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Lawsuit by Disabled Vet Claims Debt-Collection Paralegal Told Him He Should Have Died

Posted Oct 17, 2012 8:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A disabled veteran claims in a lawsuit that a paralegal at a debt collection law firm responded with profanities and ill wishes when the veteran asked for release of disability benefits found to be improperly frozen.

According to the federal suit by Arizona veteran Michael Collier and his wife, Kim Collier-Dingman, the paralegal responded to Collier with this tirade: “F--- you! Pay us your money! You can't afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces your a--. If you would have served our country better you would not be a disabled veteran living off Social Security while the rest of us honest Americans work our a-- off. Too bad; you should have died.” Stars and Stripes and Courthouse News Service have stories.

The suit alleges violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by the firm, Gurstel Chargo. The complaint says an attorney for the firm agreed in court to return the money, seized to pay off a defaulted student loan. But in the parking lot after the hearing, the suit alleges, the lawyer told Collier he would have to get a lawyer in order to get his money back.

Gustel Chargo says in a statement posted on Monday that the lawyer for the plaintiffs has not been able to supply information about the phone number from which Collier made the call, an approximate date of the call, and whether the paralegal was male or female. “To date, we have discovered no information to substantiate the allegations, but our investigation continues,” the statement said. “Should these allegations prove to be true, we will take immediate corrective and disciplinary action.”

The statement adds that "under no circumstances does our firm tolerate the type of conduct alleged in the complaint."

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