Collection Defense

Kakalec & Schlanger, LLP is a leader in the field of collection defense and regularly achieves outstanding results on behalf of consumers and businesses being sued for alleged debts including:

  • Credit card debt;
  • Medical debt;
  • Auto loan deficiencies (e.g. where a vehicle is repossessed or voluntarily returned and the finance company claims that a balance remains on the car loan even after selling the vehicle.)
  • Student loans;
  • Personal guarantees;
  • Home equity lines of credit;
  • Business loans;
  • Foreclosure;
  • Debts with vendors;

Our approach to these issues is thorough, seeking to identify all potential defenses, counterclaims and third party claims.  Our firm is in a particularly strong position to negotiate strong outcomes because we also regularly bring both individual and class action lawsuits against debt collectors, finance companies and debt collection law firms under federal consumer protection statutes such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Truth In Lending Act (TILA).  Often, the firm’s advocacy and expertise advocacy completely changes the dynamics of what one or even both parties assumes is a clear cut case of money owed.

For example, defenses based on personal jurisdiction (e.g. proper service of the summons and complaint), statutes of limitations (including use of other state’s statutes of limitations under New York’s “borrowing statute”), usury, standing and chain of title, etc. can, in some instances, convert a case in which the creditor is making maximalist demands to one in which the creditor agrees to walk away from the “debt” entirely.  Indeed, in some instances, the tables are turned entirely and the case is resolved with the creditor paying the consumer.

The firm represents consumer and business debtors at all stages:  pre-litigation (e.g. when the client is receiving collection notices and wants help to negotiate a reasonable resolution prior to a lawsuit being filed); pre-judgment (e.g. when the client needs assistance filing an answer and/or counterclaims and defending the action), and post-judgment.  This last context, after judgment has been taken and the debtor is facing bank restraints, wage garnishments, property liens, etc.

Much depends, of course, on the facts of the case and the client’s goals, but suffice to say that many debtors have more and better options than they realize.

While many of our clients are, understandably, most concerned with the monetary terms of any settlement, our advocacy also extends to helping the client avoid other pitfalls of which he or she may not even be aware, including achieving fair and effective settlement structures.  For example, where cases are resolved via settlement, the firm prides itself on a proven track record of pushing back against the routinely onerous terms that creditors often attempt to insist upon, including agreement to disadvantageous tax treatment, one-sided releases of liability, unfair procedures in the event of a breach of the settlement, overly broad confidentiality clauses, etc.

The firm’s approach rests on the deep involvement of skilled attorneys at every step of the case, from case evaluation to advocacy to settlement or litigated resolution.   We adapt our approach based upon the relevant law, the factual intricacies of the case, and the client’s goals.  We leverage our deep expertise in identifying and pursuing consumer protection claims stemming from collection misconduct and/or fraudulent loan origination.  As a result, as a general rule, the firm only handles cases involving $30,000 or more of debt.  We regularly handle disputes involving significantly larger amounts in dispute. We are not a “settlement mill” and while our skilled paralegals are often involved in the case, they support and do not replace deep attorney involvement.

The firm’s collection defense representations are typically structured as flat fee arrangements or, in cases where the engagement is more open ended, fee-for-service representation based on upon the number of hours worked.

The firm’s collection defense practice is headed by Dan Schlanger.  To see Dan’s bio, including examples of his work on significant collection defense matters, relevant publications and speaking engagements, etc., click here.

Kakalec & Schlanger attorney Evan Rothfarb, an experienced commercial litigator, is also deeply involved in many of our collection defense engagements.

Dan Schlanger of Kakalec & Schlanger, LLP, speaking about unfair debt collection and auto fraud issues.

Dan Schlanger of Kakalec & Schlanger, LLP, speaking about negotiating with creditors.