June 20, 2016
Semantics! Sometimes it boils down to just one word. Such was the focus of the very first Opinion to come from the newly appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch in the case Henson v. Santander. After a dense grammatical discussion of the word “owed” in the context of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), Justice Gorsuch affirmed the decisions of the District court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals concluding that defendant, Santander, does not qualify as a debt collector under the definition of the FDCPA.
Besides the petitioners’ creative account of past vs. present participles and how that can affect the intended meaning of the FDCPA, Justice Gorsuch’s Opinion looks at a few other angles in attempt to answer the ultimate question: Who qualifies as a “debt collector?”