Consumers filed a total of 1,139 lawsuits in March, up from 1,043 in February, as Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases continue to post slight monthly gains in 2013, bucking a downward trend seen last year, according to WebRecon LLC, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company that pulls the data from U.S. district courts.
FDCPA cases in March totaled 987, up from 932 in February and 930 in January. Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuits also are up from 2012, although the growth rate is slowing. FCRA cases totaled 168 in March compared to 152 in February.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuits dropped to 141 in March compared with 159 in February but are up significantly from a year ago. "TCPA has charged out of the gate, overwhelming last year's explosive growth by nearly doubling its numbers over this time last year," according to Jack Gordon, CEO at WebRecon. "While it is still too early to make this prediction, if the trends continue this might just be the year TCPA overtakes FCRA as the second most sued-under consumer statute."
Of the total consumer statute lawsuits in March, there were an estimated 1,177 unique plaintiffs - including 435 (or 37%) who previously had sued under consumer statutes. Combined, those plaintiffs have filed about 2,103 lawsuits since 2001.
Lawsuits were filed in 160 different district court branches and an estimated 944 different collection agencies and creditors were sued in the month.
So far this year, a total of 3,262 lawsuits have been filed - including 2,864 FDCPA cases, 624 FCRA cases and 478 TCPA cases. Craig Thor Kimmel was the most active consumer attorney in March, representing 32 consumers. For the year, Sergei Lemberg has represented 94 consumers, followed by Kimmel with 80.