A New Jersey woman hired the Law Office of Dimitrios Kolovos, LLC to file a lawsuit against the debt collection agencies of Midland Funding, LLC, Midland Credit Management, Inc., and Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C., and their employees, Gary S. Lewis, Esq. and Amy Berscheit for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA is a powerful federal law regulating the conduct of consumer debt collectors. The Consumer, an elderly woman living on social security and a modest pension and living in a rented apartment, filed her lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey located in Camden, New Jersey and demanded that judgment be entered against the Defendants for her statutory damages, actual damages, attorney’s fees, and the costs of her litigation.
Allegedly, Midland Funding, LLC, Midland Credit Management, Inc., and Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C. attempted to collect a consumer loan that was usurious (charged more interest than permitted by the laws of New Jersey) and which took unlawful security interests in the Consumer’s property (in violation of federal law). Although Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C. and its clients, Midland Funding, LLC and Midland Credit Management, Inc., were allegedly charged with notice of the debt’s illegality, the Defendants allegedly repeatedly harassed the Consumer’s family and disclosed the unlawful debt to unauthorized third parties for the purposes of embarrassing the Consumer into paying the unlawful debt.
Ultimately, Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C. filed a state-court consumer debt collection lawsuit against the Consumer. Defendants Gary S. Lewis, Esq. and Amy Berscheit allegedly caused the Consumer to be sued in the wrong court in violation of New Jersey’s Rules of Court. Additionally, Gary S. Lewis, Esq. and Amy Berscheit allegedly did not even bother to serve the Consumer with the lawsuit papers at the Consumer’s correct address. As a result, the Defendants unlawfully secured a default judgment against the Consumer without her knowledge of the state-court lawsuit ever being filed in the first place. Before the state court was able determine that the Defendants obtained a default judgement in the wrong court and without proper service of the state-court lawsuit, the Defendants were able to cause the seizure of the Consumer’s meager assets for approximately two months until her attorney, Joseph A. Mullaney, III, was able to secure their return.
The Consumer first became aware of the Defendants’ state-court lawsuit when her social security and modest pension money was frozen by her bank leaving her with nothing to pay her rent, medicine, and food bills. As a result, Plaintiff suffered severe medical injuries as a result of being deprived of her money and the allegedly callous, “who-cares” attitude exhibited by the Defendants, particularly Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C. Instead of securing the return of the Consumer’s money, Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C. advised the Consumer to borrow money from friends and family: Not to pay for her rent, medicine, and food, but to pay the rest of the unlawful default judgment. As a result of the alleged conduct of the Defendants, the Consumer suffered extreme financial, mental, and physical distress requiring medical attention from her physicians.
To make matters even worse, the Defendants allegedly charged the Consumer unlawful attorney’s fees when the debt itself did not provide for attorney’s fees. The Defendants thereby allegedly tried to fraudulently enrich themselves at the expense of the helpless Consumer. To add to the Consumer’s troubles, the Defendants even allegedly charged attorney’s fees far in excess of the amounts permitted by New Jersey law even if the alleged contract did so provide. Only later did the state court agree with the Consumer that the Defendants’ did not file the state-court lawsuit in the correct court and that the Defendants failed to properly serve the Consumer with the lawsuit papers.
After almost two years of a recalcitrant and stalwart defense, the Defendants finally offered on May 5, 2009, to allow a judgment to be entered against them and offered to pay the Consumer $14,000.00 in money damages.
On May 12, 2009, the United States District Court entered judgment against Midland Funding, LLC, Midland Credit Management, Inc., and Nudelman, Nudelman & Ziering, P.C., and their employees, Gary S. Lewis, Esq. and Amy Berscheit pursuant to the Consumer’s acceptance of the Defendants’ Offer of Judgment provisions. The Defendants’ Offer of Judgment can be seen as the documents to the right.
“Anytime a consumer learns of a lawsuit being filed against him or herself on a consumer debt, he or she should immediately contact a Consumer Rights Attorney,” said Joseph A. Mullaney, III, the Consumer’s attorney. “Clearly, consumers are generally not equipped to deal with the unlawful and fraudulent conduct of debt collectors who refuse to obey the law,” he continued. Mullaney stated that “consumers who find themselves sued should immediately contact a Consumer Rights Attorney for help.”