In Heathman v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, 2013 WL 755674 (S.D.Cal. 2013), Judge Gonzalez granted summary judgment on an FDCPA claim filed against a debt collector who had sued the wrong person in a state-court debt collection lawsuit. Judge Gonzalez rejected the contention that the creditor could not be held liable, vicariously or otherwise. Judge Gonzalez held that clients could be vicariously liable for the acts of their counsel. But, Judge Gonzalez held that the Plaintiff was not arguing vicarious liability; it was suing the client for its own conduct as a party to the lawsuit.
PRA argues that it cannot be held vicariously li-able for its attorneys filing an erroneous lawsuit against Heathman. [Doc. No. 31 at 7–8.] This argument is frivolous; Heathman does not allege vicarious liability. Rather, Heathman properly charges PRA directly because PRA was the party that actually and wrongly sued her in state court. [See Doc. No. 30–5.] In any event, the Ninth Circuit has expressly rejected the notion that debt collectors cannot be held vicariously liable under the FDCPA for decisions made by their attorneys. Fox v. Citicorp Credit Servs., Inc., 15 F.3d 1507, 1516 (9th Cir.1994) ( “Citicorp contends that it may not be held vicariously liable under [the FDCPA] for a[ ] decision made solely by [its attorney]. We reject this contention as inconsistent with the structure of the FDCPA … In order to give reasonable effect to [the FDCPA], we must conclude that Congress intended the actions of an attorney to be imputed to the client on whose behalf they are taken.”); see also Freeman v. ABC Legal Services Inc., 827 F.Supp.2d 1065, 1076 (N.D.Cal.2011) (“debt collector[s] subject to the FDCPA [ ] bear the burden of monitoring the activities of those it enlists to collect debts on its behalf.”).