Two for the Price of One? The First Circuit Holds that a Violation of the FDCPA is a Per Se Violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute

By: Brian M. Forbes, Laura P. Rich

A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, McDermott v. Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, P.C., may have broad implications for persons and entities involved in debt-collection activities in Massachusetts. In McDermott, the First Circuit addressed the scope of the Massachusetts consumer protection statute, M.G.L. c. 93A, § 11 (“Chapter 93A”) and its interplay with the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”). While prior decisions from the First Circuit had suggested that a violation of the FDCPA may also be a per se (intrinsically or by itself) violation of Chapter 93A, the Court took a fresh look at the issue in McDermott and made clear that it is. Notably, the coupling of FDCPA claims with a state unfair and deceptive trade practices statute could provide plaintiff debtors with additional avenues of relief, including statutory damages and injunctive relief.

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