To file suit, perchance to bring suit; aye, there’s the rub.

In Serna v. Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka, P.C., the plaintiff alleged that a debt collector had sued him in an impermissible venue under the FDCPA .  No. 12-20529 (Oct. 7, 2013). The defendants obtained summary judgment on limitations; the question was whether the offending act under the FDCPA — to “bring such action” — was filing of the suit or service. The Fifth Circuit found that the term “bring” is ambiguous in this context, which justifies consideration of the statute’s history and purpose.  It then concluded that “the FDCPA’s remedial nature compels the conclusion that a violation includes both filing and notice,” and reversed.  A dissent argued that the term was not ambiguous, since the term “brought” refers only to filing in another provision of the statute.

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