USFN Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Case on Fair Debt Question

, Posted on Dec 04

TUSTIN, Calif., December 4, 2009 —USFN filed an amicus curiae brief in a case that will be heard before the United States Supreme Court on January 13, 2010. The case holds great significance for all members of the bar engaged in creditors’ rights actions and was the organization’s compelling reason for becoming involved and deciding to file the brief, according to USFN Executive Director & CEO Alberta Hultman.

USFN’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the respondents in the filing of an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court case captioned, Jerman v. Carlisle, McNellie, Rini, Kramer & Ulrich, LPA. The sole question presented for review in Jerman is, “Whether a debt collector’s error in interpreting the law qualifies for the bona fide error defense under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692.”

“The members of the Board were quick to recognize the far-reaching effects of a negative ruling in this case on all members of our organization, and in fact, on all practitioners in the creditors’ rights area,” said Hultman. “If attorneys are held liable for errors on issues that are “grey” or “muddy”, the question then arises as to whether a firm can still provide the best representation of a client when dealing with such issues.”

The brief was filed on its due date of November 30, 2009. An ongoing amici group, working on this issue for several months, developed the brief, led by attorney Rick DeBlasis of Lerner Sampson & Rothfuss in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“By next summer, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether lenders’ lawyers and other ethical debt collectors can be held liable to borrowers for good faith legal errors, possibly such as bringing a suit in the name of the wrong plaintiff or for a sum which is ultimately proven to be incorrect,” said DeBlasis.

Several members of USFN’s Board, whose firms have expertise in FDCPA matters and/or in filing Supreme Court briefs, also volunteered their services to the amici group to assist in this effort. As noted, oral argument will be heard by the Court on January 13, 2010.

About USFN

USFN is a national not-for-profit association of select attorneys, trustee companies and associates providing comprehensive default services to the mortgage banking industry.

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Meghan Edwards