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Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) Secures Statewide Injunction Against Achievable Solutions, Inc. (ASI) in Landmark Fraudulent Debt Collection Case
Oakland, California, December 4, 2023— Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) achieved a significant legal victory in its claims against Achievable Solutions, Inc. (ASI), its principal Takashi Cheng, and the associated business SueYa, Inc. On October 30, 2023, The Alameda Superior Court entered a California-wide injunction against these defendants, prohibiting the enforcement, transfer, or collection of thousands of disputed California collection accounts and judgments. The injunction, agreed to by BayLegal and the defendants just days before trial, applies to all collection accounts held by ASI, with limited exceptions for accounts that ASI sold to the debt buyer Collect Access, LLC while the lawsuit was pending. Further details about the injunction and its significance for consumers harmed by the defendants’ practices are available here.
The injunction is the culmination of a lawsuit filed by BayLegal last year, exposing a litany of debt collection abuses against thousands of California consumers. Among other things, BayLegal alleged that ASI filed debt collection cases without properly serving consumers with notice—a tactic commonly known as “sewer service.” Noah Zinner, Managing Attorney for BayLegal’s Consumer Rights Unit, emphasized the importance of proper service as a “fundamental safeguard” required for due process. “If you don’t know that you’ve been sued, you can’t defend yourself,” Zinner stated. “You just lose by default.”
Default collection judgments—court orders that allow debt collectors to garnish wages, take money directly out of bank accounts, and put a lien on homes—have a catastrophic impact on low-income consumers. “Families living paycheck to paycheck cannot afford to have their bank accounts suddenly emptied by a debt collector that sees their limited savings as an opportunity to profit,” said Katie Sass, Senior Attorney for BayLegal’s Consumer Rights Unit, “and even those with protected social security or retirement income often get bullied into paying a debt collector without being able to meet their basic needs.”
BayLegal’s lawsuit detailed how the defendants conspired to exploit and manipulate California’s overburdened courts, obtaining fraudulent default judgments with minimal effort at subterfuge. After an extensive review of ASI’s court filings in California, BayLegal revealed in its Complaint that ASI’s sworn claims of service were not only highly improbable, but in many cases physically impossible. For instance, ASI claimed a single person served two individuals 49 miles apart within five minutes, covered a distance of 30 miles in three minutes and appeared in two locations approximately 30 miles apart simultaneously.
As part of the injunction, ASI and SueYa admitted to the practice of affixing pre-existing signatures to sworn declarations and proofs of service—a practice known as “robo-signing”. The individuals who allegedly “signed” these documents did not review them before they were filed with the courts. In some cases, the signatures belonged to people who had not worked for the defendants for years. The defendants also admitted that an “undetermined number of the proofs of service and declarations [they filed with the courts] contained inherently and/or facially inaccurate information.”
Debt collection lawsuits have become the single largest source of civil filings in California courts, constituting approximately 25% of all civil litigation. High-volume or “assembly line” litigation, in which a single collection law firm files thousands of lawsuits, is the major driver of this trend. In one reported example, a single collection law firm, with only 12 listed attorneys, filed 34,376 California lawsuits in a single year. The sheer volume of these filings places enormous strain on our courts and limit their ability to ensure that judgments are based on valid and legally sufficient evidence. “Debt collection lawsuits are overwhelming our courts,” said Zinner. “This case provided significant relief to thousands of California consumers. However, it also shows the challenge that assembly line collection lawsuits present to the integrity of our state court system and the work needed to maintain that integrity.”
The law firms of Kemnitzer, Barron & Krieg, LLP, and Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser, LLP serve as BayLegal’s co-counsel on the lawsuit.
About Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal)
Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing free, high-quality legal assistance to low-income individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a mission to promote social justice and remove barriers to opportunity, BayLegal’s dedicated team of attorneys and advocates works tirelessly to address the legal needs of the community and advocate for systemic change.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Taylor Brady, Director of Development & Communications
Bay Area Legal Aid