Answer: An unethical debt collector's lawyer.
That probably was the main lesson gleaned from our depositions yesterday in a lawsuit my wife and I have brought against NCO Financial Services, a debt-collection company based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, and Ingram & Associates, a Birmingham law firm.
We have written several times about the seamy side of the debt-collection industry. You can check out posts here, here, and here. Yesterday's deposition, showed us in an up close and personal way, just how low these dirtbags will go.
The chief villain this time was a lawyer from the Metairie, Louisiana, office of Sessions Fishman Nathan & Israel, a firm representing NCO Financial Services. The guy's name is Bryan C. Shartle, and we will have more on him in a minute.
The deposition itself--which lasted about six hours, including breaks--was rather uneventful. I suspect that's because the facts, as we know them so far, clearly show violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and one or more state-law torts. But the real fireworks came afterwards.
As I noted yesterday, I suspect the deposition was scheduled--and captured on videotape--mostly for intimidation purposes. Our complaint, and the audiotapes we captured of our conversations with debt collectors, pretty much tell the story. There wasn't a whole lot of relevant information to be added from depositions.
That was apparent from some of the questions that came from Wayne Morse, a lawyer with Waldrep Stewart & Kendrick of Birmingham, representing Ingram & Associates. The depositions were conducted at his office.
Morse went over the complaint with both of us, apparently searching for any inaccuracies--however slight. He asked me to read one line that said we live in Birmingham.
"Do you actually reside in Birmingham?" he said.
"Well, our house is located in unincorporated Shelby County," I said.
"So, that statement is not accurate, is it?"
"Uh, well, our mailing address is Birmingham, AL 35242."
I don't know Morse's hourly fee, but I'm guessing he was hauling in $300 to $400 an hour to come up with penetrating questions like that.
At another point, Morse handed me a copy of the bio from my blog and asked me to read it to see if there was anything inaccurate in it.
I wanted to say: "Well, I don't listen to Three Dog Night as much as I used to, but I still think they were one of the great bands of the late '60s and early '70s. Is there a problem with that?"