CHARLESTON - A Charleston woman is suing Ford Motor Credit Company over what she perceived to be illegal debt collection on the company's behalf.

In a lawsuit filed in Kanawha Circuit Court on Jan. 27, Bernice Asbury lays out the steps in which Ford Credit attempted to collect more than $6,000 from her following the passing of her husband Berthold, who had purchased a 2000 Mustang through the credit company in March, 2004.

Asbury claims she contacted the Defendants to repossess the car in August because "she knew there was no way she could afford the payments on the car."

A month later, after Ford repossessed the car on Sept. 13, the Mustang was sold at a private sale for $5,700, according to the claim. It also states that in October, Asbury received otices stating that she owed Ford a total of $6,232.11, which was the difference in the amount owed on the car at the time of her husband's death and the amount the car was purchased for in the September private sale.

In a certified letter dated Oct. 20, Asbury sates, she requested that further communication be with her attorney, whose name and phone number Asbury provided. Asbury lists 12 instances when Ford Credit attempted to contact her rather than her attorney, including this Dec. 23 incident:

"Defendant telephone call in an effort to collect; Plaintiff again directed to her attorney. The Defendant informed the Plaintiff that she would pay the oney or a sheriff would be sent to her home and a lien would be placed on her home. the Defendant also told the Plaintiff that the lawyers she had were not very good lawyers and that these lawyers were not going to help her."

A month later, Asbury says Ford called again in an attempt to collect. The next day, she filed this lawsuit.

She charges Ford with breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, saying it breached that duty by: Disposing of the Plaintiff's vehicle in a commercially unreasonable manner; and contacting the plaintiff after she was represented by counsel.

Asbury, who is represented by Daniel F. Hedges of Mountain State Justice, demands actual and punitive damages on that count. She also demands an amount equal to the finance charge plus 10 percent of the amount financed for the acts of Ford in dealing with the vehicle in a commercially unreasonable manner. On an illegal debt collection count, she demands actual damages and a civil penalties of $4,000.

Circuit Judge Charlie King has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-149

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