Volunteer Profile: David Gallup, Esq.

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Volunteer Wins Success for Legal Aid Client – and finds extra support for Legal Aid

David Gallup, of Gallup & Burns, is a long-time Legal Aid volunteer. In both his private practice and volunteer commitment he has developed a concentration in general contract and commercial litigation.

He uses this expertise for Legal Aid’s clients. Most recently, Dorothy Jones* was being sued by Atlantic Credit and Finance, Inc. for just over $1,000. The rules of evidence require that such a complaint provide evidence that Ms. Jones did, in fact, owe that amount of money to her creditor. However, the complaint against Ms. Jones referred to supplemental documentation proving the debt – but no documentation was ever attached to the complaint. Ms. Jones, an older adult, didn’t know what to do. She didn’t owe this debt to Atlantic Credit, was stressed by the legal action, and turned to Legal Aid for help.

Mr. Gallup represented Ms. Jones pro bono after she called Legal Aid. Mr. Gallup filed an answer and cross-claim with discovery. He intended to unearth the documents referred to in the complaint.

Just a week later, instead of providing the requested documentation, Atlantic Credit’s attorney approached Mr. Gallup with an offer to settle the matter for a mutual dismissal without prejudice. Mr. Gallup’s suspicions had been confirmed: Atlantic Credit had referred to documentation in its complaint that it never had. The creditor hoped Ms. Jones would not challenge the lack of documentation and a default judgment would be entered. Mr. Gallup is passionate about this matter: “It made me angry”¦ they had been fishing for one more easy default judgment against one more tired and defenseless consumer.”

Mr. Gallup accepted Atlantic Credit’s offer on behalf of Ms. Jones. However, he stipulated that as a condition of accepting the offer, Atlantic Credit must make a donation to The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland in the amount $620, his standard attorney’s fees for his time spent on the case. Mr. Gallup believes that requiring the creditor to bear the cost of opposing counsel’s attorney fees in the form of charitable donations is a good way both to raise money for organizations like Legal Aid and to provide a deterrent for these lawsuits “fishing” for default judgments.

Join Mr. Gallup and volunteer for Legal Aid. Visit lasclev.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities, or email probono@lasclev.org.

* client named changed to protect confidences

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