$5,000,000 Lawsuit Filed Against Verizon Wireless for Collecting a Fraudulent Cellular Phone Bill Despite Numerous Disputes

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Consumer advocate Christine Baker now seeks $5,000,000 in punitive damages because Verizon Wireless continues to misrepresent the disputed debt to the court as valid. The entire punitive damages award is to be used to establish a non profit consumer litigation organization to assist consumers with billing, credit and collection problems.

In 2003 Ms. Baker filed suit in Phoenix federal court, case # CV-03-525, against credit bureaus, creditors, collectors and regulators who failed to enforce consumer protection laws.

Not being an attorney and with no legal experience, Ms. Baker had hoped to at least get the credit rating she deserves and she expected apologies from the defendants along with a few dollars for her trouble.

However, instead of apologizing and acknowledging that the alleged debt did not exist, Verizon Wireless attorney Rodney Coffey, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, continued to misrepresent the alleged debt as valid in his motion for summary judgment and in the objection to Ms. Baker’s motion for leave to amend her complaint.

Her Open Letter to the management at Stinson Morrison & Hecker LLP is posted at http://mylitigation.net/pr/news/release/open_letter_to_management_at_stinson_morrison_hecker_llp_re_verizon_lies/

Ms. Baker almost suffered a heart attack when she read the 4/4/06 Verizon filing and she decided to amend her damage demand from unspecified punitive damages to $5,000,000 to establish a consumer litigation organization. Nobody should have to pay bills twice.

After Ms. Baker had paid the closed cell phone account in 1999, Verizon Wireless continued to bill $105. Verizon ignored Ms. Baker’s disputes and in 2000 she submitted her complaint to the Verizon regulator, the FCC. Verizon’s Kay Howe, Administrator, Regulatory Department, confirmed to the FCC that the debt was valid and the FCC closed its investigation.

It is undisputed that Verizon then assigned the account to 3 different collection agencies. When Ms. Baker received a collection letter, she disputed with the collection agency. They returned the account as disputed to Verizon and it assigned the account to another collection agency.

The statements, collection letters, disputes, cancelled check and correspondence are posted at http://fight-back.us/forum/index.php?showforum=87 and Ms. Baker’s 4-page affidavit with the detailed history of the Verizon account and her disputes is posted at http://forum.creditcourt.com/discus/messages/803/7146.html

Ms. Baker’s relative Dorothea Weidinger had provided her social security number and permitted Verizon to access her credit when the account was opened. In 2002, Dorothea was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she could not focus on her health because she was so concerned with maintaining her impeccable credit rating.

Dorothea was very distressed when Chase increased the interest rate for her credit card due to information contained on her credit report. She no longer received the offers for 0% balance transfers and she had to work even harder to keep up with her bills. Dorothea died in November 2003.

Verizon essentially admitted that it reported the disputed collection on Dorothea’s credit when it refused to answer Ms. Baker’s request for admission no. 22 regarding the Verizon credit reporting. All Verizon discovery responses are posted at http://forum.creditcourt.com/discus/messages/803/7107.html

It is too late to save Dorothea’s life and nothing will bring her back. Ms. Baker decided to do whatever she can stop the creditors’ and collectors’ abuse of the credit reporting system to facilitate the extortion of payments NOT owed.

No consumer should ever have to litigate pro se. Ms. Baker’s attempts to retain a competent attorney in Arizona were unsuccessful. Few attorneys want to represent consumers. The corporate legal departments have unlimited funds and it is difficult to prevail even for skilled attorneys.

Most large firms choose to represent the much more profitable corporate clients and most of the few attorneys who represent consumers settle with confidentiality clauses, paving the way for repeat business and lucrative working relationships with the corporate defendants.

Ms. Baker is a credit consultant and she has been recommending to her readers and clients with health problems that they should pay their bills twice whenever a creditor demands a duplicate payment and the credit rating is important. Stress kills, especially the weak, old and ill. While Ms. Baker encourages consumers to fight for their rights and to file lawsuits, the stress and frustration can quickly become overwhelming.

The credit bureaus, creditors and collectors know that regulators rarely enforce consumer protection laws and chances of being sued by a competent attorney are very slim. It is much more profitable to ignore the law than to comply. Corporations have no heart and no ethics.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits the collection of disputed debts and the reporting to credit bureaus until they were validated by the creditor. The Verizon Wireless collection agencies complied with the FDCPA and ceased collecting after they received Ms. Baker's disputes. Instead of validating the debt, Verizon assigned the debt to another collection agency.

While creditors are generally not liable for violations of the FDCPA, a creditor who uses someone else’s name so as to suggest to the debtor that a third party is involved in the debt collection process, when in fact that party is not involved, can be treated as a “debt collector” under the FDCPA. Nielsen v. Dickerson, 307 F.3d 623 (7th Cir., 2002).

Apparently it is not illegal for creditors to threaten with credit reporting if disputed debts are not paid. Verizon stated that extortion is not an actionable claim.

http://creditsuit.org/credit.php/blog/why_is_extortion_only_prosecuted_when_rich_people_are_the_victims/

Ms. Baker is hoping to schedule a video deposition of Verizon Director of Financial Services Greg Fong as he had signed the discovery responses. While she has many questions for Mr. Fong, the primary objective is to have him admit that the debt never existed.

Of course Ms. Baker has little chance of prevailing in court as she has no legal experience, she continually makes procedural mistakes and she hasn’t even been able to properly state her claims for gross negligence. She publishes the court filings and her litigation experiences, hoping that other pro se litigants will be able to do better:

http://forum.creditcourt.com/discus/messages/803/803.html

More information about credit litigation, credit reporting and FICO credit scores is at Ms. Baker’s web sites http://creditsuit.org/, http://fight-back.us/forum/, http://creditlitigation.org/ and http://creditfactors.com/

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Christine Baker
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