Submitted: December 12, 2017
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and MELLOY, Circuit Judges.
WOLLMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Hill brought suit against Accounts Receivable Services, LLC
(Accounts Receivable), under the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq, (the
Act). The district court granted Accounts Receivable's
motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed Hill's
complaint. Hill appeals, challenging the district court's
interpretation of the Act. We affirm.
October 30, 2015, Accounts Receivable filed suit against Hill
on an assigned debt from Allina Health System (Allina),
seeking payment for unpaid medical services totaling $2,
997.63 and for statutory interest under Minnesota Statutes
§ 334.01. During a hearing before the Conciliation Court
for the Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota, Accounts
Receivable submitted exhibits-the authenticity of which Hill
challenged-purporting to document the assignment. The
conciliation court ruled in favor of Hill and issued its
judgment on a standard form, checking a box stating that
"Plaintiff has not demonstrated an entitlement to relief
and recovers zero." The judgment contained no further
legal analysis. Hill subsequently filed this action, alleging
that Accounts Receivable's conduct before the
conciliation court violated the Act. We review de
novo the district court's ruling on a motion for
judgment on the pleadings. United States v. Any & All
Radio Station Transmission Equip., 207 F.3d 458, 462
(8th Cir. 2000).
argues that the district court erred in its interpretation of
15 U.S.C. § 1692e and its subparts that state that
"[a] debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or
misleading representation or means in connection with the
collection of any debt." See also 15 U.S.C.
§§ 1692e(2) and 1692e(10). This includes a
prohibition on threatening "to take any action that
cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be
taken." 15 U.S.C. § 1692e(5). Hill argues that the
district court erred by applying a materiality standard to
these provisions. We disagree.
Hahn v. Triumph Partnerships LLC, 557 F.3d 755 (7th
Cir. 2009), the Seventh Circuit addressed whether a
materiality standard applies to § 1692e. The court
explained that the Act "is designed to provide
information that helps consumers to choose intelligently, . .
. immaterial information neither contributes to that
objective (if the statement is correct) nor undermines it (if
the statement is incorrect)." Id. at 757-58
(citations omitted). The court reasoned that because
"[a] statement cannot mislead unless it is material, 
a false but non-material statement is not actionable."
Id. at 758. We find this reasoning persuasive. We
join the Seventh Circuit and the other circuits that have
applied a materiality standard to § 1692e. Id.
at 757-58; Elyazidi v. SunTrust Bank, 780 F.3d 227,
234 (4th Cir. 2015); Jensen v. Pressler &
Pressler, 791 F.3d 413, 421 (3d Cir. 2015); Miller
v. Javitch, Block & Rathbone, 561 F.3d 588, 596 (6th
Cir. 2009); Donohue v. Quick Collect, Inc., 592 F.3d
1027, 1033 (9th Cir. 2010); see also Janson v. Katharyn
B. Davis, LLC, 806 F.3d 435, 437-38 (8th Cir. 2015)
(rejecting the argument that any false statement by a debt
collector is a per se violation of § 1692e).
argues that even under a materiality standard, Accounts
Receivable made materially false representations by claiming
that the documents submitted to the conciliation court were
authentic. Hill does not deny that his family received
medical care from Allina or that Allina assigned the debt to
Accounts Receivable. Instead, he argues that Accounts
Receivable cannot "acquir[e] documentation to establish
its debt collection claims" and that the documents
submitted to the conciliation court contained a number of
false statements. In Hemmingsen v. Messerli &
Kramer, P.A., 674 F.3d 814, 820 (8th Cir. 2012), we
explained that a debt collector's loss of a collection
action-standing alone-does not establish a violation of the
Act. "[T]he fact that a lawsuit turns out ultimately to
be unsuccessful" does not "make the bringing of it
an 'action that cannot legally be taken.'"
Id. (quoting Heintz v. Jenkins, 514 U.S.
291, 295-96 (1995)). Accounts Receivable's inadequate
documentation of the assignment did not constitute a
materially false representation, and the other alleged
inaccuracies in the exhibits are not material.
also argues that Accounts Receivable violated the Act by
engaging in unfair practices. Under 15 U.S.C. § 1692f,
"[a] debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable
means to collect or attempt to collect any debt."
Included within that definition is "[t]he collection of
any amount . . . unless such amount is expressly authorized
by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law."
15 U.S.C. § 1692f(1). Hill argues that Accounts
Receivable violated these provisions by attempting to collect
interest under Minnesota Statutes § 549.09. Accounts
Receivable's conciliation court complaint, however,
sought interest under Minnesota Statutes § 334.01.
Whether § 334.01 applies to Accounts Receivable's
conciliation court claim is a question of Minnesota law that
has not been decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Hogenson v. Hogenson, 852 N.W.2d 266, 272-74
(Minn.Ct.App. 2014). Furthermore, the text of § 334.01
does not prohibit Accounts Receivable from recovering such
interest. That Hill may have had a valid legal defense to the
application of the statute does not mean that Accounts
Receivable attempted to collect interest that is not
permitted by law.
judgment is affirmed.
The Honorable Donovan W. Frank, United
States District Judge for the District of ...