Less than a month after oral argument, the Fourth Circuit issued an unpublished per curiam opinion reversing the dismissal of claims against the Law Office of William M. Rudow, LLC (“Rudow Law”) under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (“MCDCA”). The panel consisted of Judge Niemeyer, Judge Motz, and Judge Floyd.
The panel held that the district court erred in holding that the plaintiff could not sue under the FDCPA and MCDCA because she did not owe the debt that Rudow Law sought to collect. The fact that Maryland law characterizes replevin as a tort action did not bring it outside of the reach of the FDCPA. And “the district court erred in holding that non-debtors, or those with no financial interest in the collateral at issue, may not bring suit under the FDCPA.” The per curiam opinion explains that “[t]he enforcement provision of the FDCPA imposes liability on any debt collector who fails to comply with the statute’s provisions ‘with respect to any person.’ 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a) (emphasis added). Consequently, absent a limitation in the substantive provisions of the FDCPA, any aggrieved party, not just a debtor, may bring an action under the statute.”
The per curiam opinion and quick turnaround make this seem like an easy case. Yet the opinion also seems to offer two important holdings about the scope of the FDCPA, seemingly qualifying the opinion for published status under Local Rule 36(a).