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Corporations Are People Under The FDCPA: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Last Thursday in Anarion Investments LLC v. Carrington Mort. Servs. LLC , the Sixth Circuit held that legal entities, as well as natural persons, may file suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act if it is attempting to collect personal debt.  The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that the corporation was not a “person” as defined under the FDCPA.  The Sixth Circuit reversed.

Judge Kethledge’s opinion begins with the presumption in the federal Dictionary Act that the word “person” includes legal entities unless the context indicates otherwise.  It then looked at various provisions in the FDCPA that use “person” to refer to artificial entities, including some provisions that apply exclusively to such entities.  Applying basic statutory interpretation principles, it also noted that Congress expressly defined the term “consumer” to mean a “natural person,” but made no such definition for “person.”

Judge Donald dissented, arguing that term “person” should be interpreted in light of the FDCPA’s overall purpose of protecting consumers.  She explained that including legal entities in the definition of “person” would “contradict the law’s overall aim.”

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About this Author

Colter Paulson, Squire Patton Boggs, Appellate Litigation, Manufacturing Lawyer
Senior Associate

Contributor to the Squire Patton Boggs Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog, which discusses news and opinions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Colter Paulson focuses his practice on litigation, particularly appellate litigation. He has litigated matters in the manufacturing, finance, design, healthcare and high-tech industries including employment cases. Colter also has experience in copyright and patent litigation, both at trial level and on appeal to the Federal Circuit. As an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law,...

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