Jon Campisi Oct. 31, 2012, 9:35am

An elderly woman from western Pennsylvania has agreed to drop her federal lawsuit against a suburban Philadelphia law firm that had attempted to force the sale of the plaintiff’s home over a ten dollar unpaid residential trash collection bill.

Carol A. Carter, a 72-year-old widow from Allegheny County, signed a notice of voluntary dismissal, which was filed Oct. 29 at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by her attorney, Eileen D. Yacknin of Neighborhood Legal Services Association in Pittsburgh.

The agreement voluntary dismisses the civil action with prejudice.

Carter filed suit at the federal court in Pittsburgh on Oct. 5 against Norristown, Pa.-based Portnoff Law Associates and two of the firm’s attorneys, Diane Pisani Boehret and Megan O. Iannacone.

The lawsuit stated that Carter, who does not work and lives on Social Security checks, inadvertently forgot to pay her home municipality of North Versailles a $10.88 municipal trash collection bill in 2010.

The township retained Portnoff to collect the delinquent trash collection fees from Carter.

In early October of last year, the suit stated, Portnoff sent Carter a letter informing the woman that she owed a total of $239.63 to the township, which consisted of the trash collection fee plus $160 in legal fees charged by Portnoff for the firm sending its letter to Carter informing her of the delinquent charges.

In late December of last year, Portnoff filed in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court a municipal claim on behalf of North Versaille Township, imposing a lien against Carter’s residential property in the amount of $300.13 stemming from the 2010 $10.88 unpaid trash collection bill.

In March, the defendants sought to forcibly sell Carter’s home, the suit claimed.

It wasn’t until after the lien was filed that Carter became aware of the outstanding trash collection bill, the plaintiff claimed in her lawsuit.

Carter had alleged that her nonpayment of the bill was a mere oversight.

Carter retained legal counsel who attempted to arrange for her client to pay the outstanding trash collection bill via payment plan, the suit stated.

At this point, the plaintiff was informed that she owed a total of $685.33, most of which comprised attorney’s fees levied by the firm working for the township.

Carter’s lawsuit alleged that the defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Pennsylvania Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act.

The suit claimed that the attorney’s fees that were charged by the defendant were “unreasonable and inappropriate.”

Reached by the Pennsylvania Record, Yacknin, the plaintiff’s attorney, said she couldn’t divulge the specifics of the settlement agreement, only to say that, “the case has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties.”

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