Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

Portnoff comments found inaccurate

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 by NATE JASTRZEMSKI Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

City council Nov. 8 was scheduled to vote on renewing a longtime collections contract with Portnoff Law Associates. The contract regards collecting outstanding real estate and water and sewer taxes, and is renewed every two years.

This year, however, resident Steven Antalics, a frequent commenter at many public meetings, told council of a class action lawsuit against Portnoff in Philadelphia several years ago, provided a handout to press and described the firm’s actions as predatory, saying it had been fined for charging unauthorized fees. Council immediately removed the contract renewal from the agenda for reconsideration.

Since the publication of the story with those comments, Portnoff Law Associates contacted The Press to refute Antalic’s claims.

The document Antalics provided, from a class action consumer awareness website, noted actions from 2008 and did not reflect decisions in favor of Portnoff made nearly five years later. The Pa. Supreme Court remanded the suit in November 2013 to the Commonwealth Court which then remanded it to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which ruled in Portnoff’s favor in July 2014.

McNees, Wallace & Nurick attorney Devin J. Chwastyk, representing Portnoff, said in a letter that because of the aforementioned judgment, statements in our earlier article were innacurate.

City Business Administrator Dave Brong said immediately after the Nov. 8 meeting that Portnoff’s recent history would be investigated before the contract renewal would be placed back on the agenda.

He said in an email last week, “In 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court fully exonerated Portnoff from the claims originally heard by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 2002. Steve Antalics provided comment at the following council meeting of the 2013 conclusion, which he admitted he was not aware of at the time of his first comments.

“The administration has had good experience with Portnoff and will ask for approval from council to expand their scope of services to include delinquent utility billing collections,” which was scheduled for last night’s meeting, Brong said.