Northern California Record

Saturday, December 14, 2019

California debt-collection law firm settles suit filed by Bay Area resident

By Angela Underwood | Mar 27, 2018

Law money 12

SAN FRANCISCO — A California debt-collection law firm has offered to settle with a Bay Area consumer for an undisclosed amount.

Plaintiff Patrick Sayad had sought a jury trial in the case against the Law Offices of Kenosian & Miele LLP and debt-buyer Sunlan LLC accusing them of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA). Sayad and the defendants reached a settlement agreement, according to a March 21 settlement order.

The plaintiff, who lives in Santa Clara County, claimed he was bullied into believing a lien was being placed on his parents' home a by the Los Angeles law firm and debt-buying company and in the lawsuit sought actual and statutory damages as well as attorney fees and costs against both of them.

“They did these things knowingly and willfully because they knew the laws on debt collection and they knew or had ready access to the fact that they couldn’t legally put a lien on the consumer’s dwelling because it was owned by his parents instead,” the complaint states.

Citing Gonzales v. Arrow Fin. Servs. LLC, the complaint notes lawmakers' motives for enacting the FDCPA and the RFDCPA and that a plaintiff “need not prove intent or knowledge on the part of the debt collector to establish liability."

In 2003, Sayad charged $2,500 to a credit card, which led him to seek assistance in 2017 when he received a notice of involuntary lien correspondence from Santa Clara County, according to the complaint. The correspondence also included an abstract of a judgment filed by Kenosian & Miele, which told Sayad in a phone call the company was hired by Sunlan to collect the debt, which had risen to about $8,000 with interest, the complaint states.

“During the same phone call, Defendants told Plaintiff about the residence where he lived, words to the effect of ‘I know you own this property!’ Plaintiff denied owning the property, to which Defendants replied with words to the effect of ‘[w]ell, there’s a lien on it now!’” the complaint states. “Scared and shocked that there was now apparently a lien on his parents’ house where he lived, Plaintiff borrowed money from his brother immediately.”

The plaintiff claims he sent a Walmart MoneyGram to the account given by the defendants, but it bounced back because the entity he was instructed to send money to was flagged as fraudulent. The defendants again demanded payment, the complaint states.

That is when Sayad retained legal counsel and sought a jury trial in January. But before the case was brought before jury, a March 21 settlement was filed with the court.

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