Shaun Zinck Jun. 12, 2015, 12:50pm


A Pennsylvania-based law group faces a civil lawsuit from the state over allegations it targeted relatives of individuals who owed money, and coerced them into paying the debts they weren't responsible for, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Kane filed the lawsuit June 5 in Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania against Hamilton Law Group and its owner James Havassy.

According to the complaint, the law firm was hired by healthcare providers in Lehigh and Northampton to collect medical debt. The complaint said the law firm used the relative's liability procedure, a state statute, in order to get debtors' relatives to pay the owed money.

Kane said in the suit, a letter sent by Havassy's firm is deceptive and confusing for the relatives. In the letter Havassy said relatives are “responsible to care for and maintain or financially assist” the debtors. The letter also said the relatives are “fully responsible for this debt.” the suit states

Havassy also caused relatives' credit to be “negatively marked” if they didn't pay the debts, Kane said in the suit. Kane accused Havassy of failing to prove that the debtor was indigent and couldn't pay, and that the relatives contacted weren't indigent and could pay.

The suit seeks full restitution for the relatives targeted as well as civil penalties. Penalties can run up to $1,000 per violation, which increased to $3,000 for those older than 60, the suit says.

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