For the lawyers: OPIF searches, Consumer claims in B’cy cases, Sample Complaints

 I am teaching two seminars this fall on Consumer Law issues, which I hope will increase an interest in bankruptcy lawyers to pursue consumer law claims, and will encourage judicial officers to apply the law and award consumers appropriate statutory damages.  Friday, Oct. 26, I taught a program for the Ohio Judicial College entitled, CSPA Damages and the New Right to Cure. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The so-called Right to Cure (RTC) became law in July of 2012. Simply put, the RTC allows a business that violates the Consumer Sales Practices Act to do so on a daily basis without much worry.  They can ignore consumer-victims who have a complaint and force them to file a lawsuit.  Then, all they have to do is merely offer to pay the consumers out-of-pocket damages and ‘up to $2,500.00’ for their attorney.  If the consumer turns the offer down and gets less at trial, they lose the right to get reimbursed for Court costs, any subsequent attorney’s fees and treble damages.  The RTC also curtails the consumer’s right to obtain injunctive relief and/or rescind the contract.  These are all consequence that were put into the statute to prevent business from becoming repeat abusers.  In short, it changed Ohio’s Consumer Protection Statute from being one of the strongest in the County, to one of the weakest)

Part of the materials is a research tool I developed called the Top Twelve OPIF searches, which hyperlinks cases in the AG’s public inspection file for fast and easy retrieval. As we all know, the search function of OPIF is not great, and with the recent changes to the AG website, it’s not even easy to find OPIF on their website. If anyone wants a copy of the ‘Top Twelve OPIF Searches’ just shoot me an email and I will pass it along.

My second CLE program this fall is Nov. 20 for the American Bankruptcy Law Forum in Dayton. I am focusing on ten different topic areas that target debtors such as debt collection, debt management plans, predatory small loans (payday and title loans), foreclosure rescue scams, mortgage servicing abuse, job scams, credit repair scams and credit reporting issues.  I am including in the materials sample complaints of recently filed cases in each of these topic areas. In response to a public records request to the AG, I received copies of about 400 privately filed complaints filed in the past two years in Ohio (which I suspect is nowhere near the total number of cases being filed on behalf of consumers throughout the entire state).  The good news is that the most commonly litigated claim is against the companies that tout those crazy debt management plans that falsely promise to get you out of debt, fast, without filing bankruptcy! All of these plans violate Ohio’s Debt Adjuster Act, and many constitute the unauthorized practice of law, which should be prosecuted as a crime!  A recent court of appeals opinion out of the Fifth District, Bumpus v. Ward in favor of the consumer against a Debt Management plan, led me to a conversation with Plaintiff’s counsel, Jeremiah Heck, who verified that he has filed many of these cases and is successfully getting money back for consumers who fell victim to this scam.  If anyone wants a copy of his complaint, let me know and I will pass it along too!  

Please e-mail requests for materials from Nadine to: [email protected]

Posted by Nadine Ballard