Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alaska Supreme Court- Debt Collectors Must Litigate Fairly in Alaska

In a case closely watched by consumer groups and the debt collection industry, the Alaska Supreme Court handed down a decision yesterday stating

Because we conclude that it would not unconstitutionally burden the defendants’ petitioning activities to require them to litigate debt collection claims in a fair manner, we reverse the dismissal of Pepper’s complaint.

The court in deciding Pepper v. Routh Crabtree APC (available at sp-6437.pdf (application/pdf Object) ) held that acts by the debt collector attorney such as failure to serve Pepper, presenting the court with an inaccurate affidavit of competence, and failure to inform Pepper's attorney prior to filing for default, could constitute violations of Alaska's unfair trade practices act. The case is remanded to the lower court.

James J. Davis, Jr., Alaska Legal Services Corporation, Anchorage, and Deepak Gupta, Public Citizen Litigation Group, Washington, D.C., have won an important victory for consumer rights not only in Alaska but across the nation as debt collector attorneys have increasingly sought to cloak their unfair practices with petition rights' immunities.

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