“And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long.”
I was hoping to write a light, fluff piece today as we get near the holidays at the end of the year. But when I read this new tactic by large corporations to squeeze the poor I just have to wonder, so this is Christmas? Some of the anger that the population is feeling these days is that the legal and system political systems have become fodder by the rich to wreak havoc in the lives of all of us other citizens.
What is happening is this: credit agencies of all sorts, from car purchases to credit cards to furniture on time are buying up old bad debt and going to court receiving judgments against the indebtors. The thing is, they are not always accurate – the same name and the same city can often buy you a case that is against someone else. Sometimes the debt did occur, especially during the fallout of 2008, and either forgiven, forgotten or not pursued. But once the credit agencies (sharks) get their judgment they seek to collect by any means necessary including garnishment. It is often true that the credit sharks are willing to go to arbitration first.
Arbitration is the new corporate joy. Arbitration was once seen as a tool to cut costs as court was escaped and it also helped the judiciary process these civil matters in a quicker and hopefully more efficient way. Supposedly, arbitration would help the lower and middle classes deal with civil court matters. But the sharks now love arbitration – contracts that have arbitration clauses (and most do) mean that the defendant, if wronged by the credit shark, will stop the wronged individual banning together with other wronged individuals and banning together means a class action suit.
A competent lawyer usually cannot be found for these individual wrong defendants in these arbitration cases (not enough money in it) and without being able to ban together these defendants who wish to become plaintiffs don’t get their wish of being represented and instead must wonder so this is Christmas?
Corporate lawyers out maneuver everybody. Even not the great ones. But the great ones leave all our systems, all our checks and balances, in the dust. The courts, the government, and certainly individual middle class citizens can’t compete with the legal representatives of the sharks. When you receive a letter from a corporate lawyer you should cringe. And hope that you don’t ever have their sights focused on you and what you have.
For lots of you this is Christmas and all the other holidays this time of year and this is a good thing. But some of us, way too many of us, have to wonder each and every year (and each and every day) so this is Christmas?
“In short, Encore and rival debt buyers are using the courts to sue consumers and collect debt, then preventing those same consumers from using the courts to challenge the companies’ tactics. Consumer lawyers said this strategy was the legal equivalent of debt collectors having their cake and eating it, too.”
“The use of arbitration by the companies is the latest frontier in a legal strategy orchestrated by corporations in recent years. By inserting arbitration clauses into the fine print of consumer contracts, they have found a way to block access to the courts and ban class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way to bring a case against a deep-pocketed corporation.”
“Their strategy traces to a pair of Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and 2013 that enshrined the use of class-action bans in arbitration clauses.”
“The result, The New York Times found in an investigation last month, is that banks, car dealers, online retailers, cellphone service providers and scores of other companies have insulated themselves from challenges to illegal or deceptive business practices. Once a class action was dismantled, court and arbitration records showed, few if any of the individual plaintiffs pursued arbitration.”
“It’s beyond hypocritical that the companies can use arbitration to avoid being held accountable in court, all the while using the courts to collect from consumers,” said Peter A. Holland, a lawyer who ran the Consumer Protection Clinic at the University of Maryland’s law school.”
“The debt collectors do not just use the courts to collect on the money, they flood them. In 2014, the industry filed roughly 20,000 lawsuits in Maryland and more than 67,000 in New York, according to court records.”
“Philip S. Straniere, a civil court judge in Staten Island, called some of the cases that crossed his desk “garbage.” Some debt collectors, Judge Straniere said, have sought to recoup payments from the wrong person.”
“Little of that matters, because many defendants do not show up to defend themselves. Some never read nondescript legal notices informing them of the lawsuits. Others who do are too intimidated or ill-equipped to go to court.”
“Once it begins, the litigation machine is virtually impossible to stop. When defendants are absent, judges have little choice but to find in favor of the debt collectors, according to interviews. Industry consultants estimated that collectors win 95 percent of the lawsuits.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/business/dealbook/sued-over-old-debt-and-blocked-from-suing-back.html?emc=edit_th_20151223&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=63667984&_r=0