Here’s What to Do When Debt Collectors Break the Law

A law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is intended to protect consumers from aggressive debt collectors and agencies. When a debt collector violates this law, he or she faces serious potential consequences. If you’ve been negatively affected by a debt collector’s illegal practices, there are several actions you may take to remedy the situation. These options, however, are most effective when pursued with the assistance of experienced South Florida Class Action Attorneys. So, if you are a victim of illegal debt collection practices, review the options below and immediately contact our South Florida class action attorneys as soon as possible.

Take the debt collector to state court

If you are a victim of illegal debt collection practices, you may sue the debt collector in state court. In your lawsuit, you must demonstrate that the debt collector violated the FDCPA. If you are successful, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Report the violation

You may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to report FDCPA violations. And if a debt collector has violated state laws, you may also contact the Attorney General’s office to receive guidance on a possible FDCPA lawsuit and for a possible state law action against the debt collector. Reporting the violation will help to ensure that other consumers aren’t victimized in the future.

Use the violation to your advantage

Finally, if you actually owe money to the debt collector and would like to settle your debt, you may be able to use the debt collector’s violation of the FDCPA to your advantage. Understanding the high cost of an FDCPA lawsuit, a debt collector in violation of the law may be receptive to a proposal to settle your debt. This can be particularly effective if you have hard evidence of the debt collector’s violation. Of course, before pursuing this or any of the above options, it is necessary to first contact a South Florida consumer protection and commercial litigation attorney.

Florida Consumer Protection and Commercial Litigation Attorney

If you are a victim of illegal debt collection practices, you need aggressive legal representation. At Edwards Pottinger, our experienced Florida attorneys are dedicated to fighting marketplace injustice in all its forms, including illegal debt collection practices. Backed by decades of extensive experience trying cases in both state and federal court, Seth Lehrman and the Edwards Pottinger team are widely recognized for helping victims of unfair business practices achieve the justice they deserve. Regardless of your legal issue, our aggressive and compassionate Florida attorneys will take the time to discuss your rights, explore your options, and help you navigate the legal system. Therefore, if you or a loved one have been victimized by the illegal practices of a debt collector, please contact us immediately to schedule a consultation and begin your road to financial recovery.

How to Tell if a Debt Collector is Breaking the Law

Laws dictate what debt collectors are and aren’t allowed to do. Unfortunately, some debt collectors ignore these laws, harassing and even threatening debtors in the process. If you’ve recently been contacted by a debt collector, it’s important to understand your rights. Review the following list of ways that debt collectors break the law, and immediately contact our experienced South Florida Class Action Attorneys if you believe you’ve been subjected to illegal debt collection practices.

Harassment

Debt collectors are forbidden from calling you repeatedly to harass you. If you believe that a debt collector is contacting you too often, you should make a record of each call. In addition, you should save any messages left by the debt collector. By law, a debt collector may not contact you before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or at times you’ve told the collector are inconvenient for you. Therefore, you should also make note of any contact by the debt collector during these times.

Threats

Debt collectors are forbidden from threatening you. For example, they aren’t permitted to threaten you with criminal prosecution, a lawsuit, jail time, or wage garnishment for failure to pay a debt. Rather than threatening you, a debt collector must actually take you to court in order to take any of these actions—if they are actually permitted to take them at all. Also forbidden are threats to contact others or improperly share information about your debt. And while debt collectors are permitted to contact third parties in an attempt to locate you, they may not share specific information with these parties about your debt.

Lying

Finally, debt collectors may not lie to you in an attempt to collect a debt. This includes lies related to the threats discussed above, such as threats of criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, a lawsuit, jail time, or a ruined credit rating when the debt collector actually has no intention of pursuing any of these remedies.

Florida Consumer Protection and Commercial Litigation Attorney

If you believe you’ve been the victim of illegal debt collection practices, you need aggressive legal representation. At Edwards Pottinger, our experienced Florida attorneys are dedicated to fighting marketplace injustice in all its forms, including illegal debt collection practices. Backed by decades of extensive experience trying cases in both state and federal court, Seth Lehrman and the Edwards Pottinger team are widely recognized for helping victims of unfair business practices achieve the justice they deserve. Regardless of your legal issue, our aggressive and compassionate Florida attorneys will take the time to discuss your rights, explore your options, and help you navigate the legal system. Therefore, if you or a loved one have been victimized by the illegal practices of debt collectors, please contact us immediately to schedule a consultation and begin your road to financial recovery.

What is a Class Representative?

A single class action lawsuit can involve thousands of plaintiffs. However, if each of these plaintiffs were to communicate with the court and the other party or parties, things could quickly get out of hand. It is for this reason that each class action lawsuit is initiated by a class representative. A class representative is a single person who, with the assistance of an experienced South Florida class action attorney, represents the interests of a large group of plaintiffs. In order to qualify as a class representative, an individual must have claims or defenses typical of the claims or defenses of his or her class. In addition, a class representative must be able to fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Below is an overview of the duties required of class representatives.

Duties of class representatives

In representing the members of a class in a class action lawsuit, a class representative must perform a number of duties. These duties include:

  • Fairly and adequately represent the class members – A class representative must consider the interests of the class members in a manner similar to his or her own.
  • Participate actively in the lawsuit – A class representative must participate actively in the lawsuit. Active participation may include things such as reading legal documents, testifying at deposition and trial, answering written interrogatories, producing requested legal documents, and keeping up with the status and progress of the lawsuit. Due to the technical nature of many of these tasks, it is advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced South Florida class action attorney prior to initiating a class action lawsuit.
  • Vigorously prosecute the litigation – A class representative must authorize his or her South Florida class action lawyer to do what is necessary to prosecute the case on behalf of the class members.
  • Provide appropriate notice to the class – A class representative is responsible for providing notice of important matters related to litigation to the members of the class. Often, a class representative will authorize his or her attorney to perform this duty.
  • Consider settlement offers – A class representative must consider settlement offers and other resolution options on behalf of the class members. When a settlement offer is made, the class representative and his or her attorney must review its terms and determine whether it is in the best interests of the class members.

South Florida Class Action Attorneys

Class action lawsuits require experienced and aggressive legal representation. At Edwards Pottinger LLC, we are skilled litigators and experienced trial attorneys who routinely pursue civil lawsuits against powerful individuals, organizations, and big businesses on behalf of people, victims, and small businesses. As part of our class action practice, our South Florida class action attorneys are committed to protecting victims, achieving justice for consumers, protecting privacy, and supporting people who blow the whistle on fraud. If you require legal assistance, we’re ready to put our knowledge and skill to work for you. Please contact us immediately for a free consultation.

Trial Victory

In May 2018, class action attorneys Seth Lehrman and Brad Edwards preserved their trial victory over the Trump organization through a settlement that required the Trump organization to immediately pay $5.4 million. The payout, representing 95% of the total judgment, ended more than four years of litigation, including two appeals, depositions of both Eric Trump and Donald Trump, and a trial.

The class action was filed by three members of Trump National Golf Club – Jupiter who insisted that the club had breached its contractual obligations by failing to refund deposits when they became due. The recovered monies were distributed to the class members.

In August 2016, Seth Lehrman, Brad Edwards and co-counsel tried a class action lawsuit against Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, which is owned by President Donald Trump’s Trump Organization. The attorneys won a $5.7 million judgment on behalf of the plaintiffs in a federal class action case against the golf club. They tried the case on behalf of 65 class members, including three class representatives. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra heard the case and entered the judgment on behalf of the class of club members in the full amount requested. Trump appealed the judgment.

Read the trial judgment here and click here for Judge Marra’s Findings of Fact.

The trial was held during the week of August, 15, 2016. It focused on whether Trump breached membership agreements by failing to refund deposit monies to the club member class. Plaintiffs claimed that Trump recalled their memberships when he refused them access to the club facilities. Once their memberships were recalled, Trump was required to refund deposits within thirty days. However, Trump failed to pay refunds, and refused the club members access to the facilities despite continuing to charge them dues.

At trial, plaintiffs presented testimony of Donald Trump through video depositions. Eric Trump, Trump’s lead acquisition attorney, the Trump club’s general manager and the former membership director all testified in person.

During an April 2015 deposition, Eric Trump testified that class members did have access to the club after Trump’s acquisition and that Plaintiff’s claim that they were denied club use was unfounded. However, at trial Eric Trump reversed course during Edwards’s cross-examination and admitted that members were indeed denied use of the club facilities as Plaintiffs had claimed. He explained his change in testimony by claiming he had “misspoke” throughout his earlier deposition.

Lehrman, Edwards and the case were featured in many media stories about the judgment. National media outlets covering the ruling included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNN, ESPN, Law360, NBC News, the New York Times and many others.

The attorneys also garnered coverage in a variety of South Florida media outlets, including the Daily Business Review, Palm Beach Post, South Florida Business Journal, Sun Sentinel, The Real Deal and WPTV.

We appreciate the commitment and resolve of our clients who stood up for their rights and the rights of class members and pursued the case through trial.

Companies Routinely Violate Workers’ Rights

Have you been denied employment on the basis of a criminal background check or credit check? If so, it is important to know your rights.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets national requirements for employment background checks obtained through a third party. If requesting a background check, employers must also provide job applicants with a copies of the “Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA” document.

Know and Protect Your Rights

Employers are limited in the opportunity to lawfully obtain background checks and credit reports on employees and job applicants. The FCRA requires two things of employers seeking background checks:

  1. Employers must get permission from the applicant or employee to obtain a background check or credit check. The authorization form must be a separate document, not buried in the fine print of a job application or other document. This authorization document must not ask employees to release any claims or waive any rights. The law is very specific about the requirements for the authorization form and many employers do not obtain proper authorization;
  2. Employers must provide job applicants and employees with a copy of the background check or credit report before taking any adverse action such as not hiring someone, demoting someone, or firing someone. This ensures that employees and applicants have the chance to challenge inaccuracies in the report before adverse action is taken.

Under the FCRA, employers who willfully violate these requirements are liable for actual damages, punitive damages, and statutory penalties of up to $1,000 per violation. 

Many employers, including some of the largest companies, routinely violate the FCRA by obtaining background checks and credit reports without proper authorization.

If you believe that you are the victim of an improper background check or that your employer improperly used your credit report, then we may be able to help. Contact our consumer attorneys to learn more.

No, it is not legal to run a background check without getting the subject’s permission first.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that protects consumers by regulating credit reports and background reports. The FCRA provides important rights to job applicants and employees. The FCRA requires that background reports be accurate, that employers have authorization from the employee to obtain the report, and that employers give employees notice before taking any action against them.

If an employer violated your FCRA rights, you may be able to file a claim to recover damages. We can help. Call us at 800-400-1098 to discuss your rights.

Disclosure and Consent Requirements Under the FCRA

Employers often conduct background checks on job applicants, including a credit check. Employers must notify you in advance if they intend to obtain a background report concerning you.

The FCRA requires pre-hire background checks only when an employer has first provided a “clear and conspicuous written disclosure” and the applicant authorizes the report. Employers usually provide these disclosures for employees or applicants in job application packages or during job interviews.

The disclosure and consent form should not contain other disclosures or seek consent for any other purposes.

What is “adverse action” under the FCRA?

If the employer plans to take “adverse action” against the job applicant or employee based on the report, then the employer must notify the applicant in advance of taking any such action. Adverse action includes:

Denial of employment
Termination
Demotion
Any other decision by the employer that “adversely affects any current or prospective employee.”

Before taking any adverse action, the employer must provide the employee with written notice, a copy of the background report, and a written summary of rights.

Protect and Exercise Your Rights if an Employer Violated the FCRA

The FCRA affords you the right to file a claim seeking damages if an employer violates your rights. You may have a claim if:

An employer failed to properly disclose to you that they were obtaining your credit report
An employer obtained your background report without your authorization
An employer failed to provide you with written notice of adverse action before declining to hire you
You were not hired because of mistakes on your background report

Call for a Free Consultation with a Florida Credit Check Lawyer

Have you been denied employment because of a background check? Do you believe that your FCRA rights were violated? If so, you may be able to protect your rights and obtain damages in court.

We’d like to help you to protect your rights and fight for fair compensation. Contact our Fair Credit Reporting Act attorneys at 800-400-1098.

Members Claim Club Owner Refused to Honor Agreement

Members of Trump National Golf Club Jupiter filed a lawsuit against the Trump entity which operates the club. Trump’s Jupiter Golf Club, LLC recently acquired the golf course, club house and other club facilities from The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in Palm Beach County, alleges that the Trump entity, upon acquiring the club facilities also assumed responsibility to existing club members to refund membership deposits in accordance with the terms and conditions of the exisiting membership agreements.

The members who filed suit, further allege that the Trump entity breached certain membership agreements by terminating their categories of membership, refusing to refund membership deposits as required, and continuing to charge ongoing dues despite a representation that it would not do so.

The lawsuit was filed by three club members who allege that they purchased memberships from the prior club owner — RBF, LLC — and paid fully refundable membership deposits. The plaintiffs seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action and have requested a refund of membership deposits, as well as other relief for themselves and other club members who are similarly situated.

The Proposed Class

The lawsuit seeks relief for the named plaintiffs as well as for other club members who paid refundable deposits in connection with their purchase of memberships to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter and who have been denied a refund of their respective Membership Deposits by Defendants RBF, LLC and Donald Trump’s affiliated business Jupiter Golf Club LLC.

Plaintiffs allege that they and other club members paid substantial Membership Deposits to Defendant RBF, LLC ranging from approximately $35,000 to $210,000, as well as annual dues. The lawsuit claims that Membership Deposits are refundable based upon the terms of the applicable Membership Agreements which Plaintiffs and Class Members entered into with RBF.

Donald Trump, through Jupiter Golf Club LLC, recently purchased The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter (the “Club”) from RBF, LLC. The lawsuit contends that immediately after acquiring the Club, Trump, through JGC, unilaterally changed the terms of membership, terminated the categories of membership enjoyed by Plaintiffs and Class Members who were members-in-good-standing on the resignation waiting list and has refused to refund Membership Deposits to Plaintiffs or Class Members.

Plaintiffs claim that since January 1, 2013, RBF has similarly failed and refused to refund Membership Deposits to Plaintiffs and Class Members despite the clear provisions in their Membership Agreement and Membership Plan which require RBF to refund Membership Deposits upon “termination of any category of membership”.

The lawsuit also contends that JGC represented to Plaintiffs and Class Members on multiple occasions that they would not have any further liability to pay club dues. Yet, despite these numerous consistent representations, JGC has continued to bill and send collection demands to Plaintiffs and Class Members.

Plaintiffs seek, for themselves and Class Members, a refund of membership deposits and a declaration concerning their liability for ongoing club dues and their liability under promissory notes issued to secure payment of membership deposits.

Deposit Refund Lawsuit Continues as Court Denies Motions to Dismiss

May 20, 2014 Status

On May 20, 2014, the Court entered an Order denying the motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (JGC) and RBF, LLC (RBF). JGC, which does business as Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, acquired the golf club facilities from RBF, which was known as The Ritz Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter (Ritz). In August, 2013, plaintiffs had filed a class action complaint against the defendants seeking a return of refundable membership deposits that they had paid and which other club members had paid to RBF/Ritz. Defendants had asked the Court to dismiss the class action complaint. The Court refused to dismiss the case. The parties will now proceed with discovery.

February 25, 2014 Status

Discovery

Plaintiffs have requested that both defendants RBF and Jupiter Golf Club produce documents relevant to the membership deposit claims which are the subject of the lawsuit. In addition, Plaintiffs have served interrogatories on both defendants to obtain additional information that can be used to prosecute the lawsuit on behalf of the three named plaintiffs and a class of other club members whom plaintiffs allege are entitled to receive refunds of their membership deposits. Click here for Plaintiffs’ document requests or interrogatories.

Both defendants have asked the court to stay (stop) discovery while the motions to dismiss are pending. Plaintiffs have not agreed to stay discovery as they are prepared to pursue these claims without delay. We will update this blog when the Court rules on the motion to stay discovery.
Plaintiffs will continue to diligently pursue this litigation with the hopes that meaningful relief maybe obtained for themselves and other club members who seek a refund of their membership deposits.

Briefing Closed on Motions to Dismiss

Defendants’ motions to dismiss have been fully briefed since October 29, 2013. The parties are now awaiting the Court’s ruling on these motions. Any ruling on these motions will be publicly available and posted to our firm’s blog.

Motions to Dismiss

On September 9, 2013, Defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint arguing that the legal claims set forth in the complaint are not properly or adequately stated. On October 7, Plaintiffs filed a brief opposing the motions to dismiss. Defendants are expected to file their final briefs related to the motions to dismiss by the end of October. Thereafter, the Court will rule on the motions to dismiss.

Amended Complaint Filed

On August 8, 2013, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in the putative class action lawsuit against Jupiter Golf Club, LLC and RBF, LLC. The litigation was brought by three members of the Trump National Golf Club – Jupiter on behalf of themselves and other club members who purchased memberships with refundable deposits from the former owner of the club which operated the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and Spa – Jupiter. Plaintiffs claim that the present and former club owners have failed to refund membership deposits which they are legally required to do. Defendants have filed motions to dismiss the first amended complaint. Plaintiffs’ response to the motion to dismiss will be filed soon.

Complaint Filed

On May 3, 2013, three club members filed a class action complaint against the owner and former owner of Trump National Golf Club Jupiter. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Palm Beach County, Florida, seeks to be certified as a class action in order to 0btain relief for all club members who paid a refundable membership deposit who have been denied a refund.

The lawsuit has been assigned to the Hon. Kenneth A. Marra, a U.S. District Court judge who sits in the Southern District of Florida, Palm Beach Division.

The lawsuit is in the early stages. The club was previously owned by RBF, LLC which operated the club as The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter. Trump’s Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (“Trump”) purchased the club facilities in December, 2012 and began operating the club as Trump National Golf Club Jupiter. Both Trump and RBF, LLC are expected to file a response to the class action complaint by June 28.

Farmer Jaffe Weissing represents the three club members who filed the lawsuit. We will update this page periodically to provide information about the current status of the Trump National Class Action litigation.

Plaintiffs File Motion for Class Certification in Refund Deposit Lawsuit

Farmer Jaffe Weissing attorneys and Plaintiffs Norman Hirsch, Matthew Dwyer and Ralph Willard have been pursuing a lawsuit against RBF, LLC, (“Ritz”), the former owner of the the Ritz Carlton Golf Club and Spa – Jupiter, and Jupiter Golf Club, LLC. In December, 2012, Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (“Trump”) purchased the club from Ritz and allegedly terminated membership categories and the applicable membership plan. Defendants sought to dismiss the lawsuit. However, in May, 2014, the Court denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss, permitting Plaintiffs an opportunity to obtain discovery from Defendants. Following several months of active discovery, Plaintiffs have sought class action status for the deposit refund lawsuit. Club members claim that neither Defendant has honored the agreed-upon terms and conditions of the Club membership categories; Class Members’ rights to refunds; and their rights upon sale of the Club. Plaintiffs further claim that each Defendant has systematically refused to provide Plaintiffs and Class Members the refunds due them under the long-standing terms of their memberships both Defendants are and were bound to. Accordingly, Plaintiffs seek to maintain this case as a class action so that they may recover, for themselves and members of the proposed class, the refundable deposits paid to Ritz.

On January 20, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion asking the Court to certify the case as a class action. Plaintiffs offered evidence and written testimony supporting the motion and their contention that the action satisfies the requirements for class action cases under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs have offered evidence that the proposed class is comprised of one hundred fifty individuals who paid refundable deposits to Ritz, did not sign Trump’s Legacy Addendum, and have not received a refund of any deposit monies. Defendants are expected to file written responses opposing the motion within the next few weeks. The Court is expected to decide the motion for class certification following the parties submission of written briefs. Discovery will continue in the case while the class certification motion is pending.

Farmer Jaffe Weissing is comprised of highly experienced class action attorneys who have successfully pursued class action cases and other complex civil cases involving contract disputes, insurance practices and financial institutions. Please click below if you would like more information about this lawsuit.

Court Grants Class Certification in Trump National Refund Deposit Lawsuit

Today a federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida certified a lawsuit as a class action against the present owner of the Trump National Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter and the former owner of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter. The ruling permits plaintiffs, three club members, to pursue a class action lawsuit to recover millions of dollars of refundable deposits which they claim must be paid by the present owner of the Trump National Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter and the former owner of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter. In December, 2012, the club facilities of the former Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter were sold to Jupiter Golf Club, LLC, an entity owned by the Trump Organization.

The Court found that Plaintiffs Norman Hirsch, Matthew Dwyer, and Ralph Willard are adequate representatives of the class. Likewise, the Court appointed attorneys Seth Lehrman, Steven Jaffe and Mark Fistos of the law firm Farmer Jaffe Weissing as class counsel.

On August 8, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging that they signed agreements to be members of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter, owned byRitz-Carlton. Plaintiffs The club facilities were later sold by Ritz-Carlton to Trump. Plaintiffs claim that Trump and Ritz-Carlton have failed to honor the agreed-upon terms and conditions of the Club membership categories; Class Members’ rights to refunds; and their rights upon sale of the Club. Plaintiffs further claim that each Defendant has systematically refused to provide Plaintiffs and Class

Members millions of dollars in refunds due them under the long-standing terms of their memberships both Defendants are and were bound to.

The Court has ordered that the lawsuit proceed as a class action on behalf of the following class: “All persons who purchased a Full Golf, Fractional Golf or Social and Spa membership from RBF to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, paid a Membership Deposit, have not received a full refund of their Membership Deposit, and have not executed the Trump Legacy Addendum.”

Class members include individuals who purchased full golf, fractional golf or social and spa membership from RBF to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, who paid a Membership Deposit, who have not received a full refund of their Membership Deposit, and who have not executed the Trump Legacy Addendum.

Court Approves Notice to be Sent to Class Members

On June 29, 2015, the Court approved a class action notice form to be sent to all class members. The notice will be sent by first class U.S. mail to all class members in late July. The purpose of the notice is to inform class members about the pending lawsuit. The approved notice provides information about the nature of the claims, the status of the lawsuit and the right of class members to participate in the lawsuit or to exclude themselves from the case.