After three years of litigation, Friedman Law Offices, in collaboration with Legal Counsel for the Elderly, forced debt collectors to pay eligible DC residents $1500 for alleged violations of federal and DC consumer protection statutes. In the class action lawsuit Defendants Midland Funding, and its captive law firm Mann Bracken also agreed not to pursue the collection of any debts purportedly owed by class members. In addition to the cash payments, the Defendants also agreed to pay any unclaimed settlement funds to the Consumer Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia to further assist District residents in dealing with unfair and deceptive trade practices.
In the lawsuit, the named Plaintiff, Mildred Werts, described how Midland acquired consumer debt for a few cents on the dollar from debt holders. Midland then hired the law firm Mann Bracken to pursue the collection of such debts in the District of Columbia, seeking to collect, through the initiation of legal proceedings, the full value of the debt from consumers who supposedly owed money.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with collecting a debt. But here, Ms. Werts claimed that the Defendants not only had incomplete records supporting the validity of any debt, but even sued where evidence suggested the three-year statute of limitations on the purported debt had actually expired. Ms. Werts asserted these untimely suits violated both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act. See Werts v. Midland Funding, LLC et al., Case No. 09-cv-02311 (RLW).
Notably, Mann Bracken has since declared bankruptcy and is no longer in existence. They will not be missed.