WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) The U.S. Supreme Court on
Jan. 23 declined to hear a case in which the Third Circuit U.S. Court of
Appeals had determined that a law firm's communication with a Chapter 13 debtor
pertaining to the foreclosure of her home was a violation of federal debt
collection law (Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard v. Dorothy Rhue Allen,
No. 10-1417, Chapter 13, U.S. Sup.; See 8/17/11) [an enhanced version of the Third Circuit's opinion is available
to lexis.com subscribers / unenhanced version available from lexisONE Free Case Law].
In 1976, Dorothy Rhue Allen purchased a home.
Thirty years later, when she was unable to make her final mortgage payment, her
lender attempted to foreclose on her house. The law firm Fein, Such, Kahn
and Shepard (FSKS) agreed to prosecute the foreclosure action and in May 2007
sued Allen in a New Jersey
The court awarded FSKS the amount of the loan balance on
the mortgage, as well as attorney fees and costs totaling $5,797.45.
Allen appealed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey,
arguing that the fees and costs were impermissible.
The District Court affirmed the state court's ruling, and
Allen appealed to the Third Circuit, which reversed. FSKS then appealed
to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In its petition for writ of certiorari, FSKS
contended that the Third Circuit's interpretation of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.
Code Section 1692, was incorrect because the act exempts lawyer communications
in their entirety.
Allen countered that such a reading of the FDCPA is
incompatible with provisions in the FDCPA that specifically address
communication by debt collectors and attorneys.
Allen is represented by Brian R. Frazelle and Adina H.
Rosenbaum of Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington
and Lewis G. Adler of Woodbury,
N.J. FSKS is represented by
Karen Painter Randall, Andrew Christopher Sayles, Thomas S. Cosma, Thomas J.
O'Leary and M. Trevor Lyons of Connell Foley in Roseland, N.J.
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