The Arkansas Supreme Court last week overturned a judgment the state's Attorney General Dustin McDaniel won against debt collector Jack H. Boyajian.
McDaniel had filed a lawsuit accusing Boyajian of harassing residents of the state while trying to collect debts, sometimes using threats of civil or criminal action and targeting people who owed nothing. The debts were for dishonored checks, phone bills and medical bills.
The high court reversed and dismissed the judgment against Boyajian, who was ordered by a circuit judge last year to pay a $194,000 civil penalty for 776 violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
McDaniel had sued Boyajian in 2007 along with two law offices he once ran in California. At the time, Boyajian was licensed to practice law in California, though he surrendered his license in 2009 after that state’s bar association took action against him.
Boyajian argued on appeal that his actions were carried out in the practice of law and that the Deceptive Trade Practices Act does not apply to the practice of law. The Supreme Court agreed.
McDaniel said in a written statement, “While I respect the Court’s decision, I am deeply troubled by its far-reaching effect on Arkansas consumers and the likely harm that will result.”