A Victory for Consumers in Maryland Court

Jan 21, 2010, 14:02 ET from Stephen H. Sturgeon & Associates

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Maryland District Court has decided that a creditor should pay a penalty payment to a consumer when a creditor does not follow proper collection procedures and does not have sufficient paperwork to win the lawsuit, according to attorney Stephen H. Sturgeon.  "The creditor filed a lawsuit and then attempted to obtain a settlement payment from the consumer -- in spite of the fact that the creditor had insufficient documentation," explained Mr. Sturgeon.  "In cases such as this, a creditor's attorney can often harass a consumer and persuade a consumer to pay the creditor -- simply because the consumer wants to avoid the expense and aggravation of a trial.  Then if the consumer does not agree to a payment, the creditor's attorney will dismiss the case before trial -- since there is not sufficient basis for the lawsuit to win in court.  However, in this case we were able to obtain a judge's decision that the creditor did not have sufficient basis for the lawsuit.  In cases such as this the creditor can be required to pay a penalty payment to the consumer.  This decision makes it very clear that consumers can win these lawsuits and that creditors and their attorneys should be very careful in the future about filing frivolous lawsuits and harassing consumers."  

The Maryland District Court is the court in which the majority of lawsuits against consumers are filed in Maryland.  Since many consumers in these lawsuits cannot afford attorneys, they must defend themselves against the lawyers representing large banks, credit card companies and other creditors.  Since consumers are not knowledgeable about legal matters, they often cannot evaluate whether there are any deficiencies in the lawsuits and, consequently, agree to a settlement.  

Over the past several months the number of lawsuits filed against consumers has increased dramatically in courts throughout the country.  "Hopefully this decision will reduce the number of these types of lawsuits and help consumers.  Creditors will see that they can be penalized if they do not follow proper procedures and do not have complete documentation.  Creditors will need to be more careful," concluded Mr. Sturgeon.

The case was in Maryland District Court for Montgomery County, in the case of Culotta & Culotta v Sturgeon, 11/17/09.

Contact: Stephen H. Sturgeon, Esquire, 202 393 8033

SOURCE Stephen H. Sturgeon & Associates