Gurstel Chargo: Welcome to Hell, Merolo and Kulpers [Updated X2]

Minnesota debt-collection mill Gurstel Chargo announces that it has hired two new associate attorneys in Scottsdale, Katherine Merolo and Benjamin S. Kulpers.

I wonder if Merolo and Kulpers know what they’re in for:

I am a recent (now past) employee of this law firm. FDCPA violations happen on a regular basis, and I just wish that more people knew their rights, because suit could be legitimately brought daily against the practices of this firm.

They do not train their employees, and supervision of violations is not a regular practice until suit is brought against them. They are happy as long as the money flows in. Illegal garnishments are regularly sought and granted, and they simply have them reversed when they find out their mistake, without any thought to the harm that comes in the meantime (they tend to favor the end of the month right before many people’s rent comes due).

There are good, honest attorneys that work there who are over-worked in a factory-style practice that does not allow them to properly supervise their practice, but the majority of the lawyers they hire are so young and inexperienced with no supervision or mentorship  that they don’t know what they’re doing, and are under such considerable pressure from above to produce collectible judgments that they resort to questionable tactics with tacit approval from above, as is evidenced by the actions of the attorney in this case.

Debt collection law firms like this one prey on the fact that people in general do not know what rights they have and are so in awe of legal papers served on them (and obviously in such dire financial straits) that they don’t seek legal counsel. And while I admit that there are many plaintiffs in FDCPA cases who are simply working the system, the vast majority of honest-to-goodness violation cases do not get filed because people do not know the law. It’s cases like this that raise public awareness and will hopefully give victims the knowledge to seek legal counsel when they are illegally harassed and intimidated by predatory debt-collection practices.

“Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Merolo, [sic] worked at a mid-sized law firm where she provided documentation review for a variety of litigation matters,” so she should be familiar with being “over-worked in a factory-style practice.”

“While attending law school, Ben clerked for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.” Having lain down with those dogs, he should be familiar with overbearing, self-righteous, unethical lawyering.

Best of luck, guys.

[Update: Now Gurstel appears to have taken down its “news + articles” page. Cached copy of this particular article is here. Also, it appears that this announcement may have been from some time in 2011, so if they have souls Merolo and Kulpers have quit in disgust by now.]

[Update 2: Kate Merolo writes:

Mr. Bennett,

The information posted in your blog entry entitled “Welcome to Hell, Merolo…” is inaccurate. I would very much appreciate you post a correction and apology and/or remove all references to me completely from any and all blog posts and Twitter posts (and any other posts I am not yet aware of).

The Gurstel press release to which you refer was posted in early 2011. A quick Google search of my name would have lead you to my LinkedIn profile which clearly shows I am not and have not been employed by Gurstel for some time.

I can appreciate your dissatisfaction with a former employer, but there is no reason to involve me. I have moved on with my career.

Please let me know that you have received my email and will take the requested action. It will be very much appreciated.

Kate Merolo


7 responses to “Gurstel Chargo: Welcome to Hell, Merolo and Kulpers [Updated X2]”

  1. So if I understand Kate Merolo’s email properly, she considers tantamount to defamation to state, albeit accurately, that she was for some period of time in the employ of Gurstel Chargo.

    Talk about get the hell out. Apparently, Kate doesn’t want there to be any evidence of her association to Gurstel on the internet, and who can blame her?

    • Could falsely claiming that someone worked for Gurstel Chargo be a new form of defamation per se?

      Ms. Merolo worked for Gurstel and quit—whether in disgust or otherwise—or was fired. I am happy to provide her with the correction she requested.

      An apology? Not so much. The undated Gurstel press release is still the first thing that pops up when you google her name.

  2. For the sake of discussion:

    Why would you go “googling” for Gurstel Chargo dirt? You disagree with their business. Fair enough. This is your “niche”. Just like this is theirs. Apparently you are just as ruthless as they are.

    But why would you go after their employees? Are you thinking anyone employed by Gurstel Chargo is a bad person? I understand and respect that you disagree with the practice of the industry and/or its leadership but what about the people who need these jobs? Who knows why they take them. All I know is that isn’t your place to judge, let alone post a blog with the intention of making them look ignorant and embarrassed.

    Comments like that would make someone look foolish.

    Secondly, while I’m sure we all appreciate your position, as a (journalist?) or blogger, who writes for the purpose of informing others, you should probably check your facts first before publishing. I get it, you saw it on google. I guess you’re above confirming anything factual.

    Good day.

    • I’m not “going after” Merolo and Kulper. You must be new to this blog, or you’d know what me “going after” someone looks like.

      Merolo and Kulper are just characters in the story. They lay down with dogs (Kulper twice); I am not to blame me for their fleas.

      Neither the fact that the (undated) Gurstel press release was from 2011 nor the fact that Ms. Merolo has moved on made a word of the post incorrect. It didn’t even merit a correction. I’m happy to provide my readers additional information as it comes in, but it doesn’t change the story.

  3. It is good that people leave these firms, but be assured that there are plenty more where they came from. Where I went to grad school a few years ago, the FC mills recruit today. Not sure they are getting the cream of the crop of students, but there are soon-to-be lawyers looking for jobs like this.

    I presume they rationalize it with the idea that the money is legitimately owed (often partly true) and it would be unfair to let people get away without paying. So what if a few laws are broken?

    The surprising thing to me is that so few attys bring debt collection claims. Besides the federal law, [state] has a statute which provides additional damages for those who want them.

  4. I am interested in this statement you made: “Illegal garnishments are regularly sought and granted”. I believe that may be happening to me very soon. Please contact me at my email address so that I may ask you questions as to what is illegal; I am in hopes of drafting a defense. Thank you.

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