Calif. AG sues JPMorgan Chase, alleges 'robo-signing' and 'sewer service' in credit-card suits

California’s attorney general sued one of the nation’s biggest banks on Thursday, alleging that JPMorgan Chase & Co.had engaged in widespread “robo-signing” of documents in credit card collection lawsuits.

“To maintain this breakneck pace” while dealing with a glut of litigation against delinquent cardholders, the lending institution created a “debt collection mill that abuses the California judicial process,” AG Kamala Harris said in the Los Angeles Superior Court suit (PDF).

It also alleges that JPMorgan “flooded California’s courts with collection lawsuits against defaulted credit card borrowers based on patently insufficient evidence,” making a “bet that borrowers would lack the resources or legal sophistication to call bluff,” Reuters reports.

In addition to robo-signing, the Harris lawsuit also alleges “sewer service” and filing irregularities, as a press release by the AG’s office details.

A spokesman told Reuters that JPMorgan does not wish to comment on the litigation at this time.

The lawsuit by Harris follows widespread earlier claims that lenders throughout the nation engaged in similar “robo-signing” of documents in mortgage foreclosure cases, in order to speed the process and, in some matters, re-create documents that could not be found easily in lender files or, perhaps, at all.

Likewise, abuses similar to those complained of by Harris in the California suit also are taking place in credit-card collection cases in other jurisdictions, some observers say.

“A vast number of the lawsuits are flawed and most of them can’t prove the individual actually owes the debt,” said Noach Dear, a Brooklyn civil court judge who has heard as many as 150 debt collection cases a day tells the New York Times’ DealBook blog (reg. req.). Another DealBook post last year also quotes Dear and provides more details.

A lengthy creditcards.com article published by Fox Business discusses a gathering storm of enforcement efforts by federal regulators, state officials and courts nationwide seeking to prevent issuers from prevailing in debt-collection suits that are not adequately grounded.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Attorneys push for change in debt collection”

ABAJournal.com (Sept. 2012): “Federal Judge Certifies Class In ‘Sewer Service’ Suit Against NY Debt Collection Law Firm”

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