Last Thursday in Anarion Investments LLC v. Carrington Mort. Servs. LLC, the Sixth Circuit held that legal entities, as well as natural persons, may file suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act if it is attempting to collect personal debt. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that the corporation was not a “person” as defined under the FDCPA. The Sixth Circuit reversed.

Judge Kethledge’s opinion begins with the presumption in the federal Dictionary Act that the word “person” includes legal entities unless the context indicates otherwise. It then looked at various provisions in the FDCPA that use “person” to refer to artificial entities, including some provisions that apply exclusively to such entities. Applying basic statutory interpretation principles, it also noted that Congress expressly defined the term “consumer” to mean a “natural person,” but made no such definition for “person.”

Judge Donald dissented, arguing that term “person” should be interpreted in light of the FDCPA’s overall purpose of protecting consumers. She explained that including legal entities in the definition of “person” would “contradict the law’s overall aim.”