A Maryland jury has delivered a verdict against Las Vegas-based collection agency LVNV Funding LLC in a class-action lawsuit, hitting the company with a $38 million judgment, the largest against a collection agency in state history. The money will be split among 1,589 people.

The key issue in the case was whether LVNV had a license as a debt collector, as required by Maryland law. Until earlier this month, LVNV reportedly was still obtaining district court judgments in collection actions. It is possible that the $38 million will be substantially reduced in post-trial motions, if the agency pursue that option.

WBALTV11 in Baltimore initially reported on the case, which was handled in Baltimore Circuit Court. 

Details on the case were sparse. In June 2013, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland found that LVNV’s judgments obtained when the company was not licensed were void.

Ronald Canter, an attorney for LVNV Funding, said in a statement that the company will appeal the judgment. 

"This case was completely without merit and as such, the company is determined to receive a fair and impartial hearing. In the end, we believe the court will absolve LVNV and find that it has always operated within the letter and the spirit of the law and with the utmost transparency with our clients,” he said.

In a separate but similar action nearly five years ago, LVNV settled a lawsuit in Maryland’s federal court related to the company’s license status in the state. LVNV agreed to erase an estimated $10 million in debt for some 3,500 plaintiffs. 

Jason Hauk and Freddy Velazquez, both of Frederick, Md., were the lead plaintiffs in that lawsuit, which accused LVNV of "systematic, intentional and predatory debt collection activities" against its Maryland debtors. The case hinged on the right of LVNV to sue debtors in state court. LVNV did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement and company officials said at the time that the firm chose to settle rather than face the potential of prolonged litigation.

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