Collector - May 2020 - 43

IAP

$60 debt nine times or a single $540 debt.
(Indeed, the court observed that if MBB
had reported the arrearage as a single
debt, Rhone might well have found that to
be misleading because, "after all, she does
not owe $540 for any transaction.")
Ultimately, the court held that MBB
had not misstated the "character" of
Rhone's debt by reporting each amount
separately: "arithmetic does not affect a
debt's 'character,'" and the "statutory word
'amount' ... is what governs reporting the
debt's size."
In reaching that conclusion, the court
surveyed the scant body of relevant
decisional law (four cases, in the court's
view); noted the absence of relevant
regulatory law ("Rhone does not point
to such a regulation, nor could we find
one"); and observed that although the
litigants and the court below had made
much of the term "tradelines," that
term carried no statutory or regulatory
meaning, but rather appeared merely to
be "Equifax's vocabulary."
ACA, through its Industry
Advancement Fund, contributed to the
outcome in Rhone by providing funding
not only for MBB's appeal but also by
funding an amicus brief for the appeal.
Notably, the 7th Circuit panel adopted

the argument that ACA advanced in its
amicus brief, i.e., that the district court's
logic could have adverse consequences
for the consumer.
For instance, if Rhone's debt had been
reported as a single transaction and she
later made a partial payment (e.g., paying
one of the delinquent co-pays), then her
partial payment would toll the limitations
period as to the entire indebtedness.
In a similar way, as Easterbrook noted,
separate reporting has the benefit of
showing "whether some of the debts
are stale (that is, whether the statute of
limitations bars collection)" as to some
component part of the debt.

ZABLOCKI ET AL. V.
MERCHANTS CREDIT
GUIDE COMPANY
After Rhone, the consumer bar has
continued to look for another way to
trap collectors in a credit reporting
Catch-22 and thereby unlock a new path
to statutory damages. In Zablocki et al.
v. Merchants Credit Guide Company
(N.D. Ill. #1:18-cv-08489, dismissed
May 1, 2019; 7th Cir. #19-2045), Casimer
Zablocki complained that ACA member
company Merchants Credit Guide
Company had reported to TransUnion

Join the Conversation
Keep your finger on the pulse of the accounts
receivable management industry with Collector's
Twitter page, @acacollector. Get updates
on current industry trends and previews
of what's to come in the months ahead.

Connect with us at
twitter.com/acacollector.
Let's start talking.

four debts for Zablocki's four visits
to an X-ray provider as separate
balances rather than as a single debt.
Yet Zablocki's complaint contained no
allegation that he had an open account
or revolving charge account with the
provider. (The case also includes a
second plaintiff alleging a similar factpattern with a higher total dollar figure.)
While Zablocki was pending in the
lower court, the 7th Circuit decided
Rhone, which led Merchants to move
for a dismissal of the plaintiffs' claims.
Plaintiffs acknowledged that Rhone
precluded their claims under FDCPA
Section 1692e but asserted that their
claims could proceed under 1692f.
In dismissing the plaintiffs' claims,
the district court observed that while the
plaintiffs may be correct that "there's an
option that's more favorable to the debtor
... an option that's more favorable to the
debtor is not what the FDCPA requires."
After dismissal, the plaintiffs had the
opportunity to re-plead their case but
opted to appeal instead.
Now scheduled for oral argument
on June 2, 2020, Zablocki will set the
stage for future of this issue-in the
7th Circuit, at least.
As with Rhone, ACA has been there
to support its member in Zablocki,
providing substantial funding to fight the
consumers' appeal of the lower court's
decision and set a positive precedent
in the 7th Circuit. Cases like this are the
reason that ACA established the Industry
Advancement Fund: to help members
and our industry succeed by establishing
positive precedent on technical cases,
particularly where the consumer bar has
used consumer protection statutes as a
sword rather than a shield.
Colin Winkler is ACA International's
corporate counsel.
Learn more at acainternational.org/
industry advancement-program.

COLLECTOR 05.20

43


http://www.twitter.com/acacollector http://www.acainternational.org/industry-advancement-program http://www.acainternational.org/industry-advancement-program

Collector - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - May 2020

Collector - May 2020 - Cover1
Collector - May 2020 - Cover2
Collector - May 2020 - 1
Collector - May 2020 - 2
Collector - May 2020 - 3
Collector - May 2020 - 4
Collector - May 2020 - 5
Collector - May 2020 - 6
Collector - May 2020 - 7
Collector - May 2020 - 8
Collector - May 2020 - 9
Collector - May 2020 - 10
Collector - May 2020 - 11
Collector - May 2020 - 12
Collector - May 2020 - 13
Collector - May 2020 - 14
Collector - May 2020 - 15
Collector - May 2020 - 16
Collector - May 2020 - 17
Collector - May 2020 - 18
Collector - May 2020 - 19
Collector - May 2020 - 20
Collector - May 2020 - 21
Collector - May 2020 - 22
Collector - May 2020 - 23
Collector - May 2020 - 24
Collector - May 2020 - 25
Collector - May 2020 - 26
Collector - May 2020 - 27
Collector - May 2020 - 28
Collector - May 2020 - 29
Collector - May 2020 - 30
Collector - May 2020 - 31
Collector - May 2020 - 32
Collector - May 2020 - 33
Collector - May 2020 - 34
Collector - May 2020 - 35
Collector - May 2020 - 36
Collector - May 2020 - 37
Collector - May 2020 - 38
Collector - May 2020 - 39
Collector - May 2020 - 40
Collector - May 2020 - 41
Collector - May 2020 - 42
Collector - May 2020 - 43
Collector - May 2020 - 44
Collector - May 2020 - 45
Collector - May 2020 - 46
Collector - May 2020 - 47
Collector - May 2020 - 48
Collector - May 2020 - Cover3
Collector - May 2020 - Cover4
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202006
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202005
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202004
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202003
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202002
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/202001
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201912
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201911
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201910/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201909/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201908/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201907/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201906/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201905/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201904/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201903/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201902/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201901/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201812/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201811/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201810/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201809/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201808/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201807/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201806/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201805/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201804/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201803/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201802/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201801/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201712/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201711/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201710/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201709/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201708/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201707/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201706/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201705/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201704/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201703/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201702/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201701/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201612/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201611/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201610/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201609/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201608/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201607/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201606/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201605/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201604/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201603/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201602/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201601/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201512/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201511/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201510/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201509/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201508/
http://online.collector.com/collectormagazine/201507/
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com