The Justice Center has a long and proud record of successful litigation on behalf of North Carolinians with low incomes. Justice Center lawyers have led or provided critical assistance in dozens of high-impact cases that have secured millions of dollars for North Carolinians and validated numerous important rights. The following are examples of such cases:
Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Houston
In 2018, the North Carolina Justice Center won a $4 million class action settlement in the lawsuit against debt-buyer Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC (PRA) brought against PRA by the NC Justice Center, along with attorneys Travis Collum, Suzanne Begnoche, and Adrian Lapas.
Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Houston (Iredell County case no 12-CVS-642) involves claims that PRA violated the state’s debt collection law by sending written notices of intent to file collection lawsuits to persons in North Carolina and by filing collection lawsuits in the state without (1) having sufficient proof of the amount of the debt allegedly owed and without sending that proof to debtors prior to filing a collection lawsuit and (2) by failing to provide sufficient proof that it owned the debt when it filed collection lawsuits. PRA will pay $4 million into a settlement fund for distribution to class members and will dismiss all lawsuits that are pending against class members.
For more information about the settlement, visit www.praclassactionnc.com or email PRAclass@ncjustice.org.
Kucan v. Advance America
In late 2010, Justice Center attorneys settled three class action lawsuits against payday lending companies, for a total of $43.75 million for more than 364,000 class members. The settlements in these cases are higher than any other settlement against a payday lender in the entire country. Justice Center attorney Carlene McNulty and our co-counsel received an award from Public Justice for this litigation effort, and Carlene received the National Consumer Law Center’s Vern Countryman Award.
In 2013, Justice Center attorneys paid the final settlement proceeds to victims of illegal payday loans recovered in these major class action lawsuits. Settlements in these cases also resulted in the payment of over $1 million to the state’s Indigent Defense and IOLTA programs to support the provision of legal representation for the poor.
Hyatt v. Barnhart
The settlement order in this state-wide class action requires the Social Security Administration to review more than 75,000 disability cases that were wrongfully denied or terminated in the 1980s. The Justice Center monitors the enforcement of this order, which has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in back benefits for claimants. The lawsuit, originally filed by Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, is co-counseled with the law firms of Cox, Gage & Sasser and Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson.
Davis, et al. v. Winston-Salem Housing Authority
This case, with a class of current and former tenants of the Winston-Salem Housing Authority as plaintiffs, involved the housing authority’s failure to implement the federal income exclusion rule. A settlement provides the named plaintiffs with full compensation for the rent they overpaid, ensures class members receive the benefit of the federal income exclusion rule, and requires that the rule be applied correctly in the future. The Justice Center co-counseled this case with the law firm of Eliott, Pishko, Gelbin & Morgan.
Tomlin et al v. Chase Mortgage Brokers
This is a class action involving borrowers who obtained home loans through a mortgage broker that charged excessive and improper fees and premiums. The case resulted in an average award of $5,100 for 1,300 borrowers. The Justice Center co-counseled with the law firms of Hartzell & Whiteman; Gulley & Calhoun; Mallam Maynard; and Patterson, Harkavy & Lawrence.