Contract for Deed Abuses
- Rodriguez v. Riverstone Communities, U.S. District Court, E.D.N.C. Civil Action No. 5:21-CV-486-D Complaint
NCLC and the North Carolina Justice Center filed a class action attacking a scheme by which used manufactured houses are sold to low-income families through a highly unfair contract-for-deed arrangement. Purchasers don’t receive title until they pay the total purchase price plus fees over 60 monthly installment payments, and they’re responsible for their own repairs, but if they are more than five days late on a single payment, Defendants treat them as “renters,” giving them no notice of default and right to cure, and instead bringing summary eviction actions, retaining the down payments and taking possession of the homes. The case was filed in state court and removed by defendants to federal court.
- Henderson v Vision Property Management, LLC , Case No. 2:20-cv-12649-SFC-RSW. Class Action Complaint and Press Release, Sept. 29, 2020.
NCLC, along with co-counsel NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., ACLU of Michigan, and the Michigan Poverty Law Program, filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Vision Property Management, LLC and related entities in the U.S. Eastern District of Michigan. The lawsuit alleges that Vision purchased approximately 1,000 dilapidated homes in Southeastern Michigan and then sold many of them at a huge markup to homebuyers under contracts that were structured to fail. Vision promised these buyers a path to homeownership, but the terms of its contracts made that goal nearly impossible to achieve. The lawsuit, asserting claims under federal and Michigan civil rights and consumer protection laws, alleges that the company targeted Black communities in the Detroit, Inkster, and Flint areas.
- On February 9, 2021, Defendants Atalaya Capital Mgt. LP and ACM Vision V LLC, moved to dismiss the claims asserted against them based on allegations that they served as creditors who substantially participated and knowingly took assignment of credit transactions that resulted in both disparate treatment and disparate impact racial discrimination.
- On March 2, 2021, the Plaintiffs Opposed the Motion to Dismiss.
- Further, on March 24, 2021, the Plaintiffs Opposed Atalaya and ACM’s motion to dismiss Count V of the complaint relating to the putative class’s Truth in Lending claims, which Atalaya and ACM replied to on March 26, 2021.
- The Court denied Atalaya and ACM’s Motion to Dismiss on August 23, 2021.
Criminal Justice Debt
- Crain & Serna v Accredited Surety and Casualty Co., et al., Case No RG1900-4509 Complaint and Press Release
NCLC has filed a class-action lawsuit, with our partners at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Justice Catalyst Law, Public Counsel, and Towards Justice, in which we are challenging a scheme to inflate the price of bail premiums in the state of California. The lawsuit was filed in California state court on Jan 29, 2019, against the surety companies that underwrite bail bonds and the state and national trade associations representing the bail bond industry. Plaintiffs allege that an unlawful antitrust conspiracy has kept bail bond premiums higher than they would be if the California bail-bonds market functioned competitively. This scheme, ongoing since at least 2004, has not only made bail bonds costlier for California consumers, but also resulted in more people spending time in jail while awaiting trial–separated from their families, jobs, and lives. The suit seeks damages for the hundreds of thousands of Californians who have overpaid for unlawfully inflated bail bond premiums and also injunctive relief to end the overcharges going forward.
- Liriano v. Turk & Quijano, U.S. District Court, D.Mass., Case No 22-cv-10348 Complaint.
Along with Greater Boston Legal Services and the Harvard Legal Services Center, NCLC has filed a class action complaint for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Act in the US District Court for Massachusetts against local law firm Turk & Quijano. The Complaint alleges that Turk filed eviction actions in the spring of 2021 against subsidized tenants in Boston for the sole purpose of coercing them into moving more quickly to seek pandemic-related rental assistance. The evictions unnecessarily caused extreme distress and a permanent black mark on the tenants’ credit records, making it much harder for them to find new housing in the future. In addition, the firm unfairly and illegally named minor children as defendants. The suit seeks to clear their records and requests damages.
- Judith Reimann and Michael DaRonco v. Erica L. Brachfeld, The Brachfeld Law Group, Midland Funding, LLC, and Midland Credit Management, LLC, Alameda County Superior Court Action No. RG-10-529702 Complaint.
This State Rosenthal Act Fair Debt Collection suit against Midland and a law firm in California was filed in 2010, alleging the defendants used false affidavits of personal knowledge in collection actions, and that the law firm used automated procedures for sending dunning letters and filing lawsuits with little to no meaningful attorney input. Class certification was granted in October, 2019, and trial is expected in 2021.
- Waite v. Consumer Credit Services, Denver District Court # 2020CV3415. Complaint
NCLC, along with Towards Justice, a Colorado nonprofit, and Dan Vedra, has filed a class action complaint in state court in Denver attacking improper medical debt collection practices. The defendant is a debt collection company, Consumer Credit Services (“CSC”), which works in conjunction with the state’s hospital system, UC Health, to collect unpaid medical bills. The complaint alleges that patients who are dunned or sued are confused, misled and have their privacy invaded because CSC acts and sues in its own name, and requires disclosure of private medical information from patients who contest the services they receive, but in fact may not itself own the debt. On the other hand, if CSC does own the debt, then it is violating Colorado’s debt buyer law which requires that when a suit is filed, the debt buyer attach ample information about the charges being sued on and the assignment of the debt to the debt buyer.
- White v. Fein, Such & Crane, LLP – Amended Complaint asserting that law firm pursuing foreclosures attempted to collect fees and costs for services that were not performed or for services for which it could not legally collect.
Retail Installment Sales Contract Abuses
- Bland v. Carolina Lease Management Group, Craven County Superior Court No. 22 CvS 306
This putative class action is an affirmative class action that raises the same claims as are alleged in the counterclaim in Greene v. Carolina Lease Management Group, supra. Plaintiffs entered into separate rent to own contracts for storage sheds with Carolina Lease Management Group. The agreements provided that after 4 years of monthly payments, the sheds would be theirs. Under North Carolina law, this agreement is a retail installment sale, and the interest being charged is more than twice what the North Carolina RISA allows. The complaint seeks to have this form of contract declared void and damages awarded for the associated UDAP and fair debt collection violations.
- Greene v. Carolina Lease Management Group, Jones County Superior Court No. 21 CvD 134.
The class counterclaim filed in response to a replevin action alleges that Mr. Greene entered into a rent to own contract for a storage shed with Carolina Lease Management Group. The agreement provided that after 4 years of monthly payments, the shed would be his. Under North Carolina law, this agreement is a retail instalment sale, and the interest being charged is more than twice what North Carolina law allows. The counterclaim seeks to have this form of contract, which a few hundred other North Carolina residents have likely entered into, declared void, and damages awarded for the associated UDAP and fair debt collection violations.
- The Louis v. SafeRent Solutions – this lawsuit alleges that the national tenant screening provider has been violating the Fair Housing Act and related state laws for years. SafeRent, formerly known as CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, provides tenant screening services that disproportionately give low scores to Black and Hispanic rental applicants who use federally funded housing vouchers to pay the vast majority of their rent, causing them to be denied housing. The lawsuit alleges that SafeRent’s algorithm has a disparate impact based on race and source of income, in violation of federal and state laws.