26 February 2013

Law in Plain English: Marx v. General Revenue Corp.

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

Marx v. General Revenue Corp.

Marx filed a lawsuit claiming that General Revenue Corporation (GRC) threatened and harassed her in order to collect on a debt. She lost, and the District Court awarded costs to GRC pursuant to a court rule that gives discretion to the court to do so. Marx challenged the award of costs, claiming that a separate federal statute authorized costs only when the original claim was made in "bad faith and for the purpose of harassment." The question here was whether the court award costs even if the claim wasn't made in "bad faith and for the purpose of harassment." In other words, did the statute supplant or limit the rule. By looking at the language and context of the statute, the Supreme Court ruled (in a 7-2 decision) that the statute is not contrary to the rule. As a result, Marx's challenge failed. The practical impact of this decision is that courts will continue to be allowed discretion to award costs to defendants, even if the original complaint was not made in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment.
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