FDCPA Cases — What Does It Mean To Be “Removed” To Federal Court?

FDCPA Cases — What Does It Mean To Be “Removed” To Federal Court?

FDCPA Cases -- What Does It Mean To Be "Removed" To Federal Court?If you file a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case against an abusive debt collector, and you file it in Alabama state court, the debt collector normally has the right to “remove” the case from state court and put it in federal court.

Let’s talk about how this can happen and then why it happens.

If you sue under a federal statute, such as the FDCPA, the defendant has the right to remove the case to federal court.

This has long been the rule and still is the rule.  This is known as “federal question” jurisdiction.  If the case could have been filed directly in federal court under a federal statute, then it can be removed to federal court.

If you sue a defendant who lives in a state outside of Alabama, and you sue for more than $75,000, the defendant has the right to remove the case to federal court.

This is known as “diversity” jurisdiction and the  idea is if you see a person or company from out of state, for more than $75,000, there is a danger of “home cooking” in your state court so the defendant can take the case to federal court.

This is an outdated theory but in times past state court judges were viewed as more favorable to local companies and individuals.

Having litigated cases for over 20 years in state court and federal courts in Alabama and other states, I have not seen this.

I’ve been in federal court in Manhattan and detected no bias against me for being from out of state.

Same thing for out of state companies in Alabama state court — they are treated fairly.

But this is still the rule.

Normally if you sue under the FDCPA you are going to be suing for more than $75,000 and most debt collectors are considered residents of a state other than Alabama so this rule will apply.

This is why debt collector remove cases to federal court.

They believe they will get more favorable treatment than in state court.

Think about it from the perspective of a debt collector — the management and ownership.

As well as the lawyer hired to defend the collector.

What if the case goes badly for them and they get hit with a six figure verdict.

In Alabama state court.

The criticism against them would be overwhelming by their friends in New York, Philadelphia, etc.

“How could you let this case stay in some Alabama state court?”

It would be invalid criticism but its an easy attack on the debt collector.

But if they “remove” the case to federal court and get hit with a verdict, they can say “Well, what else could we do?  We were in federal court.”

What they could do is make a reasonable settlement but often they resist doing this.

Anyway, whether it is justified or not, most debt collectors sued in state court feel compelled — in a knee jerk type reaction — to remove the case to federal court.

This is not a bad thing — we usually prefer to be in federal court.

However, understand that if you sue in state court under the FDCPA, you will probably be removed to federal court.  We don’t want you to be surprised by this happening.

Contact Us.

Thinking about suing a debt collector and haven’t hired an attorney yet?  Then feel free to get in touch with us.  Or if you are not sure about suing a collector, we’ll be happy to help answer your questions.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447. 

Or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you. 

We look forward to chatting with you.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-John G. Watts

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