A District Court judge in Ohio has reduced the attorney’s fees to be paid to a plaintiff in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case by more than 20%, awarding them nearly $90,000 after a jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $50,000 in actual damages and $1,000 in statutory damages.
A copy of the ruling in the case of Morton v. O’Brien can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff took out a personal loan from a check cashing facility which was not repaid. The facility, through the defendant, filed a lawsuit against the plaintiff. The address listed in the lawsuit was that of the plaintiff. The facility obtained a judgment against the plaintiff.
The defendant then filed certificate of judgment against the plaintiff. In the documents associated with the filing, the defendant listed a different address for the plaintiff — that of her parents. The clerk of the court issued a certificate of judgment using the correct address for the plaintiff.
The defendant then sent a collection letter to the plaintiff at her address and not that of her daughter. The letter threatened to initiate a foreclosure action against the plaintiff if the debt was not paid.
The plaintiff contacted the defendant and told him that the debt belonged to her daughter and not her, and that the daughter did not live at the address the letter was sent to. The plaintiff’s complaint said the defendant “refused to promise” not to foreclose on the house.
After the jury found for the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorneys submitted two motions — one to recover $93,831.35 for attorney’s fees, and the second was to recover $17,141 for fees that were incurred by opposing postjudgment motions filed by the defendant.
Judge James L. Graham of the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio awarded the attorney’s $77,296.35 on the first motion and $11,083.50 on the second motion.
The defendant has filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove they suffered emotional distress as a result of the defendant’s actions.