On May 17, 2016, I had the privilege to argue several issues before the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This was a case on appeal from the lower district court, who had granted summary judgment against a pro se litigant, Teri Hinkle. On appeal, I came in as counsel for the Plaintiff-now-appellant, Ms. Hinkle. Her case raised several issues on appeal:
1. What constitutes a reasonable investigation for purposes of the the FCRA, namely 15 USC § 1681s-2(b)? Specifically, when the CRA told the furnisher (Midland Credit Management) that the consumer disputed this item, "not hers," what was their duty? Was it reasonable to look to the consumer for assistance?
2. When does a debt buyer have the right to access someone's credit file, if ever, pursuant to 15 USC § 1681b?
3. Was it an abuse of discretion for the judge to allow an affidavit in support of summary judgment to be admitted where (a) the affiant had not been disclosed as a witness in discovery and (b) the judge failed to consider the sanction provided in FRCP 37(b) to exclude the witness?
4. Does an oral dispute under the FDCPA trigger a duty to do something more than say on the credit report "consumer disputes item" when the debt buyer reporting the information knows that they have no supporting, original account-level documentation in their files?
We will let you know the outcome once the court has ruled on the matter.
Firm Wins Appeal on Issue of Reasonable Investigation under FCRA
July 12, 2016
Oral Argument at 11th Circuit Court of Appeals May 17, 2016