A District Court judge in Michigan has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling the third-party disclosure provision of the law was not violated when the defendant hired a process server to serve the plaintiff with a summons and complaint in a separate collection lawsuit.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Usevicz v. Weltman, Weinberg & Reis can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff was allegedly served with a summons and complaint in front of her neighbors during a barbecue on July 4, 2022 (even though she later claimed to be homebound and was unable to leave her home to have an affidavit notarized). The plaintiff also claimed in her first complaint that the defendant had improper communications with the plaintiff — she was represented by counsel when the summons and complaint were served — but appeared to abandon that claim in an amended complaint that was filed.
The plaintiff’s argument is that process servers are specifically referred to in the FDCPA as not being debt collectors, which means they are regular people and are not allowed to have information about someone else’s debt disclosed to them, lest the disclosure be a violation of the statute.
The defendant countered that the service of a summons and complaint is covered in the FDCPA, under an exception in Section 1692c(b) for communications made with the “express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction.”
The plaintiff countered that any documents should have been served in a sealed envelope, to keep the process server from seeing them. But there is nothing in Michigan’s laws that require such a step to be made, noted Judge Sean F. Cox of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“… the FDCPA’s definition of ‘“’debt collector’”’ excludes from liability ‘“’any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process on any other person in connection with the judicial enforcement of any debt,’ ” Judge Cox wrote.