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Court Grants Final Approval to NYLAG’s $1.35M Settlement with Process Servers, Process Serving Agency, and Debt Collection Law Firm, Providing Crucial Relief to More than 3K NYC Consumers: Burks et al. v. Gotham Process, Inc. et al.

Burks et al. v. Gotham Process, Inc. et al.

We anticipate that payments will be sent to class members in March 2024. If you have any questions please visit the settlement website, www.gothamsettlement.com

The New York Legal Assistance Group, representing consumers Jackie Burks, Brunilda Pagan Cruz, Venus Cuadrado, and class of over 3,200 other New Yorkers, settled Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and related claims against process serving agency Gotham Process Inc., process servers Carl Bouton and Bassem Elashrafi, and law firm Mullooly, Jeffrey, Rooney & Flynn, LLP that provides those consumers crucial relief. On November 16, 2023, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York provisionally granted final approval of the settlements. On November 16, 2023, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York provisionally granted final approval of the settlements. The approval became effective on February 6, 2023.

Ms. Burks, Ms. Cruz, and Ms. Cuadrado were all sued by Mullooly, Jeffrey, Rooney & Flynn, LLP, on behalf of its clients, to collect debts they allegedly owed. But at first, none of them even knew about the lawsuits, because none of them were served with the summons and complaint for those lawsuits in the way the law requires. Process servers Carl Bouton and Bassem Elashrafi, who worked for process serving agency Gotham Process, Inc., claimed that they had gone to each Plaintiff’s apartment and handed the court papers to a relative of each Plaintiff—but none of the relatives named by the process servers exist, and no one else in Plaintiffs’ apartments was ever handed the papers.

Now, the Parties have reached a settlement that provides $1.35 million to a settlement fund. The firm will also cease collections on the underlying debt collection lawsuits brought against the class. The individual process servers, Mr. Bouton and Mr. Elashrafi, have agreed to a permanent ban on serving process in all jurisdictions and have also agreed to certain limitations on future testimony. The process serving agency, Gotham Process Inc., has agreed to cease doing business with any process servers known to have disciplinary records arising from conduct alleged to have constituted fraud or misrepresentation in service of process and change certain other business practices.

“This case shows how just two rogue process servers can harm thousands of New Yorkers, leading to devastating financial impacts for moderate- and low-income consumers,” said Shanna Tallarico, project director at New York Legal Assistance Group. “We call on the courts to strictly enforce the rules governing service of process and ensure the basic tenet of law that defendants must receive proper legal notice of a lawsuit.”

The Court has made no determination as to any alleged wrongdoing or liability of Defendants in the case and Defendants denied all material allegations, including that Mullooly, Jeffery, Rooney, and Flynn, LLP denies that it knew or should have known of any problem with service of process on the class.

If you received a notice stating that you are a class member, please visit the settlement website at www.gothamsettlement.com or call the settlement administrator at 1-888-233-2228 to learn more and file a claim for a monetary award.

If you have been sued by Mullooly, Jeffrey, Rooney & Flynn to collect on a debt, and you were not properly served with the summons and complaint, contact us at: 212-613-5032.

If you are not sure whether this applies to you, or you have other questions about debt collection, call NYLAG’s mainline at 212-513-5000.

More Information:

Name: Burks v. Gotham Process
Dkt. #: 20 Civ. 1001 (E.D.N.Y. 2020)
Judge: Hon. Rachel Kovner
Status: Case Settled.

Claims:

Violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, New York General Business Law, the New York City Administrative Code, and common law negligence for, among other things: failing to lawfully service process; preparing, signing, and filing false affidavits of service; filing court documents without meaningful attorney review; filing default judgment applications and other court documents with false statements; and unduly prolonging legal proceedings. 

Highlights:

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