SACRAMENTO — A janitor who accused a collection agency of harassment and unfair collection practices over a $39 debt, has been awarded nearly $1 million by a Sacramento Superior Court jury.
Frank Cistaro said he felt like he had "slain a giant dragon" after the verdict came back Friday afternoon.
Cistaro's attorney, Gary Callahan, told the Sacramento Union that the award is believed to be the largest punitive amount levied against a collection agency.
The jury awarded Cistaro a $777,839 punitive fee for abuse of the collection process by GC Services Corp., one of the nation's largest collection agencies. He was also awarded $200,000 for actual damages.
The dispute arose when GC Services tried to collect $1,048.02 that Cistaro owed to Chevron U.S.A. Cistaro had refused to pay the bill, saying that Chevron gasoline had ruined the engine of his 1977 Dodge van.