By Marti Lythgoe, NL Editor; and Kelly Dicken, FKSC Attorney
“There is currently some unique legislation that is before the General Assembly of TN that will benefit debt buyers and banks in TN if it is passed in the next few weeks,” Attorney Kelly Dicken of Finkelstein, Kern, Steinberg, & Cunningham, P.C. (FKSC) told NL for the blog published by InsideARM on 4/3/13. I kept in touch with her, and when the Governor signed TN SB Bill 224/HB 443, she generously granted me an interview. What follows are some of the questions I asked her and her candid responses.
What prompted proposing/drafting the Bill?
Over the last few years, there have been many lawsuits filed in Tennessee concerning false affidavits claims, based on Double Hearsay Objection 90211 and Business Records Exception 8036. They have mostly affected debt buyers and banks. Debtors who simply said, “I don’t remember what I owe” could get away with not paying their debt, because the proof/paper was inadmissible as evidence. All they needed to do was file a sworn account, or give an oral statement saying they didn’t know the exact amount of the debt. We saw consistent and repeated dismissal of cases based on this “scam” that was becoming an epidemic.
This problem, resulting from the way “acquired records” or “business records” were defined, has had a negative effect on TN in the National Market. The spirit of the law said records could come in, but there was a big loophole that needed to be closed.
What is the main purpose of the bill?
The Bill redefines “Business Records” broadly to include “Acquired Records”—both purchased records and records involved in a contractual relationship. It consists mostly of 13 new definitions of terms that broaden the meaning of what “creditors’ records” include. It is Not anti-consumer. The Bill only works against those who are trying to scam the system and puts everyone on an even footing. Before the enactment of the Bill, certain business records or documents could not come in. Now, because of the redefinition, they can. This gives the judge crucial evidence to look at.
Read the complete white paper, TN Debt Collection Law Changed Dramatically from Passage of SB 224 / HB 443.