My daughter was stopped at Nordstorm for walking out with a $70 dollar necklace. The necklace was retrieved, undamaged, and police were called. She was granted an ACOD that is up come August, but has been receiving letters from Nordstrom about a civil demand fine with threats of the fine ($325) being turned over to a law firm or collection agency. We were previously advised to ignore these letters, but she can't recall if Loss Prevention bullied her into signing an Admonishment Agreement. Our lawyer has since told us to write to the Civil Claims Coordinator, stating that "This debt is disputed and invalid" and then do the same to the collection agency (if contacted by them) but I would like a second opinion.
I agree with the advice that you have received. Do not pay this, but let the Civil Claims Coordinator know that you dispute the debt on the ground that it is invalid. If you hear from a collection agency, you should take the same position. I doubt if they will sue your daughter and/or you, but if they do so, then you may want to attempt to settle.
I generally advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. You don't owe them anything. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you, (in some jurisdictions prove damages which they most likely couldn't do), and win. Even if they could win, the cost of pursuing this is substantially greater than any amount they can possibly recover so they usually don't. They send out these letters because it doesn't cost much and they are hoping that you don't know better and simply send them the money. Nothing will happen to you if you don't pay it. Take a look at an article in the Wall Street Journal at the link provided below.
I've never seen a store actually sue to collect on a civil demand letter. I am surpirsed that you lawyer did not write the objection letters for you. I always do that as a service for my clients and include language that the store/lawyer/debt collector should have no further contact with my client and to only contact me. That stops the client from being harassed.
I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 385-8015 or via email at [email protected] The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.
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