Home / Judge Tears Discover Card a New One

Judge Tears Discover Card a New One

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If I were not an educated, reasonably articulate, pushy asshole who is willing to get on the phone and browbeat these vicious leeches, this could easily have been me at various points in my life, including a credit crunch situation we had not all that long ago:

    In a six-year period, beginning in 1997, [Ruth] Owens paid $3,492 on her $1,895 debt with added fees and finance charges. And she was still left with a $5,564 balance owed on the account.

    That incensed Cleveland Municipal Judge Robert Triozzi, who last week ruled against Discover Card in a suit it filed in August 2003 against Owens for breach of contract.

    Triozzi not only wiped Owens’ account clean, he also issued a scathing rebuke to Discover Card.

    “This court is all too aware of the widespread financial exploitation of the urban poor by overbearing credit-card companies,” Triozzi wrote in his decision.

    “Defendant has clearly been the victim of plaintiff’s unreasonable, unconscionable and unjust business practice.”

    Owens, representing herself, told the judge in a handwritten response to the suit that she was essentially in dire straits.

    “I am on Social Security Disability,” she wrote.

    “After paying my monthly utilities, there is no money left except a little food money and sometimes it isn’t enough. If my situation was different, I would pay. I just don’t have it. I’m sorry.”

    ….Triozzi noted in his ruling that if Owens simply stopped paying altogether in May 1997, her account would have been closed and Discover would have probably negotiated a settlement for much less than the amount due.

    “While clearly placing her on the moral high road, the same highway unfortunately was her road to financial ruin,” Triozzi wrote.

    Triozzi stated that some of the responsibility rested with Owens, that no one forced her to open the account or to use the card. But, he added, the credit card company also bears some responsibility and that it was “unreasonable and unjust” to keep her account open and active long after it was obvious that she wasn’t able to pay.

    In some instances, some fees caused others to kick in. When Owens made a payment that was less than the minimum due, for example, she incurred a late payment fee, putting her balance over her credit limit. As result she was charged additional over-limit fees of $1,518 during the six-year period.

    Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, said from his Boston office that this treatment of credit card users is a “huge systemic problem.”

    Wu said that Owens showed up for her court appearance, advice others in her predicament should take. [Cleveland.com]

So instead of closing this woman’s account, because she paid just enough to keep it open, they kept piling up the charges and fees and interest, one on top of the other, in a usurious manner long after it was clear she couldn’t keep up and would NEVER get caught up. Thank God this judge could see the outrageous injustice of this particular case, but as attorney Wu says, this is a “huge systemic problem.”

I hope these wretched intestinal parasites feel some slight twinge of shame somewhere in the vicinity of where others have a conscience, but I doubt it.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • john barlow


  • bla

    increadible….increadibly rediculous!!! ha, to think its absolutey TERRIBLE to hold one accountable for the thousands of dollars they just “borrow” with every intention to pay it back. yes, life happens and people go broke. which is why discover card constantly is putting card holders on prgrams, waiving thousands of dollars in fees, reducing interest, and suggesing outside agences when they have exhausted our ability to reduce their debt FOR them! and im pretty sure that “closing” an account is simply blocking any further charges….fees will continue, unless its paid ofcourse.
    “oh those wretched, WRETCHED Discover Card…people, can you even call them people! you mean they are running a business too!!??” ha, i laugh at you.

  • Charlie

    RJ, I am just beginning to get ready to fight Unifund.If you can send any info about what you did, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks

  • R.J.

    Hey Lesa,

    Do you still check this website? If so, send me an e-mail on how things are going with Unifund.

  • Lesa


    Account was closed in 2000, but I made a payment in Jan 2002, which is when they go by. I live in NV so the SOL is 4 years, which would have been up in Jan 2006. The filed their suit in Oct 2005, 2 months prior the SOL expired.

    Funny thing is that we were to go to pre-trial arbitration today, however, their counsel asked for a continuance.

  • R.J.

    Sorry Lesa. I’m just now re-checking this website. If your debt was charged-off in 2000, it may be beyond the Statute of Limitations in your state. What state are you in?

  • Lesa


    Sued by Unifund… Can you also provide me some info on what you did? We go to pre/trial mediation June 16th.

    all they provided me with was copies of Credit Card statements for 1999 -2000 when debt went to charge off status.


  • RJ

    Hey Kevin Kim!!

    I just fought Unifund in court!! Let me know if you want info!

  • kevin kim

    I am in the middle of a similar lawsuit (unifund ccr partner-vs-me). This is a case that the pre-trial judge quoted. Does anyone have the case number so I can review the records in the law library?

  • Arthur Glover

    Here is an e-mail that I sent to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee in reply the Bankruptcy Reform Act:
    Dear Senator Frist,

    While I understand the need for the Senate to tackle the Bankruptcy Reform Act, I think there is a more pressing issue that the people of America have than Bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Reform Act is supported by the credit card and banking industry, i.e. big business. Where the people of America really need help is the reforming the credit card industry. The credit card industry is a plague on the people of America. Credit card companies charge outrageous fees for late payments, often these fees are more that double the minimum payment. Credit card companies are the only companies that can change a contract without your consent. Why is it that a government of the people and for the people is being run by big business? Many people that file for bankruptcy file as a last resort. Why, because the credit card companies will not work with them, they charge outrageous interest rates, and outrageous late fees. A recent television program on Frontline (www.pbs.org) detailed the issue and the problem of credit card debt in America. I would suggest that you watch this program before you vote to change the Bankruptcy laws here in America. I strongly believe that the Bankruptcy Reform Act is designed to hurt the ones who need it most. Meanwhile, that airlines (US Air, United, American and Delta) and Donald Trump will have no problem declaring bankruptcy.

    I have support the Republican Party for several years now and read your newsletters all the time. Please take a look at this issue of credit card debt in America.

    PS. I had a creditor ruin my credit by saying that I had declared bankruptcy, when I did not. This is what the banking industry is doing to ruin the middle class.

    Thank You and God Bless You for Your Time,

  • Eric Olsen

    The key to this is consumer education: if you know what your rights and options are then you can make informed decisions. Like the judge said, the real crime here is that Discover kept her account open so it could continue to pile fees and charges on top of her. If the acount had been closed nothing more could accumulate. But of course the companies do all they can to intimidate customers and keep them in the dark about their options.

  • bhw

    I love what the judge did, but I wonder if it was the correct legal decision. It’s ridiculous that credit card companies can charge the interest rates, fees, and penalties that they do, but it’s still legal.

    Where’s Ralph Nader when you really need him? Ralphie, give up that hopeless campaign and get to work on some credit card consumer law reforms!

  • Thanks for bringing this story and ruling to light. I am sure Discover can claim that “this was their written policy and terms and conditions of use” – this is a clear example of a company out of control and ruled by policy not intelligence or empathy