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Court Denies Motion to Compel Arbitration in Debt Collection Case

The U.S. District Court of Maryland recently denied a debt collector’s motion to compel arbitration in a putative class action brought by Jane Santoni of Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, LLC on behalf of Edward Skinner, III. Mr. Skinner leased consumer goods from a company called Crest Financial Services, LLC. Crest allegedly sold and assigned Mr. Skinner’s debt to several other entities. The case alleges that Bart Garry d/b/a Law Office of Bart Garry violated federal and state debt collection and consumer protection statutes by filing lawsuits past the applicable statute of limitations and improperly seeking attorneys’ fees. The court denied the motion on the basis that the defendant did not prove that the alleged debt was properly assigned to his debt collection company, BSD Collections, Inc., the company that sued Mr. Skinner. “This case illustrates the many problems of selling consumer debt and the abuse that consumers may face when they are sued by debt collectors,” said Jane Santoni. “We are pleased that Mr. Skinner will continue to be able to pursue his claims in court, rather than being forced to participate in a secret forum that is consistently found to favor businesses.” Ms. Santoni has advocated against the use of arbitration clauses in consumer contracts for the past several years and has been interviewed numerous times on the topic, including an appearance in the New York Times’ 2015 video “Beware the Fine Print.” The case is Skinner v. Bart Garry, Case No.: 1:19-cv-03559.