Collection law firm Pressler and Pressler violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by not conducting a "meaningful review" of a collection action filed against a consumer, a U.S. district judge has ruled.

 

At issue in the case, Bock v. Pressler and Pressler, was the involvement of an attorney with the firm who signed off on the civil collection suit against Daniel Bock Jr.

 

Bock incurred charges on a credit card and owed money to a bank. His debt was purchased by Midland Funding LLC. Pressler and Pressler was then used to collect the debt, sending a collection letter and filing a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey on Midland's behalf.

 

New Jersey District Court Judge Kevin McNulty granted the plaintiff summary judgment in the federal court case, using reasoning from a benchmark case Lesher v. The Law Offices of Mitchell N. Kay, decided in 2011. That case established "that it is false and misleading, within the meaning of FDCPA, for an attorney to send a debt collection letter without having meaningfully reviewed the case."

McNulty said the facts of Pressler’s preparation of Midland’s complaint against Bock are critical. The investigation found that much of the work done on any case filed by Pressler is conducted by non-attorneys, a point with which McNulty finds no issue. But when it was time for an attorney to review the case before it was filed in court, the computer system used by the firm showed Bock’s file was accessed for only four seconds.

 

"The process by which Pressler prepares complaints almost entirely involves automation and non-attorney personnel. There is nothing wrong with that; the FDCPA does not mandate drudgery or enshrine outmoded business methods," McNulty wrote. "The state court complaint filed in the state action here, however, was reviewed by an attorney for approximately four seconds. The case law is sparse, and it is possible for reasonable people to disagree as to what constitutes reasonable attorney review. But whatever reasonable attorney review may be, a four-second scan is not it."

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