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Marx v. General Revenue Corp.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: February 26, 2013
Case #: 11-1175
Thomas, J., delivered the Court's opinion. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion which Kagan, J., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1175_4fc5.pdf

Civil Procedure: Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1)—which allows a court to award costs to a prevailing party "[u]nless a federal statute . . . provides otherwise"—is not displaced by the “bad faith” provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the provision is not "contrary" to the Rule.

Petitioner filed suit in District Court, alleging that Respondent had violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in its attempt to collect on a debt. The District Court ruled there was no violation of the FDCPA, and awarded costs to Respondent as allowed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1). The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision, and held that the costs provision of the FDCPA, permitting an award of defendant’s attorney fees on a court finding that a suit was brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, did not supersede Rule 54(d)(1).

The Supreme Court affirmed the Tenth Circuit, holding that an express provision for costs that is not contrary to Rule 54(d)(1) does not displace the Rule. The Court held that the language of the cost provision in the FDCPA, as well as the history and purpose of the statute, were not contrary to Rule 54(d)(1), and therefore the Rule was still applicable in cases brought under the FDCPA. The Court rejected Petitioner’s argument that the express nature of the FDCPA cost provision prohibited an award of costs under Rule 54(d)(1). Instead, the Court held that the cost provision codified a federal court’s authority under Rule 54(d)(1) to award attorney’s fees and costs.