Gray v. Suttell & Assocs. (Majority)Annotate this Case
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington certified a question of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court. This lawsuit involved two consolidated suits. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, alleging claims under Washington's Consumer Protection Act (WCPA), chapter 19.86 RCW, and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. sections 1692-1692p. These claims were based in part on plaintiffs' assertion that Midland Funding's business arrangements and debt collection processes violated the WCAA. The questions the federal court raised were: (1) Does the definition of "collection agency" in RCW 19.16.1 00(2) include a person who purchases claims that are owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another, undertakes no activity on said delinquent consumer account but rather contracts with an affiliated collection agency to collect the purchased claims, and is the named plaintiff in a subsequent collection lawsuit for said purchased claims?; and (2) Can a company file lawsuits in Washington on delinquent consumer accounts without being licensed as a collection agency as defined by RCW 19.16.1 00(2)? The Supreme Court responded that that debt buyers fall within the definition of "collection agency" under the Washington Collection Agency Act (WCAA), chapter 19.16 RCW, when they solicit claims for collection. Accordingly, if the court finds that a company (party in this suit) solicited claims, then the company was a collection agency and it could not file collection lawsuits without a license.