Debt collector should not have allowed numerous late payments before repossession, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Aug. 30, 2011, 12:41pm

A Madison County man claims a lender violated the law when it repossessed his vehicle after he made a late payment.

Luther Calvert filed a lawsuit Aug. 10 in Madison County Circuit Court against Santander Consumer USA.

In his complaint, Calvert alleges Santander held the loan for the 2004 Chrysler Sebring he purchased for $18,105.75 in October 2004. Calvert began making monthly payments to Santander after his purchase, but was late for several of those payments, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 18, 2010, at about 11:30 p.m., when Calvert had only $1,830.73 left to pay on his vehicle, Santander repossessed the Sebring, the suit states.

During the repossession process, Santander pounded on doors in Calvert's apartment building, subsequently "disturbing the peace and publicizing the financial difficulties of the Plaintiff," the complaint says.

Santander acted illegally by repossessing the vehicle so late at night, Calvert claims. According to his complaint, it is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Act to attempt to repossess an automobile after 9 p.m.

In addition, the company should never have allowed numerous late payments before it repossessed the vehicle, the suit states.

"That having permitted numerous payments to be made after their due dates and having permitted monthly payments to be omitted, the Defendant waived its right to the strict adherence to the terms of the loan contract, unless prior notice was given to the Plaintiff of Defendant's intent to require such strict adherence in the future was given, and said repossession was unlawful," the complaint says.

Calvert claims he incurred costs when he attempted to repossess his vehicle.

In his five-count complaint, Calvert seeks a judgment of more than $70,000 and punitive damages of more than $50,000, plus attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

Robert E. Ryan of Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-797.

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