On behalf of our client RevSpring, Inc., Ballard Spahr has filed an amicus brief in support of the petition for rehearing en banc filed in the Eleventh Circuit by the defendant in Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services. In that case, a unanimous Eleventh Circuit panel reversed the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s FDCPA claim, instead ruling that the plaintiff stated a claim by alleging that a debt collector’s transmittal of the plaintiff’s personal information to the vendor it used to generate and send collection letters “constituted a communication ‘in connection with the collection of any debt’ within the meaning of [FDCPA Section 1692c(b)].” That provision generally prohibits a debt collector from communicating with anyone other than the debtor and certain specified third-parties “in connection with the collection of any debt” without the debtor’s consent, court permission, or to effectuate a postjudgment judicial remedy.
In its amicus brief, RevSpring makes the following principal arguments in support of en banc rehearing:
- To effectuate the purpose of the FDCPA, Section 1692c(b) should be construed to protect consumers from communications of the unfair, harassing, or deceptive variety without unnecessarily restricting ethical debt collectors.
- The CFPB issued Regulation F, which implements the FDCPA, after briefing in the plaintiff’s appeal closed but before the panel rendered its opinion.
- Regulation F expressly recognizes that debt collectors communicate with and rely on third-party vendors such as letter vendors.
- Vendors assist debt collectors in complying with their consumer protection obligations.
- Regulation F and other CFPB materials should be afforded deference under Chevron and Skidmore.
For the reasons asserted in its brief, RevSpring urges the en banc Court to reconsider the panel’s opinion and affirm the district court’s order dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim or vacate the district court’s order and remand to the district court with instructions to consider the sufficiency of the complaint’s allegations in light of Regulation F.
The significance of the FDCPA issue in Hunstein to the debt collection industry is demonstrated by the high volume of amicus briefs that have been filed in support of rehearing en banc, including several from major industry trade groups.