When they sue the wrong person

by Walter Olson on November 29, 2009

When the wrong defendant is named in a civil complaint — wrong in the sense of being “different guy with the same name” — you might think it would be relatively routine to order the complainant to compensate the bewildered target. But it’s actually unusual enough to rate news coverage. [Jim Dwyer, "Hello, Collections? The Worm Has Turned," New York Times]

{ 10 comments }

1 Robert 11.29.09 at 2:12 pm

I hope Mr. Hoyte doesn’t settle so fast and sues them for even more, like the maximum small claim in NY. He has as evidence the court-recorders transcript from this hearing showing the callous disregard for his time the collections agency lawyer has.

2 Todd H. Rogers 11.29.09 at 2:16 pm

From this NYT account I think that firm is due for quite a bit more of a B-slap that a hundred bucks, or so.

3 Anonymous 11.29.09 at 5:30 pm

Not surprised that Pressler & Pressler was the law firm. I’d be surprised if the complaints that they file are reviewed by an attorney. From the ones that I have seen, they look like they were drafted by an unsupervised secretary.

4 Woodruff 11.29.09 at 11:32 pm

The gentleman needs to see a local consumer protection lawyer.

5 Platy 11.30.09 at 2:54 am

I love that judge, and I hope that Mr Hoyte didn’t sign away his right to make a claim. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than a $100K payday.

I’ve been getting calls several times a week for years looking for, well, I don’t know just who they’re looking for but it’s an unusual name and there can’t be two of them in this country. It’s not that hard to figure out where people are, or at least to figure out that the number they’re constantly robodialing isn’t assigend to that name. They leave recordings, sometimes saying the name but usually just open-ended requests that whatever random person hears it calls back to discuss “important business”. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Who returns these calls? I’ve done it, but from a payphone and I just screamed and cursed at them. This entire industry needs to be put out of business. I figure if any significant judgement were levied against any of them they’d just dissolve and reincorporate under a new name, but Mr Hoyte may have better odds with that law firm. Get ‘em.

6 David Schwartz 11.30.09 at 5:55 am

I doubt they particularly care who they sue. Heck, if you sue the wrong guy, he’s less likely to show up. You’re more likely to get a default ruling — and you know where the guy you sued lives.

7 Swan 11.30.09 at 10:45 am

Why wait to sanction? Sounds like the suing parties are getting off without penalty. Perhaps the judge is reluctant take on the brotherhood of the law.

8 econobiker 11.30.09 at 11:48 am

I loved how the attorney could not be responsible for paying $115 though he can collect $1000s of dollars…

9 Frank 11.30.09 at 2:16 pm

I don’t know – if the judge is worried about the lost wages and time for the innocent party, why then: “He told Mr. Wang and Mr. Hoyte to come back to court in January.”

Thanx, yer honor, that’s swell.

10 Rich 11.30.09 at 2:35 pm

In order for the judge to impose sanctions, there will need to be a hearing. The judge is probably hoping that Pressler will pay Mr. Hoyte the $115.00 before the next court appearance and not have to deal with the sanctions hearing, which would result in an appeal.
Of course, what happens if Pressler pays the $115 on the next court appearance after Mr. Hoyt has missed another day of work, will Pressler still owe Mr. Hoyt another $115 for another missed day.
Hoyte should complain to the AG and find a consumer rights attorney.

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