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UPDATE to DeKalb TSA Plan Litigation

On June 1, 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an Opinion that (1) overturned the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims; (2) determined that the District is liable as  a matter of law for breaching its legal duty to the employees; (3) ruled the Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment on liability in their favor, with only issues of damages calculations remaining for trial by jury; and (4) ruled that the trial court must reconsider class certification in light of this Opinion.

 

Military Lending Act Litigation – Class Action Update

On October 6, 2016 the Court held a Fairness Hearing to determine: (1) whether the Court should approve the proposed Settlement; (2) whether the Court should enter the Final Order Approving Settlement; and (3) whether the Court should approve the Distribution Plan. After considering all of the evidence, the Court ruled in favor of the military service members and their dependents and issued their Final Order Approving Settlement.

Settlement checks were issued to class members on January 6, 2017 and must be cashed prior to February 28, 2017.

After nearly 6 years of litigation, Barnes Law Group is proud to help Make It Right for these service members and their families.

 

New York Times Exposes Scheme To Cheat Servicemembers – and YOU – out of Legal Rights

When the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Services are protecting our country, they should not have to worry about financial frauds and schemes at home. To alleviate some of this burden, Congress passed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which grants certain legal protections to members of the military. Unfortunately, corporations including USAA and JPMorgan Chase have found a way to violate the SCRA law without being held accountable — forced arbitration.

The New York Times exposed this abusive practice in a front page story that you can read below.   As you will see, this is not limited to servicemembers’ rights. This could – and likely does – apply to you because forced arbitration is found in everything from cell phone contracts, to bank terms of service, to even nursing home admission forms.

Failed by Law and Courts, Troops Come Home to Repossessions, New York Times, March 16, 2015.

Soldier Sues Title Lender, Claiming Abusive Practices

Click here to read the article published in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution on November 17, 2011.

 

Georgia Soldier Claims He Was Predatory Lending Victim, Associated Press, 11.22.2011

Click here to read the Associated Press article by Russ Bynum.

 

Army Infantryman Strikes Back against Illegal Title Loans

Ft. Benning, Ga. (11/11/11) – Exemplifying his Infantry motto, Follow Me, United States Army Infantryman and Purple Heart recipient, SSG Jason Cox, hopes to stop predatory title loans from being made to members of the military and their dependents. Flanked by Georgia’s former Governor, Staff Sergeant Cox filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against the Atlanta-based title pawn lenders Community Loans of America, Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary, Alabama Title Loans, Inc., and 900 related corporate entities operating in 22 states.

The federal court suit, filed on Veteran’s Day in Columbus, is based on the special lending protections given to active duty service members and their dependents under the Military Lending Act of 2007, a federal law that prohibits creditors from charging more than 36% APR on title and payday loans and requiring service members to give up the title to their vehicle as security of the loan. Lawmakers passed the MLA after the Pentagon reported in 2006 that “Predatory lending undermines military readiness, harms the morale of troops and their families, and adds to the cost of fielding an all-volunteer fighting force.”

As title loans go, Cox’s story is not unique. To help meet family financial obligations, Cox initially borrowed $3,000 against his 2002 Dodge Durango that he owned free and clear. Cox was charged over 100% APR for each 30 day loan period. After rolling the loan over multiple times, and paying hundreds of dollars each time, Cox could no longer afford to keep making the monthly payments and the Durango was repossessed from his on base housing at Ft. Benning, while he was at work and on duty. SSG Cox is asking a federal judge for permission to represent all active duty service members and their dependents in 22 states who had similar loans, and to declare the loans and the unlawful.

This case challenges the practice of making illegal “vehicle title loans” to active duty service members and their dependents in violation of the Military Lending Act. Unlike other laws where the victims of predatory lending are not allowed to go to court, the MLA expressly bans lenders from requiring service members to arbitrate without a court’s involvement. The suit is asking a federal judge to force vehicle title lenders to comply with the requirements of the MLA, stop repossessing service member’s vehicles on the loans that don’t comply, and return the money that was wrongfully taken.

The suit, jointly filed by Roy Barnes, Georgia’s former Governor, and John R. Bevis (Barnes Law Group, LLC) and attorneys Scott C. Crowley and Kyle S. Fischer (Day Crowley, LLC), is the first of its kind. Asked why he filed suit, Barnes said “It’s simple, really. Every day we ask the military to fight for our freedoms. Now it’s time for us to step up to the plate and fight for theirs.  Predatory lending against our service members and their families violates all notions of decency and ethics. This is not only wrong – it is tragic. And it must end.”

Top Georgia Verdicts of 2010

BLG partners Roy Barnes and John Bevis  have been recognized in the FCDR’s “Top Georgia Verdicts of 2010” for securing a $14 Million recovery in Kahn v. Fortis Insurance Company et. al., an insurance class action lawsuit brought on behalf of individuals and small businesses.  Kahn is ranked as the #1 highest recovery in Georgia for an insurance case, and the 7th highest recovery among all Georgia cases in 2010.  Here’s to MAKING IT RIGHT…It’s What We Do! 

Making It Right for hard-working DeKalb County Teachers

BLG, on behalf of two DeKalb County educators, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school district and board for failing to make contributions over the last two years to a district employee retirement fund.

“This is about keeping promises the board made to employees” said BLG attorney John Salter.

$11M Class Action Settlement Against Fortis

A Fulton County State Court Judge has given preliminary approval for the settlement of a class action lawsuit against Fortis Benefits Insurance Company (FBIC) and others.

The case alleges that FBIC improperly raised health insurance premiums based on length of time the policy was in force and medical condition of policyholders. Notice of the settlement with an opportunity to participate in the $11 million settlement will be mailed to more than 5,700 Georgians by June 14th who purchased an Upper Midwest Employer Group Individual Medical Plan (UMEG IMP) issued by Fortis Benefits Insurance Company from 1996 through July 2008.

Daniel S. Kahn, DC, brought suit in 2004 claiming that certain Georgia laws and regulations imposed limits on the amount of renewal premiums that could be charged for small group health insurance that was marketed and sold to Georgia small business owners and individuals. The trial court certified the case as a class action lawsuit in 2008 and a settlement agreement was reached after the Supreme Court of Georgia denied review of the Court of Appeals decision to affirm a Fulton County trial court’s class certification order.

The case is reported as Fortis Ins. Co. v. Kahn, 299 Ga.App. 319, 683 S.E.2d 4 (2009), cert. denied (2010).

 

Barnes Law Group Wins $12 Million For Georgia Small Business Owners in Premium Refunds Class Action

The case challenged the methodology used by the insurance companies to set renewal premiums for health insurance and claimed that business owners were charged too much.