A dispute over the rental of electronic equipment resulted in the arrest of a Philadelphia
man for simple assault and possession of an instrument of crime, charges that were eventually dropped. A federal suit filed on June 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania now seeks damages over the allegedly false accusation and trespassing by the store's employees attempting to collect the equipment the man never had.
According to the suit, beginning on Sept. 1, 2013, representatives from Aaron's Rental Center in Upper Darby made several visits over the next several weeks to the home of Seena Moss and Chase Parker, claiming the couple had rented a Blu-Ray DVD player and high definition television that were past due.
Each visit ended with a placard placed on Moss's front door demanding the equipment and payment of late fees. One sign warned the couple to return the devices before the sheriff became involved, and another said "Stop Being Broke, Pay Your Bills" and "Stop Stealing," according to the complaint.
Finally, on the evening of Oct. 31, 2013, two collection agents pounded on the front door. According to the claim, the couple did not expect company and had no idea who was standing on the porch. When he opened the door, Parker held a BB pistol to his side and demanded the men to leave his property.
As they left, one of the men called the Philadelphia Police Department and claimed he had been threatened by Parker while he held a semi-automatic weapon. Officers arrested Parker and charged him with simple assault, making terroristic threats and possession of an instrument of crime.
He spent two days in jail until he could post bond on $100,000 bail. The charges were eventually dismissed when the collection agents failed to appear in court at subsequent hearings.
According to the complaint, an Aaron's employee entered Moss's information into the store computer and falsely recorded the rental transactions on Aug. 22, 2013. The collection attempts stopped after Aaron's representatives could not produce a signed rental agreement for Moss and Parker's lawyers.
The couple seeks punitive damages in excess of $100,000 for the store's alleged violation of the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, saying that Aaron's used false and deceptive means to collect a non-existent debt, and for the several incidents of trespassing on their property to leave the placards and bang on the couple's door.
The couple is represented by David Dessen of Dessen, Moses & Rossitto in Willow Grove, Pa.
The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-03753-MSG.