Mass. AG Investigating Company for Venue Choice When Filing Collection Lawsuits

A medical devices company in Massachusetts has caught the attention of the state’s attorney general for filing more than 12,000 debt collection lawsuits during the past 10 years, most of them in the same court, forcing some individuals to travel up to 250 miles to defend themselves in the suits, according to a published media report.

The company, Regional Home Care, was ordered last year to stop filing any new lawsuits while it was being investigation by Maura Healey, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, to determine whether the company violated any consumer protection laws. The office said it is now pursuing “monetary relief” for individuals who may have been harmed by the company’s “abusive debt collection practices.”

A lawyer representing the company said it did nothing wrong and the law it is being accused of violating pertains only to third-party collection agencies and not companies that collect on its own debts. A state debt collection law in Massachusetts, which is based on the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, said that the law applies to “any debt collector who brings a legal action on a debt against a consumer.” The definition of “debt collector” mirrors the definition in the FDCPA.

The lawsuits usually stem from equipment that is not returned to the company when the individuals no longer need to use it. The company did stop filing lawsuits last year, according to court records, and has dismissed “numerous” pending cases since then, according to the report.

According to the AG’s office, the company is only allowed to choose a court in which the consumer lives or the one where the contract for the underlying good or service was signed. The company’s lawyer, however, claims his client has “a perfect right” to use its local court.

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