Consumer Law Task Force

Student Loan Brown Bag Lunch

Date: 
Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service and Civil Justice are co-hosting a student loan brown-bag lunch on Thursday, November 5 from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm. This will be an opportunity to meet fellow practitioners, discuss the issues, and share successes and challenges in student loan cases.

The lunch will take place at the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service office at 201 N. Charles Street, Suite 1400, Baltimore, MD 21201.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Ellyn Riedl at eriedl@mvlslaw.org or (443) 451-4079.

We hope to see you there!

Location
Location Name: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Address1: 
201 N. Charles St., Suite 1400
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Ellyn Riedl
Phone: 
443-451-4079

In Re Baxter

In Re Baxter is attached. Posted on behalf of Louise Carwell.

AttachmentSize
In Re Baxter.pdf704.33 KB

Expungement Training

Date: 
Tue, 10/27/2015 - 9:30am - 11:30am

Expungement 101, the New Law and Shielding

This free training will review the changes that took effect on Oct. 1st.  Participants will learn to identify expungable dispositions and the steps to file petitions including court form tips.  Presenters will also discuss possible red flag issues, including immigration status, warrants, probation violations, and what is a pending matter.  The training will also walk through the new shielding law and court forms.  Register at www.mvlslaw.org.

Location
Location Name: 
University of Baltimore Law School, Room AL-1002
Contact
Name: 
Susan Francis
Phone: 
443-451-4084
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

GoToMeeting Information

Below is the GoToMeeting information for today's meeting

 

URL: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/join/882014398
 
1. Join the meeting by clicking on the URL link above.
 
2. Call the conference line at:  Dial + 1(609) 318-0027
 
Access Code:  882-014-398
Audio Pin:  Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID:  882-014-398

Affidavit Judgments

I happened to be in court this morning and caught wind of a new affidavit judgment procedure, which apparently started in Worcester County and has already made its way to Wicomico.  The clerk was telling a plaintiff who did not see her case on the docket that affidavit judgments are no longer done in the courtroom.

If a defendant does not file an intention to defend, the case is not on the docket at all. 

If a defendant appears on the date of the hearing, and goes to the clerk's office, the defendant is apparently permitted to file an intention to defend with the clerk and the case is rescheduled for trial. 

If the defendant does not get to the clerk's office and the supporting documentation is in order, the Court will review the complaint sub curia and if the documentation is in order enter judgment. 

I suppose there would be some upside if the defendant could write virtually anything and get a continuance and Judges were not making a thresshold determination as to whether there was a viable defense. 

The downside, of course, is that folks may simply go home without going to the clerk's office to find out what to do when the case is not on the docket.  I don't know whether judges or clerks will be making the call as to whether there is enough of an explanation of the defense to warrant .  I am wondering if anyone else has seen this.  If not, I was wondering what your reaction is, since it may be creeping your way.

For-Profit Educator Will Pay the U.S. $13 Million to Settle Fraud Claims

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

For-Profit Education Company to Pay $13 Million to Resolve Several Cases Alleging Submission of False Claims for Federal Student Aid

Settlement Resolves Allegations and Administrative Claims Involving Schools in Five States

Education Affiliates (EA), a for-profit education company based in White Marsh, Maryland, has agreed to pay $13 million to the United States to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Department of Education for federal student aid for students enrolled in its programs.  EA operates 50 campuses in the United States under various trade names, including All State Career, Fortis Institute, Fortis College, Tri-State Business Institute Inc., Technical Career Institute Inc., Capps College Inc., Driveco CDL Learning Center, Denver School of Nursing and Saint Paul’s School of Nursing, which provide post-secondary education training programs in several professions in the states of Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Texas. 

“Today’s settlement is an excellent example of cooperation among multiple offices of the federal government to achieve a result that protects federal student aid funding and the interests of individual students,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Schools have an obligation to live up to their commitment to the government and their students when they accept federal student aid funds.”

The government alleged that employees at EA’s All State Career campus in Baltimore altered admissions test results so as to admit unqualified students, created false or fraudulent high school diplomas and falsified students’ federal aid applications, and that multiple EA schools referred prospective students to “diploma mills” to obtain invalid online high school diplomas.  These allegations also led to criminal convictions of two All State Careers admission representatives, Barry Sugarman and Jesse Moore, and a test proctor, Jacqueline Caldwell. 

“Students who apply for federal financial aid to attend trade and professional schools are required to show that they have the necessary skills to complete the educational program and work in the field,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland.  “This settlement resolves the government's allegations that Education Affiliates defrauded the government by changing students' test scores and enrolling students with invalid diploma mill high school ‘diplomas’ ordered online.”

“The various cases that were settled here include numerous allegations of predatory conduct that victimized students and bilked taxpayers,” said Under Secretary Ted Mitchell of the U.S. Department of Education.  “In particular, the settlement provides for repayment of $1.9 million in liabilities ordered by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that resulted from EA awarding federal financial aid to students at its Fortis-Miami campus based on invalid high school credentials issued by a diploma mill.  Secretary Duncan made clear that such abusive behavior would not be tolerated, and we will continue to work with the Justice Department and other federal agencies to ensure that postsecondary institutions face consequences when they violate the law.”

The settlement agreement also resolves allegations related to EA schools in Birmingham, Alabama, Houston and Cincinnati, including violations of the ban on incentive compensation for enrollment personnel, misrepresentations of graduation and job placement rates, alteration of attendance records and enrollment of unqualified students. 

“Using fake high school diplomas is a particularly insidious abuse of the federal student aid system,” said Inspector General Kathleen Tighe of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).  “Students received only a worthless piece of paper.”  Tighe commended the efforts of OIG staff and Department of Justice attorneys, whose outstanding investigative work led to this significant settlement.

The settlement resolves five lawsuits filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share in the recovery.  As part of this resolution, the five whistleblowers will receive payments totaling approximately $1.8 million.    

The settlements were the result of a coordinated effort by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices of the District of Maryland, the Southern District of Texas, the Northern District of Alabama, Southern District of Ohio and the Middle District of Tennessee, as well as the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, and the Department of Education and its OIG.     

The cases are captioned United States ex rel. Roman v. All State Career, Inc. and Education Affiliates, Inc., Civil Case No. JKB-10-1730 (D.Md.); United States ex rel. Thomas v. Education Affiliates, Inc., Civil Case No. JKB-14-332 (D.Md.); United States ex rel. Andrews v. Education Affiliates, Inc., et al., Civil Case No. H-13-2366 (S.D. Tex.); United States ex rel. Atkins, et al. v. Fortis Institute and Education Affiliates, LLC, Civil Case No. CV-14-1107-S (N.D. Ala.); and United States ex rel. McArthur, Gruff & Associates LLC v. Education Affiliates, Inc., Civil Case No. 1:14-CV-977 (S.D. Oh.).  The False Claims Act claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. 

AS A RESULT: Some of our clients may be eligible for: 

1) False certification relief.  Apparently this school falsely certified non-h.s. graduates through fake diploma mills, and most students had no idea this was illegal.  NYLAG just filed a false cert. application on behalf of similar students.  This is a big issue, and the Dep’t has so far stated that it will not grant false cert. discharges to these students under current regs. because there is no longer any ability-to-benefit program for student loans. 

2) Defense-to-repayment claims.  These students may benefit from the new procedures that the Special Master is working on.  You might be able to help these students through clinics or by representing them, once these procedures are out.

Thanks Donna Bernstein for passing this on ...

Replevin Question

This is somewhat obscure (at least for Legal Aid practice) but I have a replevin question.  Defendant has some personal property and plaintiff claims ownership.  Plaintiff won at the show cause hearing.  The judge set bond.  Plaintiff can't pay it and filed a motion to waive, which was denied.  Neither party asked for a merits trial.  There has been no action for 13 months.  Defendant doesn't want to ask for a trial because she might lose at trial and she has the property.  Defendant hesitates to file a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution because when the plaintiff receives it she might suddenly be moved to ask for a trial.  Question:  Does the plaintiff have to take action to keep the case alive?  Does the show cause hearing judge's order last forever?  For 12 years like any other judgment?

New Pro Bono Program From the SSA

A new pro bono program seeks volunteers to act as representative payees.  A flyer is attached.  For more information, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/probonopilot.htm.

AttachmentSize
Rep Payee Pro Bono Program.pdf193.87 KB

Post Judgment Collections Training for Attorneys

Date: 
Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:00am - 12:00pm

This training will focus on helping consumers collect on judgments, like security deposits, and helping consumers defend against collection. Topics include wage garnishments, bank garnishments, defenses and best practices. There is no fee to attend but each participant will be asked to accept one post judgment case from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service over the next year.

Register Online

Location
Location Name: 
University of Baltimore School of Law
Address1: 
1401 N. Charles Street, Room Al102
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
Maryland
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Lonni Summers
Phone: 
(443) 451-4064
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
AttachmentSize
Registration form - Post Judgment Collections 20150625.pdf175.26 KB

Untangling Titles: Navigating Title Transfers, Deed Issues, and Estate Administration

Date: 
Tue, 06/23/2015 - 9:00am - 4:30pm

Training will cover the following:

  • The probate process
  • Drafting a simple deed
  • Dealing with fraudulent deeds
  • Lease purchase agreements
  • Quiet title auctions

More information and register online

Location
Location Name: 
University of Baltimore School of Law
Address1: 
1401 N. Charles Street, Room Al102
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Margaret Henn
Phone: 
mhenn@probonomd.org
Sponsor: 
Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland and Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

The Intersection of Family Law and Bankruptcy Training for Attorneys

Date: 
Thu, 06/18/2015 - 9:00am - 12:00pm

This training will bring together a family law practitioner and a skilled bankruptcy attorney to discuss the intersection between these two areas of law. Topics will include bankruptcy 101, property and other asset issues when your client or adverse party files bankruptcy, adverse proceedings – what are they and how do they overlap with the family court matter, drafting settlement agreements to protect your client’s best interests, and post judgment matters including enforcing settlement agreements or court orders.

This training is free, but requires the acceptance of one MVLS Chapter 7 bankruptcy or family law case within a year of the training. Attorneys can choose which legal area they prefer to accept the case.

Register Online

Location
Location Name: 
University of Baltimore School of Law
Address1: 
1401 N. Charles Street, Room Al102
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
Maryland
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Susan Francis
Phone: 
(443) 451-4084
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
AttachmentSize
Registration form - Family Law and Bankruptcy Training 20150618.pdf175.31 KB

Tax Controversy Training for Attorneys

Date: 
Fri, 06/05/2015 - 9:00am - 1:00pm

The course will be taught by experienced tax attorneys, Gerald Kelly and Cheri Wendt-Taczak; IRS Local Taxpayer Advocate, James Leith; and Assistant Manager-Hearings and Appeals, Comptroller of Maryland, Jay Maschas. While the training will cover handling tax cases generally, the focus of this session will be on the mechanics of advocating for the taxpayer who is battling with tax collection issues.

 

There is no fee to attend but each participant will be asked to accept one tax controversy case over the next year. See www.mvlslaw.org/litcfy15 to register online.

Location
Location Name: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Address1: 
201 N Charles Street
Address2: 
Suite 1400
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Cheri Wendt-Taczak
Phone: 
443-451-4061
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
AttachmentSize
Registration form - Tax Controversy Training 20150605.pdf175.25 KB

Tax Controversy Training for Attorneys

Date: 
Fri, 03/20/2015 - 9:00am - 1:00pm

Free training session on handling IRS and Maryland tax controversy cases for low-income taxpayers.  While the training will cover handling tax cases generally, the focus of this session will be on the mechanics of advocating for the taxpayer who is battling with tax collection issues. There is no fee to attend but each participant will be asked to accept one tax controversy case over the next year.  

Register online or contact Cheri Wendt-Taczak at (443) 451-4061 or cheri@mvlslaw.org for details.

Location
Location Name: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Address1: 
201 N Charles Street
Address2: 
Suite 1400
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
Maryland
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Cheri Wendt-Taczak
Phone: 
4434514061
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

foreclosure

Maryland has 3rd highest foreclosure rate:

Dischargeability of Post-petition Condo Fees / Forcing Sale of Home

Katherine, the Mannes decision I mentioned at the Task Force meeting today is In re Khan, 504 B.R. 409 (Bankr.D.Md. 2014).  Sorry, I misspoke earlier - this is a chapter 13 case, not a chapter 7 case.  Court basically held that in a ch. 13, debtor can discharge personal liability for post-petition condo fees, even if he/she continues to hold title.  Some of the practitioners I spoke to mentioned that they could see the other bankruptcy judges limiting this holding, but so far, this appears to be good law.  

Also, here's the case re forcing a bank to foreclose on a home: In re Pigg, 453 B.R. 728 (Bankr.M.D.Tenn. 2011).  Not sure how limited the holding is to the facts of that ch. 7 case.  Maybe you can file a ch. 13 and put in some creative language in the plan to try to force the sale?  If the mortgage company doesn't object and the plan is confirmed, they are bound by it.  Sorry, no definitive answers here but hope these leads are helpful.  

Pretty cool new demographic website

Esri is an exciting company doing important work. Our technology enables organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales.

At Esri, we believe that geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future. Governments, industry leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) trust us to connect them with the analytic knowledge they need to make these critical decisions that shape the planet.

We invite you to discover ways that you can leverage our technology and expertise in your own organization. 

Zip Code look up: http://www.esri.com/data/esri_data/ziptapestry-noform

Other demographics: http://www.esri.com/data/esri_data/demographic-overview

Landlord/Tenant Training

Date: 
Tue, 10/28/2014 - 9:00am - 1:00pm

This is a nuts and bolts training for landlord/tenant cases.  The training will cover:

- Security deposits

- Habitability issues, including how to initiate affirmative rent escrow cases or raise habitability as a defense in failure to pay rent cases

- How to practice in rent court

- Eviction proceedings, including defenses to breach of lease or tenant holding over claims and illegal fees and lockouts

There is no fee to attend, but each participant will be asked to accept one landlord/tenant case from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service over the next year.  The requirement is waived for attorneys in legal services agencies.

This training is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the substantive law and procedural tools neededt o defend tenants in a variety of matters.

Coffee and pastries will be provided.

Speakers: Matt Hill, Public Justice Center, and Michelle Ewert, UB Civil Advocacy Clinic

To register: Visit www.mvlslaw.org/landlordtenant2014

Questions: Susan Francis, 443-451-4084 or sfrancis@mvlslaw.org

This training is brought to you by - MVLS, Public Justice Center and the UB Civil Advocacy Clinic

Location
Location Name: 
UB School of Law
Address1: 
1401 N. Charles St, 12th Floor Reading Room
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Susan Francis
Phone: 
443-451-4084
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Syndicate content

Feedback

We welcome your comments and suggestions