Suthers settles debt collection suit
DENVER (Legal Newsline) - Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has reached a settlement with four law firms, three attorneys and one associated business barring them from violating the state's debt collection and consumer protection laws.
Wednesday, Suthers announced the settling of the lawsuit, which names attorneys Jack H. Boyajian, Marvin Brandon and Karen Nations as well as their four law firms and associated business.
Under terms of the settlement, Brandon is permanently banned from collecting debts in Colorado. Boyajian is enjoined from collecting debts in the state for five years and Nations is enjoined from collecting debts in the state for three years. If, following their respective bans, Boyajian or Nations wishes to resume debt collection in Colorado, they must obtain appropriate licenses from the state.
Boyajian and the corporate defendants are also required by the consent decree to pay the state $200,000 in costs and fees. Of that amount, $180,000 against Boyajian will be suspended if he pays the remaining $20,000 in a timely fashion.
The lawsuit against the attorneys and law firms was filed in July by Suthers' office. The lawsuit alleged that the firms and their principals were in violation of the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Consumer Protection Act.
The primary business of the defendants concerned debts related to bounced checks, many of which had fallen outside of the statute of limitations and could not be the basis of legal action, Suthers said.
In some cases, fees were added by the defendants in excess of the amounts allowed by law, Suthers said, adding that penalties were also demanded. These fees, called "treble damages," may only be assessed following a successful lawsuit.
The defendants and their businesses were also suspected of using law firm letterhead when sending out collection letters without them being reviewed by an attorney.
Each of the law firms in the state's lawsuit had been incorporated in California and held principal offices in New Jersey. None of the three attorneys in the lawsuit was licensed to practice in Colorado. All of the law firms and the associated business are now defunct or no longer doing business in Colorado.