Federal judge awards Chicago woman $17,940 in damages over $74 phone bill





United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Carol A. Doyle awarded $17,940 to a Chicago
woman, including $15,000 in punitive damages over a phone bill that amounted to only
$74. Punitive damages are intended to punish a company and are awarded in only
extraordinary circumstances. In this case, the offender was Owtel Inc., an international
telecommunications company with offices in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, and the
Philippines. In her ruling, Judge Doyle called Owtel’s collection efforts “egregious” and
stated that Owtel “began a pattern of systematic harassment” that lasted over three

Representing the client was Brian P. Deshur of Deshur Law Firm LLC, an established
Chicago bankruptcy firm specializing in debtors’ rights. Deshur filed a Chapter 7
bankruptcy petition for the client on August 10, 2012. Upon the filing of a bankruptcy
petition, creditors like Owtel are prohibited from making any contact with the filer,
including any efforts to collect on an existing debt. Despite these warnings, Owtel
continued to demand payment from her, calling both her cell phone and landline almost
every day – and sometimes twice a day – for the next three months. They also sent her
two additional bills, tacking on late fees for nonpayment.

Deshur described Owtel’s collection efforts as “the most wanton and egregious violation
of the federal bankruptcy laws that [he has] experienced in the over eleven hundred cases
that [he has] handled.” Deshur further stated, “I spoke to their supervisors numerous
times and insisted they stop harassing my client. I explained the law to them and told
them that their actions were not permissible. After weeks of consistent harassment, I felt
compelled to seek punitive damages based on the severity of their actions. Creditors like
Owtel need to understand that bankruptcy filers have inalienable rights that cannot be
infringed upon.”

The US Bankruptcy Court agreed and warned Owtel that it will consider requiring them
to pay an additional $500 per day for every day in which the harassment continues.

Deshur Law Firm is located at:

55 West Monroe Street
Suite 3950
Chicago, IL 60603

To schedule a consultation, please call 312-380-1564 or
visit www.deshurlaw.com


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