In a recent case, attorney Mitchell Pashkin, who has previously represented
Midland Credit Management Inc., while he was the managing attorney at
Cohen & Slamowitz, pushed a New York federal judge to deny the company’s
motion to disqualify him from representing a man suing Midland Credit
over allegedly improper debt collection methods. Pashkin argued that Midland
has failed to show his representation of his client, Michael Yearling,
will taint the trial in any way.
Yearling v. Midland Credit Management Inc. case began in 2009, when a Midland subsidiary bought Yearling’s defaulted
credit card debt. Yearling was sued by Forster and Garbus LLP in 2010
seeking to recover the money he owed. Yearling claims he never received
the complaint, despite the document that states that he had been served.
As a result of his lack of response, a default judgement was entered against
Yearling in October 2010. Additionally, his wages were garnished beginning
is May 2014. Yearling then sued Midland in state court alleging that Midland
sued him under the wrong name and therefore, the company engaged in deceptive
and misleading debt collection practices in violation of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act. Thereafter, the case was removed to federal court.
According to Pashkin, the current case is based entirely on the events
that took place in 2014. Midland alleged that as a managing attorney for
Cohen & Slamowitz LLC, now Selip & Stylianou LLC, Pashkin represented
it in numerous debt collection litigation cases and ensured its compliance
with debt collection laws. However, Midland does not allege that Pashkin
represented it in any motion to vacate a judgment or stop the garnishment
of wages cases. Additionally, Pashkin has stated that it is undisputed
that Forster & Garbus handled all aspects of Yearling’s case
and he was not involved in any way. As a managing attorney for Cohen and
Slamowitz, Pashkin claimed that he would have “significantly less
knowledge” about particular cases within the firm than that of the
Pashkin also alleges that the events upon which the Yearling case is based
occurred four months after his employment with Cohen & Slamowitz ended
and therefore he would not have had any previous knowledge that would
now disqualify him from providing adequate and ethical representation
in this case. Pashkin further alleged that his client’s right to
choose his own counsel would be affected by a successful motion to disqualify.
Midland therefore bears a heavy burden of proof to show that Pashkin’s
previous work done for Midland is “substantially related”
to any work done for Yearling’s case.