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Federal Jury Says Law Firm Must Pay $1.26M for Trying to Collect Debt That Wasn’t Owed

Posted Aug 1, 2011 12:51 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Corrected: A law firm that twice attempted to collect a debt from a New Mexico woman that she didn't owe, in a case of mistaken identity, must pay her $1.26 million, a federal jury in Santa Fe ruled Friday.

Attorney Rob Treinen of Albuquerque represented the winning plaintiff, Lucinda Yazzie, in the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case. He says the Denver-based defendant, Farrell & Seldin, twice tried to garnish the wages of his client and didn't back off even when her employer notified the firm that it had the wrong Lucinda Yazzie, reports the Albuquerque Journal (sub. req.).

Another woman with the same name but a different social security number lives in the same area.

At issue in the underlying debt collection matter was an alleged $5,000 credit card account debt owed to Target.

Farrell & Seldin didn't immediately respond to the newspaper's requests for comment on Friday. However, a pretrial order said the law firm admitted that it was provided with the correct social security number by Target National Bank and that the social security number “was changed in the law firm’s records by an unauthorized act of a former employee.”

Additional coverage:

Collections & Credit Risk (reg. req.): "Woman Awarded $1.26M In Collection Wage Garnishment Case"

insideARM.com: "Jury Awards Plaintiff $1.26 million in FDCPA Violation Lawsuit"

Updated on Aug. 2 to correct a misspelling of Farrell & Seldin's name.

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