Class action accuses Cohen & Slamowitz of vouching for falsified affidavits of service

Cohen & Slamowitz, LLC, a New York, high-volume debt collection law firm was sued for knowingly using falsified affidavits of service after it had been made aware that a particular process serving company, Midatlantic Service, Inc., had a "company-wide policy" of falsifying affidavits of service. Despite its awareness, Cohen & Slamowitz continues to enforce collection actions and judgments relating to these phony affidavits of service.

An affidavit of service is a sworn and notarized document that a "process server" completes that attests to the facts surrounding delivery of the Summons and Complaint to a defendant-debtor. The practice of "sewer service" is the deliberate fabrication of facts to avoid expending the necessary effort to make sure that a defendant-debtor is served properly to satisfy constitutional standards.

In this case (Coble v. Cohen & Slamowitz, et al, 11-CV 1037 (2011), a class action), the plaintiffs allege that the attorneys at Cohen & Slamowitz would affirm the authenticity of Midatlantic's bogus affidavits of service when it knew or should have known the likelihood that it was affirming perjurious facts.

A central issue in this case is whether Cohen & Slamowitz was protected by the 1-year statute of limitations (time limit in which to sue) governing collection misconduct under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"). This court applied the "equitable tolling doctrine" to extend that 1 year finding that Cohen & Slamowitz's failure to investigate the fraudulent practices of its process serving company, and by continuing to enforce those judgments, it had concealed the debtors' opportunity to learn of their claim against the process server and against the law firm for vouching for falsified facts.

Atleast half of my practice deals with overturning judgments based of process server abuse. Lying in affidavits is perjury and amounts to violations of federal law. This case teaches us that lawyers who have reason to know about bad affidavits of service, but who nonetheless vouch for them to collect money, can be held liable under the FDCPA.

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