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Marx v. General Revenue Corp.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act generally prohibits debt collections from communicating with third parties about a consumer’s debt. Plaintiff Marx sued GRC, a debt collector, for sending a fax to her employer that included information concerning a debt. A panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the fax did not constitute a communication within the meaning of the FDCPA because the fax did not indicate that it related to a debt. The court also upheld an award of costs against Marx. As co-counsel seeking rehearing en banc in the Tenth Circuit, we argued that the full court should rehear the case because the panel’s interpretation of “communication” is inconsistent with the vast majority of court decision and undermines the protections of the FDCPA. We also urged the full court to rehear and reverse the award of costs because the FDCPA states that costs may be awarded to a prevailing defendant only if the plaintiff acted in bad faith and with the purpose of harassment, circumstances absent in this case. The court denied the petition for rehearing, and we filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking Supreme Court review. On February 26, 2013, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, affirmed the court of appeals. The Court held that the a prevailing defendant in an FDCPA case may be awarded costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), even in cases brought by the plaintiff in good faith.