Lyngklip & Associates Secure Default Judgment Against Rogue Debt Collectors
On January 5, 2019, Lyngklip & Associates received a report and recommendation for entry of a default judgment against LC Maxwell and Associates, Albert Coston, and Tammy Coston. The complaint alleged that LC Maxwell had harassed and abused Renee Croft and her husband by contacting her mother, threatening prosecution and repeatedly calling her after she requested that Maxwell stop. United States Magistrate Steven Whalen recommended entry of a default judgment in the amount of $101,000.00. Writing in favor of the award, Magistrate Whalen described the conduct supporting that award:
Both Russell and Renee Croft presented credible and compelling testimony regarding the emotional distress they suffered as the result of Defendants' violation of the FDCPA and the MOC. The repeated phone calls and threats to Russell to contact his employer and garnish his wages caused him clear concern for the financial welfare of his family. He took the undoubtedly embarrassing and stressful step of notifying his employer that a debt collector might be contacting them. Likewise, the aggressive and threatening calls to Renee at her place of employment were not only upsetting in and of themselves, but caused her concern that if other employees overheard the calls, they might question her competence as a manager. Plaintiffs have proven emotional distress damages. They have also provided the Court with examples of similar cases in this district where plaintiffs were awarded actual damages in the range of $25,000.00. See Bysouth v. Security Credit Solutions, LLC, No. 16-10519 (E.D. Mich.)(Friedman, J.); Bryant v. Meade & Associates, Inc, No. 15-10199 (E.D. Mich.)(Cohn, J.); see also Zontini v. Merchant Recovery Services, Inc., 2013 WL 5640125 (E.D. Mich. 2013)(Duggan, J.); Green v. Nationwide Arbitration Services, LLC, 2015 WL 7717165 (E.D. Mich. 2015)(Hood, J.). The Plaintiffs' proofs in this case support an award of $25,000.00 in actual damages.
Finally, under the MOC, “[i]f the court finds that the method, act, or practice was a wilful violation, it may award a civil penalty of not less than 3 times the actual damages, or $150.00, whichever is greater and shall award reasonable attorney's fees and court costs incurred in connection with the action.” M.C.L. § 339.916. Based on the evidence of Defendants' blatant and persistent violations of the MOC, and comparing this case to the others from this district cited above, Plaintiffs have shown willful violations, and in addition to the award of $25,000.00 in actual damages, are entitled to an award of treble damages in the amount of $75,000.00.
We are proud to help consumers who face similar abuse from debt collectors. This award should deter other debt buyers and debt collection agencies from coercing payments from consumers by using illegal and abusive collection tactics.