Nearly six months after closing, collection law firm giant Mann Bracken is still receiving payments mailed from delinquent debtors. Figuring out who should receive the money is one of the biggest challenges facing the receiver appointed to oversee the firm's unwinding.
Mann Bracken, which was based in Rockville, Md., opted to be placed into receivership by the Montgomery County (Md.) Circuit Court, a rarely used alternative to bankruptcy. Claims against the firm are multiplying and more lawsuits are in the works, reports the Baltimore Sun.
The firm imploded in January (Court Dismisses Up To 25,000 Lawsuits; Giant Falls) after the spinoff company handling its support work toppled into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cutting the law firm off from the computerized files it needed to function.
Receiver Cheryl E. Rose is negotiating with Mann Bracken's former clients — credit card companies, debt buyers and other firms seeking payment on past-due accounts — to keep a percentage of the money garnished from consumers' wages in the receivership account as the law firm's fee.
That would increase the funds available for the scores of claimants, including attorneys, process servers and consumers with lawsuits against Mann Bracken. All believe the firm owes them money.
Rose says she is considering lawsuits against "parties we believe responsible for the condition Mann Bracken found itself in," which could ultimately mean more money for claimants. She didn't specify whom the firm might sue.
Mann Bracken has managed to remove its computer records from the bankruptcy proceedings of Axiant, which had handled that side of the collections work. Rose said she expects to be able to determine in most cases which creditors are owed money, but some of the garnishments will not be easy to forward.
Mann Bracken was thought to have tens of thousands of open collection lawsuits against Maryland consumers when it alerted the state's district court system in January that it was shutting down, prompting the chief judge to order the firm's cases be tossed out.
The courts are still dismissing the suits — and officials are still uncertain about the total number.