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Yesterday ACA International (ACA)  filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (AG) regarding the ban on outbound debt collection calls and the legal enforcement of debt, which the AG's office enacted by an emergency measure in late March. The lawsuit requests injunctive relief from AG's emergency measures. Unlike monetary relief, where an aggrieved party receives financial redress for the harm done, injunctive relief is an equitable remedy that requests the court order someone to do or not do something. The complaint can be found here; the motion for a temporary restraining order and supporting memorandum of law can be found here.

ACA's lawsuit challenges the AG's actions on constitutional grounds, including violations of the First Amendment (free speech), Fourteenth Amendment (due process and equal protection under the law); and the separation of powers. ACA's notice to its members discusses the grounds for its arguments:

ACA’s memorandum of law recites that while Healey does have the authority to issue regulations under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law and to issue emergency regulations under other provisions of Massachusetts law, her power is not unlimited. In addition, ACA’s memorandum of law observes that case law has long held that emergency exercise of power “must be carefully scrutinized” because it can easily “lead to improper denial of public hearings or comment on regulations . . . and possibly to other serious abuse.”

Additionally, ACA’s memorandum of law states that “[i]njunctive relief from this regulation, which the attorney general announced would be issued on an emergency basis and was released without soliciting public comment, will provide concrete effects for Massachusetts businesses and citizens. It will advance the free flow of truthful and helpful information between creditors, debt collectors, and consumers. It will allow small business debt collectors (including those collecting for indispensable health care providers) to access the courts that are open to them—the courts that are open to everyone.”


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