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7th Circuit rules on debtor issues

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision today addressing issues that have frequently arisen under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which have caused some splits at the Circuit level. In its opinion, the court combined two cases from Indiana and two from Illinois that dealt with similar issues.

The four cases in the opinion include Tammy A. Evory, et al. v. RJM Acquisitions Funding LLC, et al., 06-2130 to 2132, 06-2134, and 06-2157, and Kevin I. Captain v. ARS National Services, Inc., 06-3129 from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge David Hamilton presided over both cases. The Illinois cases are Kelly and Karla Lauer v. Mason, Silver, Wenk & Mishkin, LLC, et al., 06-2271 and Philip Jackson, et al. v. National Action Financial Services Inc., et al., 06-3162, 06-3327-06-3439, and 06-3446.

In the opinion authored by Circuit Judge Richard Posner, the court determined there are three overlapping groups of issues to be addressed: the application of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, to lawyers; the proper treatment under the act of settlement offers; and the role of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure12(c) in deciding claims of violations of section 1692e.

The 7th Circuit concluded that any written notice sent to the attorney of a consumer being contacted by a debt collector must contain the same information required by the act that would be sent to the consumer directly. It would be odd if a consumer with an attorney would be excused from receiving information to which he or she is entitled under the statute, wrote Judge Posner.

In the opinion, the judges decided that a representation by a debt collector that would not deceive a competent attorney, even if he or she is not a specialist in consumer debt law, would not be actionable under the act; however misleading or misrepresentation toward an attorney with information a lawyer may not be able to determine, such as the balance of the consumer's debt, would be actionable.

In terms of proper treatment under the act of settlement offers, the 7th Circuit wrote the settlement offers should include language such as "We are not obligated to renew this offer," so even unsophisticated consumers can understand that the debt collector may or may not present a similar offer again. Consumers often interpret offers such as "act now and receive 30 percent off ... if you pay by March 31st" or "we would like to offer you a unique opportunity to satisfy your outstanding debt" as one-time only offers and may not have any further opportunity to settle their debt for less than the full amount if they do not take the offer at that time. By using terms such as "not obligated," the debt collector can let the consumer know the company may or may not extend this offer again.

The 7th Circuit reversed and remanded Evory, Captain, and Lauer for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. In Captain, the 7th Circuit ruled that the District Court erred in dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim because settlement-offer charges are lawful under the act and the challenge to the lawfulness of the $15 a day representation was made to a lawyer.

In Evory, which is a pure settlement-offer case with no communication with attorneys, the 7th Circuit ruled the dismissal of the complaint was an error.

In Lauer, the 7th Circuit ruled the District Court's dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint on grounds that the communications with a consumer's attorney are beyond the reach of the act was an error.

The court affirmed Jackson.

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  1. Im very happy for you, getting ready to go down that dirt road myself, and im praying for the same outcome, because it IS sometimes in the childs best interest to have visitation with grandparents. Thanks for sharing, needed to hear some positive posts for once.

  2. Been there 4 months with 1 paycheck what can i do

  3. our hoa has not communicated any thing that takes place in their "executive meetings" not executive session. They make decisions in these meetings, do not have an agenda, do not notify association memebers and do not keep general meetings minutes. They do not communicate info of any kind to the member, except annual meeting, nobody attends or votes because they think the board is self serving. They keep a deposit fee from club house rental for inspection after someone uses it, there is no inspection I know becausee I rented it, they did not disclose to members that board memebers would be keeping this money, I know it is only 10 dollars but still it is not their money, they hire from within the board for paid positions, no advertising and no request for bids from anyone else, I atteended last annual meeting, went into executive session to elect officers in that session the president brought up the motion to give the secretary a raise of course they all agreed they hired her in, then the minutes stated that a diffeerent board member motioned to give this raise. This board is very clickish and has done things anyway they pleased for over 5 years, what recourse to members have to make changes in the boards conduct

  4. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  5. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

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