Heintz v. Jenkins

514 U.S. 291 (1995)

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Heintz v. Jenkins

United States Supreme Court
514 U.S. 291 (1995)

  • Written by Sharon Feldman, JD

Facts

Darlene Jenkins (plaintiff) defaulted on a bank loan she took to buy a car. The bank’s law firm (defendant) sued Jenkins to recover the outstanding balance. Jenkins had promised but failed to keep the car insured. George Heintz (defendant), one of the firm’s lawyers, wrote to Jenkins’s lawyer and included in Jenkins’s debt the amount the bank spent to insure the car. Jenkins sued Heintz and his firm under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA or the act), alleging that Heintz had violated the act by trying to collect an amount not authorized by the loan agreement and falsely representing the debt amount. The district court dismissed Jenkins’s complaint, holding that the FDCPA does not apply to lawyers engaged in litigation. The Seventh Circuit, disagreeing with the Sixth Circuit, reversed and held that the FDCPA applies to litigating lawyers. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve the conflict.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

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