Business of Law

Ex-Client Files RICO Class Action, Says PI Firm Made Usurious Loans to 200 Vioxx Plaintiffs

A former client has filed a federal civil racketeering class action against a Georgia personal injury firm, contending that it cheated up to 200 or more plaintiffs in Vioxx litigation by misleading them into taking out usurious loans against an expected settlement.

At the time, the Eichholz Law Firm knew a settlement was both certain and imminent, but didn’t tell clients that fact, the lawsuit alleges. It also says that the high-interest loans made by Pacific Legal Funding violated state usury law and contends that the law firm falsely claimed to have no financial interest in Pacific Legal when it was in fact operated by Eichholz lawyers or relatives, Courthouse News Service reported.

When the settlement was paid, the suit says, the law firm paid off the loans with money from the proceeds. In addition to the law firm, it names Pacific Legal as a co-defendant.

A call by the ABA Journal this afternoon seeking comment from the law firm did not receive an immediate response; a receptionist said the partner in charge is in a deposition.

The complaint was filed by Verie Poole in federal court in Savannah, Ga., and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. In addition to civil violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act it also alleges fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and usury.

Related coverage: “Suit Accuses Ga. Law Firm of Usury for Recommending Loan with 50% Interest Rate”

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