DONALD E. PETERSEN
FLORIDA CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWYER
Mr. Petersen proudly represents consumers and small businesses in lawsuits against companies that place calls that violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”). “Calls” consist not only of voice communications but also include SMS text messages and junk faxes.
Many of Mr. Petersen’s clients incurred consumer debts and are being relentlessly pursued by debt collectors who are calling their cell phones. Many of his clients were being hounded by creditors or debt collectors who about accounts that were never their account and, often, the client did not even know the person who allegedly owed the debt. Some of these clients were probably victims of identity theft, many more were probably mistakenly targeted by sloppy use of “skip trace” data bases.
Debt collectors who violate the TCPA or even the FDCPA are not excused from violating the law merely because the consumer may owe the debt — these debt collectors risk substantial judgments against them if they violate the TCPA.
Mr. Petersen has extensive experience in representing consumers against debt collectors who violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in both individual and class action lawsuits. Mr. Petersen also has extensive experience in representing people who discharged their debts in bankruptcy but continue to receive telephone calls in violation of the TCPA and the discharge injunction issued by the Bankruptcy Court. This knowledge helps Mr. Petersen bring the full arsenal of weapons to the lawsuit on his clients’ behalf in order to maximize their recovery.
Mr. Petersen has represented people in TCPA lawsuits for over a decade. The TCPA protects any phone subscriber and/or regular user of the phone so it the calls do not have to concern a consumer debt. Mr. Petersen will represent small businesses against callers who violate the TCPA but does NOT defend any person or company who makes such calls or any other cases where businesses need advice concerning the TCPA or any other laws which may be adverse to consumers.
Mr. Petersen has represented consumers in FDCPA cases since 2005 and TCPA cases since 2007. The federal trial courts for the Middle District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida have each approved Mr. Petersen to represent classes of consumers in class action lawsuits where the courts certified the classes and ultimately approved of the settlements.
Mr. Petersen represented the relators in Francine M. Mettevelis and Rhea J. Rowan v. Charter Hospital of St. Louis, Inc., d/b/a “Charter Hospital of Orlando South, and Charter Behavioral Health Systems, Inc. (Case No. 94-1170-CV-ORL-22; M.D. Fla) which, after four years of litigation, lead to the recovery of $ 4,758,000.00 arising from false claims arising from fraudulent psychiatric “treatment” allegedly provided to hundreds of elderly “patients” at a local psychiatric care facility. This qui tam action and a similar case in Oklahoma, successfully established the now widely accepted doctrine that the United States could recover under the False Claims Act based upon the provider’s failure to provide an adequate quality of care. Mr. Petersen has authored articles and spoken to national, state and local audiences consisting of health care professionals and/or attorneys concerning using the False Claims Act to punish, prevent and deter health care fraud.
From 1988 until 1990, Mr. Petersen was an associate attorney at a medium size law firm which became the Jacksonville, Florida office of one of the 100 largest law firms in the United States. Mr. Petersen investigated failed savings and loan associations on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) and the Resolution Trust Corporation (“RTC”) as successor to the FSLIC. Mr. Petersen identified targets, extensively investigated and formulated potential professional liability cases against directors & officers, investment bankers, commodity brokers, appraisers, and attorneys. These investigations involved claims arising from futures trading, collateralized mortgage obligations, loan participations, direct loans, and violations of complex bank regulations (e.g., the “loans to one borrower” rule).
Mr. Petersen has represented consumers since 1998. Mr. Petersen has been a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (“NACA”) since 2001 and served on the Consumer Protection Law Committee of The Florida Bar from 2003 through 2008.
COURTS WHERE MR. PETERSEN IS ADMITTED TO PRACTICE
In 1988, The Florida Bar admitted Mr. Petersen to practice law in the State of Florida. Mr. Petersen is also admitted to practice in the Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Florida, and the Southern District of Florida. The United States Courts of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Sixth Circuit and the United States Court of Claims have also admitted Mr. Petersen to practice in their courts.
In 1988, Mr. Petersen graduated with honors from the Duke University School of Law. Mr. Petersen served as a Project Editor on Law & Contemporary Problems.
In 1984, Mr. Petersen received a Masters In Business Administration with honors with a concentration in finance from the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College. Mr. Petersen received the Corporate Council Award for distinguished academic achievement. Mr. Petersen was employed full time by Martin Marietta Orlando Aerospace while he completed his M.B.A.
Mr. Petersen received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida in 1980. Mr. Petersen received the G. Tom Willey Scholarship. During his undergraduate studies, Mr. Petersen participated in debate and won several team and individual awards.
MR. PETERSEN’S PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE PRIOR TO ATTENDING LAW SCHOOL
Prior to attending law school, Mr. Petersen worked full time as a Program Planner for Martin Marietta Orlando Aerospace from 1980 through 1985, mainly on the full scale engineering development (“FSED”) phase of the Low Altitude Targeting Infrared For Night (“LANTIRN”) program. Mr. Petersen worked on the LANTIRN restructuring proposals and designed the cost collection system for the LANTIRN production readiness and production programs.
HOBBIES & INTERESTS
Mr. Petersen’s interests include internet marketing, search engine optimization and web design (which Mr. Petersen finds a continuing battle as technology changes).
Outside of work, Mr. Petersen enjoys reading about history and finance — especially historical events which continue to affect our times and fraudulent financial schemes or “bubbles”.
Mr. Petersen loves animals and, besides the usual animals — dogs and cats – Mr. Petersen enjoys feeding and interacting with Pekin ducks. (Please do not call them “Peking Ducks” — that designation is reserved for menus.)
Mr. Petersen enjoys kayaking in Florida’s streams and lakes. A “successful” trip is one where he’s observed river otters, bald eagles, or alligators longer than the kayak.
Mr. Petersen is a fan of Duke Basketball and also enjoys following other teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference (“ACC”).
Mr. Petersen supports progressive causes including environmental, social justice and privacy rights.