Consumers who sue large corporations are always at a disadvantage. Among the many advantages the corporate defendant has is information.
Imagine in typical case. A large mortgage servicer demands money from a consumer. The consumer doesn’t owe the money. Months pass, and no matter how many times the consumer explains, the calls and the letters keep coming.
A study by British industry groups and academics recently set out best practices for debt collectors dealing with so-call vulnerable consumers. InsideARM, a US debt collectors’ trade publication has taken interest and encourages senior management to read it. Among the studies’ key findings were:
- 1 in 4 frontline debt collectors spoke to at least one consumer they “seriously believed” might commit suicide.
- Debt collectors need training concerning addiction and terminal illness – areas they (understandably) find difficult to discuss with consumers.
- Debt collecting businesses need to provide their staff with more support in identifying vulnerable consumers
- Ad hoc approaches to vulnerable consumers – such as temporarily ceasing collection to give the customer “breathing space” are not enough.
What Is The Standard Of Review For A Motion To Dismiss In The United States District Courts In The Fourth Circuit?
Frequently, when a Plaintiff files a Complaint, a Defendant will respond with a Motion to Dismiss, instead of an Answer. Essentially, the Motion to Dismiss says that even if everything stated in the Complaint is true, it still does not state a legally cognizable claim. Or in other words, the Defendant is saying that “even if everything you say is true, it’s just a nothing-burger.”
Non-profit hospitals get big tax breaks for providing care for patients who can’t afford it. Under new IRS rules these hospitals must take extra steps to inform poor patients they may qualify for financial assistance.
Last month, ProPublica and NPR detailed how one nonprofit hospital in Missouri sued thousands of lower income workers who couldn’t pay their bills, then seized their wages, all while enjoying a big break on its taxes.
Midland Funding, a subsidiary of Encore Capital Group, is the world’s largest debt buyer and one of the most prolific users of Maryland’s District Court. It has filed tens of thousands of suits against Marylanders. But when one of those consumers, Mr. Cain, sued Midland Funding, Midland convinced the trial court and the intermediate appellate court to throw his case out of court and into forced arbitration on an individual basis, rather than as a class action. In a March, 2017 watershed opinion, Maryland’s highest court overruled the lower court and held that when it originally sued Mr. Cain in a collection action, Midland waived its right to compel arbitration. The Court of Appeals said:
Because Midland’s 2009 collection action is related to Cain’s claims, Midland waived its right to arbitrate the current claims hen it chose to litigate the collection action. In addition, Cain does not have to demonstrate that he suffered prejudice to establish that Midland waived the arbitration provision.
Private debt collectors are subject to a variety of laws policing their collection of private debts. The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) imposes clear and strict requirements on debt collectors – such as preventing them from shaming consumers into payment by publishing the names or calling their parents, preventing them from lying to consumers or threatening them with illegal behavior.
However, FDCPA applies only to consumer transactions and does not cover matters such as tax debts. Boyd v. J.E. Robert Co., 765 F.3d 123 (2d Cir. 2014); Beggs v. Rossi, 145 F.3d 511 (2d Cir. 1998). Federal employees are also specially exempted from the FDCPA. 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6)(C).
So, what’s left to protect taxpayers?