Contingent Repo Leads to Lawsuit

Madison County, MO – June 1, 2012 – “If we don’t take the vehicle, we don’t get paid and we’re getting paid tonight.” These words were allegedly spoken by a  repo agent to a borrower, despite having allegedly been told by  a finance company collector that the account was current and that they needed to leave it. This reported exchange is one of many allegations that  triggered a lawsuit against a reputable national repo company and its client.

While this may seem to be just another bad repo agent story in CUCollector, there are two sides of the story and while the allegations are not pretty, there may be some sensationalizing of the claims by the plaintiff’s attorney.

A lawsuit filed by Todd and Stacey Hindrichs on June 1, 2012 in Madison County Circuit Court in Illinois against United Repossessors Inc., three of URI’s employees and TD Auto Finance LLC, alleges that in February 2012 the Hindrichs were at home in Jefferson County, Mo. when a female employee of URI arrived and attempted the repossession of the couple’s 2005 Jeep Cherokee parked in the driveway. Todd Hindrichs reportedly went outside to ask the employee what she was doing and was advised that she was there to repossess the Jeep.

The complaint goes on to claim that Hindrichs called his finance company to confirm the account was not delinquent.

The Hindrichs claim that the finance company’s representative advised the URI employee that the account was current and the car was not to be repossessed.

At that time the Hindrichs say another URI employee pulled a tow truck into position to load the Jeep and told Hindrichs they were taking the car despite what the finance representative told them, allegedly saying, “If we don’t take the vehicle, we don’t get paid and we’re getting paid tonight.”

Hindrichs apparently elected to leave with the car and the URI employees attempted to stop him. Hindrichs reportedly fled with the vehicle and claims he was followed by the agent in the tow truck who allegedly prevented him from pulling into the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Hindrichs claims that the chase continued in an aggressive manner onto Interstate 55.

On the highway, another URI employee, driving a white Chevy Tahoe joined the pursuit, according to Hindrichs, and both were reportedly able to keep him from exiting the freeway. Hindrichs alleges that the high-speed chase went on for more than 40 miles before he was able to exit on the Reavis Barracks Road off-ramp.

Hindrichs claims that he was then trapped at the off-ramps intersection by the tow truck and Chevy Tahoe.

That is when the driver of the Tahoe allegedly opened the door of the Jeep and threw Hindrichs to the ground. While the third URI employee held him at bay with threats of violence, Hindrichs claims his Jeep was loaded onto the tow truck and taken away. He says he walked to a bank and called police to file a report. The next day Hindrichs and his wife, Stacey, say they drove to URI’s tow lot in Granite City to pick up their Jeep.

In interviews with a URI spokesperson, Pat Elliott, a somewhat different and much less sensational version of events was disclosed.

According to these sources, the incident began with a spotter locating the Jeep at the residence and contact being made with the Hindrichs. Mrs. Hindrichs reportedly began removing personal property as the tow truck was en route.

As the tow truck arrived and began attempting to back into the Jeep, Mr. Hindrichs jumped into the Jeep and drove off.

The URI representative admitted the agent followed the Jeep out onto the highway but stated  no aggressive maneuvers were made and that the tow truck was at all times operated  within posted speed limits. The second vehicle referenced in the Hindrichs Complaint was a spotter that was called from the field to assist in tracking the Hindrichs vehicle.

Mr. Hindrichs eventually stopped the vehicle as reported, got out and walked away at a location approximately 30-35 miles from his residence. URI’s representative specifically denies any allegations of assault and indicates the vehicle was recovered with no further incident.

According to URI’s spokesperson, Mr. Hindrichs received a ride home (30-35 miles) from a Deputy Sheriff.

While URI was willing to offer some clarification to the allegations contained in the Hindrichs Complaint they were also careful to point out this matter has been served and filed and were reluctant to go into much detail regarding their position in this matter. In short they denied the bulk of the allegations in the complaint.

Pat Elliott, the URI spokesperson told CUCollector that communications with counsel for the Hindrichs have been ongoing since shortly after the February 22nd incident and while the suit has been served and filed he believes communications will remain open with plaintiffs and their counsel.

 

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10 thoughts on “Contingent Repo Leads to Lawsuit

  1. Well put Pat. The agency receiving closing compensation does not alone inhibit dangerous behavior. This must follow through the the agent in the field otherwise it is just plain hypocritic to complain of the dangers of contingency while practicing it in ones own business.

  2. My only concern with this particular story is that the agency in question is actually a very professional, well-respected agency. I suspect the actual field agents did not reflect the values and policies of the agency itself.

    With that said, it should be a reminder to all if we want to deem “contingent” repossessions as being unfair or dangerous, that we do NOT ask our actual field representatives to work on that basis either. I don’t know how the agency in question paid their agents.

  3. Again this is what happens when we work contingent accounts and employee people or expect to get paid when in fact we are agreeing to work for “FREE” !

  4. Two things bother me about this story. One, that a finance company employee told the field men that the account was current. If they proceeded they would have been outside the scope of their employment and at a minimum, fired. The second is if that was the case, I would have let the field men take the car without any argument knowing it was going to be paid off real soon. A lot of holes in this story that just don’t make good sense.

  5. Neither account sounds like the unvarnished truth. I do have to say that Ron hit it right on target. Things will happen despite all the training, warnings, documents, etc and the long and short of it is that, once again Ron is on target. Unless the agency owner is sitting right there in the seat or doing the work him/herself (and on occasion even then) stuff happens. Prepare and expect the worst. Every day you come to the office and find it hasn’t happened, got to be a good day.

  6. “if we don’t take the vehicle, we don’t get paid and we’re getting paid tonight”. To me that clearly states that this is not an “ERROR” situation. This is a lack of compensation issue. You can train and educate people all you want, but unless you properly compensate them for their efforts, they will always cut corners and break the rules. This is a prime example of why “CONTINGENCY” IS WRONG AND DANGEROUS.

  7. “It is not good for the industry when incidents like this occur but they will occur and all a owner or manager of a recovery agency can do is prepare for the worst case scenario.”

    Ron, as always, you nailed it!!!

  8. In todays sensationalized world of “REALITY TV PROGRAMS” the perception of what can and cannot be done on a recovery assignment sometimes becomes very blurred. As an owner of an agency I often wonder what can I do to insure compliance by my field representatives. I can do in house training, I can get them certified through the “Certified Asset Recovery Specialist” (CARS) program, I can hold weekly meetings and I can have all employees sign documents indicating they have been properly instructed on how to handle specific circumstances. I can do all due diligence possible but the one thing I cannot do is ride every day or night in the seat beside them. I think that is probably why there is a thing called “Bona Fied Error Defense”. I am not an attorney and I would not provide legal advice but to quote a federal statute, “…shows by a preponderance of evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fied error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error.” It is obvious the field agent’s actions were intentional but how far up or down the chain can we place responsibility and liability? If you properly train them, if you have a continuing education program in place, if you and your employees attend the national trade organization meetings and participate in programs like Time Finance Adjusters’ Professional Credentialing Program (TFAPCP) and your employees have signed off that they will perform all actions in compliance with applicable laws I would question, “what else can YOU do to insure compliance?” It is not good for the industry when incidents like this occur but they will occur and all a owner or manager of a recovery agency can do is prepare for the worst case scenario.

  9. There is a right way and a wrong way to conduct business………and you never know when the cameras will be rolling!

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