Picture this: you are served with a lawsuit by a debt collector for a credit card debt you do not owe. After fighting the suit in court, you discover the debt collector has mistaken you for someone of the opposite gender with a similar name. Despite uncovering this mix-up, the collector continues to prosecute the case against you for another year.
Maria Guadalupe Mejia recently found herself living this nightmare, trapped in a lawsuit by the lawyers representing the national debt buyer Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC.
After nearly two years of harassment, however, Mejia flipped the script and countersued Portfolio for malicious prosecution. It seems the jury saw things her way: earlier this month, it awarded her $252,000 in real damages and $82,990,000 in punitive damages, or "punishment" damages, as a warning to Portfolio Recovery not to use this tactic with other debtors. Punitive damages are reserved for the most egregious collection abuses possible, and are intended to deter future harassment.
As for its part, Portfolio has expressed it incredulity at the size of the judgment. In an email to Credit.com, a spokesman for Portfolio said: "this outlandish verdict cannot stand. We hope and expect the judge will set aside this inappropriate award." My goodness, they hope and expect it!
As of this month, Portfolio has posted first-quarter net income of $58.1 million, beating market expectations.
The attorneys of Drewes Law have access to post and edit the blogs. Attorney Bios.