02 Oct Constables Liable Under FDCPA
A recent federal court decision held that a constable could be sued for unfair debt collection practices.
In Massachusetts, a constable is elected or appointed official within a town for serving legal papers. Oftentimes, the constable is specially appointed by a court to serve outside the usual town. That’s not enough for protection from violating collection laws.
Federal Magistrate Judith Gail Dein ruled on August 27, 2008 that neither the elected status, nor the court-appointed status, immunized the constable from liability. A constable was a debt collector, covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, when it went beyond mere serving, or delivering, a communication. It could not demand payment of unlawful “poundage” and “constable” fees, or threaten to auction off a car after seizure when it had no intention or authority to do so.
The case is Andrews v. South Coast Legal Services, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69435 (D.Mass. 2008).
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