creditor to whom the debt was owed in a collection letter.

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

February 29, 2020: Gadelhak v. AT&T Services

Joining a growing number of other Appeals Courts lining up against the Ninth Circuit, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s ruling that technology that does not have the capacity to generate random or sequential numbers does not meet the definition of an automated telephone dialing system under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In this important TCPA case, Judge Barrett wrote the ruling, saying, “The wording of the provision that we interpret today is enough to make a grammarian throw down her pen … Finally, it is worth noting the far‐reaching consequences of Gadelhak’s ungrammatical interpretation: it would create liability for every text message sent from an iPhone. That is a sweeping restriction on private consumer conduct that is inconsistent with the statute’s narrower focus.”

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

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