The Court of Appeal for the State of California has ruled that a man who sued on an out-of-statute debt is entitled to $140,550.51 in attorney’s fees and costs after it was ruled that the collection agency used the wrong state law in attempting to collect on the debt.
The ruling in the case of Professional Collection Consultants v. Robert Lujan can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff attempted to sue the defendant over an unpaid credit card debt of $8,831.90. The lawsuit was filed about four years after the last activity on the card was recorded. While California has a four year statute of limitations on filing suits in collection cases, Delaware, which was the choice-of-law provision in the credit card agreement, only has a three year statute of limitations. The defendant filed a counter-suit, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The defendant also included an executive at the collection agency, the law firm that filed the original suit against him, and a subsequent assignee of the debt, as defendants. The news was not good for all of them, either.
While it did not address statutory damages, the trial court issued two post-judgment orders, awarding the defendant $140,550.51 in attorney’s fees and costs.
The state Appeals Court Judge shot down every attempt by the plaintiff related to the statute of limitations argument and the attorney’s fees award. The Appeals Court even denied a request to have the judgment offset by the unpaid debt.