On September 29, 2014 we filed a lawsuit against the Law Offices of Michael Stillman, who does business as Stillman Law Office, on behalf of a consumer. Instead of fighting, Stillman wisely conceded and allowed a judgment to be entered against it based upon the allegations in the complaint. Another victory for consumers.
The complaint in Whiting v. Stillman Law Office alleged multiple violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The first of the allegations dealt with Stillman’s failure to validate a debt upon receiving a proper, timely request for validation. The plaintiff alleged that after receiving a letter from Stillman’s in 2009 that provided that if she disputed the debt in writing within 30 days she would receive validation of the debt, she made such a dispute. Stillman received the dispute and acknowledged it by writing the plaintiff another letter to let her know that the documents were being ordered and will be sent over once received. Those documents never arrived. Instead, in March of 2103, Stillman started its collection process over, and sent the plaintiff another letter seeking to collect the debt, and again providing her the right to obtain validation of the debt. This conduct violated 15 U.S.C. §1692g(b)
Stillman’s mishaps did not end there. Again, after receiving the second letter that let the plaintiff know that she can obtain validation of the debt by sending in a written dispute, she again sent in a dispute and demand for validation. And again, Stillman sent the plaintiff a letter that let her know that the documents she requested were being ordered and would be sent over once received. As expected, the documents never came. However, this time Stillman did not sit quietly for four years. This time, Stillman went on the attack and filed a lawsuit against the consumer. As Stillman continued its collection efforts by filing a lawsuit despite not yet validating a debt upon a timely written request, Stillman again violated the FDCPA, section 1692g(b).
Amazingly, the story gets worse. The lawsuit that was filed by Stillman against the consumer was not timely as the statute of limitations over the debt had expired. The debt occurred in the state of Michigan, where the statute of limitations to sue over a debt is six (6) years. It had been more than six years since the last activity of any kind occurred on the account. As such, the lawsuit against the consumer was not timely. But Stillman just could not accept that. So in response to the consumer’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit wrongfully filed against her, Stillman sought to amend the lawsuit so as to allege that there were more recent payments made on the account. The consumer, of course, denied this and stuck to her statute of limitations defense – demanding that Stillman prove these so-called recent payments. Stillman gave up and dismissed the case against her. There were no payments and the allegations were false.
Another violation of the FDCPA alleged in Whiting v. Stillman dealt with Stillman misrepresenting who the original creditor was on the debt. In its correspondence to the plaintiff seeking to collect the debt, Stillman listed that the “original creditor” of the account was Midland Funding, LLC. It may not be that well known to the average consumer, but Midland Funding LLC is a debt buyer, and not a company that originates loans or other lines of credit. Stillman made a misrepresentation of a material fact about the debt, thus violating the FDCPA. Oddly, it was not as if Stillman did not know the identity of the original creditor. After all, when it filed its lawsuit against the plaintiff, it named the original creditor in that case.
As stated above, Stillman offered to have a judgment against them in the consumer’s case. The evidence was stacked up against them, and the violations of the law were obvious. A judgment was entered in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $3,250, plus the court will now decide the issue of attorney fees and costs – as the law provides that the collector must pay these fees in a successful FDCPA case.
If you are suffering from the same or similar treatment from the Stillman Law Office, contact SmithMarco for a free consultation.