Secured creditors Wells Fargo, Ocwen, RAS Boriskin and Duane Morris must pay a debtor who filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy $7,000 in emotional distress damages and $39,142 in punitive damages for willfully violating the discharge order.
Judge Cecelia G. Morris of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York concluded that the creditors harassed the debtors for years by filing an illegal foreclosure action against the debtors’ property and sending numerous collection letters after their debt had been discharged in bankruptcy.
The debtors received more than 100 calls and notices for collection of the discharged debt in the past five years. This case is particularly noteworthy for the large amount of punitive damages and the emotional distress damages the debtors received, who represented themselves pro se.
The debtors in the case filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and their nonexempt assets were liquidated by a trustee and the proceeds were distributed to their creditors. They received a discharge of all of their debts in 2009.
The debtors alerted the secured creditors to their violations by contacting them after the discharge, but the creditors insisted they were doing nothing wrong. Instead of taking steps to correct the problems, the creditors and their attorneys wrote threatening letters to the debtors. The court found evidence that the creditors and their attorneys received notice of the debtors’ bankruptcy and discharge on at least 15 different occasions, but failed to stop contacting them.
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