On October 27, 2015, Sulaiman Law Group, LTD senior associate, Matthew
Hector, presented an oral argument in
Robert Jackson, et. al. v. Blitt & Gaines, P.C. before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The
issue on appeal was whether an Illinois wage garnishment proceeding is
a legal action taken against a consumer. This issue has been heavily argued
in the lower courts, where consumers have sought redress for wage garnishment
actions taken in a jurisdiction where they do not reside. Those garnishment
actions were based on default judgments also taken in an improper jurisdiction.
Several judges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois have held that a wage garnishment is not a legal action taken
against a consumer.
On appeal, Attorney Hector argued that since a wage garnishment targets
a consumer’s property interest in earned, but unpaid wages, a wage
garnishment is, in essence, an action against a consumer. Blitt &
Gaines, represented by Mr. Michael Starzec, argued that since a wage garnishment
requires the involvement of a consumer’s employer, and because that
employer is served with a summons, the action targets the employer.
Attorney Hector also argued that such a position is in line with the Federal
Trade Commission’s commentary to the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act, which states that if a debt collector obtains its judgment in the
proper jurisdiction, it is free to collect that judgment wherever is necessary.
Mr. Starzec argued that following the Appellants’ arguments would
create a scenario wherein no judgments would be collectable. Once the
Seventh Circuit issues its ruling, we will update our blog with an analysis
of the Court’s ruling.
Audio of the oral argument can be found