Have you been sued by Snow & Sauerteig LLP over a debt you allegedly owe?  We may be able to help you.  We defend consumers sued in Indiana state courts and alleged to owe a debt.  We will review your case at no cost to you for potential violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”).  If we find a violation, we may be able to help you without charging you attorney fees.  If we don’t find an FDCPA violation, we still may be able to help by defending you in the matter on a flat-fee basis.  Contact us at 800-817-0461 or here for your free case review.

The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against Tri-Force, Inc., UAR Direct, LLC and Ally Financial Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The lawsuit alleges that agents of Tri-Force breached the peace when they attempted to repossess a vehicle from our client and then, when our client physically resisted the repossession (as was his legal right to do), engaged the police to coerce our client to relinquish possession of the vehicle and thereby accomplish the wrongful repossession. The lawsuit seeks an award of actual and punitive damages, among other relief.

Our office has noticed a disturbing trend of more aggressive repossessions in 2017. It seems that some repo agents will say or do whatever is necessary to accomplish the repossession whether it is legal or not. We believe that stiffer competition and lower profit margins caused by many finance companies’ use of forwarders is partially to blame, combined with the compensation structure used by the repossession industry as a whole. Typically, repossession agents only get paid if they take the vehicle. This creates a strong financial incentive to take the vehicle using whatever means necessary.

It has long been Indiana law that a self-help repossession – a rare delegation of the state’s exclusive prerogative to resolve private disputes in the courts – may only be accomplished if it can be accomplished without a breach of the peace. See Census Fed. Credit Union v. Wann, 403 N.E.2d 348, 350 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980). A potential repossessor must immediately desist upon meeting any resistance – verbal or otherwise.  Id. at 352. This means that simply telling a repo agent that they can’t take the car is enough – legally, anyway – to stop a repossession. A repossession that occurs after such resistance is in breach of the peace and is therefore illegal.

The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against attorney Daniel W. Sandlin and Sandlin Law Group PC. Our client lived in the 10 West Apartments (formerly Cambridge Station Apartments).  She moved out at the expiration of her lease, but the apartment management (Ardizzone Group Management Company) claimed she owed $315 in cleaning expenses.  Daniel W. Sandlin and Sandlin Law Group PC filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ardizzone Group Management Company, as managing agent for 10 West Apartments, in Wayne Township Small Claims Court.  Although our client’s lease provided that attorney fees would be owed only if they were “incurred in obtaining possession of the premises,” Daniel W. Sandlin and Sandlin Law Group PC sought attorney fees in the small claims lawsuit.  The lawsuit against Daniel W. Sandlin and Sandlin Law Group PC alleges that it was a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to attempt to collect attorney fees that were not owed.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, prohibits a debt collector from attempting to collect ANY amount that is not owed by the consumer.  This is a very broad provision and debt collectors violate it often.

Daniel W. Sandlin filed thousands of lawsuits in 2017, mostly on behalf of apartment complexes against consumers.  If you’ve been sued by Daniel W. Sandlin or Sandlin Law Group, and the plaintiff has sought attorney fees, you should check the terms of your lease to see if the plaintiff is entitled to attorney fees.  If not, Daniel W. Sandlin or Sandlin Law Group may have violated the FDCPA.  If you have questions about a possible violation of the FDCPA, please contact us here.

 

The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against Ryan Dillon and Dillon Legal Group. The Complaint alleged that Ryan Dillon and Dillon Legal Group sent a collection letter to an Indiana consumer that failed to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it misrepresented the consumer’s rights under the Act. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Ryan Dillon and the Dillon Legal Group agreed to have a judgment entered against them in the case for more than the maximum statutory damages to which the plaintiff could have recovered in the lawsuit. The Court entered judgment against Ryan Dillon and Dillon Legal Group and is currently in the process of determining the attorney fees the plaintiff is entitled to as well.

To see the collection letter at issue, click here:  Dillon Collection Letter

If you received a collection letter from Ryan Dillon with similar language in bold at the bottom of the letter, you may also have a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If so, contact us here.

Are you being harassed by debt collection calls?  I speak with a lot of Indiana consumers, and harassing debt collection calls are one of the things I hear about over and over again.  What many people don’t know is that it is relatively easy to make these calls stop.  You just have to know what to do.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides boundaries for debt collectors’ telephone communications when attempting to collect a debt.  They can’t call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.  They can’t call the consumer at a time or place known to be inconvenient to the consumer (this could include work).  They can’t call the consumer at work if they know the consumer’s employer prohibits it.  They can’t call a third party in connection with the collection of a consumer’s debt except to obtain location information about the consumer (and even then the debt collector cannot volunteer that they are a debt collector, cannot state that the consumer owes a debt and cannot call the third party more than once).  Debt collectors also can’t call repeatedly with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass.

The FDCPA also provides that a consumer can terminate (virtually) all communication from a debt collector by notifying the debt collector in writing that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication.  This written notification should be made by certified mail because it is only effective upon receipt, and you want to be able to prove it was received.  Any additional communications from a debt collector after receipt of such notice violate the FDCPA.  The debt collector’s only two options at that point are to sue you or leave you alone.

PRESS RELEASE

Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a class action lawsuit against Condor Securitization Trust, Condor Holdco Securitization Trust, Condor Assetco Securitization Trust and Condor Recovery Securitization Trust arising out of the repossession of an Indiana couple’s vehicle. The complaint alleges that the Notice of Sale sent to the plaintiffs did not comply with the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) in a number of respects.  The complaint seeks damages and an injunction to prevent Condor from continuing to violate the law.

The plaintiffs’ finance agreement was immediately assigned to Condor Capital Corporation in April of 2014 when they bought a car from a dealership in Indiana.  Condor Capital Corporation, commonly known as a subprime auto lender, was at the time a major financier of subprime auto loan contracts and had acquired a portfolio of over $300 million in outstanding loans.  Sometime later in 2014, New York state authorities filed a lawsuit against Condor Capital Corporation alleging that Condor “has engaged in a longstanding scheme to steal millions of dollars from its customers — among other unfair, abusive, and deceptive practices.” Eventually, a receiver was appointed by the court to wind down Condor’s affairs.  During the winding down process, the plaintiffs allege that their finance agreement was transferred and assigned to one or more of the defendant trusts named in the lawsuit.

PRESS RELEASE

Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against several defendants, including Santander Consumer USA Inc., over a repossession that allegedly did not comply with Indiana law.  Specifically, the repo agent is alleged to have breached the peace in repossessing the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Indiana law, like most states’, permits a lienholder to repossess a car when the owner defaults on the note. This is an extremely rare – virtually unseen in any other area of law – delegation of the state’s exclusive authority to resolve disputes.  As such, and because it is so likely to be abused and lead to confrontations, violence and injuries, there are strict requirements on when and how a self-help repossession can be conducted.  One of those requirements is that the repossession absolutely must be conducted without a “breach of the peace.”  “Breach of the peace” has been defined by the courts as continued repossession despite resistance by the owner (or the owner’s agent) of ANY KIND.  Simply telling the repo agent that they cannot take the vehicle is sufficient resistance to stop a repossession, provided that it occurs before the repo agent has taken possession of (i.e., hooked up to) the vehicle.  Yes, you read that right, all you have to do (legally at least) to stop the repossession of your car is tell the repo agent that he can’t have it.  In principal, it is as simple as that.  In practice, you can imagine that sometimes doesn’t work.  If it doesn’t, the repossession becomes a wrongful repossession.

PRESS RELEASE

Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore, LLC, a debt collection law firm based in Chicago, Illinois. The lawsuit, which has been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, alleges that Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore filed a debt collection lawsuit against the Indiana consumer in the wrong county and thereby violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).  The FDCPA states that a debt collector can only sue a consumer in one of two places:  the county where the consumer presently lives or in which the contract being sued upon was signed.  Here, the Plaintiff was living in Illinois at the time the lawsuit was filed in Indiana and was living in Michigan at the time the credit card account at issue was opened.  The lawsuit therefore alleges that filing the lawsuit in Indiana violated the FDCPA.

15 U.S.C. 1692i specifically requires a debt collector to file a debt collection lawsuit “only in the judicial district or similar legal entity– (A) in which the consumer signed the contract sued upon; or (B) in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action.”  Despite the plain, unambiguous language  of this section of the FDCPA, debt collectors violate this provision all the time.  There are two primary – related – reasons why.  First, collection lawsuits are being filed in such vast numbers that debt collectors don’t have the time to be careful or to undertake procedures designed to prevent the lawsuits from being filed in the wrong county.  Such procedures would slow the conveyor-belt debt collection process to an intolerable degree.  Suits are therefore filed and served at old addresses that haven’t been confirmed (or lived at) in years simply because that is the address on the debt paperwork.  Debt collectors of course know that lawsuits will regularly be filed against consumers in the wrong county, but to them an FDCPA lawsuit here and there is just the cost of doing business.   Debt collectors aren’t afraid of numerous FDCPA lawsuits because most of the collection lawsuits they file go unanswered.  That is primary reason number two:  most of the lawsuits result in default judgments because the consumer either never learns of the lawsuit or ignores it.  If the consumer doesn’t defend the lawsuit, a default judgment is granted and then the debt collector goes about collecting the judgment.

PRESS RELEASE

Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against the Ohio law firm Sottile & Barile, LLC.  The lawsuit, which has been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, alleges that Sottile & Barile, LLC sent the plaintiff a collection letter on November 6, 2015 that inaccurately advised the consumer of his rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).

The FDCPA requires a debt collector to provide consumers notice of certain rights either in the initial communication with the consumer or within five days thereof.  One of those rights is the right to dispute the debt.  If a consumer disputes the debt in writing within thirty days of receiving notification of the right to do so,  the debt collector must cease collection of the debt until it provides validation of the debt.  If the debt is disputed orally, during a telephone call for instance, the debt collector is NOT required to cease collection until it provides validation.  This is where the Sottile & Barile collection letter is alleged to have gone wrong.  It failed to advise recipients that the dispute must be in writing for the law to require the debt collector to cease collection until it provides validation of the debt.  Here is the actual text of the notice:

PRESS RELEASE

Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces a jury verdict in favor of the firm’s client, Heather N. Kesling.  Ms. Kesling purchased an inexpensive car for $2098 from Hubler Auto Outlet and subsequently found out that it was unsafe to drive.  The evidence at trial showed the vehicle had been driven less than 44 miles before it was permanently put in storage.

An expert testified for Ms. Kesling, and he told the jury that in his opinion the car was dangerous to drive because it could catch on fire, have a catastrophic loss of steering control or lose all power while driving on the interstate.  He also said these defects would have been obvious to any mechanic who looked at the car.  Another witness confirmed the dangerousness of the car’s defects.