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No FDCPA Liability for Allegedly Invalid State Warrant

Link: Chatman v. Weltman, Case No. 17-cv-06032 (N.D. Ill., Sept. 10, 2018).

Plaintiff, represented by Michael Jacob Wood of the Community Lawyers Group, Ltd., filed an action under the Fair Debt Colletion Practices Act. First, Plaintiff alleged Defendant used unfair and unconscionable means to collect a debt in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692f when he obtained an invalid warrant to arrest a consumer for the purposes of collecting a debt. Second, she claims that Defendant used false, deceptive, or misleading representations in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692e by represented an invalid warrant as valid for the purposes of collecting on an alleged debt.

After dispensing with whether the Plaintiff sufficiently listed her claim on her Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition (she did), the court, judge Ruben Castillo, found the Rooker-Feldman doctrine divests the court of the ability to review the claim:

It is true that Plaintiff does not explicitly seek to vacate the warrant issued by the state court or otherwise set aside the state court’s default judgment, but both of her claims rest on a presumption that the warrant issued by the state court was “invalid” under state law … under Rooker-Feldman, the Court cannot make such a presumption, either explicitly or implicitly.

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine arises from Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983), which “hold that the Supreme Court of the United States is the only federal court that may review judgments entered by state courts in civil litigation.” Harold v. Steel, 773 F.3d 884, 885 (7th Cir. 2014).


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