May 20, 2016...Today, a Baltimore City Jury awarded a Class of 1,589 Maryland residents the sum of $38,630,344.00 against South Carolina and Nevada debt collector LVNV Funding LLC for unlawful debt collection throughout the State of Maryland. Previously in the case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that LVNV had acquired thousands of illegal, void judgments against the Class of Maryland residents. See Finch v. LVNV Funding, LLC, 212 Md. App. 748 (2013). Later, the Maryland Court of Appeals declined to review that issue and to stay the holding of the intermediate appellate court.
At trial, the Plaintiffs proceeded against Defendant LVNV seeking a return of all the sums collected by LVNV against the Class based on the illegal actions it filed and judgments it had obtained on the common law theories of unjust enrichment and money had and received and violations of the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Practices Act.
"The evidence at trial showed that LVNV had collected approximately $3,600,00.00 from the Class based on its illegal activities," explained Plaintiff's counsel Scott Borison from the Legg Law Firm LLP. "And even though the appellate court and the circuit court had long ago held the judgments were unenforceable, the evidence at trial showed LVNV continued to collect upon the illegal judgments until just a week before the trial."
The jury's verdict recognized that LVNV should not be unjustly enriched for the sums collected to which it was not entitled to receive in the first place. "Under the restitution theory presented to the jury," explained Plaintiffs' counsel Phillip Robinson from the Consumer Law Center, LLC, "the Defendant was not entitled to keep that which it wrongfully took and it was not entitled to keep the profits it made off the money. The evidence at trial showed LVNV acquires debts for pennies on the dollar and reinvested the funds it unjustly collected to acquire substantially more profits which under the law it is not entitled to keep."
"LVNV had plenty of notice and opportunity to return the money to the Class and voluntarily elected to roll the dice and go to trial" added Borison. "However, the jury learned that LVNV had knowingly disregarded prior court orders and recklessly concealed, from the Class and even from its own collection attorneys, the true facts about the status the judgments it obtained and continued to take money it was not entitled to take." One of LVNV’s Maryland collection attorneys testified he did know until a week ago that the judgments were void. The same attorney also claimed he was unable to give information about collections against Class members because he did not know who was in the Class but had to revise his testimony when confronted with the subpoena that had been served on his firm that included a definition of who was in the Class.
"Our clients today received a piece of justice." said Robinson. "Unfortunately, sometimes the vulnerable cannot access the justice system. However, because class actions group persons together the jury was able to do the right thing and disregarded the Defendant's arguments that it could hide behind the willful blindness of its attorneys."
"We are very pleased to have achieved this result" explained Robinson and Borison. "Many people do not believe the courts will protect their rights from illegal predators. This result demonstrates that when presented with a debt collector who knowingly and willfully violates the law, a jury of Maryland residents will not permit the wrongdoer to retain profits."