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Monday, May 11, 2015

What's Wrong with this Picture?

The letter reproduced below is at the center of a class-action lawsuit that has divided a Sixth Circuit panel.  Take a gander, and offer your perspective in a comment.  

AG




Posted by Andrew S. Pollis on May 11, 2015 at 10:25 AM in Judicial Process | Permalink

Comments

Something tells me they shouldn't be using the AG's seal.

Posted by: Patrick Luff | May 11, 2015 10:41:29 AM

My first thought was that it seemed odd for a debt collector to be using the official letterhead of the Ohio Attorney General. On one level I find the use of the letterhead intuitively problematic in that the notice is coming from a debt collector, not the AG, and that it is being used as an improper scare tactic. On the other hand, the debt collector appears to be an agent of the State of Ohio and the AG, so it seems like using the letterhead may not truly be misleading. Like the 6th Circuit, I appear to be split. That said, I haven't had the advantage of full briefing and oral argument to get educated on the nuanced issues that this case may present.

Posted by: Rob Port | May 11, 2015 11:07:09 AM

I'd say it depends on the underlying facts of the matter.

If there is a "collections enforcement section" of the Ohio Attorney General's office, and if Wiles, Boyle, Burkholder, & Bringardner were retained by the office to represent it, the letter looks reasonably appropriate.

If, on the other hand, Wiles et. al. bought the debt and were attempting to collect on their own behalf it looks entirely inappropriate.

Posted by: brad | May 11, 2015 1:05:14 PM

I note that the letter is dated 2012. The law firm in question merged earlier this year. A quick review of its web site does NOT indicate that it represents the State of Ohio.

Posted by: Paul | May 11, 2015 2:11:54 PM

Well, the disagreement in these comments reflects the disagreement on the Sixth Circuit. The opinion is at http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/15a0087p-06.pdf.

Posted by: Andrew S. Pollis | May 11, 2015 2:26:27 PM

After having read the case I guess the answer lies in between the two underlying fact patterns I suggested. I suppose that's to be expected or it would have been an easy case.

That said, I'm more persuaded by the majority than the dissent.

Posted by: brad | May 11, 2015 2:28:59 PM

What bothers me the most is the grammatical error in the first dunning letter: "You have ignored repeated attempts to _resolving_ the referenced ... medical claim."

Posted by: Adam Levitin | May 12, 2015 10:09:23 AM

The Supreme Court just agreed to take up this case.

http://www.law360.com/appellate/articles/737098?nl_pk=a52e6add-cdf2-422b-abff-2967e979e0a7&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=appellate

Posted by: Andrew S. Pollis | Dec 11, 2015 3:35:06 PM

The Supreme Court today decided this case, unanimously overturning the Sixth Circuit in holding the debt collectors working on behalf of the Ohio Attorney General did not mislead consumers by using AG letterhead.

http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/05/opinion-analysis-justices-reject-claim-that-special-outside-counsel-mislead-borrowers-when-they-send-collection-letters-on-attorney-general-letterhead/

Posted by: Andrew S. Pollis | May 16, 2016 2:40:09 PM

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