Matthew Wilson Passes the Georgia Bar

LATEST NEWS…. Congratulations to W. Matthew Wilson for passing the Georgia Bar Exam.  BLG is pleased to welcome Matthew to our profession and to our firm.

 

JEEP RECALL

On June 6, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requested a recall of 2.7 million Grand Cherokee (model year 1993 – 2004) and Liberty (model year 2002 – 2007) Jeeps.  The government says 51 people have suffered fiery deaths from a rear end collision because the gas tanks ARE mounted behind the rear axles AND MAY EXPLODE ON IMPACT.  Chrysler initially refused but has now agreed to recall 1.6 million of the vehicles to inspect and, if necessary, make repairs on the vehicles.  Rather than placing a steel plate over the plastic gas tank, as public interest groups like the Center for Auto Safety had called for, it will simply install a factory trailer hitch to provide some protection in the case of a low-speed, rear-end collision.

As always, there is never a cost or obligation just to talk with our lawyers and case managers.

 

 

Veteran Challenges Title Loan Company In Court

Click here to read an article appearing in the Marietta Daily Journal by Katy Ruth Camp about Army Staff Sgt. Jason Cox’s lawsuit pending against Community Loans of America.

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! 

BLG’s John Salter Delivers Fourth of July Sermon

We are very proud when our attorneys are recognized for their impact throughout the local community.  So, we were particularly proud when BLG’s John Salter was asked to deliver the Fourth of July sermon at First United Methodist Church, an annual tradition.

Salter’s sermon has an excellent message for all of us as we celebrate the founding of our great country, and was recently published by the Marietta Daily Journal.

Making It Right for Victims of Predatory Lending

Barnes Law Group possesses particular expertise in the area of consumer fraud.  It’s the core of our practice, and our lawyers have reached multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in cases involving corporate dishonesty, predatory lending, and accounting fraud. The firm continues its mission to prosecute cases involving unscrupulous, fraudulent, and predatory consumer practices, especially those targeting the elderly, poor, and minorities as victims.

BLG has resolved and is currently handling several cases involving illegal loans that impose excessive and usurious interest rates.  Generally, a “payday loan” transaction involves an advance to a borrower of $500 or less which is due to be repaid within a short period of time, usually two weeks.  The borrower is required to write the lender a check in the amount of the advance, plus an additional fee imposed by the lender for making the loan.  The check is held by the lender until the borrower’s next payday.  The most recent case settled for $4 million.

Payday Lending Cases:
Evans/Reid v. USA Payday Stores
King/Strong v. Advance America

BLG Wins $400 Million for Al-Zarqawi Victims’ Family

On a cool morning in September 2004, Marietta subcontractor Jack Hensley performed a daily ritual: he walked out of his house in United Arab Emirates to start the generator for he and the other subcontractors living there while they helped rebuild Iraq.  But this morning was different.

Jack was surrounded by al-Quaida militants and, along with his fellow housemates, abducted.  A few days later, Jack was gruesomely beaten and beheaded.  His death played out in a video that played across international television screens.

Left to pick up the pieces, Jack’s widow, Pati, and daughter turned to BLG for justice.  In a trial that took place in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia, BLG partners Roy E. Barnes and John F. Salter sued the country of Syria for aiding and supporting the terrorists who abducted and killed Jack.

Judge Rosemary Collyer awarded Pati and the family of another slain American subcontractor over $400 million in damages in 2008.  After two years, the appeals process has finally concluded.

As partner John F. Salter stated, “It is an extraordinary testament to the fortitude of these families. No one should ever have to witness a family member suffering such unspeakable brutality. They hoped the judge’s order would send a message. Together, I think we did exactly that.”