The number of class-action lawsuits accusing debt collectors of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by communicating with a third party — a letter vendor — about the existence of a debt when it sent the plaintiff’s personal information to the vendor to be included in and mailed out as a collection letter continues to grow and expand day-by-day. More than a dozen such suits have been filed following the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling in Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services and there are no signs that the deluge is going to stop any time soon.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to sign up for a free webinar on Thursday, April 29 at 1pm ET featuring a panel of consumer attorneys being interviewed by John Bedard about the impact and fallout of the Hunstein ruling. The webinar is sponsored by PDCflow.
Class-action suits have been filed in District Courts within the Eleventh Circuit — Florida, Georgia, and Alabama — but most of the suits so far have been filed in New York and New Jersey.
Among the cases that have been filed are:
- Medeiros v. Midland Credit Management (1:21-cv-21587)
- Berry v. The Law Offices of Mitchell Bluhm & Associates (4:21-cv-00584)
- Everett v. Alpha Recovery Corp. of Colorado and First Portfolio Ventures I, LLC (8:21-cv-00973)
- Kirby v. Law Office of Mitchell D. Bluhm & Associates and CF Medical, LLC (8:21-cv-00978)
- Kaur v. C.Tech Collections (2:21-cv-02128)
- Luisi v. C.Tech Collections (2:21-cv-02138)
- Schultz v. ARStrat, LLC (2:21-cv-02213)
- Rodriguez v. D&A Services, LLC of IL and Bureaus Investment Group Portfolio No 15, LLC (2:21-cv-02249)
- Johnson v. Aargon Collection Agency (2:21-cv-02265)
- Grippi v. The Levinbrook Law Firm (2:21-cv-02264)
- Rodriguez v. FBCS, Inc. (2:21-cv-02248)
- Marchese v. Professional Claims Bureau (2:21-cv-02263)
- Schultz v. Firstsource Advantage and LVNV Funding (2:21-cv-02244)
- Rizzo v. Aargon Collection Agency (2:21-cv-02246)
- Green v. MRS BPO (1:21-cv-10068)
- Silberman v. Portfolio Recovery Associates (7:21-cv-03592)
- Grogan v. Enhanced Recovery Company (8:21-cv-00966)
Most of the cases allege the same fact pattern. At some point, the defendant attempted to contact the plaintiff using written correspondence, but rather than printing and mailing a letter on its own, the defendant engaged the use of a third party mail house and sent the plaintiff’s personal information to the mail house for the letter to be printed, put in an envelope, and mailed, which is an unauthorized third-party disclosure of the existence of a debt and an alleged violation of Section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA. The plaintiffs were harmed, according to some of the complaints, “by being subjected to abusive collection practices, from which he had a substantive right to be free, by having his privacy invaded, and by having his private and protected information shared and disseminated with unauthorized parties.”
Most of the suits seek to include anyone who received a letter from the defendant that was printed and mailed by a third party seeking to collect a debt from a specific creditor.
During a webinar yesterday, a panel of legal experts talked about these suits, and the importance of not making rash or knee-jerk decisions because that will not help the industry get out from under this situation.
“There are going to be some cases that provide good facts and good sets of opportunity for us to correct this in other jurisdictions, and in other cases, it may be just a lot of motions to stay and letting this appellate process work itself out the way we’ve seen it work itself out time and time again,” said Dara Tarkowski of Actuate Law. “So, is it serious? 100%. Is there a reason to panic and stop mailing all your letters, through your vendors? I’d say no.”
Here is a full recording of the webinar, featuring Tim Collins from InDebted, Eric Troutman from Squire Patton Boggs, and Tarkowski, along with guest moderator John Bedard of Bedard Law Group.