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Badass Attorney Of The Week: Sues Bank of America

with 10 comments


Ben Pavone told Bank of America in a letter last week that he refuses to pay off his credit card debt until the bank lowers his interest rate. And, he added, if they try to ruin his credit, he’ll sue ‘em.

“They’ve got to have some kind of obligation to not totally extort the public,” said Pavone.

The San Diego, Calif. attorney is angry about two things: his interest rate, which has gone up to 27.99 percent, and his credit limit, which has gone down to just above his balance. “I’m sure I’m going to be hit with penalties,” he said.

Pavone said he got “squeezed for cash” and asked Bank of America to raise his credit limit in October. The bank responded with a two-page letter. The first page declined the request; the second told him his limit would be reduced from $32,100 to $30,400. Bank of America cited “economic trends” in both decisions.

“I consider your action an anticipatory repudiation of the contract and am treating you as in breach,” he wrote in a Dec. 31 letter to the bank. “I am therefore not paying the money that is currently due on January 3, 2010 out of protest.”

Pavone said he got the protest idea from Ann Minch, the Red Bluff, Calif. woman who launched a “debtors’ revolt” via YouTube in September. Minch won imitators and also a reduced interest rate on her own card. Pavone, Minch et al are all asking the same question: Why is it fair for bailed-out banks to reward themselves with bonuses and at the same time to soak taxpayers who’ve done nothing wrong?

“For the record, I have a perfect payment history and I have a nearly perfect payment record on my credit,” Pavone’s letter continued. “I have no doubt that you will mark my credit in light of this default, but if you do, I will sue you. I am eager to argue to a court that your interest rates are unfair within the meaning of various state and federal statutes, and anxious to point out that you ‘had’ to cut my credit limit from $32,000 down to $30,000 at the same time you were borrowing billions from the federal government and paid your executive bonuses in full.”

The letter concludes by asking the bank to reduce his rate to 10.99 percent, after noting that it would probably cost less to reduce the rate than to have to fight the suit.

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Bank of America does not comment about individual customers. Regarding credit limits, a spokeswoman wrote, “In general, we monitor accounts for risk and may adjust customers’ lines up or down as appropriate based on the risk profile and performance with us.”

Ed Mierzwinski, program director for consumer advocacy group U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told HuffPost that Pavone’s got the right idea — it would be easier for the bank to cut a deal with Pavone than to deal with him in court, which is a distinct possibility since the bank abandoned mandatory arbitration in the fall.

“The banks respond to the squeaky wheel,” wrote Mierzwinski in an email. “ANY consumer who complains has a better chance than those who do not.”

As for the legal theory of Pavone’s possible lawsuit, consumer law experts say he just might have a case. Pavone said a possible suit would allege unconscionability. When jacking up interest rates, credit card lenders typically provide notice and an opportunity for cardholders to refuse the higher rate and settle their accounts at the current rate — nothing unconscionable about that. But maybe Bank of America breached good faith by reducing the limit to a level that would likely incur fees and damage Pavone’s credit report.

“Banks have done really well figuring out ways to screw people without making themselves legally liable,” said Ira Rheingold, director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “I think [the limit reduction] is another example of Bank of America’s venality. Whether or not it’s a successful lawsuit, I don’t know. Whether I think it ought to be challenged — absolutely.”

Lawsuits against big banks are not totally unwinnable. In November a federal judge refused to dismiss a class-action claim against Chase filed by customers who said the bank acted in bad faith when it raised minimum monthly payments from 2 percent to 5 percent on fixed-rate cardholders.

Ben Pavone told Bank of America in a letter last week that he refuses to pay off his credit card debt until the bank lowers his interest rate. And, he added, if they try to ruin his credit, he’ll sue ‘em.

“They’ve got to have some kind of obligation to not totally extort the public,” said Pavone.

The San Diego, Calif. attorney is angry about two things: his interest rate, which has gone up to 27.99 percent, and his credit limit, which has gone down to just above his balance. “I’m sure I’m going to be hit with penalties,” he said.

Pavone said he got “squeezed for cash” and asked Bank of America to raise his credit limit in October. The bank responded with a two-page letter. The first page declined the request; the second told him his limit would be reduced from $32,100 to $30,400. Bank of America cited “economic trends” in both decisions.

“I consider your action an anticipatory repudiation of the contract and am treating you as in breach,” he wrote in a Dec. 31 letter to the bank. “I am therefore not paying the money that is currently due on January 3, 2010 out of protest.”

Pavone said he got the protest idea from Ann Minch, the Red Bluff, Calif. woman who launched a “debtors’ revolt” via YouTube in September. Minch won imitators and also a reduced interest rate on her own card. Pavone, Minch et al are all asking the same question: Why is it fair for bailed-out banks to reward themselves with bonuses and at the same time to soak taxpayers who’ve done nothing wrong?

“For the record, I have a perfect payment history and I have a nearly perfect payment record on my credit,” Pavone’s letter continued. “I have no doubt that you will mark my credit in light of this default, but if you do, I will sue you. I am eager to argue to a court that your interest rates are unfair within the meaning of various state and federal statutes, and anxious to point out that you ‘had’ to cut my credit limit from $32,000 down to $30,000 at the same time you were borrowing billions from the federal government and paid your executive bonuses in full.”

The letter concludes by asking the bank to reduce his rate to 10.99 percent, after noting that it would probably cost less to reduce the rate than to have to fight the suit.

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Bank of America does not comment about individual customers. Regarding credit limits, a spokeswoman wrote, “In general, we monitor accounts for risk and may adjust customers’ lines up or down as appropriate based on the risk profile and performance with us.”

Ed Mierzwinski, program director for consumer advocacy group U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told HuffPost that Pavone’s got the right idea — it would be easier for the bank to cut a deal with Pavone than to deal with him in court, which is a distinct possibility since the bank abandoned mandatory arbitration in the fall.

“The banks respond to the squeaky wheel,” wrote Mierzwinski in an email. “ANY consumer who complains has a better chance than those who do not.”

As for the legal theory of Pavone’s possible lawsuit, consumer law experts say he just might have a case. Pavone said a possible suit would allege unconscionability. When jacking up interest rates, credit card lenders typically provide notice and an opportunity for cardholders to refuse the higher rate and settle their accounts at the current rate — nothing unconscionable about that. But maybe Bank of America breached good faith by reducing the limit to a level that would likely incur fees and damage Pavone’s credit report.

“Banks have done really well figuring out ways to screw people without making themselves legally liable,” said Ira Rheingold, director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “I think [the limit reduction] is another example of Bank of America’s venality. Whether or not it’s a successful lawsuit, I don’t know. Whether I think it ought to be challenged — absolutely.”

Lawsuits against big banks are not totally unwinnable. In November a federal judge refused to dismiss a class-action claim against Chase filed by customers who said the bank acted in bad faith when it raised minimum monthly payments from 2 percent to 5 percent on fixed-rate cardholders.

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Written by Wajahat Ali

January 6, 2010 at 6:33 am

Posted in Law

10 Responses

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  1. Kudos Mr.Pavone,
    unlike most of the masses who would like to do something but lack the means.
    finally you who are more equipped chose to make the arguement .
    please keep us informed as we help others less fortunate make the attempt.
    we are based in Colo. and are seeing the same type of unfairness .
    good luck and God Bless

    Rick Vasquez

    rick vasquez

    January 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm

  2. Finally, someone to say we won’t take it. We’re all convinced we have no choice because credit card companies are starting to resemble the MOB. We have not missed a payment and yet we are getting squeezed to the point that debtors may not get a dime.
    BofA did the same to us as did Chase. If you need people to join the case let me know!
    Cathy in Southern Cal

    Catherine Satterlee

    January 15, 2010 at 1:23 am

  3. If it walks like a piggy, talks like a piggy, by golly it’ a PIGGY!

    BofA and it’ CEO Brian Moynihan reminds me of that song by John Lennon and George Harrison titled “Piggies” I invite you to listen to this song on youtube and see if it appropriately fits.

    Have you seen the little piggies
    Crawling in the dirt
    And for all the little piggies
    Life is getting worse
    Always having dirt to play around in.

    Have you seen the bigger piggies
    In their starched white shirts
    You will find the bigger piggies
    Stirring up the dirt
    Always have clean shirts to play around in.

    In their ties with all their backing
    They don’t care what goes on around
    In their eyes there’s something lacking
    What they need’s a damn good whacking.

    Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
    Living piggy lives
    You can see them out for dinner
    With their piggy wives
    Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

    John Wright vs. Bank of America Lawsuit at:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20100323/bs_prweb/prweb3766544_1

    When I filed my lawsuit against Bank of America, myself and United Law Group thought of the many others out there in the same situation. It was then that we decided to educate the public on what these piggy banks are doing, as well as unite us all together as one voice. Please help me turn this David vs. Goliath modification process, into a Goliath vs. Goliath.

    Please stand with me and United Law Group and send an email to Bank of America that states that we will no longer tolerate their potentially illegal, fraudulent, irregular and abusive business methods.

    Divided we might have fell America, but united we must stand!

    Please send your email directly to Bank of America and include the following:

    1. Your name
    2. Your complaint concerning your experience with Bank of America.
    3. Please end your email “I support John Wright vs. BofA Lawsuit!”
    4. Please send a copy of your email to johns-wright@hotmail.com
    5. Please send your email to both BofA link below and the CEO email

    BofA Linked Email:

    https://www3.bankofamerica.com/contact/?lob=general&contact_returnto=&state=VA

    CEO Brian Moynihan:

    brian.t.moynihan@bankofamerica.com

    Matthew Task, Executive Relations
    Office of the CEO
    813-805-4873

    PLEASE! I NEED YOUR SUPPORT! IT WILL ONLY TAKE A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME. I promise to respond to every email that is sent to me at johns-wright@hotmail.com. I am counting on you America.

    God Bless You and your Families.

     

    John Wright

    April 20, 2010 at 1:14 am

  4. Going to federal court Sept 13th with Citibank over the same thing! raised my rate for no reason so I took them to small claims in temecula Ca. They got big attorney firm outta L.A. and took it to Federal court! getting beat up now and can’t find an attorney or media thats interested!

    Kevin Duffy

    August 31, 2010 at 9:20 pm

  5. You know why we can’t get help? The government is paid by the the banks. Everyone’s paid off, from the President, judge, and lawyer. How can we win? 99% of us are in trouble. Why don’t we stand together and fight the banks. Take out your moneys! Stop paying for your credit cards! If everyone fought back, we could probably throw down the banks and their credit reporting agencies. Who makes our lives miserable? Strike! Everyone in US should strike like the other countries. Rally! Demonstrate!

    holythyname

    October 21, 2011 at 12:29 am

  6. I have been screwed by BOA & Citi Bank on my credit card rates & having my account closed. My credit was also has been ruined while doing a hamp loan mod thru Wells Fargo. Looking for attorney that has sued & won against these banks.

    Mac

    February 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm

  7. I am on his side Bank of America is just to advantageous. I bank with them and right now I have about 7 or 8 overdraft fees that they charged to my account because of one charge. They paid off the big bill and made the charged to my account for all the little one and had the nerve to add over extended charges to when I should be getting one charge. I am so tired of them I would like to sue. I called twice they took four charges off and my account is still almost 300 in fees. I am a single mother working a part time job this is not right.

    Glenda Francis

    September 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm

  8. BANK OF AMERICA SUCKS MADE DEPOSIT WAITED FOR CK TO CLEAR FROM ANOTHER PARTY
    THEY NEVER GAME ME THE MONEY CK WAS NO GOOD. KEEP OPENING AND CLOSING MY ACCOUNT AND WONT GIVE ME THE MONEY I HAVE IN THEIR THEY ARE GOING TO SUCK ME DRY OF MY DISABILITY MONEY. I EVEN CALLED THE FBI WHAT DO I DO THEY TELL ME MY ACCOUNT IS OPEN BUT YET THEY WONT GIVE ME MY MONEY!!! SINCERELY JOSEPHINE mrkembr1@aol.com
    352-347-4741 florida

    josephine

    December 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

  9. My situation with Bank Of America is disgusting. In July I realized they made my mortgage payment over 300 dollars. I called them and they said it was for thee lender based insurance that they added to my account. I informed them that I have my own insurance. The rep then told me to pay my regular payment and they will update the system for the following months payment. I had to pay some back insurance because they canceled it. They did not update the system to after august 5th. Then I started receiving phone calls saying I did not make my payment for July. They admitted they have it but wont count it towards my mortgage payment. This is still going on. They ruined my credit and also denied a modification that I am entitled to. bank of America are a bunch of crooks. I never ever missed a mortgage payment and should not be treated this way.

    Michael

    January 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm

  10. I need an attorney who will go after bank Of America. Maybe even the NACA for really messing up my modification process. Not sure if its just all lies from Bank of America but this is so disgusting. I never missed a mortgage payment and they still refuse to count July 2013 payment even though they have it. I have done everything asked to get modification I was promised gave every document many times only to be told they wont work with me because they have not received documents when I know they got them. Also lying to say that the investors that they sold my mortgage to wont allow modification. There are so many different excuses that are all lies. One thing is not getting modification but to ruin someone credit for no reason when never missed a payment is so morally wrong. I was promised by letter after letter it would be done. Only to be lied to. There is so much more to this story and basically now we are probably ruined because of everything they have done to us. Illegally I will add.

    Michael D'Angelo

    March 10, 2014 at 9:05 pm


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