Consumer Telephone Protection

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The TCPA protects debtors from creditors making certain types of unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, autodialed calls and prerecorded calls to cellphones. The TCPA provides remedies that include statutory damages, generally from $500 to $1,500 for each violation, which are paid to the consumer.

Examples of TCPA Protections

While the TCPA is a technical statute, some common violations of the TCPA involve telemarking and collection calls relating to the following:

  • Calls made by a company when you are on the company’s do-not-call list or the national do-not-call registry
  • Calls made using a recorded message or automated calls (“robocalls”)
  • Calls made to your residence for collection before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Calls made without accurate identification of company on whose behalf the call is being made

The Power To Fight Back

The TCPA gives you the power to fight back against harassing solicitors and collectors.  If you feel you have been the victim of a TCPA violation, please contact us to learn about your legal rights and options.

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

Overcharged by Whole Foods?

Multiple government entities have and/or are investigating Whole Foods for pricing violations. In fact, after a statewide investigation found widespread pricing violations at Whole Foods Markets in California, in 2014 the company settled with three California cities and agreed to pay $800,000 in civil penalties.

Now, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs has uncovered “systematic overcharging for pre-packaged foods” in the city’s Whole Foods stores.  New York officials have reported that its investigation of 80 types of pre-packaged products revealed none had correct weights.  Moreover, 89% of packages violated federal rules for how much a package can deviate from the actual weight.

If you purchased pre-packaged food at Whole Foods and you have any questions or concerns about the same, contact attorneys Helen Zeldes or Aaron M. Olsen of Haeggquist & Eck, LLP at (619) 342-8000.

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

Consumers: You Are Entitled To Damages and Penalties For Abusive Debt Collection Practices

State and federal laws, such as the California’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§1788-1788.32 (“Rosenthal Act”), as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§1692 et seq., govern the way debt collectors are permitted to go about debt collection and many debt collectors break the law.

Creditors, debt collectors, those who subsequently purchase your accounts (also known as “debt buyers”), and attorneys, who violate the Rosenthal Act and/or the FDCPA, are subject to paying damages, statutory penalties, as well as your attorneys’ fees and costs.  Unlawful practices may include unsolicited marketing messages to your cellular telephone.  According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), the top three complaints by consumers are: (1) collectors hounding consumers about a debt they do not owe; (2) aggressive communication tactics used by debt collectors; and (3) taking or threatening an illegal action (e.g., threating arrest or jail, threating to seize property, threaten you with a lawsuit just to get you to pay, etc.).   A debtor collect is simply not allowed to make idle threats, express or implied (e.g., “we must get your payment no later than the day after tomorrow.”).  A copy of the CFPB Annual Report 2014 regarding the FDCPA can be found here.

If you feel you have been mistreated by a debt collector, you may have a case entitling you to damages and statutory penalties.

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

Consumers: You Are Entitled To Damages and Penalties For Receiving Unsolicited Automated Marketing Calls and Text Messages To Your Cell Phone

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) protects people from unsolicited robocalls.  What is a “robocall”? A robocall is when you answer our phone and find that you are listening to a recording.  These calls are placed by machines which are called automatic dialing announcing devices.  They store thousands of telephone numbers, and then dial them automatically and play a recorded message.   The TCPA allows a person to recover $500 to $1,500 per violation for receiving robocalls to a cell phone, without prior express consent and without emergency purposes.  The TPCA also protects people from unwanted text messages.

If you have received an unsolicited automated messages or text to your cell phone, you may have a case entitling you to damages and statutory penalties.

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

Court Grants Class Certification of Nationwide Class of Trump University Students in RICO Class Action Lawsuit Against Defendant Donald Trump

San Diego (October 28, 2014) – On October 27, 2014, the Court in a RICO class action against Donald Trump issued an Order granting class certification of a nationwide class of all students who purchased live event seminars from Trump University from January 1, 2007 to the present.  In October 2013, Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, LLP and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, LLP filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, alleging mail and wire fraud against Donald Trump, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO class action”).

As stated in the Order, Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that Trump University CEO and founder Donald Trump and President Michael Sexton “‘devised and executed a scheme to make tens of millions of dollars’ by falsely marketing Trump University as an institution with which Donald Trump was integrally involved as well as an actual university with a faculty of professors and adjunct professors.”  Order at 3.  Plaintiff alleges that the “‘scheme was fueled by a ‘national advertising campaign with an annual budget at one time of $6 million dollars,’ which included YouTube, email, website, and traditional postal mail solicitations.”  Id.  “Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the following ‘uniform’ misrepresentations were made: that the programs would give access to Donald Trump’s real estate investing secrets; that Donald Trump had a meaningful role in selecting the instructors for Trump University programs; and that Trump University was a “university.”  Id.

In the Court’s 23-page Order granting class certification of a nationwide class in the RICO class action, Judge Gonzalo Curiel found that “common questions exist as to all members of the putative class” regarding whether Defendant misrepresented that Donald Trump was integrally involved in Trump University and that Trump University was an “actual University.”  Order at 7.  The Court also held that Plaintiff’s claims and defenses were “typical” of those of the class, because his experience with Trump University “matches the allegations alleged on behalf of the putative class in his Complaint, regarding a common fraudulent ‘scheme’ to which all class members were allegedly exposed.”  Order at 9.  The Court noted that although Defendant “may yet raise the statute of limitations and causation as defenses to the claims of the putative class, these defenses are not unique to Plaintiff’s claim and do not defeat a finding that Plaintiff Art Cohen’s claims are typical of the claims of the class.”  Id.

The Court concluded that Plaintiff Art Cohen, and his counsel would adequately represent the class, and appointed Art Cohen as a class representative and Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, LLP and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, LLP as class counsel. Order at 10-11, 23.

The Court also found that, under F.R.C.P. Rule 23(b), common questions of law and fact predominated over individual issues, and that a class action was superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating this controversy. The Court rejected Defendant’s “causation” argument, noting that “Plaintiff’s theory of liability under RICO is that Defendant schemed to misrepresent the Trump University Live Event programs, which caused the putative class members to make Live Event purchases.”  Order at 12.  The Court held that because Plaintiff introduced evidence that Defendant’s “alleged misrepresentations of a ‘university’ and of Donald Trump participation in the Trump University Live Events were prominently featured in all Trump University marketing materials; and that a ‘Playbook,’ PowerPoint presentations, and scripts encouraged if not required Trump University representatives to continue these representations,” the evidence provides “a method for Plaintiff to establish proximate causation on a classwide basis without resort to individualized inquiries.”  Order at 13.

The Court also rejected Defendant’s contention that individual issues of proof predominated in regard to its statute of limitations defense, finding that the facts did “not prove that Cohen uniquely discovered the injury resulting from the concealed fraud as of October 2009.”  Order at 17. The Court was thus “satisfied that determination of Defendant’s statute of limitations defense in this case will not defeat the predominance of common issues in this case.”  Order at 19.

Finally, the Court rejected Defendant’s argument that “individual inquiries into entitlement and amount of damages precludes predominance.”  Order at 19-20.  The Court found that Plaintiff’s “full-refund” damages model matched Plaintiff’s theory of liability.  Order at 21. The Court also noted that “Plaintiff brings this claim under RICO, which provides for statutory trebled damages, attorney’s fees, and cost of suit .…  Damages under RICO do not depend on subjective valuations, but rather on objective losses.”  Id.  Accordingly, the Court held that although Plaintiff “must still prove its damages case, his theory of damage recovery does not conflict with his theory of liability under Comcast,” and thus “individualized questions as to damages do not defeat predominance in this case.”  Id.

Finally, the Court held that the superiority requirement of Rule 23(b) was satisfied because “class-wide litigation of Plaintiff’s claims here will reduce litigation costs and promote greater efficiency in a single nation-wide class alleging one cause of action.”  Order at 22.

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

What Is a Will, and Do I Need One?

A Will is a document that distributes the property you owned during your life to those you wish to benefit from your death.  What a Will consists of in order to be a legally binding document varies from state to state in the United States, and from country to country around the world.

In California, a Will may be as simple as a handwritten document, as long as there is sufficient information contained in the document to allow it to be clearly understood and its terms carried out.  If the Will is not handwritten, then it will need to be properly witnessed (by people who are not receiving gifts, directly or indirectly, under the Will).

Do You Need a Will? Is a Will Alone Enough?

As awful as it may sound, the need for a formal Will and/or a more complex estate plan is very much a matter of “it depends.”

There are a variety of different courses of action you could take, depending on the size of your estate, however, it is important to have some sort of plan in place to designate someone to manage your assets and make health care and personal care decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so for yourself.

If you have or are expecting children, and if any of your existing children are minors, then you should have a Will at a minimum to appoint one or more guardians for your children in the event that you die before they are legally adults. If you have any concern that the best person to raise your child is not the best person to manage his or her money, then consider a Will that will create a “Testamentary Trust” on your death.

It is important to understand that upon death, with or without a Will, any decedent’s estate is generally subject to the jurisdiction of the Court through what is known as “Probate.”  The Probate process in California is fairly expensive and can be daunting without sufficient planning. However, there are alternatives that can save money and leave behind assets for those you love, and these are things that you should be discussing with your attorney at your initial case evaluation.  That case evaluation should be your education as to what is best for you and your family depending on your personal circumstances.

If you would like to consider discussing your own situation or simply want to learn more about the estate planning process, then please contact us at (619) 342-8000 for a free case evaluation.

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