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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:40 am 
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August 10, 2006
NJ Supremes Strike Down Consumer Class Action Ban: ‘Unconscionable and Unenforceable’
Filed under: News — budhibbs @ 10:45 am
TRIAL LAWYERS FOR PUBLIC JUSTICE PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2006

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Jonathan Hutson, TLPJ, 202-797-8600 x246
F. Paul Bland, Jr., TLPJ, 202-797-8600 x223
Michael J. Quirk, Williams, Cuker & Berezofsky, 215-247-1448

New Jersey Supreme Court Strikes Down Consumer Class Action Ban as ‘Unconscionable and Unenforceable’

TLPJ Wins Nationally-Significant Ruling Against Payday Lender Preserving Consumer Class Actions

In a consumer rights victory of national significance, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and a team of consumer rights advocates today that corporations cannot insert and enforce class action bans in their consumer agreements to get a free pass from consumer protection lawsuits. In Muhammad v. County Bank of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, the Court ruled that a payday lender’s provision that barred borrowers from bringing class action claims violates the public interest protected by New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and is “unconscionable and unenforceable.â€


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:40 pm 
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Florida Consumers Win Ruling Striking Down Payday Lender's Class Action Ban as "Unconscionable"
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice's Victory Allows Consumer Class Charged Illegal Interest Rates to Proceed Against Check 'n Go

December 14, 2006 (Washington, DC) Tens of thousands of Florida consumers who were charged illegally high interest rates but were barred from bringing their claims on a class-wide basis will finally get justice, thanks to the work of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ) and a team of consumer attorneys. A Circuit Court in West Palm Beach ruled yesterday afternoon that a contract term banning class-wide arbitrations in nationwide payday lender Check ‘n Go 's loan agreements is unconscionable and unenforceable where customers were charged interest rates well above Florida’s criminal usury limit of 45%. This ruling in Reuter v. Check ‘n Go clears the way for the arbitration to proceed on a class-wide basis, and will likely influence similar cases pending nationwide.

"This opinion brings us one step closer to returning the proceeds of Check ‘n Go's illegal activities to the consumers who were charged usurious interest rates," said Chris Casper, of James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich, P.A., in Tampa.

The court found that without the availability of class-wide relief, no claims would be brought against Check 'n Go (and, indeed, none had), a finding which helped support the court's ultimate conclusion that the class-arbitration waiver was unconscionable and, therefore, unenforceable.

Florida state Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth T. Maass, affirming the value of class actions to consumers, noted that, "The chance that Ms. Reuter could have obtained competent counsel absent the possibility of class action status or successfully recognized a potential claim that she could pursue without benefit of counsel is effectively zero." Further, the judge's decision was based on the fact that "making a loan with annual interest in excess of 45% is loan sharking, a third degree felony, and results in the forfeiture of the right to collect not only interest, but principal. However, of the over 66,000 Check 'n Go customers who completed over 1,000,000 deferred presentment transactions with annual interest rates exceeding 45% between April 1, 1996 and September 30, 2001, none has brought an individual claim."

“This opinion is likely to to influence courts around the country, which are considering similar issues in similar cases, because the judge approached the issues in such a thoughtful and carefully considered manner, â€

_________________
David Szwak
Chairman, Consumer Protection Section, Louisiana State Bar Association
Bodenheimer, Jones & Szwak
509 Market Street, 7th Floor
Mid South Tower
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
318-221-6444
Fax 318-221-6555


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