This is what can happen when debt collector companies, such as Portfolio Recovery, try and collect a debt against the wrong person while violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Even though this individual didn’t owe the debt and was harassed for months about it after she informed them it wasn’t hers, they still maliciously prosecuted her about the debt through court. She fought back, and sued them. The jury was fed up with these types of actions and with a $83 million dollar punitive award, made this debt collector pay, big time!
A Missouri jury ordered a debt buyer to pay nearly $83 million to a Kansas City woman it pursued for a $1,000 credit card bill she didn’t owe, NPR affiliate KCUR reports. The jury found Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC guilty of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, for which it will pay $250,000 in damages, as well as maliciously prosecuting the woman, Maria Guadalupe Mejia, over the debt that did not belong to her. For the malicious prosecution, the jury awarded Mejia $82,990,000 in punitive damages.
PRA Group Inc., which owns Portfolio Recovery Associates, sent an email statement to Credit.com:
“This outlandish verdict defies all common sense,” wrote spokesman Michael McKeon. “We hope and expect the judge will set aside this inappropriate award, and we plan to file motions to make that request formally in the near term. Any fair reading of the facts of this case makes plain that a verdict of this size is not justice by any means, and cannot stand.”
Portfolio Recovery, one of the nation’s largest debt buyers, sued Mejia in February 2013 over the credit card debt, though the actual debtor turned out to be a man in Kansas City, Kansas, with a name similar to Mejia’s. The company pursued Mejia for the debt for 15 months after she first received notice of the lawsuit. In a written statement to KCUR, Mejia said, “The lawsuit terrified me.”
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