Can There Ever Be Any Winners in These Debt Relief Lawsuits?

I’ve seen a lot of unfortunate situations in the debt relief space. I’ve written about many, but the problem between the Plaintiffs and Defendants and the mutual attorneys in one particular situation seems to be spiraling to a new level I’ve not seen before.

No End in Sight

Not long ago I wrote Student Loan Assistance Lawsuits Become a Crusade for One Attorney. It seems the actions of attorneys Macy Hanson and Josh Horton now epitomize the definition of poking the bear.

Hanson & Horton are accused of engaging in defamation and malicious comments by the attorney for National Legal Staffing Support, LLC, Resolvly, LLC; Backend Resolve, LLC; JG Factor, LLC; and GM Law Firm, LLC.

The Latest Source of Ignition

The match that lit the latest fire is two Law360 articles authored by Victoria McKenzie on June 28, 2021, and September 21, 2021.

The attorney demand letter from Matthew Sarelson says, “With respect to the Law360 article authored by Victoria McKenzie on June 28, 2021 (a copy is attached), you referred to my clients as “the wolves of Boca Raton.” You also referred to them as “scammers.” These statements are per se defamatory and are demonstrably false.

With respect to the Law360 article authored by Victoria McKenzie on September 21, 2021 (a copy is attached), you referred to my clients as being engaged in a “scam” and “sophisticated white-collar crime.” You also accused my clients of looting its own customers out of tens of thousands of dollars. The crux of your statement is that my clients are criminals. These statements are per se defamatory and are demonstrably false.”

I have laid my hands on a copy of the letter everyone is now dealing with.

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What Words, Opinions, or Expressions Can You Use?

This is a serious question. If the FTC can call someone or a business “bogus” or a “scam” then who can’t?

Can you be a schemer but not a scammer? What about the legal line between jerk or jackass. What if you called someone an ass but not an asshole?

The letter between the attorneys object to the phrase, “the wolves of Boca Raton” but I have no clue what that actually means.

A statement made is “The crux of your statement is that my clients are criminals.” But how can someone be a criminal until the court makes a determination? For example, there are many people charged with a crime but never convicted. Does that make those people criminals? Can you ever be found to be a criminal in a civil case or does that require being charged with a crime?

Another objection is raised against Hanson and Horton to the expression “sophisticated white-collar crime” but what the article actually says is, “It’s sophisticated white collar crime,” Horton told Law360.”

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But what is “it’s” referring to? Maybe it is what is said just before that, “One of the two cases that were consolidated in Florida this year was a suit brought by Nathan Montalvo, a young musician who thought his student debt had been settled after he made steady payments totaling more than $20,000 to GM Law Firm’s so-called debt relief enterprise.”

But that’s not what the objection was too.

Not a Single Winner in Sight

There are so many fronts the parties involved are battling on now; even I’ve lost track. It’s not even a lousy movie script anymore; it’s just a total clusterf**k.

If we peel this issue back to the core and deal with what I think is the most critical issue, have consumers been misled or harmed, then an ending is possible. Let the two sides come together and present their information and arguments and let a court decide.

However, I’m not sure now that the Defendants, in some cases, are fighting among themselves, and now the attorneys are at war; how can the consumers get any attention at all?

Is This Where We’ve Come?

Nobody likes to be called names or have perceived negative things said about them. I’ve had plenty of false statements made about me. I don’t like it but why would I waste time, money, and life energy over pursuing that?

It seems that in our current climate of political tribalism, name-calling, and leaders that use disparaging names against people they don’t like that I don’t know where the line is anymore.

It sure feels like the objections to statements made don’t appear to include other statements in the articles that feel alarming.

For example, there is no objection made to these statements in the articles:

  • “Resolvly and National Law Staffing Support then cold-call the student debtors, representing themselves as employees of GM Law — which acts as principal and is registered to the same address — and enroll them in the so-called debt elimination program. The program promises to “eliminate all the consumer’s private student loan debt for payment of fifty cents on the dollar of the principal balance of the consumer’s total student loan balance, to be paid over 58 monthly payments,” the complaint states.”
  • “GM Law Firm, NLSS, and the defendants enterprise as a whole, then sit back and hope that their clients’ creditors do not file collection lawsuits when the loans inevitably go into default,” the suit said. While GM Law is owned and operated by former NLSS employee Chantel Grant, according to the complaint, “its activities are effectively controlled by Gregory Fishman” and Julie Queler, the nonattorneys behind Resolvly.”
  • “Montalvo is bringing claims of mail and wire fraud against GM Law and the associated companies, with additional counts of fraud against the non-legal entities. The complaint further accuses GM Law, Chantel Grant and founding attorney Kevin Mason of legal malpractice as well as breaches of good faith and fair dealing.”
  • “Lindsey Crits, Evan Wendt and two others said they were cold called by a sales representative purporting to work for GM Law Firm and given promises that the debt relief program would eliminate the entirety of their student loan debt in exchange for 50% of the balance, to be paid over a set number of months. After making tens of thousands of dollars in payments to GM Law Firm through its staffing service over the course of several years, Crits and Wendt were horrified to learn they were being sued for the total amount of loan debt by their lenders in state court, they told the court Friday. Another plaintiff’s grandmother was sued as the co-signer on her defaulted loan.”
  • “Resolvly allegedly “purchases, repackages and launders sales-leads from non-Florida Bar approved lawyer referral companies,” looking for debtors who have large, outstanding private student loans, according to the complaint. Then Resolvly, Backend Resolve or NLSS agents cold call their targets, representing themselves as employees of GM Law, and enroll them in the so-called debt elimination program.”
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How Will This All End?

I don’t have a clue.

I do know that the people I wish could be heard from are the consumers who believe they have not received the services they signed up for.

Is there no possible way to peel this all back and just deal with that, or will we be stuck in the larger growing storm of infighting, name-calling, and hurt pride for the foreseeable future?

Wise Words

Maybe these words by author Robert Fulghum from his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, still ring true.

“Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Take a nap every afternoon.”

Getting a Jump on Things

The letter from Sarelson to Hanson and Horton makes the following demand, “to publicly retract the statements.”

So in case any of the people named in this post wind up butt hurt, let me just say in advance, everyone needs to stop this ridiculous fighting and go take a nap.

Steve Rhode

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