Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Venue for Garnishments Not Limited

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector who sues a consumer on a debt may file the action only where the consumer signed the contract or where the consumer currently resides.  The question presented in Ray v. McCullough Payne & Haan, LLC, 2016 WL 5436776 (11th Cir. Sept. 29 2016) was whether this venue limitation applies to post-judgment proceedings to enforce the judgment, specifically to a garnishment filed against the debtor’s bank.  Aligning itself with the First and Eighth Circuits, the Eleventh Circuit held, in an opinion authored by Chief Judge Ed Carnes, that the venue limitation does not apply to post-judgment garnishment proceedings under Georgia law.  Such proceedings, the court reasoned, are not “against any consumer” but are filed against the garnishee, so the statutory limitation was inapplicable.  The court acknowledged that the Ninth Circuit held otherwise in Fox v. Citicorp Credit Services, Inc., 15 F.3d 1507 (9th Cir. 1994), but deemed that decision to have “little persuasive value.”  The defendant law firm argued that the court had previously decided the question in its favor in an unpublished opinion which it argued was binding precedent, prompting an icy rebuke from the court:  “That could not be more wrong.”  But that was its only setback; the court otherwise sided with the defendant’s arguments and affirmed the dismissal of Ray’s complaint.

Posted by Tom Byrne.

Back to top