Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore, LLC, a debt collection law firm based in Chicago, Illinois. The lawsuit, which has been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, alleges that Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore filed a debt collection lawsuit against the Indiana consumer in the wrong county and thereby violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The FDCPA states that a debt collector can only sue a consumer in one of two places: the county where the consumer presently lives or in which the contract being sued upon was signed. Here, the Plaintiff was living in Illinois at the time the lawsuit was filed in Indiana and was living in Michigan at the time the credit card account at issue was opened. The lawsuit therefore alleges that filing the lawsuit in Indiana violated the FDCPA.
15 U.S.C. 1692i specifically requires a debt collector to file a debt collection lawsuit “only in the judicial district or similar legal entity– (A) in which the consumer signed the contract sued upon; or (B) in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action.” Despite the plain, unambiguous language of this section of the FDCPA, debt collectors violate this provision all the time. There are two primary – related – reasons why. First, collection lawsuits are being filed in such vast numbers that debt collectors don’t have the time to be careful or to undertake procedures designed to prevent the lawsuits from being filed in the wrong county. Such procedures would slow the conveyor-belt debt collection process to an intolerable degree. Suits are therefore filed and served at old addresses that haven’t been confirmed (or lived at) in years simply because that is the address on the debt paperwork. Debt collectors of course know that lawsuits will regularly be filed against consumers in the wrong county, but to them an FDCPA lawsuit here and there is just the cost of doing business. Debt collectors aren’t afraid of numerous FDCPA lawsuits because most of the collection lawsuits they file go unanswered. That is primary reason number two: most of the lawsuits result in default judgments because the consumer either never learns of the lawsuit or ignores it. If the consumer doesn’t defend the lawsuit, a default judgment is granted and then the debt collector goes about collecting the judgment.