The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a complaint seeking relief against JP Morgan Chase Bank (“Chase”) and its attorney under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA” or “the Act”). Anderman v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, No. 19-13734, 2020 WL 639209 (11th Cir. Feb. 11, 2020). In Anderman, the plaintiffs were a group of heirs who Chase previously named as defendants in a foreclosure action of their deceased brother’s mortgage. The heirs sued Chase for alleged unfair debt collection practices which violated § 1692 of the Act. The lower court dismissed the heirs’ complaint and they appealed.
The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the lower court’s dismissal finding Chase was not a debt collector as defined by the Act because Chase was not collecting a debt “owed or due another,” but rather collecting its own debt. The Court also concluded the complained of behavior was not an “attempt…to collect debt” from the heirs as the heirs were only joined in the foreclosure action because of their potential interest in the property “not because they owed any payment.”
This decision affirming dismissal of the Heirs’ complaint is a welcome development in the context of FDCPA claims and will prove a useful tool for disposing of similar claims early in the case without protracted litigation.
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