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Judge grants attorney summary judgment in collections suit

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A federal judge ruled in favor of an Indianapolis attorney involved in a class-action suit alleging he violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The judge granted summary judgment to the attorney after finding the class representative fell outside the class definition.

Mark R. Rayl sued Merrill Scooter Moores in May 2009 alleging Moores’ form of initial debt collection communication violated the FDCPA. Moore had been hired to collect past-due homeowner's association fees. The notice of claims filed with the small claims court in each action and served upon the homeowners listed a number to call to reach Moores. Depending on when it was called, it went to one of two voicemail messages regarding the actions. The messages said Moores would only discuss the homeowner’s case at their court date.  

Class certification of the suit was denied in February but was later granted by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana’s Indianapolis Division in June. The class consisted of “All natural persons sued by Merrill Moores in the name of Wildcat Run Homeowner’s Association on a consumer debt who called the contact telephone number referenced on the Small Claims complaint and heard a voice mail message recorded by defendant Merrill Moores within one year prior to May 1, 2009.” Rayl was made class representative after Moores didn’t contest class certification and Rayl argued he could prove his claim that he did hear the voicemail.

Both parties filed motions for summary judgment.

It turns out that based on the evidence in the summary judgment record, none of the class members actually had heard either voicemail, or that if they did, Moores had any written communication with them within five days after they called. Rayl couldn’t establish that the voicemails violated the FDCPA provisions regarding initial communications because he was unable to prove he called the voicemail line.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson removed Rayl as class representative Oct. 28 and postponed ruling on the merits of the other class members’ claims until a suitable class representative appears in the action. The attorneys for the class have 30 days to locate a new class representative.

Judge Magnus-Stinson denied Rayl’s motion for summary judgment as class representative but didn’t rule at the time as to his individual claim.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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