Cases brought to enforce consumer rights established by statutes such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) are sometimes criticized as lawyer-driven vehicles that have more to do with efforts to obtain attorney’s fees than they do with providing relief to the plaintiff-consumers. See, e.g., In re WorldCom, Inc. Sec. Litig., 219 F.R.D. 267, 285-286 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (“the minimal recovery available to each plaintiff under the FDCPA creates legitimate concern regarding client control of the litigation”); Lynn A.S. Araki, Rx for Abusive Debt Collection Practices: Amend the FDCPA, 17 U. Haw. L. Rev. 69, 108 (1995) (“Attorneys appear to be more interested in the mandatory statutory award of attorney’s fees than they are in protecting the rights of consumers.”). This case may add fuel to the fire; here, at least according to the defendant, the lawyer has dispensed with the plaintiff altogether—the attorney is the plaintiff. Omar Sulaiman, an attorney who specializes in consumer protection litigation, brings this action against Biehl & Biehl (“Biehl”), a debt collection agency, seeking to collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees based on two communications he had with Biehl concerning a disputed $32 debt concerning a newspaper subscription. Both parties have filed summary judgment motions; for the following reasons, Sulaiman’s motion is denied and Biehl’s motion is granted.
Sulaiman v. Biehl & Biehl, No. 15 C 04518, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136677, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 30, 2016).