Public Citizen serves as co-counsel in this Florida-wide class action. The case challenges arrangements under which local prosecutors rent their name and authority to private debt collectors, who use false threats of prosecution to coerce people who have written bad checks to pay various fees. The fees are then split between the debt collectors and the prosecutors. The case includes claims under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. We are litigating similar cases, in cooperation with private co-counsel, in Indiana and California.
The company was able to convince the district court to dismiss the entire class action on the theory that the company was entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. We took an appeal from that decision and secured an important appellate victory in the Eleventh Circuit holding that the private contractor did not enjoy sovereign immunity. Public Citizen attorney Deepak Gupta argued the appeal, which was decided on November 1, 2007. On remand, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment but all proceedings were stayed in light of the sale of all of ACCS's assets, free and clear of liability, under a bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.