- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Lowell Ambulance Company to Cancel $1.6 Million in Medical Debt and Provide Refunds in Settlement with AG’s Office
Boston — A Lowell ambulance company will cancel nearly $1.6 million in debt and provide $50,000 in restitution to resolve allegations that its lawyer illegally threatened consumers with arrest and imprisonment, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
In an assurance of discontinuance, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, Trinity EMS Inc. has agreed to cancel ambulance debts for nearly 880 consumers who were threatened by debt collection attorney Robert White, whose services Trinity obtained through Stevens Business Services (SBS), a debt collection firm. Trinity and SBS, which are both based in Lowell, have also agreed to help repair the credit of all consumers sued by White on Trinity’s behalf and repay those most affected by White’s misconduct.
“Debt collectors and their attorneys aren’t allowed to threaten you with jail time if you can’t pay a bill,” said AG Healey. “For years, this company knew that vulnerable consumers in the Lowell community were being taken advantage of and they should have put an end to it. This settlement will provide relief to those who were harmed by these illegal practices.”
The AG’s Office began its investigation after learning that White’s practices routinely included threatening vulnerable consumers with arrest or imprisonment if they failed to pay ambulance bills owed to Trinity. The investigation showed that many of the consumers White threatened were vulnerable, low-income, dealing with major medical issues, and spoke English as a second language. During the investigation, both Trinity and SBS acknowledged they were aware of White’s misconduct but continued to benefit from his services for years.
While the AG’s Office sued White over these allegations in 2017, the defendant passed away before the case reached final judgment. This settlement with Trinity and SBS resolves allegations against the two companies in connection with his misconduct.
Under the terms of the settlement, Trinity and SBS have agreed to identify consumers sued by White on Trinity’s behalf and all resulting judgments, forgive and stop collecting any debt alleged to be owed based on the resulting judgments, disclaim the right to sell or transfer the debts to another debt collector, inform affected consumers they no longer have to pay outstanding debts, and report these debts as satisfied to credit reporting agencies. Trinity and SBS will also submit an annual report on their compliance with the debt collection laws to the AG’s Office for three years.
Consumers who are eligible for restitution from this settlement will be contacted by the AG’s Office through the mail. The AG’s Office has set up a hotline for consumers who have questions about Trinity EMS and Attorney Robert White at 617-963-2484.
The AG’s Office regularly receives consumer complaints about debt collection abuses and has prioritized taking legal action against several debt collectors in recent years. In November 2019, the Office secured a $4 million settlement from the major national debt buyer Portfolio Recovery Associates to pay back thousands of consumers who were subject to the company’s deceptive and unfair debt collection practices. In 2017, the Office sued Lustig, Glaser & Wilson, P.C., a Massachusetts law firm used by Portfolio for filing tens of thousands of debt collection lawsuits based on unsubstantiated and inaccurate debts owned by national debt buyers. In September 2016, the national mortgage servicer Ditech Financial LLC paid $1.4 million after the Office alleged abusive debt collection practices that affected more than 5,000 borrowers in Massachusetts.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Brendan Jarboe and Samantha Shusterman with assistance from Paralegal Marina Bueno of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division and Senior Financial Investigator Colleen Frost of the AG’s Civil Investigations Unit.