Any John Doe Will Do

One of the more shocking things we’re seeing lots of lately are consumer collection lawsuits against the wrong party. What I’m talking about specifically are suits against a person who has the same name as a debtor – suing Blake Iverson of Minneapolis when the debtor is Blake Iverson of Burnsville (by the way, I think that dude has been checking out library books on my account).

We’ve seen a couple variations on this.  The first easier to see as a mistake. David Friedman Sr. is an upstanding citizen.  Now that the kids are out of the house, he and his wife have moved to their dream home in Little Canada. David Friedman Jr. has never lived at the current home of his parents. He lives in a van down by the river and hasn’t paid the Culligan man since 2006. Culligan sues David Friedman and serves the gardener at the Friedman estate in Little Canada. When no one responds, they get a default judgment and record it against the WRONG David Friedman.  David Friedman Sr. doesn’t discover this until he applies for a car loan to buy a new Ferrari.  He is rejected for the loan and humiliated in front of his banker.  The conceivable excuse here is that Jr. and Sr. may have had the same phone number in the past (remember family home phones?) and a records search linked the number Jr. had used to Sr.’s current address.

There is no excuse for the other variety.  This is where a debt collector’s attorney files suit against a party with no relation to the debtor, but who shares his name.  This may be mere sloppiness – not checking social security numbers or address histories, but it may be more nefarious.  We’ve seen several instances of this from immigrant communities, where folks may not be native English speakers and might be more susceptible to bullying from lawyers.

The Kafkaesque problem facing people who are wrongly sued is that the debt collection attorneys are very stubborn and often unwilling to vacate these judgments, even when proof is offered. We’ve had some success making these attorneys see the light, so if you or anyone you know has faced something like this, give us a call.