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Shiner man fights back against collection agency, files federal suit

By Gheni_Platenburg
Nov. 13, 2011 at 5:13 a.m.
Updated Nov. 14, 2011 at 5:14 a.m.


Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Consumer Protection Act was amended in 1996 to include the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Congress passed the law to address the abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices used by many debt collectors. Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the act.

This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts. People may sue collectors for violating the law and can collect up to $1,000 and attorneys' fees for a violation. A group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or 1 percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

More information on the act can be found at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/fairdebt.pdf

Sources: thefreedictionary.com and law.cornell.edu

Tired of being hounded about debt he says he no longer owes, a Shiner man has filed a federal lawsuit.

Damon Durham filed the lawsuit in federal court recently against Philadelphia-based debt collection company Monarch Recovery Management.

Durham alleges Monarch violated the federal fair debt collection practices act by exhibiting unlawful, abusive and deceptive conduct in its attempts to collect debts.

The defendant filed a response Nov. 7 denying nearly all of the plaintiff's allegations.

"Defendant affirmatively asserts that any alleged violations of the federal debt collection practices act was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error," according to the defendant's response.

Bruce Gelting, general counsel, chief executive officer and secretary for Monarch Recovery Management, declined to comment further on the pending litigation other than to say, "We are confident we can defend our actions in the future."

Messages left for the plaintiff's attorney seeking comment were not returned.

In August, the defendant began placing calls to Durham from an 1-800 number and possibly other numbers demanding payment on a debt Durham owed to Capital One.

But Durham told the collection agency he would not pay the debt because the state statute of limitations had lapsed, according to the lawsuit.

He also asked for the calls to stop.

But the calls continued, coming before 8 a.m. Sept. 2 and Sept. 14.

In its response, Monarch Recovery Management admitted to calling Durham on Sept. 14 at 9 a.m., but the company denied calling Durham at all Sept. 2.

The lawsuit contends that on Sept. 15, a representative for the agency told Durham the statute of limitations was null and void and did not apply to him, and that Monarch would continue to try to collect the money.

While Monarch's response admits that for some unknown reason its representative did make a reference to the statute of limitations being null and void, the defendant took no further action to collect the debt after that call.

Additionally, Monarch Recovery Management has repeatedly threatened to take legal action against Durham unless payment was made, according to the lawsuit.

To date, no such action has begun.

The lawsuit claims Monarch Recovery Management violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by engaging in conduct meant to harass, oppress or abuse someone to collect a debt, including threatening to sue and calling at unreasonable hours.

Durham is seeking a statutory judgment of $1,000 and attorney's fees.

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