MARTINSBURG -- A Berkeley County couple is suing a Pennsylvania law firm, two of its employees and a Florida company over alleged illegal phone calls the law firm made to the couple's house in an attempt to collect a debt from them.
Linc and Eileen Beers filed suit March 10 in federal court against the Law Office of Thomas Landis, Thomas Lanis, Paul Kenwood and Oliphant Financial.
The Beers say Kenwood, who works for the Law Office of Thomas Landis, called them repeatedly throughout May and June on behalf of Oliphant in an attempt to collect debt the Beers owed to Oliphant.
During the phone calls, Kenwood accused Eileen Beers of being a "foreigner" and "stealing company money," the suit states. In some of his calls, Kenwood would use profane language, calling the Beers "fucking liars" and "thieves," according to the complaint.
He also told the Beers an attorney's fee of $4,000 would be added to their debt. In addition, Kenwood threatened to do "whatever he must to get his client's money" and threatened to have the Beers "thrown in jail and have his wife discharged from the military" and to "make your life a living hell," the suit states.
In May, the Law Office of Thomas Landis called the Beers and placed a false deadline on when the debt was due, the Beers claim.
On June 2, the law firm phoned the Beers to threaten them with prosecution after it said a check draft had bounced, according to the complaint.
During a June phone call, Kenwood demanded Linc Beers' parents' personal information.
Kenwood had already called Linc Beers' mother, Bonnie Beers, multiple times – on May 13, May 21 and May 28 -- and told her there was a lawsuit filed against her son. He told her it was for a significant amount, but that he could provide no additional information, according to court documents.
After the phone calls, Bonnie Beers filed a complaint with the office of the attorney general in Pennsylvania.
Finally, in June, the Beers informed the law firm that they were represented by counsel. Still, the law office inquired how much of a retainer they paid, saying that if the Beers had not paid a retainer, they had no attorney, the complaint says.
In its attempts to collect the debt, the Law Office of Thomas Landis violated multiple West Virginia codes, the Beers say.
Oliphant was negligent in its hiring of the Law Office of Thomas Landis to oversee the collection of its debt, the Beers allege.
"The actions of Defendants were willful and malicious activities that constitute the tort of outrage," the suit states.
In the five-count suit, the Beers are seeking $4,392.96 in statutory damages, $10,000 in actual damages for each incident, unspecified punitive damages, a correction of their credit report, a cancellation of their debt, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.
They are also asking the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the Law Office of Thomas Landis, its employees and Oliphant from contacting the Beers or any member of their family and another injunction prohibiting the defendants from reporting negative credit report information while the litigation is pending.
Aaron C. Amore, James T. Kratovil and Tanya L. Godfrey of Kratovil and Amore in Charles Town will be representing the Beers.
U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-CV-14