This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order list addressing whether or not it approved certain cases to be reviewed by the court. The order lists one case which insideARM previously wrote about – Huebner v. Midland Credit Management, No. 18-991 --  on the list of denied cases, which means it will not be heard by the court.

We nicknamed Huebner as the “triple-whammy” petition because it asked the Supreme Court to review three relevant debt collection questions that the different Circuit Courts of Appeal do not agree on. Those three questions are:

  1. Whether a consumer’s dispute needs to be in writing in order for it to trigger the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA);
  2. Whether a debt collector can inquire about the reason for the consumer’s dispute; and
  3. Whether the least sophisticated consumer standard is a question of law or a question of fact.

Unlike the Circuit Courts of Appeal, where the parties have a right to have their appeal heard, the U.S. Supreme Court has discretion to choose which cases it will review. To submit a request for the Supreme Court to hear a case, the appealing party files a petition for writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court gets a high volume of petitions and only accepts a small amount of cases. For example, the order referenced above included only one accepted case and a 9 page list of cases where the petition was denied.

insideARM Perspective

The industry is going to have to wait a little longer for an answer to the written requirement question for disputes under section 1692g of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). As previously reported on insideARM, there is a jurisdictional split about whether all subsections of 1692g require a dispute to be made in writing. According to the Third Circuit in Graziano v. Harrison, all disputes need to be in writing in order to trigger the FDCPA -- an issue that prompted an open letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court's denial to hear the case means that the Second Circuit's decision in Huebner stands.

With the volume of decisions popping up within the Third Circuit on the issue (and the hurdles faced by debt collectors due to the jurisdictional split), it seems likely that we will see another petition before the U.S. Supreme Court… and hopefully soon.


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