Sheriff v. Gillie

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: December 11, 2015
  • Case #: 15-338
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court below: 785 F.3d 1091 (6th Cir., 2015)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether special counsel appointed by the attorney general to undertake their duty to collect debts owed to the State are state officials and whether it is materially misleading for the special counsel to use the attorney general’s letterhead to convey they are collecting debts owed to the State.

Respondents brought a class action suit against Petitioners, attorneys appointed by the State’s Attorney General office, to act as special counsel to collect debts owed to the State for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. 1692 was established to prevent independent debt collectors from illegally misrepresenting that they were government officials. Petitioners debt collection acts were determined by agreement and under law, required compliance to FDCPA standards. The special council was given oral directions to use the Attorney General’s letterhead for collections. Respondents allege Petitioners’ use of the letterhead is in violation of the FDCPA. The district court granted summary judgment to Petitioners, holding that Petitioners are not “debt collectors” as defined under the FDCPA, and even if they were, the use of the letterhead was not “misleading” communication. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit vacated. Petitioner asks the Court to determine whether use of the attorney general’s letterhead by lawyers appointed by the attorney general to collect debt is misleading and in violation of the federal debt collection laws.

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