CHARLESTON – A West Virginia woman is suing over claims a Putnam County attorney's office has been unlawfully filing complaints for a debt collector.
Valerie S. Lewis filed a class-action lawsuit Dec. 9, 2014, in Kanawha Circuit Court against Atkins & Ogle Law Offices, citing the filing of complaints without standing.
According to the complaint, in April 2014, Atkins & Ogle filed a civil complaint against Lewis for Jefferson Capital Systems, a debt collector, to whom Lewis allegedly owes money. The complaint states Atkins & Ogle often files suit, on behalf of debt collectors without standing, such as Jefferson, who purchase charged-off consumer debt, against consumers not sophisticated enough to defend themselves in court, with the knowledge that no evidence of such debt exists.
Lewis is represented by attorney Anthony J. Majestro of Powell and Majestro in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.
In November, a Kentucky-based Community Trust Bancorp Inc. filed a lawsuit against Atkins & Ogle Law Offices, saying it contracted with Atkins & Ogle, which is based in Buffalo, in March 2013 through its Kentucky law firm Fowler Bell PLLC to file suit against two individuals who owed money to the bank.
Instead, the bank says Atkins & Ogle didn’t file the suits. Rather, it claims the firm called the debtors on multiple occasions.
“The calls to the debtors rather than filing suit as contracted by Community Trust resulted in Community Trust being sued in a civil action in Raleigh County, West Virginia, for violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act,” the complaint states.
The bank settled the lawsuit, but says the law firm breached its agreement by failing to file suit and instead “conducting activities beyond that contracted for which resulted in a loss to Community Trust.”
The bank seeks the Raleigh County settlement amount of $60,000 as well as the sums of money lost by not filing the suits against the debtors. It also seeks $6,872.76 in attorney fees and expenses for the Raleigh County litigation.
The law firm filed a motion to dismiss the case against it.
In its motion to dismiss, the firm says it has handled previous cases for Community Trust in a similar manner.
“If a phone number is given, calls are made on the account,” wrote attorney Bree Whipp Ogle.
The motion to dismiss claims Atkins & Ogle followed industry standards and did nothing wrong.
The bank is being represented by Daniel J. Konrad of Huddleston Bolen in Huntington.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 14-C-2140 (Lewis); Putnam Circuit Court case number: 14-C-273 (Community)