Attorney General James Secures More Than $650,000 From Debt Collection Law Firm

February 28, 2024 11:59 pm
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NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that her office secured more than $650,000 from a debt collection law firm, Tromberg, Morris, & Poulin, LLC (TMP), and its subsidiary, Stephen Einstein & Associates, P.C. (SEA), for filing frivolous lawsuits and harming vulnerable New Yorkers. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that TMP and its subsidiary often sued tenants on behalf of landlords in New York City Civil Court on issues that were already resolved in Housing Court, burdening vulnerable New Yorkers with unnecessary and costly lawsuits. The OAG also found that TMP illegally continued to pursue consumers for debts that were already paid or partially paid, and sometimes garnished wages for judgments that were completed. As a result of a settlement with OAG, TMP is required to pay $595,600 in restitution to more than 4,000 affected New Yorkers, $60,000 in penalties, and stop its frivolous and predatory behavior.

“Preying on vulnerable New Yorkers using frivolous lawsuits is immoral, illegal, and unacceptable,” said Attorney General James. “The law firm and attorneys who filed these suits bullied tenants and consumers and clogged our courts solely to line their pockets at the expense of others. The justice system should not be used to prey on vulnerable New Yorkers, and those with expertise in the law must not be allowed to use their knowledge to harm others.”

TMP and its subsidiary are law firms that represent creditors, including landlords and third-party debt buyers. The OAG opened an investigation into TMP’s debt collection practices following reports of mishandled lawsuits against consumers. The OAG found that the law firms failed to review prior court history before filing lawsuits against New Yorkers, and illegally sued tenants in New York City Civil Court on matters that had already been resolved in Housing Court. The OAG concluded that TMP and its subsidiary filed at least 374 unpaid rent cases in New York City since at least 2017 without noting on their internal forms whether or not there had been prior litigation. These actions forced New Yorkers to reappear in court on cases that had already been resolved.

The OAG also found that TMP pursued consumer debts that were already paid or partially paid and kept meritless cases on the docket, which could pressure consumers into a settlement.

As a result of this agreement, TMP is required to pay up to $595,600 to eligible consumers as well as $60,000 in penalties to the state. TMP will notify eligible consumers of their right to restitution and how they can obtain their refunds, either online or by mail. TMP must also review its unpaid rent lawsuits from the past six years and refund consumers who already made payments but were improperly pursued again by TMP. TMP is also required to reform its practices to stop its predatory behavior. A consumer is eligible if they paid off a judgment held by TMP’s client, but TMP failed to file notice of that with the court within twenty days, as required by law.

New Yorkers who wish to report an issue with a debt collector may file an online complaint with OAG’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau or call 1-(800) 771-7755.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Glenna Goldis of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau with assistance from Legal Assistant Christine Reynolds, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia. The Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau is a part of the Division of Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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