Meet Gurstel Chargo, “Honest Americans” {updated twice}

{Update 9 August 2013: The Colliers appear to have dismissed their case against Gurstel Chargo. The Stipulation to Dismiss says in part:

2. Gurstel Chargo performed no action that was in violation of the FDCPA;

3. The telephone call referred to inthe Complaint and the central subject of this lawsuit was not made by Gurstel Chargo, any employee or affiliate of Gurstel Chargo, or anyone acting on behalf of Gurstel Chargo; and

4. Plaintiffs agree to take nothing as a result of this action and agree that Gurstel Chargo neither paid anything nor promised anything to reach this agreement and dismissal.

}

From Minnesota law firm Gurstel Chargo’s “what we do” page:

Our practice blend is uniquely designed to provide businesses with financial solutions and asset recovery. Our focus provides sophisticated and occasionally unlikely solutions to our clients fiscally driven matters.

From their meaning-free-mumbo-jumbo-laden “creditors rights” page:

We have developed sophisticated systems and instituted soft-touch collection practices that produce favorable results.

Gurstel Chargo’s response to a disabled veteran trying to recover $6,000 of ungarnishable money that Gurstel Chargo had garnished, after the firm had told a judge that the firm would release the money “right away”:

Fuck you! Pay us your money! You can’t afford an attorney. You owe us. I hope your wife divorces your ass. If you would have served our country better you would not be a disabled veteran living off social security while the rest of us honest Americans work our ass off. Too bad; you should have died.

(Courthouse News Service.)

An “unlikely solution”, sure, but “soft-touch”? “sophisticated”?

The veteran, Michael Collier, can now, as it turns out, afford a lawyer. Floyd Bybee of Chandler, Arizona, has filed suit against Gurstel Chargo for, among other things, violating the Fair Debt Collections Act. (Complaint.) Gurstel Chargo is being sued in eight other federal cases in Arizona, Minnesota, and Ohio.

The articles discussing this story describe it as a “debt collector”—which it is—but it’s also a law firm, which means it is held to higher standards. If Gurstel Chargo aren’t already facing grievances over this, they should be.

After all, accountability matters (that link is a must-follow web archive of the page that Gurstel Chargo took down right after I published this post).

{Update: Gurstel Chargo’s lawyer, Andrew D. Parker, says that the Scottsdale lawyer “acted professionally in all of his dealings with Mr. Collier and in the handling of this ease.” In light of the fact that the Colliers have amended their petition to omit the allegation that Gurstel Chargo’s Scottsdale lawyer had told them in the parking lot that they would need to hire a lawyer to get their money back (and that they now attribute that statement to the same legal assistant who told Collier, “fuck you!”), I have no reason to question Parker’s assertion. So I’ve removed that allegation and the unfortunate lawyer’s name from this post.

Parker is confused about who I had said made the “fuck you” statement. That sentence in my original post may have been written in a way that could confuse a careless reader; it should be clear now: it is the firm that Mr. Collier has alleged made the statement—an assertion, by the way, that Parker does not deny.

Parker also claims that my post “has resulted in threats being received against law firm staff.” I doubt that I have that sort of influence; I hope that I don’t. I suspect that it would be more accurate to say that treating a disabled veteran badly has resulted in threats against law firm staff. Which is itself unfortunate, but not attributable to my little blog.}