The Second Department publically censored the law firm of Cohen & Slamowitz, LLP, and sustained four charges levied by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District for its unlawful and unethical debt collection practices. In particular, the Court found that the pattern and practice of failing to act properly even after sanctions is prejudicial to the administration of justice and is in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In one instance, the firm served a summons and complaint on the wrong debtor despite actual knowledge of the mistake beforehand. In other instances, they continued to attempt to collect debt by serving a summons and complaint against debtors who had previously satisfied their debts. Despite receiving credible evidence that debtors had satisfied their judgments, the firm relentlessly and unlawfully pursued the debtors.
Head partner, David A. Cohen has been personally censured for his failure to properly supervise his staff and attorneys in the method of their debt collection practices. The court reasoned that even if he had lacked personal knowledge of a particular matter, the pervasive practices of the firm has been prevalent since 1996, and it is clear that the firm has taken no steps towards improving such practices by the exercise of caution, strict supervision of staff, and by placing reasonable procedures in place. Furthermore, the firm has had a voluminous history of similar misconduct, which has generated complaints from many individuals who filed complaints between 2004-2008. Despite letters, cautions, and warnings, the firm has failed to correct or adequately address the inquiries and complaints.
Matter of Cohen & Slamowitz, 2008-10218, NYLJ 1202643077738, at *1 (App, 2nd, Decided February 13, 2014).