Atlas Consumer Law Perseveres & Wins Oliva v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Leibsker & Moore LLC

Press Release ( - CHICAGO - Aug 04, 2017 - Atlas Consumer Law delivered a very rare but successful result on behalf of its client in the case of Oliva v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Leibsker & Moore LLC. Despite losing once, appealing, and losing yet again, the firm was able to persevere against all odds and ultimately prevail.

The facts are simple, but the legal issues presented were rather complex, causing the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse itself. Oliva defaulted on a credit card account and Defendant filed suit in Cook County’s First Municipal District. At the time the suit was filed, Plaintiff did not reside in Cook County’s First Municipal District. While Defendant’s suit against Plaintiff was pending, the 7th Circuit in Suesz v. Med-1 Solutions, Inc. overturned its own ruling in Newsom v. Friedman, which did not require that Defendant file the suit against Plaintiff in the municipal district where he resided. To the dismay of debt collectors, the 7th Circuit applied its ruling in Suesz retroactively, thus creating liability for suits filed by debt collectors that were per se lawful per the 7th Circuit’s ruling in Newsom at the time they were filed.

The Defendant argued that its reliance on Newsom excused its violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it was a bona fide error as defined by the FDCPA. The District Court agreed with Defendant and found that although a violation of the FDCPA occurred, Defendant’s violation resulted from a bona fide error.  Oliva appealed to the 7th Circuit arguing that Defendant’s violation arose from a mistake of law, which the Supreme Court in Jerman v. Carlisle affirmatively held does not avail Defendant to the bona fide error defense. A three judge panel from the 7th Circuit affirmed the District Court and found that the Supreme Court precedent set by Jerman does not apply because Defendant’s violation did not arise from Defendant’s mistake of law, but that of a mistake by the 7th Circuit itself. Accordingly, the 7th Circuit held Defendant was entitled to the bona fide error defense. Olive then petitioned the 7th Circuit for a rehearing in front of all eleven 7th Circuit judges which is known as a rehearing en banc. Against all odds, the 7th Circuit granted Oliva’s petition and heard the case with all judges present. In an 7-4 vote, the 7th Circuit, sitting en banc, vacated the 3 judge panel’s decision affirming the District Court’s decision finding in favor of Defendant and held that the Supreme Court precedent in Jerman applies because Defendant’s violation was a mistake of law, regardless whom made the mistake. Having the 7th Circuit reverse its own three judge panel is an extremely rare event. Oliva and his counsel’s persistence that the Court properly apply Supreme Court precedent paid off against all odds. This is a major victory for consumers who were subjected to abusive collection practices under Newsom for 18 years.

Atlas Consumer Law specializes in consumer law. Atlas Consumer Law is located in Lombard, Illinois and can be contacted at (312) 313-1613.

Source : Atlas Consumer Law
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