January 31, 2014 4th Circuit published opinion

Clark v Absolute Collection Service, Incorporated

Clark sued Absolute alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by requiring a written disputation of the underlying debt. The district court dismissed ruling the Act had an implicit writing requirement. The panel reversed and remanded. It joined the 2nd and 9th Circuit, and refused to follow the 3rd Circuit, in holding the relevant portion of the statute, 15 USC 1692g(a)(3), had no explicit written requirement and thus could be satisfied by an oral disputation. The Panel rejected Absolute’s counterarguments noting the statute provide some protections when a disputation is made orally and additional protections when the disputation is made in writing. Thus, the oral dispute only position did not lead to an absurd result. The panel finally noted that its holding gave effect to all the provisions of the statute which is a goal of all statutory construction.

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