Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Law firm accused of telling a disabled Army veteran that he “should have died

Disabled Vet Sues Law Firm Over Collection Abuses
Oct 17, 2012
Stars and Stripes
by Erik Slavin

A law firm accused of telling a disabled Army veteran that he “should have died” rather than collect disability payments is being sued for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, according to Arizona court documents filed last week.

Michael Collier, a 100 percent disabled veteran, and his wife, Kim Collier-Dingman, alleged that the Gurstel Chargo collection firm engaged in abusive practices after a judge ruled in favor of the Colliers over money that the firm illegally garnished in May.

In April, Gurstel Chargo had $6,143.88 in Collier-Dingman’s savings account frozen to collect on a defaulted student loan incurred by Collier, whose disability is the result of head and spinal injuries.

A judge ruled in May that the money be returned. The funds were veteran benefits that Collier-Dingman received as a result of her husband’s injuries, and therefore exempt from collection.

When Collier followed up by phone to ask when the money would be returned, he was told he wouldn’t get it back without suing, according to the couple’s complaint. When he persisted, Collier claims in the complaint that he heard a profanity-laced tirade from a legal assistant.

“[Expletive] you! Pay us your money!” the assistant said, according to the complaint. “You can’t afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces [you]. If you would have served our country better you would not be a disabled veteran living off social security while the rest of us honest Americans work our [expletive] off. Too bad; you should have died.”

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