Statutory Construction under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

N James Turner

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Because the FDCPA is designed to protect consumers, it is liberally construed to effect its purpose. Mammen v. Bronson & Migliaccio, LLP, 715 F. Supp. 2d 1210 (M.D. Fla. 2009); Ramirez v. Apex Fin.Mgmt., LLC, 567 F. Supp. 2d 1035, 1040 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (citing Ross v. Commercial Fin. Serv., Inc., 31 F. Supp. 2d 1077, 1079 (N.D. Ill. 1999). Moreover, the FDCPA is analyzed from the “least sophisticated consumer’s" perspective. Jeter v. Credit Bureau, Inc., 760 F.2d 1168, 1172-75 (11th Cir. 1985).

The “least-sophisticated consumer" standard is consistent with basic consumer-protection principles. Jeter, 760 F.2d at 1172-75 (“The basic purpose of the ’least-sophisticated consumer’ standard is to ensure that the FDCPA protects all consumers, the gullible as well as the shrewd.")

The Eleventh Circuit discussed the FTC Jeter, it was noted:

That law was not “made for the protection of experts, but for the public - that vast multitude which includes the ignorant, the unthinking, and the credulous …" and [t]he fact that a false statement may be obviously false to those who are trained and experienced does not change its character, nor take away its power to deceive others less experienced. There is no duty resting upon a citizen to suspect the honesty of those with whom he transacts business. Laws are made to protect the trusting as well as the suspicious.

So, inferences from communication from creditors are to be interpreted in a light most favorable to the plaintiff in term of their potential to be in violation of the FDCPA.

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