Posts tagged class actions
Kentucky Attorneys File Lawsuit Against Bridal Warehouse, Inc.
Bridal Warehouse Wedding Dress

Yesterday, Brian Cook, John Bahe, and I filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court against Bridal Warehouse, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that Bridal Warehouse has violated Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act by engaging in false, unfair, deceptive, and misleading acts and practices for many years. 

Specifically, the suit alleges that Bridal Warehouse has promised to "special order" new dresses from the manufacturer to thousands of brides. Rather than doing what they promised to do, the company would deliver to their customers a used dress from the floor of one of their other store locations. In other words, instead of delivering to their customers a new dress from the manufacturer, Bridal Warehouse would deliver dresses that had been used by other customers. Many customers were charged a premium for this "special order" from the manufacturer. 

Bridal Warehouse, Inc. has four store locations: 

  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Elizabethtown, Kentucky
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Evansville, Indiana

The lawsuit seeks class certification for the injured customers who are residents of Kentucky. Here is a copy of the Complaint we filed against Bridal Warehouse, Inc. 

If you placed a "special order" for a dress from Bridal Warehouse, Inc. in the last 15 years, you may be a member of the class of injured individuals. For more information about the suit or to ask us to review your case, fill out this form or contact us by calling 502-587-2002. 

Phone *
Phone
If you want, you can tell us a little more about your experience: when you purchased your dress, how much you paid, etc.
Class Action Filed Alleging Antifreeze Leaks in the Chevy Cruze

Yesterday, David Bryant, Jasper Ward (both of Jones Ward), and I filed a class action complaint in the Western District of Kentucky alleging that General Motor's Chevrolet Cruze has a defect that spreads sickly-sweet antifreeze vapors into the passenger compartment of the car. I encourage you to read more about the case or view the class action complaint

If you own a 2011 model year or newer Chevrolet Cruze and want to find an attorney in your state to review your case, go to consumeradvocates.org and click on the "Find an Attorney" tab. 

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against One of Jefferson County's Largest Private Tax Collectors

Ben Carter Law PLLC has filed a class action lawsuit Jefferson County Circuit Court against attorney Marilyn Hartley, one of Louisville's largest private tax collectors. Ms. Hartley collects taxes under an assumed name, "DETCO".

In Kentucky, local governments fund their operations in part by selling unpaid property taxes as "Certificates of Delinquency" to individuals and businesses. These Certificates of Delinquency give these individuals and businesses the right to collect delinquent taxes. Today, 115 individuals and businesses have registered to purchase Certificates of Delinquency and function across the Commonwealth as private tax collectors. In the past, delinquent taxpayers didn't know what to expect from these private tax collectors: some were responsible and honest while others crushed delinquent taxpayers by charging them exorbitant, unjustified fees and costs and sometimes forcing the taxpayer's home into foreclosure. 

In 2012, the Kentucky legislature passed new laws and the Department of Revenue issued new regulations in an effort to curb the most abusive practices and ensure that third-party purchasers treated Kentucky's delinquent taxpayers fairly and uniformly. When a third party purchaser like Marilyn Hartley buys a Certificate of Delinquency, these new laws and regulations require third party purchasers to provide important information to delinquent taxpayers. The laws and regulations ensure transparency from the third party purchaser and require the third party purchaser to explain to the delinquent taxpayer the taxpayer's rights, obligations, and alternatives now that a third party purchaser owns the Certificate of Delinquency.

Transparency from the third party purchaser, fair treatment of an individual delinquent taxpayer, and equal treatment of taxpayers across the industry are important goals to the legislature: the new law forbids third party purchasers from charging interest, fees, or costs to a delinquent taxpayer's account unless they have provided the required information to the delinquent taxpayer.  

On January 22, 2013, I filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of my client—James C. Brown—and 459 other delinquent taxpayers who have been harmed by the failure of Marilyn Hartley to provide them with necessary, required information about their rights, obligations, and alternatives after she purchased their Certificates of Delinquency. Ms. Hartley purchased more Certificates of Delinquency in Jefferson County last year than any other third-party purchaser.

Read the Class Action Complaint and view the exhibits to the Complaint

Despite her failure to provide delinquent taxpayers with the required information, Ms. Hartley is charging interest, attorney's fees, administrative fees, and—in some cases—payment plan servicing fees. The law does not allow Ms. Hartley to charge interest and fees until after she has sent a proper notice of transfer that contains all of the information required by the new law. I believe that Ms. Hartley has unlawfully charged to the accounts of Mr. Brown and the Class members 1% interest per month, at least $52,900 for administrative fees, and at least $80,500 for attorney's fees. 

The heart of the suit is summed up in paragraph 146 of the Complaint:

In short, Defendant’s entire course of conduct—from her effort to obfuscate the true relationship between Marilyn Hartley and DETCO, to her failure to provide proper notice of transfer, to her failure to itemize both the amount currently due and the amount due under a payment plan, to her unlawfully inflated claims of amounts due under a payment plan, to her presentation of a payment plan as a one-time opportunity with a limited time to accept, to her citation to expired law—is an elaborate artifice designed to disorient hundreds of consumers, confront them with a placeless and faceless creditor, “DETCO”, and intimidate them into paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest, attorney’s fees, administrative fees, and servicing fees to which she is simply not entitled under the law.

This lawsuit seeks to force Ms. Hartley to refund to the accounts of the Class members all of the unlawful interest and fees she has charged to the delinquent taxpayers' accounts. My client is asking for an injunction that would prohibit Ms. Hartley from charging fees and interest to the accounts until she has sent a notice that complies with Kentucky laws and regulations. Further, the lawsuit seeks to recover additional damages because Marilyn Hartley made false and misleading statements to get some delinquent taxpayers to enter into a payment plan agreement with her that requires them to pay interest and fees to Ms. Hartley to which she is not entitled. Finally, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages. Punitive damages in this case will serve three functions. They will:

  1. Punish the Defendant for charging delinquent taxpayers interest and fees that the law forbids her from charging,
  2. Make an example of the Defendant for other third party purchasers who might be tempted to line their pockets with bogus and unlawful interest and fees, and
  3. Level the playing field for the third party purchasers who are abiding by the law and yet have been injured by the competitive advantage Ms. Hartley has enjoyed by charging delinquent taxpayers unlawful interest and fees.   

If you have been contacted by Marilyn Hartley or DETCO or if you are currently paying DETCO under a repayment plan, you can contact me online, email me at ben@bencarterlaw.com, or call (502) 509-3231. 

There are 115 other third party purchasers of Certificate of Delinquency operating in the Commonwealth of Kentucky today. If you suspect you are being charged too much by a third party purchaser or would like me to review a letter you received about your delinquent taxes, please contact me.

Another Arbitration Case Going to the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing another case regarding the enforceability of mandatory arbitration agreements and class action bans following its devastating decision in AT&T v. Concepcion in 2011. This one involves a suit by merchants over whether they must accept all American Express cards or only the traditional Amex cards that require full payment at the end of the month. The liberals on the Court are a vote down because Justice Sotomayor participated in the decision at the Court of Appeals and will not participate in the Supreme Court case. Not good.

Mandatory arbitration agreements and bans on class action bans often prevent consumers, including Kentucky consumers from vindicating their rights when businesses do wrong by them. The question in this case is whether the cost of arbitration or an individual action (when compared to the dollar amount at stake in the case) is enough to invalidate a mandatory arbitration provision or a provision banning class actions in a contract. 

Important.

The merchants told the Supreme Court that the most any of them could hope to recover in damages is $38,549, far less than what it would cost to marshal the evidence to prove their case.
Consumer Law Conference: Excellent Every Time

 

I didn’t think practicing law was going to be fun. This weekend, I am at the National Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, hosted in Chicago this year by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). Three years ago, at their conference in Portland, the NCLC showed me just how much fun being an attorney was going to be.

I could sue banks. I could defend homeowners. I could pursue creditors who pursued my clients. I could make them pay. Wow.

If you went to an Occupy Wall Street gathering and found the prevailing attitude towards banks a little tame, this conference is for you.

I’m learning about consumer arbitration agreements, consumer class actions after Concepcion, credit reporting, loan modifications, payday loans, predatory lending, auto fraud, expert witnesses, lemon laws, foreclosure mediation programs around the nation. The speakers include the great Paul Bland and Deepak Gupta (who argued Concepcion and who shared 30 minutes of his time with me in his office while he was at Public Justice. Last night, Matt Taibbi addressed the members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA); we gave him our annual Media Award for his work publicizing the dastardly deeds of foreclosing servicers, banks, and attorneys. Today, we’ll hear from Susan Saladoff, director of Hot Coffee and I’m spending all morning with Ron Burge. Tomorrow, I’m attending the Consumer Class Action Symposium.

I like so much about this conference. So much. I like that I learn about both the substance and procedure of practicing consumer law. I like that this conference gives me big ideas about expanding what I can do for my clients and big ideas about what I can do to change the terms of debates in the public sphere: debates about our civil justice system, mandatory arbitration, the utility of foreclosure mediation. Each year, I come away energized and inspired. These attorneys are so good.

The odds we face are enormous. The monied interests have bought our politicians, they’ve funded aggressive public relations campaigns that seek to close the courthouse doors to you and me. But, the NCLC and NACA and Public Justice (and KJA) are working hard to make us better attorneys for our clients and better advocates for the system of justice for which our founders fought.