On May 14, 2013 we reported on the Indiana District Court case of Suesz v. Med 1 Solutions, which determined that the Marion County Small Claims Courts were not “judicial districts” as defined by 15 U.S.C.§ 1692i for purposes of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). In reaching this decision, the district court relied on the 7th Circuit case of Newsom v. Friedman. The district court’s decision was originally upheld by a panel of the 7th Circuit on October 31, 2013 with a 2-1 decision. However, upon rehearing en banc, on July 2, 2014 the 7th Circuit both reversed the district court in Suesz and overruled Newsom.
The circuit court held that the “venue approach” should be used when determining if a court is a “judicial district” for purposes of the FDCPA. Under this approach, a “judicial district” will be the “smallest geographic area relevant to venue in the court system in which the case is filed.” In the plain terms, the 7th Circuit determined that if venue is not proper in the court in which the initial complaint was filed, the complaint was not filed in the correct “judicial district” and a possible FDCPA violation has occurred. The circuit court stated that the “venue approach” would be more practical and would stop debt collectors from purposefully choosing inconvenient forums and forum-shopping for the most advantageous court.
The July 2, 2014 Suesz opinion may be found HERE