Last month, the Colorado Federal Court granted dismissal of an FDCPA action for lack of personal jurisdiction. In this case, Plaintiff’s counsel made the creative argument that by credit reporting, a collection agency subjects itself to jurisdiction in all 50 states. Well, obviously such an argument is completely untenable and would eviscerate the entire body of jurisdictional case law regarding “minimum contacts.”
In this case, Plaintiff, a Colorado resident who previously resided in Alaska, alleged that Defendant, a debt collector with its principal place of business in Alaska, reported a debt allegedly unpaid by him to a credit reporting agency, in violation of the FDCPA. Plaintiff brought his lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Colorado.
In dismissing the FDCPA lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court noted:
- Defendant did not affirmatively direct communications to Plaintiff in Colorado.
- Defendant did not place any calls to Colorado and did not receive any calls from Colorado in its efforts to collect from Plaintiff.
- Defendant sent an initial collection demand letter to Plaintiff at Plaintiff’s Alaska address—the address provided by the original creditor.
- Defendant mailed a second letter to Plaintiff in response to his dispute letter, also to his Alaska address.
- Neither letter was returned as undeliverable.
As the Court opined:
Plaintiff contends that “[i]f a debt collector is reporting to national credit agencies who operate throughout the United States, that collector must anticipate that it is availing itself of the laws of those fifty states where it is reporting.” However, Plaintiff cites no case law or other authority to support this broad and conclusory contention, which, as a practical matter would appear to make all debt collectors subject to suit in all states all the time. There is simply nothing in the statute or applicable case law to support such a sweeping proposition.
The decision illustrates the importance of an aggressive strategy when responding to claims of violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and comparable state statutes.
If you are involved in a Consumer Credit lawsuit, our Colorado litigation lawyers will help you identify the issues and understand your options. Contact our Colorado litigation attorneys today to assist with your needs. Having more than 45 years in civil litigation and business and commercial law experience, our Colorado civil litigation attorneys stand ready to provide you and your business with the representation you need.