Florida Widow's Suit Alleges Debt Collectors Caused Her Husband's Death Skip to main content

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Florida Widow's Suit Alleges Debt Collectors Caused Her Husband's Death


Dealing with debt collectors is no picnic. Despite increased efforts by the government to protect Americans from some of the more questionable debt collection practices, hapless consumers continue to face the rude, callous pestering of debt collectors as they struggle to stay on top of their finances. While the mental distress caused by debt collectors may be no surprise, this case may well present an issue of first impression: Dianne McLeod, a widow residing in Florida, is suing her mortgage company, Green Tree Servicing, for her husband's wrongful death. In the suit, McLeod alleges that the illegal practices of Green Tree's collectors led to her husband's untimely death of heart failure at the age of 57.

Stanley McLeod worked at Sears until he suffered a heart attack while at the job in 1997. During his recovery, Stanley was unable to hold down a full time job. The McLeods began to fall behind on monthly payments for their mortgaged home in Keystone Heights, close to Gainesville, Florida.

Soon, debt collectors representing the mortgage company began to call incessantly. According to Dianne McLeod, the debt collectors called as many as nine times a day, often leaving rude and harassing messages on the family answering machine. The McLeod's attorney, William Howard of Tampa, Florida, says he is looking forward to playing the tapes for a jury. Howard considers the tapes pretty damning evidence of the debt collector's operating procedure and is willing to bet that a jury will be sympathetic to Dianne McLeod's suit.

Green Tree Servicing executives, meanwhile, have called McLeod's claim "outrageous and meritless." Speaking on behalf of the company, Brian Corey, Green Tree's senior vice president and acting counsel, has denied the charges that wrongdoing on the part of his company was the cause of Stanley's death. But according to his widow, Stanley's health, already weakened from his first heart attack, visibly suffered as calls and collection efforts from Green Tree intensified starting in August 2005. Dianne says that after Stanley would receive a call from Green Tree Servicing, or listen to a message left on their machine, his face would redden and his breathing would grow labored. Dianne believes that Stanley's health was progressively worn down by harassment from their mortgage company, culminating in her husband's death of heart failure in December 4, 2005.

The McLeods already had a pending suit against Green Tree for unfair debt collection practices. The suit alleged that Green Tree broke Florida collection laws by calling too often, using harassing tactics, and contacting people outside the household in an attempt to collect on the debt. Following Stanley's death at the end of 2005, Howard added the wrongful death claim. The attorney says debt collector harassment claims like the McLeod's are not uncommon; he personally is handling about 500 claims from other people unduly harassed by debt collectors. He believes the McLeod's case is the first wrongful death claim to have resulted from the illegal practices of debt collectors.

As you read this amazing story, did you find yourself sympathetic to the McLeods because of first-hand experience? Do you feel like debt collectors are hounding you to death? If you are tired of dealing with the threats and rough treatment from debt collectors, contact a bankruptcy and consumer rights attorney today. In addition to the protections of the Bankruptcy laws, you may have a claim for unfair debt collection practices. In North Carolina, call the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. 1-888-234-4181, or visit www.billsbills.com to set up an appointment online. Your first appointment is free. Don't wait another day.

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