Thursday, April 26, 2012

Woman Awarded $10 Million Judgment From Debt Collection Agency Struggles To Collect

Last year collection agencies across the U.S. were reeling after a judge awarded a W. Virginia woman a $10,860,000 judgment for harassment.  Diana Mey isn't just your average citizen, in 1999 she was named People Magazine's "Most Intriguing People of the Year" after winning a class action lawsuit against a major telemarketer whose salesmen kept calling people after being asked to stop.

It took a year before Mey found attorneys Martin Sheehan and Patrick Cassidy who were willing to take her case because the attorneys she contacted didn't see any financial benefit from the case.
"Yes, I like to make money, " lawyer Sheehan said, "but at some level there's something so atrocious you have to let people come into your office and say -- that's wrong and I'm going to do something about it."
Last May, Mey sued RFA for harassment and illegal collection practices. In August, RFA's lawyer failed to show up in court, so Mey testified unopposed. The judge called RFA's actions "malicious" and ruled that all of the allegations were true. And then he awarded that record judgment of $10,860,000. W. Va. Woman Fights to Collect $10 Million From Debt Collectors - ABCNews

Turns out the lawyers were right they wouldn't be paid, because the judgment is virtually non-collectible.  Keep in mind when you go suing someone, unless they have real property of value where a mortgage is largely paid off, or a strong corporation, there is virtually no means of collecting a judgment unless the person or entity is willing to pay it.  Such is why attorneys commonly search for assets prior to accepting a case.
When "Nightline" went to RFA's Orange County, Calif., office to ask about the case, it was abandoned. RFA is actually a fictitious business name for a company called Global AG, LLC. Records show it is just one of several collection companies run by the same people that often change names and move. "Nightline" also visited other offices registered to people named in Mey's suit, but employees refused to talk and asked us to leave. - W. Va. Woman Fights to Collect $10 Million From Debt Collectors - ABCNews
For Diana Mey, she knows she may never be able to collect the money, but that her lawsuit still serves a purpose.

"I hope that it sends a message to other debt collectors out there that you have to follow the law," she said. "Because if you don't, there are going to be people out there that are going to stand up against you."

Attorneys generally don't like to file lawsuits in order to "send a message" so this is a very rare case indeed.

See the entire ABC Nightline report here.