Our client found out that she had a default judgment against her held by RJM Acquisitions, LLC when they were represented by Forster & Garbus, LLP. The judgment was vacated in Buffalo City Court based on improper service. As such, the judgment was no more and our client did not owe any money to the debt collector. However, in 2014 a debt collector from the Law Offices of Steven Cohen LLC called our client. He demanded payment and advised our client that she had to pay the New York statutory judgment interest. Specifically, the collector from the Law Offices of Steven Cohen was demanding that our client pay $669.00 of interest on principal. Since the Buffalo City Court judgment was vacated, our client was not obligated for any amount to RJM Acquisitions including any interest resulting from the fraudulently obtained default judgment. Because the default judgment was vacated and our client was not obligated to pay any amount to the Law Offices of Steven Cohen, the collector’s statement was untrue, deceptive and misleading. The Law Offices of Steven Cohen also engaged in contact with our client when they telephoned her, because they did not send the required 30-day validation notice within five (5) days of the initial telephone conversation when attempting to collect a debt for RJM Acquisitions.
These actions were in violation of the FDCPA. We argued that RJM Acquisitions was vicariously liable for their attorneys’/agents’ FDCPA violations and conduct. In addition to not sending our client the required notice under 15 U.S.C § 1692g, the Law Offices of Steven Cohen never filed a Notice of Change of Attorney as required under NY CPLR 321. Due to not filing the required Notice under CPLR 321, the Law Offices of Steven Cohen was not authorized to proceed in the city court action to attempt to enforce the judgment against our client since Forster & Garbus were still the attorneys of record. Due to the Law Offices of Steven Cohen collecting a consumer debt for which they were not legally authorized to collect, they violated the FDCPA. Furthermore, when Forster & Garbus on behalf of RJM sued our client in Buffalo City Court on an HSBC account, the Buffalo City Court action was time barred. As such, Forster & Garbus and RJM Acquisitions violated the FDCPA by suing our client on a consumer debt past the statute of limitations. Our office brought an FDCPA case based on RJM Acquisitions and the Law Offices of Steven Cohen attempting to enforce a judgment on an underlining debt past the statute of limitations. We were able to use Equitable Tolling because the debt collectors continued to collect on the time barred debt within the last year before our office filed the FDCPA case by engaging in such acts as attempting to garnish our clients’ wages. We then sued RJM Acquisitions, LLC, the Law Offices of Steven Cohen, LLC and Forster & Garbus, LLP under the FDCPA and obtained a confidential settlement for our client.
Practice Area: FDCPA
Debt Buyer: RJM Acquisitions, LLC
Debt Collection Law Firms: Law Offices of Steven Cohen LLC; Forster & Garbus, LLP
Violation: Attempting to collect interest on non-existent judgment
Outcome: Confidential settlement for client