Sharon man sues over tactics used to collect credit card debt

A Sharon man, sued locally over an alleged credit card debt, has turned around and filed a federal suit against the company that bought the debt and the law firm that tried to collect it from him.

Marco Paoletta Jr., 484 Hawthorne Place, Sharon alleges the defendants, who include Hudson and Keyse LLC, a debt collection agency, and attorney Ronald Amato and his firm, Amato and Associates, all of Bethlehem, Pa., violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act by engaging in abusive, deceptive and unfair practices.

He also alleges Amato and Hudson and Keyse were negligent and intentionally inflicted emotional distress against him.

Amato, on behalf of Hudson and Keyse, sued Paoletta on Aug. 30, 2006, in Mercer County District Court, Sharon, alleging that Paoletta had defaulted on credit card debt for a card issued by Chase Manhattan Bank. Hudson and Keyse acquired the debt, and sought $8,000 in principal and interest.

Paoletta, who disputes the debt, notified the court that he wanted to defend himself, and a trial date was set for Sept. 29, 2006. Paoletta said he took off work and drove “600 miles from above Scranton, Pa.,” to attend the hearing.

On the day of the trial, Amato sent a letter to District Judge James E. McMahon saying he should grant judgment to Amato/Hudson and Keyse if Paoletta did not attend. The letter also said Hudson and Keyse will not be able to provide a witness and that judgment should be granted in favor of Paoletta if he shows up.

McMahon granted judgment in favor of Paoletta.

Paoletta alleges Amato and Hudson and Keyse had no intention of attending the trial, and tried to use the local court as an “indirect debt collector.”

Two days after the trial date, Paoletta said, Paoletta and Amato reached an agreement over the telephone that he would not file a federal suit if Hudson and Keyse does not appeal McMahon’s decision and removes any negative account reports concerning the alleged debt from Paoletta’s credit statement.

Amato sent Paoletta a draft-written agreement that did not include any of Paoletta’s terms, Paoletta said. Amato told Paoletta that Paoletta’s terms from the verbal agreement would be binding.

During future calls to Amato, the relationship deteriorated. On Sept. 25, 2007, Amato “abused” Paoletta by yelling at him to stop calling and harassing his employees, threatening to call the FBI and saying that Paoletta “better get yourself a good damn lawyer,” Paoletta said.

Paoletta, who filed his suit Sept. 27 without an attorney, is seeking unspecified damages, costs and attorney’s fees.

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

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