G&M Approved as Class Counsel in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case

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On November 28, 2011 U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Garbis conditionally certified a settlement class of about 8,500 people in Maryland and D.C. in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case filed by Thomas Minton and co-counsel Bernard Kennedy of The Kennedy Law Firm.

The case arises from a form collection letter sent by a Maryland law firm to people who owed money to credit card issuers, banks, and other consumer lenders. In its standard collection letter, the law firm informed the consumers that they had overdue “balances” that included legal costs and fees.

In fact, in most cases, there were no legal costs or fees owed, and the “balances” listed in the letters were overstated by as much as 15-20%.

Many people settled their accounts based on this false representation of what they actually owed.

The settlement agreement that Judge Garbis has conditionally approved (a final approval hearing is scheduled for February 10, 2012), will reimburse those people for 15% of the amounts they paid, with a cap of $100 per claim.

People who paid nothing on their balances will still be able to receive up to $40 in cash simply by mailing in a claim form. Claim forms will be mailed to class members during the first two weeks of December. As lead counsel for the class, G&M will oversee the claims process.

The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from providing misleading information about debts, and from trying to collect sums that are not legally owed. The leading case in Maryland on the FDCPA and class certification issues, Peoples v. Wendover Funding, Inc., was successfully prosecuted by Thomas Minton in 1998 as lead counsel for a nationwide class of mortgage fraud victims.

Mr. Minton continues to represent consumers in FDCPA actions in Maryland and in federal courts throughout the northeast.

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