Third Circuit Remands "Meaningful Attorney Review" FDCPA Decision with Instruction to Consider Article III Standing Under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins

The Supreme Court's ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (U.S. May 16, 2016), continues to have a substantial impact on federal courts, especially with respect to alleged statutory violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p (the "FDCPA"). In fact, just last week the Third Circuit Court of Appeals relied on the Spokeo decision in reversing a district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff in Bock v. Pressler & Pressler, LLP, No. 15-1056, 2016 WL 4011150 (3rd Cir. July 27, 2016). The plaintiff in Bock had alleged that the defendant (a debt collection law firm) violated the FDCPA by "filing a state court complaint without meaningful attorney review," see id. at *1, and ultimately obtained summary judgment on the claim after an attorney with the collection firm testified that his "review and approval of the complaint against Bock occupied a total of four seconds," see Bock v. Pressler & Pressler, LLP, 30 F. Supp. 3d 283, 290 (D.N.J. 2014), remanded by No. 15-1056, 2016 WL 4011150 (3rd Cir. July 27, 2016).

The collection firm's appeal of the district court's order in Bock drew considerable interest from both sides of the bar, and for the last two years it appeared that the Third Circuit might again address what "meaningful attorney review" actually means. Yet, following the Supreme Court's ruling in Spokeo, the Third Circuit made the determination to defer its decision on the "meaningful attorney review" issue for another day. See id. at *1-2. Indeed, the Third Circuit made clear that it views Spokeo as nothing less than a "directive" by the Supreme Court "to specifically address concreteness and particularization," issues that, in the end, the Third Circuit remanded to the district court to decide in the first instance. See id.

Posted in: FDCPA
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