First of its kind lawsuit accuses banks of killing customer

Robo bullying case unprecedented
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 18:36:52-04

At 67, Kimberly Collelo's father Frank Collelo showed little sign of slowing down. Collelo and her sister Amanda say their dad's golden years turned dark after he applied for a mortgage modification.

Relatives say he faxed the bank the requested documents over and over again without response.

The family and their attorney, Billy Howard with the Consumer Protection Firm, claim Frank never missed a house payment until he applied for the modification.

According to a lawsuit, Bank of America, M & T Bank and two other loan servicers robo dialed Collelo’s cellphone up to eight times a day everyday between 2014 and 2015 attempting to collect money he did not owe.

The calls took a toll, according to his daughters, who say he would become short of breath and upset when the phone rang.

In 2014, Frank Collelo left his home in Valrico and gave it back to the bank. Still the calls continued.

On March 3, 2015, Colleloo dropped dead of a heart attack. He died inside a court room in the middle of his foreclosure hearing.

Their lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating both the federal and Florida robo calling laws. But this case filed in Tampa federal court is unprecedented. It blames the banks for robo bullying Frank Collelo to death.

Stetson Law Professor Dr. Thomas Kaye says while it's possible to convince a jury robo calls played a role in the death, the legal challenge remains.

"We have a statute in Florida that deals with robo calling, and it provides a financial payment to be made for each wrongful call but it doesn't say anything if someone dies as a result," Kaye said.

For the Collelo sisters the case isn't about setting a precedent. It is about fighting for a father who can no longer defend himself.

We reached out by phone and email to all four defendants. Bank of America, M & T Bank and Caliber Home Loans refused to comment on pending litigation. Lakeview Loan Servicing has yet to respond.