I wonder if Merolo and Kulpers know what they’re in for:
I am a recent (now past) employee of this law firm. FDCPA violations happen on a regular basis, and I just wish that more people knew their rights, because suit could be legitimately brought daily against the practices of this firm.
They do not train their employees, and supervision of violations is not a regular practice until suit is brought against them. They are happy as long as the money flows in. Illegal garnishments are regularly sought and granted, and they simply have them reversed when they find out their mistake, without any thought to the harm that comes in the meantime (they tend to favor the end of the month right before many people’s rent comes due).
There are good, honest attorneys that work there who are over-worked in a factory-style practice that does not allow them to properly supervise their practice, but the majority of the lawyers they hire are so young and inexperienced with no supervision or mentorship that they don’t know what they’re doing, and are under such considerable pressure from above to produce collectible judgments that they resort to questionable tactics with tacit approval from above, as is evidenced by the actions of the attorney in this case.
Debt collection law firms like this one prey on the fact that people in general do not know what rights they have and are so in awe of legal papers served on them (and obviously in such dire financial straits) that they don’t seek legal counsel. And while I admit that there are many plaintiffs in FDCPA cases who are simply working the system, the vast majority of honest-to-goodness violation cases do not get filed because people do not know the law. It’s cases like this that raise public awareness and will hopefully give victims the knowledge to seek legal counsel when they are illegally harassed and intimidated by predatory debt-collection practices.
“Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Merolo, [sic] worked at a mid-sized law firm where she provided documentation review for a variety of litigation matters,” so she should be familiar with being “over-worked in a factory-style practice.”
“While attending law school, Ben clerked for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.” Having lain down with those dogs, he should be familiar with overbearing, self-righteous, unethical lawyering.
Best of luck, guys.
[Update: Now Gurstel appears to have taken down its “news + articles” page. Cached copy of this particular article is here. Also, it appears that this announcement may have been from some time in 2011, so if they have souls Merolo and Kulpers have quit in disgust by now.]
[Update 2: Kate Merolo writes:
The information posted in your blog entry entitled “Welcome to Hell, Merolo…” is inaccurate. I would very much appreciate you post a correction and apology and/or remove all references to me completely from any and all blog posts and Twitter posts (and any other posts I am not yet aware of).
The Gurstel press release to which you refer was posted in early 2011. A quick Google search of my name would have lead you to my LinkedIn profile which clearly shows I am not and have not been employed by Gurstel for some time.
I can appreciate your dissatisfaction with a former employer, but there is no reason to involve me. I have moved on with my career.
Please let me know that you have received my email and will take the requested action. It will be very much appreciated.