Cuomo targets firms in lawsuit

By Ashley Stinnett | Jul 23, 2009


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed a lawsuit targeting 35 law firms and two debt collections over allegations of unlawful debt collection practices.

The lawsuit aims to throw out an estimated 100,000 default judgments that were inappropriately obtained against New York consumers.

According to the lawsuit, the companies relied on Long Island-based American Legal Process (ALP) to notify New York consumers that they faced being sued for debt relations.

However, ALP never served legal papers to the consumers that were notified either by mail or phone, Cuomo said.

In an effort to provide relief to thousands of consumers, the lawsuit asks the court to throw out all default judgments that were used by the firms against consumers in which ALP was directly involved in the legal process, according to Cuomo.

The law firms and debt collectors named in today's suit are: Forster & Garbus; Sharinn and Lipshie; Kirschenbaum & Phillips, P.C.; Solomon and Solomon, P.C; Goldman & Warshaw, P.C.; Eltman Eltman and Cooper; Eric M. Berman, P.C.; Stephen Einstein & Associates, P.C.; Fabiano and Associates; Jones Jones Larkin O'Connell; Panteris & Panteris, LLP; Zwicker and Associates; Relin, Goldstein & Crane; Woods Oviatt Gilman; Leschack & Grodesnky; Hayt Hayt & Landau; Pressler & Pressler; Jaffe & Asher; Mullen & Iannarone; Arnold A. Arpino & Associates; Houslanger & Associates; Mann Bracken, LLC; Smith Carroad Levy & Finkel; McNamee, Lochner Titus & Williams; Thomas Law Office; Fleck, Fleck & Fleck; Eric Ostrager; Cohen & Slamowitz, LLP; Cullen and Dykman LLP; Winston & Winston, P.C.; Cooper Erving & Savage, LLP; Robert P. Rothman, P.C; Gerald D. DeSantis; Greater Niagara Holdings, LLC; Rodney A. Giove; Advanced Litigation Services, LLC; and Jason L. Cafarella.

Cuomo said aside from asking the court to vacate all default judgments, all 35 law firms were unable to provide the court any evidence, other than ALP's affidavit.

"Our legal system is defined by due process and the guarantee that every New Yorker will get the chance to defend his or herself in court," Cuomo said.

Law firms all over the state had been using ALP as a legal process server to serve legal papers and notify individuals that they are being sued.

Today's lawsuit asks the court to order the law firms to Inform the New York State Unified Court System of each actions in which they used ALP to serve legal process and in which a default judgment was granted, notify all parties involved in the lawsuit and Notify the court of amount of any default judgments taken in any of the relevant actions, Cuomo said.

Cuomo added other around 20 other law firms across the state are under investigation as to whether they employed ALP's services.

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