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JDB Getting Sued for a Change

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Just came across a ingesting article over the weekend, thought I might share with everyone.  Feel free to post your thoughts and feelings J   



@Sammyvill  Thank you for posting this article! While some CIC members know about the case against Fred Hanna, this article has a link to a fascinating case from federal court in New Jersey decided on 6/30/14.  More from NJ consumer attorney Philip Stern  http://www.philipstern.com/Cases.html



". . . .The state court complaint filed in the state action here, however, was reviewed by an attorney for approximately four seconds. The case law is sparse, and it is possible for reasonable people to disagree as to what constitutes reasonable attorney review. But whatever reasonable attorney review may be, a four-second scan is not it.
Applying the law to the substantially undisputed facts, I find that Pressler violated the FDCPA when it signed, filed, and served a state-court complaint against Bock without substantial attorney review. . . .


First, the undisputed evidence shows that Gulko, and by extension, Pressler, neither drafted nor carefully reviewed the complaint. Mr. Gulko was the only attorney involved in the entire process. He admits that the draft complaint was on his computer screen for no more than four seconds. (Gulko Aff. at ¶ 12). He states that his brief review consisted of comparing certain contents of the complaint, displayed on one of his computer screens, to data appearing on his other computer screen, to ensure the complaint’s accuracy. (Id. at ¶J 5-6, 8).The evidence shows, then, that in those four seconds Mr. Gulko’s eyes darted back and forth between his two computer monitors, making sure the debtor name, creditor name, and amount of indebtedness stated on the complaint reflected the data file stored by Pressler. (See id.). Gulko’s rapid look-over of the complaint against Bock, one of 673 complaints he reviewed that day (Gulko Aff. at ¶ 12), cannot really be considered a careful review of the complaint, let alone an exercise of the professional skills of a lawyer.
Second, even if Gulko had somehow managed to carefully review the complaint in those four seconds, it cannot be said that he conducted any inquiry into Midland’s claim against Bock. There is no dispute that neither Gulko nor any attorney at Pressler had any involvement in the Bock matter prior to Gulko’s final review on October 20, 2010. (See Gulko Dep. Testimony at 26:14 to 27:12; Gulko Aff. at ¶ 9; Felt Aff. at ¶J 9-26). I find that no inquiry whatever could conceivably have occurred within the time that Gulko spent reviewing the complaint against Bock. This fleeting review was not sufficient to permit an attorney to form a good faith opinion concerning the evidentiary support for Midland’s claim against Bock or the applicable legal basis for that claim. That is an inescapable inference from the four-second duration of Gulko’s review— but there is more. The undisputed evidence confirms that neither Gulko nor anyone else at Pressler (including its vaunted computer system) ever reviewed basic materials like the underlying cardmember agreement (to confirm that there was a legal basis to collect from Bock, to confirm what law governed, and to confirm that venue was proper). No one at Pressler reviewed the assignment that allegedly transferred ownership of the debt to Midland. (See Bock’s Statement at ¶J 47, 50; Pressler’s Resp. Statement at ¶ 47, 50). Yet the very first allegation in the complaint against Bock is that “[Midland Funding LLC] is now the owner of the defendant(s) [sic] HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A. account number 5458001561298245 which is now in default.” (Williamson Cert. at Ex.  B ). There can be no legitimate contention that Gulko, through reasonable inquiry, arrived at a good faith belief in the truth of this allegation. Yet, by filing a complaint, he impliedly represented that he had. 
If there were evidence in the record that the attorney had acquired knowledge of the pertinent contents of the cardmember agreement or the chain of assignment through some other, indirect means, it might be possible to give less weight to the four-second duration of review. But there is no such evidence; Pressler took the electronic data at face value. The inquiry implied by the attorney’s filing of the complaint simply did not occur. . . . And, as noted above, no person or computer at Pressler ever checked the cardholder agreement or the chain of assignment.
In sum, the evidence shows that the only attorney involvement in connection with Midland’s claim against Bock prior to Pressler filing suit on Midland’s behalf was a hurried, ministerial review of the accuracy of certain aspects of the complaint. There was no reasonable inquiry or exercise of professional judgment. This would not meet the Lesher/Nielson standards for meaningful attorney involvement when sending collection letters, and it does not meet the standards for filing a complaint."
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