A federal jury in New Mexico awarded plaintiff Lucinda Yazzie $1.26 million in a case that accused a collection law firm of twice attempting to garnish her wages for a debt she did not owe. At issue in the underlying debt collection matter was an alleged $5,000 credit card account debt owed to Target. In December 2006, Target National Bank assigned the past due credit card account of a "Lucinda Yazzie" to the collections law firm of Farrell & Sandlin. When Plaintiff was initially contacted, she insisted that she had never had a Target credit card and that there was another person in her area with the same name. Plaintiff said that she frequently got calls from other creditors attempting to find the other person. Despite being informed of the mistaken identity, the law firm filed a suit in April 2007 and got a garnishment order against the Plaintiff. When they presented the order to Plaintiff's employer, the business insisted that they had the wrong person. The garnishment writ was then dropped. Incredibly, less than two years later, the law firm filed and won another garnishment order for the same account. This time, Plaintiff's employer not only formally denied the request, but followed up with phone calls, leading to a hearing where the collection law firm failed to appear. In March 2010, Plaintiff filed suit claiming violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and other consumer statutes. Prior to the trial, the law firm admitted that it was provided with the correct social security number by Target National Bank and that the social security number "was changed in the law firm's records by an unauthorized act of a former employee." The firm claimed that this went against company policy and entered a bona fide error defense, which was rejected by the Court. The jury awarded Plaintiff $161,000 in actual damages for emotional distress and $1.1 million in punitive damages. Like this: Be the first to like this post.
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