Legal Ethics

Two Florida Lawyers Accused of Making ‘Sham’ Claims for Credit Card Holders

Two Florida lawyers and their affiliated firms are accused in a lawsuit of making “sham” claims on behalf of consumers seeking to avoid payment of credit card debt.

The suit by Chase Bank claims the lawyers falsely tell customers that the credit card company violated the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, and then write letters to Chase disputing all charges, the Daily Business Review reports. Customers are led to believe they don’t have to pay their credit card bills until Chase resolves the billing disputes to their satisfaction, the suit says.

Named in the Delaware suit are lawyers Laura Hess and Jeffrey Campos and their affiliated firms, Hess Kennedy Chartered and the Legal Debt Center, the story says. Both firms are located at the same Coral Springs address. The suit asks the court to declare that the billing errors asserted by the lawyers’ clients are “sham” claims.

Chase says that nationwide more than 3,800 credit card holders have used such tactics to avoid paying more than $25 million in legitimate charges. The article details several other pending actions against Hess Kennedy or its lawyers. Attorneys general in three states are investigating the firm while the Florida Bar is seeking to suspend Hess’ license for three months, the article says. A bar petition filed with the Florida Supreme Court says it has received eight complaints about Hess’ work since she was put on three years’ probation and given a public reprimand in 2005.

Attorneys general in Florida and North Carolina have filed suits against Hess Kennedy. The West Virginia attorney general has obtained an injunction barring Florida lawyers who work for Hess Kennedy from settling consumer debts in West Virginia until they comply with an investigation into whether they overcharged consumers under a state law capping fees charged by debt settlement firms.

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