When reports of Lori Swanson’s lawsuit against Bradstreet & Associates broke in January, it got loads of media coverage and confirmed many of the abuses of the debt buying industry. Since that time, there has been a near media black-out. It most cases, this wouldn’t be surprising; as I tell my clients, litigation is a long drawn-out process and there are periods of time in which little may seem to be happening. But that isn’t the case with the Bradstreet litigation. Nearly two months ago, Minnesota District Court Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum issued the following order:
Basically, the order requires that all judgments entered in Bradstreet’s favor be vacated and the Complaints be dismissed with prejudice. Furthermore, Bradstreet has to stop collection and close all of the applicable files. Now, this is a great turn of events for someone who had a judgment entered but has yet to have any funds garnished or who has otherwise not made payments to Bradstreet. But what about the people who have had their money (illegally) taken by Bradstreet? Or the people who paid on settlements to avoid judgment? What about those people? Nothing in this order provides them redress.
What I’m able to tell from the applicable pleadings and orders in the AG v. Bradstreet litigation is that all of those cases have been vacated and dismissed so that they can all be consolidated into this action and be decided by Judge Rosenbaum or a jury, if it gets to that point. And because of that, I suspect that rather than deal with the hassles of refunding or partially refunding consumers’ monies, they will wait for a decision on the consolidated case before disbursing any funds.
Nonetheless, the fact that this process is so unclear is a problem in and of itself. When someone like me who (in theory) has the applicable training and background can’t make out the process involved, how is the average consumer supposed to understand what’s happening with his or her money? I would love to see the garnished funds and paid settlements returned to consumers in light of the fact that those judgments no longer exist. But at the very least, consumers need to be informed about what is occurring.
The Attorney General couldn’t have acted fast enough to issue a press release trumpeting the fact that she brought this lawsuit. But now she needs to do the hard work of making the process clear to her constituents, and explaining why their money isn’t being returned to them and when they can expect any compensation. Because at this point, none of that has occurred. There are no updates on the AG website, nothing on the Hennepin County website, and no publication of the above order. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only place on the internet you can find the order is on this website.
So if Bradstreet has illegally taken your money, get in contact with the Attorney General and find out when you’re getting it back. Don’t forget: she works for you.
AG Contact Info
Phone: (651) 296-3353
Mail Address: 1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101