Joseph Wood was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her father at their family auto shop in Tucson, Arizona in August 1989. He was sentenced to execution, scheduled to begin July 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm.
At 3:27 pm, a public defender named Robin Konrad, who represented Wood, called Judge Neil Wake of the Arizona Federal District Court, who stepped out of a meeting to take the call, to make an emergency motion for stay of execution. She then three-way-called in Jeffrey Zick, a prosecutor for the attorney general, who also stepped out of a meeting to take the call. The state was botching Wood's execution, and an-hour-and-a-half into the procedure he was writhing and gargling on the gurney, very much alive. During the time in which they haggled over the proper protocol on canceling an execution, Wood died.
Here is the transcript of that phone call.
In an opinion issued July 10 in Crawford v. LVNV Funding, LLC, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a debt collector who files a "proof of claim" in a bankruptcy on a debt that has passed its statute of limitations has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The Court also points out that suing on a debt past its statute of limitations is "uniformly" a violation of the FDCPA. Per the Court's reasoning:
the FDCPA outlaws “stale suits to collect consumer debts” as unfair because (1) “few unsophisticated consumers would be aware that a statute of limitations could be used to defend against lawsuits based on stale debts” and would therefore “unwittingly acquiesce to such lawsuits”; (2) “the passage of time . . . dulls the consumer’s memory of the circumstances and validity of the debt”; and (3) the delay in suing after the limitations period “heightens the probability that [the debtor] will no longer have personal records” about the debt.
The Court found no reason not to apply this same line of thought to debts asserted in bankruptcies as well. The opinion is solidly-reasoned, and I wouldn't be surprised to see other Circuits follow through, if it comes up again.
This week, in "Banks Paying Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Settlements," hero squad Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in a joint effort with the Department of Justice, has ordered GE Capital Retail Bank to pay $225 million to consumers (link: http://www.acainternational.org/cfpbarticle-cfpb-fines-ge-capital-225-million-for-deceptive-credit-card-practices-32311.aspx) to make amends for illegal, deceptive marketing practices and illegal, xenophobic lending practices. As it turns out, GE Capital's telemarketers were "misrepresent[ing] several of its credit card add-on products to consumers by marketing the products as free of charge and as a limited time offer while failing to disclose consumers' ineligibility or that they were making a purchase," as well as denying loans to individuals based on their nation of origin.
Good to see a legal entity taking its role as model citizen seriously.
A debt collector who sends a collection letter with an incorrect creditor and account number to a consumer's parents has violated the FDCPA, says the 9th Circuit in Tourgeman v. Collins Financial Services, Inc. d/b/a USA, LP.
"We are persuaded that, in the context of debt collection, the identity of a consumer's original creditor is a critical piece of information, and therefore its false identification in a [ ] letter would be likely to mislead some consumers in a material way."
"The debtor who takes Paragon Way's letters at face value—either because he does not remember the details concerning his financing of a computer bought several years beforehand, or perhaps because he never knew the identity of his original creditor to begin with—might engage in a fruitless attempt to investigate the facts of this non-existent debt, in a responsible effort to determine how to most effectively respond to the collection notice. This debtor might, quite reasonably, contact American Investment Bank to obtain background information so that he can remember what had earlier transpired, or to obtain any records that the bank holds pertaining to his debt so that he can prove he already had paid it off, if he believes such is the case. But, of course, American Investment Bank would have no record of a loan agreement; and the unknown account number certainly is of no help in getting to the bottom of things. Even if the consumer eventually finds his way to learning that the letter referred to the Dell debt he had incurred with CIT Online Bank, the delay already would have cost him some portion of the thirty days that the FDCPA grants to consumers before having to respond to a collection notice, lest the debt collector be entitled to assume the validity of the debt. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692g. And such “confusion and delay in trying to contact the proper party concerning payment on [the] loan” is precisely the kind of infringement of the consumer's best interests that the FDCPA seeks to combat."
In this case, the collection letters were sent to the Plaintiff's parents. When the collector received no response (from his parents, since, again, it never actually sent anything to the Plaintiff's correct address and instead sent collection letters to his parents), it sued on the debt. This may seem like a pretty ham-handed and egregious violation of the FDCPA, but, unsurprisingly, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals sees it differently, in an article titled "Error in Collection Letter, Even if Consumer Never Received It, Violates FDCPA."
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