New opinion — debt-collection suit reversal

Sometimes, the court’s own summary says it best:

Timothy McLaughlin had a mortgage. As a result of an error, the mortgage company  believed that he was in default and referred the matter to the law firm … (collectively “PHS”).    PHS sent McLaughlin a letter about the debt that he claims violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692  et seq.  The District Court  dismissed certain  claims because McLaughlin did not ask PHS to validate the debt before he filed suit. Because we conclude that he is not required to do so, we will reverse. We will, however, affirm the District Court’s imposition of  sanctions against PHS for its failure to produce certain documents during discovery.

The case is McLaughlin v. Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg. Opinion by Shwartz, joined by Smith and Vanaskie. Arguing counsel were Trent Echard for the plaintiff and Jonathan Bart for the debt-collecting firm.