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Debt Collector Green Tree Responsible for Burden of Proof
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Green Tree debt collector

Summary: Without the ability to prove the reason behind calling third parties for a debt collection, Green Tree was ordered to pay $1,000 to the defendant.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors contacting third parties to locate debtors must show that the contact was purely to locate the debtor. Plaintiff Patricia Evankavitch sued the debt collection agency Green Tree after they continually called her neighbors and daughter.

  
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A district court jury ruled in favor of Evankavitch, awarding her $1,000. She defaulted in a $43,000 mortgage she took out on her home to help her son out. He had been making payments but fell into financial difficulty. Once she fell behind, Green Tree took over her account.

Current laws allow a debt collector to contact third parties only once to find the location of a debtor. The exception to this is if the collector believes they have been given incorrect information.

The Third Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause stated that “Although Green Tree suggests otherwise in its briefing, it cites little in the record that indicates that it actually attempted to discern the location of Evankavitch during this call or any subsequent call. Instead, these calls to the (neighbors) appear to have been made with the same purpose as the calls made to (her daughter).”

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The court had to determine which party needed to provide the burden of proof. Usually a defendant is required to in these kinds of cases but the court ruled that Green Tree was responsible based on the fact that they had the “peculiar knowledge” on relevant facts.

Evankavitch was represented by Kristin Sabatini of Sabatini Law Firm.



Green Tree was represented by Barbara Hager of Reed Smith.

Source: http://www.thelegalintelligencer.com/home/id=1202731998870

Photo: topclassactions.com



 

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