A debt collection agency that hassled a woman for $1,000 must award her $83,000,000: Jury

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wow that is indeed awesome.


[quote=“frauenfelder, post:1, topic:57807”]
“outlandish” and said it “defied all common sense.”
[/quote]Funny, that’s exactly what the jury said about you going after some woman that had a similar name and then failed to comply with requests to hand over paperwork.

Sorry to hear your company might have trouble paying its bills due to a legal case, it sounds a lot like the case of one Maria Mejia, who had to spend 15 months struggling with a lawsuit trying to keep her family fed. Crazy, huh?


Their spokesperson Lenny Kosnowski said - “So we really didn’t get a chance to get into the substance of the case.”
WTF is that, exactly? You dumbshits sued the wrong person!


This is one of those situations where I’m almost sorry that ‘dragged into the streets and necklaced by an angry mob’ isn’t one of the possible outcomes of civil litigation; but it sure looks like the jury was going for the next best thing.


Too bad the 83 million will never ever be paid. After two more years of appeals it’ll get talked down to $500k or some similarly piddly value.

Yeah the figure makes for some great headlines but it means this lady gets to waste even more of her life worrying about what’s going to happen over an issue she never should have been involved with.


I really hope this establishes a strong precedent for all future legal cases involving debt collectors like this.


Absolutely- it’ll be at least two years and it’ll be $500k.
And that’s a slap on the wrist for this company, and it’ll change basically nothing.
But it’s a headline!

Would that be lynching? Or is that only when we like the victim?

The sad part is, Mejia is probably going to have to turn this debt over to a collection agency…

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I am sure their lawyers have told them this and not to get too excited. Not a chance in hell they will ever see $83,000,000. Unless the appeals courts agree with the decision. Which would be sweet indeed!

Where do I get in the “waste some of my life worrying, get $500,000” line?

(Yeah, I know, lawyer fees…still, I’d hit it. ).


Live by the sword, die by the sword.

The likelihood of a settlement that is orders of magnitude smaller than the original award, and comes with a non-disclosure clause attached is near certainty.

But for now, it’s sweet to contemplate the squirming that might be going on the boardroom.


It wouldn’t really be a lynching if it weren’t extrajudicial, would it? You can systematically terrorize and execute people to uphold a given social order under color of law as well; but there are different terms for that.
As for whether it only counts as lynching if the victim is sympathetic, I think that that depends on when you are talking. In current use, ‘lynching’ pretty strongly implies that the person(s) so killed were victims of a serious injustice, likely innocent of even the alleged reasons for the lynching, and definitely treated far more brutally than even actual guilt would have justified; but I don’t know whether the people who did the actual lynching described it as ‘lynching’. If they did, the term fairly obviously includes targets seen as deeply unsympathetic. If not, then ‘lynching’ may be one of those terms that was never used by people in favor of it, and so carries that negative implication by definition.

Those are mostly punitive damages, which means they are more about punishing the wrongdoer than compensating the victim. For punitive damages to be effective they have to be big enough to hurt, and hurt enough that the wrongdoer never wants to risk facing such a punishment again.

So if you want to get a similarly sized payday the secret is to get royally screwed over by a repeat offender who has lots and lots of money.

Are you willing to play as an impecunious and precariously positioned target with a severely limited understanding of the legal system and limited access to counsel for this one?

That’s the trouble with a lot of these sorts of situations: even if what they are doing is substantially or wholly unsupported by law, they just go up against targets who have never been in the position to ‘just call my lawyer’; and mostly get away with it.

The biggest surprise here is mostly that the collections scumbags didn’t know when to cut bait and move on to a softer target. There are plenty just like her, only without the lawyer, so had they been just a touch less stubborn, this probably could have been avoided.


You had me at impecunious!


Ah, I didn’t realize your angry mob was deputized. They used to simply call that “justice,” but then the Enlightenment went and ruined everything.

I love punitive damages, most especially in cases like this, but I see a disconnect between the intent to punish the offender, and the ridiculous, undeserved (sorry) payout going to the victim. That windfall of 80 million (or whatever it gets reduced to) would do a lot more good going to a charity or some other entity preferably related to the field in question. The victim here should get an appropriate amount to both be made whole and then some, and also enough to serve as an incentive to lawyers taking such cases in the future–the $250,000 plus all court costs sounds about right, maybe higher–but the plaintiff-- (who had a bad time of it but was in no way aggrieved to the tune of 80 million bucks) —getting these ungodly punitive sums to pocket with their lawyers, as if they are the ONLY ones damaged by the behavior of the defendant, seems crazy to me.

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Hi All:
So, as usual, the news article doesn’t do a great job of explaining what happened procedurally, and instead spends quite a lot of time talking about a giant award. I am only licensed to practice law in California, and I have no clue about the procedure of wherever this happened (Missouri maybe?), but here is my best guess:

From the article, it seems like maybe what happened was there was some kind of discovery dispute about what should be turned over, and the judge ultimately struck the defendants answer/demurrer/whatever they file in Missouri (or wherever this lawsuit happened). After that, it sort of looks like there was basically a default judgment (or something similar) against the defendants, and all the plaintiff had to do was “prove-up” damages.

Finally, as to punitive damages; it is an opportunity for the jury to award money to punish the wrong doer, however there are Due Process limitations on the amount that may be awarded. This gets a bit complicated, but basically it is usually limited in some way. Here in California it is often a multiple of 1 - 10 of the actual award. Other states have other standards, and there are probably also Federal limitations (I remember something about a “shocks the conscience” standard, but this has never come up in my practice, so I have forgotten how it works).

In short; I would not want to take bets as to whether the award will survive appeal or other trial court practice to reduce the award. Also, I’m not your attorney, this is not legal advice, all that stuff.

So, since IANAL, when due process limits the award because the amount given “shocks the conscience”–does that ever mean the portion going to the injured party is reduced, but the wrong-doer must still pay the full amount? (The remainder of which goes somewhere else, like a charity?) In my mind it certainly should.

The punitive amount, and the amount to make the injured party whole should not be related in my opinion, since they have completely different rationales and metrics. It seems whacked to me that the monetary penalty a corporation is assessed should be limited in any way by how much we think is reasonable for a party they wronged to receive, anymore than I think that wronged party is entitled to pocket the “conscience shocking” amount just because the entity they sued had it coming.