Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Facebook For Debt Collectors

A judge in Florida has prohibited a debt collection agency from using Facebook or other social media to contact a debtor or her family and friends over a $362 unpaid car loan. The debtor's lawyers successfully argued that posting on her Facebook page invaded her privacy and violated Florida's consumer protection laws against collection agency harassment.

According to this News Tribune article, social media is becoming increasingly popular among debt collectors, not just to get the debtor's attention, but to shame him:

"In one Chicago case, a man was friended on Facebook by a young woman in a bikini. The account turned out to be a debt collector's, something the man realized only when the 'friend' posted a message on his wall: 'Pay your debts, you deadbeat.'"

Friday, March 4, 2011

$3 Million Settlement for Shooting Unarmed Bystander in the Face

In 2003, Chicago police officer Alvin Weems was late for work. He was not in uniform and did not have his utility bag or belt as he was walking through a Chicago transit station. Nevertheless, he attempted to stop a fight. The incident ended with him shooting an innocent bystander, 23 year old Michael Pleasance, in the face, killing him. Not realizing CTA video caught the shooting, Officer Weems lied in his report about Mr. Pleasance's involvement in the fight.

A $12.5 million dollar verdict was overturned by the Illinois Court of Appeals based on the repeated and supposedly prejudicial use of the term "willful and wanton" to describe the officer's conduct, according to Fox News Chicago. This is puzzling given that excessive force cases typically involve intentional conduct or willful and wanton disregard for safety. In any event, subsequent to the Appeals decision, Chicago has agreed to settle the suit, brought by the victim's family, for $3 million.

The entire incident was caught on video [graphic]: