Johnson — Fighting Illegal Debt-Collection Practices

The Challenge

A handful of large debt-collection companies buy time-barred debt for pennies on the dollar, and then seek to recover that stale debt in consumer bankruptcies—without disclosing to the participants or the courts that the debt is unenforceable. This troubling nationwide practice implicates over a billion dollars annually.

The Engagement

Working with NACBA and several leading consumer-protection attorneys, Daniel Geyser orchestrated a nationwide appellate strategy to challenge this practice in federal circuits throughout the country. After Mr. Geyser argued and won a key case in the Eleventh Circuit, which held the collection practice unlawful under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the case proceeded to the Supreme Court. Mr. Geyser presented oral argument in January 2017.

The Result

In a sharply divided decision, the Court ruled 5-3 against the plaintiff. The narrow loss represented one of the few times in recent years where the plaintiff garnered any votes in an FDCPA case before the Court; the plaintiffs in the last two FDCPA cases lost unanimously.

Xerox — $22+ Million Recovered

The Challenge

Representing a group of accomplished Xerox corporate employees in a complex, landmark pension case.

The Engagement

In the late 1990s, Xerox attempted to rehire veteran employees who had earlier worked at Xerox and left by choice. The returning employees were led to believe that their pensions would be straightforwardly calculated, with no hidden reductions for past service. As the employees approached retirement, they learned that Xerox intended to calculate their pension using an improper and undisclosed accounting method that collectively robbed the group of many millions of dollars. For roughly a decade, our firm represented the plaintiffs in this complex, landmark pension case at every level: the district court; the Second Circuit (three times); and the Supreme Court. Although the Supreme Court narrowly ruled against us in one facet of the case, we persuaded the Justices to preserve an argument (regarding improper notice) that we used to persuade the lower courts to award millions to misled employees.

The Result

We recovered over $17 million in benefits, plus $4.9 million in attorney’s fees.