Lawsuits Highlight the Problem of Sewer Service
A class action lawsuit has been filed against a major law firm that is a big player in the debt collection industry. The suit brings to light a major problem that consumers face when collection law firms have hundreds if not thousands of lawsuits to file: Sewer service.
What is Service?
At the start of a lawsuit, parties have the right to be notified that they are being sued so that they can properly respond to the allegations in the lawsuit. This notification happens through a very specific process, called service. You may have seen service of lawsuits in the movies, often featuring a process server handing lawsuit papers to an unsuspecting person.
Florida law has a very specific process by which people need to be notified. A process server can’t just give papers to a minor child, or leave them under the door, or give them to just anybody who happens to be standing in the driveway. They must follow the instructions in the service laws strictly.
Why Bad Service Happens
The problem is that the process of serving people the way they are supposed to be under the law can be time consuming, and collection law firms, in a hurry to move files and appease debt collector clients, often want to shortcut the rules.
Many collection firms try to evade service obligations out of concern that consumers will get attorneys to challenge the allegations in the lawsuit (or that they will find attorneys to sue the debt collectors). Sometimes collection firms and debt collectors just want to avoid the costs of serving consumers with the lawsuits. Either way, suing someone and not giving them notice is illegal.
What Happens With Sewer Service
As a result of sewer service, consumers are often sued without even realizing they were sued. Attorneys and debt collectors represent that consumers were properly served, and on that basis, obtain judgments against them. Often, a consumer’s first indication that there is even a lawsuit against them, is when they get a copy of the judgment, or when there are attempts to take their property to satisfy the judgment.
This kind of halfway service (or no service at all) is called “sewer service”. It still happens all the time, and the recent class action alleges that this is exactly what this debt collection law firm did.
In some cases, law firms have been charged with racketeering and other civil and criminal charges, where there are indications that they purposely tried to avoid servicing people.
Do you have a question about how a debt is being collected? Contact Jacobs Legal in Miami today to discuss your options to fight back.