Debt Resolution Companies
A growing industry that preys on people all over the country who are sued in New York is the debt resolution industry. These companies promise to settle lawsuits for a portion of the sum sued by inducing the client to stop paying the creditor and instead pay sizeable weekly sums into an escrow account. Pavlov v Debt Resolvers USA, Inc., 28 Misc. 3d 1061 was a New York opinion, noting that the debt resolution company did not defend the lawsuit, guaranteed no result, and accomplished nothing other than accumulating the client-debtor’s funds in an escrow account. It then refused to return the money. One debt resolution company that solicits business nationwide is Protection Legal Group (“PLG”). PLG is an assumed name of Mark D. Guidubaldi & Associates, LLC. Mr. Guidubaldi is an Illinois attorney. PLG was sued in Federal Court in Pennsylvania. The federal complaint noted that PLG misrepresented its status as an authorized law firm and misrepresented that it could defend the case. Neither PLG nor Mr. Guidubaldi are licensed to practice law in New York. Amos Weinberg sued PLG in New York state court for $27,000 that it failed to return to a client. Merida Exp, LLC v Guidubaldi & Assoc. dba Protection Legal Group, Index No. 600187/2017. By virtue of promising to furnish legal services in New York, PLG was able to be sued in New York. Liberatore v. Calvino, 293 A.D.2d 217. PLG’s promise to furnish legal services in New York constituted the illegal practice of law. El Gemayel v. Seaman, 72 N.Y.2d 701. PLG’s contract with the client violated the New York law prescribing attorney fee agreements. McCarthy v. CBC Capital Ventures, 2008 NY Slip Op 50126U. The illegal practice of law renders PLG liable for return of the sums collected. Ostrovskaya v. Kurilovich, 2005 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3497. Weinberg also sued Creditors Relief LLC, whose managing member is attorney, Michael Lupolover. Natures Market v Creditors Relief LLC, Index No. 56406/2017. The lawsuits in New York against Protection Legal Group and Creditors Relief LLC were brought on a 25% contingent fee.