Dianne McLeod is suing Green Tree Servicing for the wrongful death of her husband, Stanley, who died in 2005 after a series of heart problems.
Mrs. McLeod says debt collectors repeatedly violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and the resulting stress led to her husband's death.
The McLeod story hit quite a nerve here at Legal Schnauzer. My wife and I have been subject to blatant unlawful actions from debt collectors. This has caused enormous stress, but so far, our health seems to be holding up. But what if that changes. What if Mrs. Schnauzer has a stroke? What if I have a heart attack?
And what about the abuse we've taken from corrupt members of the Alabama State Bar over the past eight or nine years? I know we enjoyed generally good health when our legal nightmare started in 2000 and 2001. What are the cumulative health effects of being repeatedly cheated in court? If a researcher wanted to examine that question, we could be guinea pigs A and B.
I've already told Mrs. Schnauzer, "If I keel over someday soon, here are the people you need to sue for every penny they are worth." And I wasn't joking.
I'm also not joking about the deleterious effects unethical debt collectors can have on your life. We've already written that Mrs. Schnauzer thinks she was recently cheated out of her job at Infinity Property & Casualty Corporation because of a lawsuit we've filed against two debt-collection outfits--NCO and the Birmingham law firm of Ingram & Associates. In fact, she testified to that effect under oath in a recent deposition.
Mrs. Schnauzer wasn't just blowing off steam. We've uncovered evidence that Lloyd Gray & Whitehead, a Birmingham firm defending NCO, has substantial ties to Infinity Property & Casualty. We've also discovered that at least one very close associate of Alabama Governor Bob Riley--a target of frequent critical coverage here at Legal Schnauzer--resides on Infinity's Board of Directors. (Much more on all of this coming soon.)
Finally, new evidence indicates that even my unlawful termination, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), might have been driven, at least partially, by Ingram & Associates' and NCO's efforts to collect a debt we allegedly owed to American Express. (Much more on that coming, too.)
As for Dianne McLeod, does she have a legitimate lawsuit? Time will tell. But our Legal Schnauzer team hopes she brings Green Tree Servicing to its ugly knees.
Just how bad are some debt collectors? Consider this from a CNN article about the McLeod case:
Billy Howard is an attorney who runs the Consumer Protection Division for Morgan & Morgan. Howard represents McLeod and has about 500 similar cases against companies who use what he called "Tony Soprano tactics," a reference to the fictional organized crime leader who was the central character in the HBO drama "The Sopranos."
"I think it's frightening because these companies go after people and they utilize tactics people just don't know are illegal," Howard said.
"Scare tactics work. They've worked for years. That's how the mafia made so much money. That's how these mafia-like tactics result in so much money. People are scared," he said.
Howard says one of his other clients had this message waiting on the answering machine:
"You're a piece of s---. That's why you turned your phone off. Mother f-----. But that's OK.
"You haven't heard the last of me. But if it takes me a year or takes me two, believe me, I will find you. You better move. But if you move, you better move to California, 'cause I do travel. And I like traveling. Goodbye."
And then there was this one:
"When I see you. I'm gonna f--- you up. I want my money, and I want it now. I hate people who lie to me and abuse my company. ... If you bring my money back, you don't have to worry about me, just disregard my message."
We have not received those kinds of physical threats. But in some ways, we were treated even worse than this. There's little doubt that Mrs. Schnauzer was cheated out of her job because we chose to fight back against corrupt debt collectors. Now, we are seeing more and more signs that I might have lost my job largely because of debt collectors, too.
How low will debt collectors go? They seem to have a bottomless pit of sleazy tactics. We will be following the Dianne McLeod case. And we soon will be going into detail about what we've experienced from the classy crowd at NCO and Ingram & Associates.