Legal Helpers Debt Resolution Hit With Class Action Lawsuit

Thanks to a tipster (send in your tips here) I got a heads up on a class action lawsuit just filed in Washington.

The suit was filed against Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC, JEM Group, Inc, and Marshall Banks, LLC.

Marshall Banks is said to be a lead generator and marketer of debt relief programs. This is interesting in light of the recent action by the FTC against debt relief lead generators.

The suit raises a number of questions that should concern any marketer of attorney model debt relief services. It brings in the issue of a non-attorney soliciting business and compensation on behalf of an attorney, it questions the incidental nature of the underlying attorney’s business, it examines the issue of marketing representation, and more.

I’ve highlighted or bolded some section of the suit that caught my attention.

The suit is a good narrative covering the many issues I’ve written about in the past about the association of law firms with outside marketers.

I predict LHDR will toss the marketer under the bus on this suit and say they had no knowledge of the underlying issues.

According to public records, JEM Group is Joanne Garneau and Arthur Garneau. – Source. The pair also are involved with Nationwide Support Services.

Marshall Banks, LLC says it is located at 25391 Commerce Centere Drive, Suite 200, Lake Forest, CA 92630. That is the address for Kazlow & Tucker which lists itself as a TASC member. – Source

Others have complained about Kazlow & Tucker, here.

From the suit.

  • Defendant Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC: Defendant Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC (“LHDR”) is Nevada limited liability company and Illinois law firm having its principal offices in Chicago, Illinois. LHDR does business throughout the United States, including the state of Washington. LHDR first registered to do business in the state of Washington on July 16,2010. LHDR purportedly maintains an office at 600 Stewart Street, #1224, Seattle, Washington 98101. LHDR does business under various trade names, including Macey Aleman Hyslip & Searns. LHDR is in the business of lending its name to multiple front-end and back-end for-profit debt relief companies to create a fiction that the subject debt relief services are being preformed by attorneys, thereby ostensibly evading consumer protections applicable to such debt relief activities, including fee limitations. Among others, LHDR lends its name as a law firm to Defendants Marshall Banks, LLC (d/b/a Kazlow and Tucker Debt Relief), and JEM Group.
  • Defendant JEM Group, Inc. (“JEM”) is a Nevada corporation having its principal offices in Irvine, California. JEM Group does business throughout the United States, including the State of Washington. JEM is not, and has never been, registered to do business in the state of Washington. JEM is primarily a “back-end” debt relief company. It implements, manages, and maintains the debt relief programs marketed by and purportedly performed by “front-end” affiliate debt settlement companies, affiliate “lead generators,” and LHDR.
  • Defendant Marshall Banks, LLC: Defendant Marshall Banks, LLC (hereinafter “Marshall Banks”) is a California company having its principal offices in Irvine, California. Marshall Banks does business under the name Kazlow and Tucker Debt Relief, LLC. “Kazlow and Tucker Debt Relief, LLC” is a fictitious entity that is not registered to do business in any state. Marshall Banks does business throughout the United States, including the State of Washington. Marshall Banks is not and has never been registered to do business in the state of Washington. Marshall Banks is principally engaged as a “front-end” debt relief company that markets its debt relief program to consumers, including Washington residents. Marshall Banks is also engaged in the business of “lead generation” for other debt relief companies, including but not limited to JEM and LHDR.

Facts

  1. Marshall Banks
    On March 1, 2010, Marshall Banks, representing itself as “Kazlow and Tucker Debt Relief, LLC,” transmitted to Rosita Smith in Washington its standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement” and associated documentation, soliciting her participation in a debt reduction program through execution and return of those documents. Based on information and belief, Marshall Banks has solicited numerous Washington residents through transmission of its standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement.”

    Based on information and belief, Kazlow and Tucker Debt Relief, LLC is a fictional entity not registered or licensed to conduct business in any state and is a doing-business name of Marshall Banks.

    Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement” is a contract providing for the managing, counseling, settling, prorating, or liquidating of the indebtedness of a debtor and involving a designated third-party custodian’s receipt of debtor’s funds for the purpose of distributing said funds among creditors in partial payment of obligations of that debtor.

    On March 31, 2010, Rosita Smith signed and returned Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement” for participation in Marshall Banks’ debt settlement program. Based on information and belief, numerous Washington residents have signed and returned Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement.”

    Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement,” in accordance with its standardized fee schedule and in violation of RCW 18.28.080, provided for fees exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of the total debt listed on the contract, including a 17% “service fee,” a $49 monthly “maintenance fee,” and a periodic $12.20 “trust fee.”

    Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement,” in accordance with its standardized fee schedule, and in violation of RCW 18.28.080, provided for fees exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of any one payment to be made.

    Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement,” in accordance with its standardized fee schedule, and in violation of RCW 18.28.080, provided for initial charges exceeding twenty-five dollars ($25.00).

    At the time of Marshall Banks’ marketing and promotion of its debt relief program to Class members, including Rosita Smith, Marshall Banks had no intention of performing debt relief services for Washington residents who contracted for their services. Marshall Banks did not advise Class members, including Rosita Smith, of this material fact.

    At the time of Marshall Banks’ marketing and promotion of debt relief programs to Class members, including Rosita Smith, Marshall Banks had no capacity to perform debt relief services for Washington residents who contracted for their services. Marshall Banks did not advise Class members, including Rosita Smith, of this material fact.

    At the time of Marshall Banks’ marketing and promotion of its debt relief program to Class members, including Rosita Smith, Marshall Banks was soliciting clients for LHDR. Marshall Banks did not advise Class members, including Rosita Smith, that its solicitations were on behalf of a law firm, LHDR.

    The debt relief program marketed and promoted to Washington residents by Marshall Banks is a facade masking an unlawful conspiratorial business enterprise involving agreement between named Defendants.

    Functionally, Marshall Banks, like numerous other “front-end” for-profit debt relief companies with whom LHDR has associated itself, falsely and deceptively holds itself out as a business engaged in performing debt relief services for consumers. In fact, Marshall Banks and other “front-end” for profit debt relief companies with whom LHDR has associated itself are “lead generators” acting on behalf ofLHDR and JEM.

    Marshall Banks’ standardized Debt Settlement Agreement, in this regard, inconspicuously provides that Marshall Banks may assign the services to be provided under the agreement to any third party of Marshall Banks’ choosing.

    Pursuant to Defendants’ unified business scheme and agreement, LHDR functionally steps into the shoes of Marshall Banks for the purposes of creating a false appearance that the debt relief services are being performed by an attorney solely incidental to his practice of law. LHDR has no capacity to perform those debt relief services. Pursuant to Defendants’ unified business scheme and agreement, JEM steps into the same shoes for the purpose of performing whatever consumer-related activities may became necessary to maintain consumers’ participation in the subject debt relief program or carry out activities under that debt relief program.

  2. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution

    LHDR holds itself out to Washington consumers as a “nationwide” law firm.

    LHDR, in fact, is principally in the business of associating itself with debt relief programs marketed by numerous for-profit debt relief companies and/or debt relief lead generators, including the debt relief programs of Marshall Banks and JEM.

    In essence, LHDR lends its name to the debt relief activities of such companies for the purpose of creating a false pretense that the debt relief activities are being performed by an attorney solely incidental to that attorney’s practice of law, thereby ostensibly exempting the debt relief programs from state and federal consumer protections, including prohibitions against predatory fees, such as those contained in RCW 18.28.080.

    In furtherance of Defendants’ common business enterprise, on April 2, 2010, following Rosita Smith’s having contracted with Marshall Banks for debt relief services, Marshall Banks sent to Rosita Smith in Washington its standardized enrollment packet.

    In accordance with Marshall Banks’ standardized business practice, Marshall Banks instructed Rosita Smith to execute all transmitted documents where Marshall Banks had placed an “X” and to return those documents to Marshall Banks.

    In furtherance of Defendants’ scheme, Marshall Banks’ standardized enrollment packet contained an “Attorney Retainer Agreement” with “Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC, also known as the law firm of Macey, Aleman, Hyslip & Searns.”

    Marshall Banks’ inclusion of the subject Attorney Retainer Agreement in its standardized enrollment packet is not the consequence of a consumer having requested an attorney, having requested legal services, or having had contact with LHDR.

    Marshall Banks’ standardized business practice violates RCW 18.28.130 by assuming the authority to secure and arrange the terms of compensation for an attorney.

    Marshall Banks’ marketing and solicitation materials directed at Washington residents did not disclose and do not disclose that the solicitations are on behalf of a law firm.

    Marshall Banks, on behalf of LHDR and JEM, unlawfully engaged in the solicitation of clients for the law firm of LHDR.

    The inclusion of the Attorney Retainer Agreement in Marshall Banks’ standardized enrollment packet was part of and in furtherance of Defendants’ conspiratorial enterprise to evade applicable consumer protections through false pretense that the debt relief services are being performed by an attorney, so as to exempt the debt relief services from fee limitations and other consumer protections.

    LHDR’s standardized “Attorney Retainer Agreement,” as included in Marshall Banks’ enrollment packet, is a contract involving managing, counseling, settling, prorating, or liquidating of the indebtedness of a debtor and involving a designated third-parties’ receipt of the debtor’s funds for the purpose of distributing said funds among creditors in partial payment of obligations of that debtor.

    Rosita Smith executed and returned to Marshall Banks the documents, as directed by Marshall Banks, including the Attorney Retainer Agreement.

    Co-defendants were aware that Marshall Banks’ business practices directed at Washington residents were unfair, deceptive, criminal, and/or otherwise unlawful.

    LHDR gave substantial assistance and encouragement to Marshall Banks in conducting unfair, deceptive, criminal, and otherwise unlawful business activities directed at Washington residents by, among other things, engaging in and agreeing to engage in “Attorney Retainer Agreements” with Marshall Banks’ customers; assuming and agreeing to assume the debt relief obligations provided for in Marshall Banks’ void Debt Settlement Agreement; lending its name as a law firm to Marshall Banks’ business activities; and by otherwise agreeing to carry out the common business scheme described in this Complaint.

    At the time that Marshall Banks sent its standardized enrollment packets to Rosita Smith and to Class members, LHDR had no intention of performing the debt relief services involved in carrying out the subject debt relief program.

    At the time that Marshall Banks sent its standardized enrollment packets to Rosita Smith and to Class members, LHDR had no capacity to perform the debt relief services involved in carrying out the subject debt relief program.

    In furtherance of Defendants’ agreement and common business scheme, LHDR lent its name to the for-profit debt relief activities of Marshall Banks and JEM, and similarly does so for numerous other debt relief companies engaged in marketing to Washington residents substantially identical illegal debt relief programs.

    LHDR’s activities in respect of debt relief programs, including those performed in respect of debt relief programs of Marshall Banks, JEM, and other debt relief companies are not performed solely incidental to the practice of law.

    LHDR’s activities in respect debt relief programs, including those performed in respect of Marshall Banks, JEM, and other debt relief companies, are not performed by an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Washington.

    To maintain the illusion that the subject debt relief programs are legal services being performed by an LHDR attorney, LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement recites purported legal services to be performed by LHDR. The services recited in LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement are a false pretense, recited for purposes of creating an illusion that the debt relief services constitute the practice of law or are being performed solely incidental to the practice of law.

    Recited legal services are either not performed, not performed by an attorney authorized to practice law in Washington, or performed solely incidental to the debt relief program contracted for by consumers.

    LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement recites that it is a contract for legal services with LHDR LLC, and that it does not constitute a contract with any individual, partner, member, or employee ofLHDR. With respect to Washington residents, the Attorney Retainer Agreement for legal services did not constitute the retention of an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Washington.

    LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement provided for an initial fee of five hundred dollars ($500.00), a maintenance fee of forty-nine dollars ($49.00), and fees of fifteen percent (15%) of the clients’ total scheduled debt for services to be performed by JEM.

    LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement impermissibly provided for an initial fee exceeding twenty-five dollars ($25.00).

    LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement impermissibly provided for total fees exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of the consumers’ total listed debt.

    LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement impermissibly provided for fees exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of anyone payment made by the consumer.

    LHDR owed a fiduciary duty to Washington residents who executed LHDR’s Attorney Retainer Agreement.

    LHDR breached its duty to Class members, including Rosita Smith, by failing to alert them that they had been victimized by Marshall Banks’ unfair, deceptive, and criminal business activities.

    LHDR breached its duty to Class members, including Rosita Smith, by failing to alert them that the fees being charged under contracts with Marshall Banks and LHDR were illegal.

    LHDR breached its duty to Class members, including Rosita Smith, by failing to alert them that their Debt Settlement Agreement with Marshall Banks and with LHDR were void ab initio and that they were entitled to the return of all money paid.

    LHDR did not advise Class members, including Rosita Smith, that LHDR had a conflict of interest, including a conflict resulting from its business relationships and agreements with for-profit debt relief companies, including Marshall Banks and JEM.

  3. JEM

    LHDR has no capacity to perform the debt relief services involved in the debt relief programs of the companies with whom LHDR associated itself, including that of Marshall Banks.

    For-profit debt relief companies who partner with LHDR, including Marshall Banks, were aware that LHDR has neither the capacity nor the intention of performing the debt relief service associated with their programs.

    JEM, in this regard, is, among other things, a “back-end” for-profit debt relief company. JEM, among other things, is in the business of establishing and promoting debt relief programs marketed by debt relief affiliates who hold themselves out to the public as experienced debt relief companies, but whose actual business is generation of customers for JEM. JEM assumes responsibility for substantially all activities necessitated by consumers’ having engaged in the debt relief programs of such “front-end” debt relief affiliates.

    JEM, in this regard, performs substantially all of the activities necessitated by consumers having contracted with LHDR through execution of its standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement or having contracted with JEM’s front-end debt relief affiliates, including Marshall Banks.

    Marshall Banks’ standardized “Debt Settlement Agreement” and LHDR’s standardized Attorney Retainer Agreement, directly or indirectly, were contracts for the engagement of JEM in respect of managing, counseling, settling, prorating, or liquidating of the indebtedness of a debtor and/or involving receiving funds for the purpose of distributing said funds among creditors in partial payment of obligations of a debtor.

    For purposes of maintaining a fiction that JEM’ s debt relief activities were only activities of an attorney, JEM performs its activities under a false pretense that they were done under the direct supervision and control of an attorney at LHDR.

    Based on information and belief, attorneys at LHDR do not control the method, manner, or means by which JEM performs debt relief activities for Washington residents or otherwise directly supervise or control those activities.

    Based on information and belief, JEM’s debt relief activities with respect to Washington residents are not performed under the direct supervision or control of an attorney authorized to practice law in Washington.

    JEM, LHDR, and Marshall Banks received, made, or contracted for charges in excess of the maximums permitted by chapter 18.28 RCW.

    JEM gave substantial assistance and encouragement to Marshall Banks and LHDR in conducting unfair, deceptive, criminal, and otherwise unlawful business activities, including the unauthorized practice of law and violation of fiduciary duty by, among other things, agreeing to serve as the back-end debt settlement company that established, managed, and maintained the debt settlement programs marketed and contracted for by LHDR and front-end debt settlement companies, such as Marshall Banks, with whom LHDR associates itself, by assuming and agreeing to assume the debt relief obligations of LHDR and Marshall Banks; by assuming and agreeing to assume the debt relief duties under void and criminally illegal contracts; and by otherwise agreeing to carry out the common business scheme described in this Complaint.

This suit was filed by Darrell Scott ([email protected]) and Matthew Zuchetto ([email protected]) of The Scott law Group.Source

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.


Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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See also  Lawyer Accuses Legal Helpers Debt Resolution of Fee Splitting with Non-Attorneys and Committing Fraud

42 thoughts on “Legal Helpers Debt Resolution Hit With Class Action Lawsuit”

  1. I have $87,000.00 charge card debt …I’m looking last 2 years which company Help me but I don’t trust any of them…..Can you give me company name which I can trust.

    Reply
  2. I have $87,000.00 charge card debt …I’m looking last 2 years which company Help me but I don’t trust any of them…..Can you give me company name which I can trust.

    Reply
  3. Care one is a good company they do things 100% correct I’m shocked to see them on here. As for Legal Helpers is that real about the class action law suit ? I do not see it anywhere online except here ? What will happen to them if it is true ?

    Reply

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