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This is general information; not advertising, solicitation, or legal advice. If you have a legal question, please contact a lawyer in your state to protect yourself. Do not rely on anything you read here, especially in lieu of contacting a lawyer directly. Every case is different, and every case turns on its own individual facts.




Civil Rights-Due Process of Law


Wayt, et al. vs. Town of Crothersville


           March 30, 2012 

Judge Sarah Evans Barker, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, ruled that the Town of Crothersville, Indiana violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by terminating water service to its customers without first providing  Due Process of Law which consisted of the right to be heard in order to dispute the termination of water service prior to termination of service. This case invovled a town ruled by a small and narrow-minded clique of individuals who, apparently, enoy bullying and running roughshod over the civil rights of individuals in that town. In the case the facts revealed that Plaintiffs' water service was terminated for failing to make one monthly payment. Crothersville, located in a depressed area with little employment opportunity required Plaintiff's to temporarily
relocate to another part of the state to find work. They did not receive all notices from the Town while they were away. Also, during that same period they were distracted by the death of a close family member.
When they finally returned to their home in Crothersville they found that they had no water. They tendered a reconnection fee and offered to pay any back payments owed. However, the Town officials rejected their offer claiming that the account had been transferred to Plaintiffs' landlord who now had to authorize any reconnection. By coincidence the landlord was in the process of filing for eviction and, of course, the lack of water might assist him in that process. The Plaintiffs suffered for an entire month without water unable take care of all their sanitary needs and to even cook meals. Town officials found all of this amusing. It finally took a lawsuit and a request for a restraining order to get the Town to reinstate their account and to provide water. After today's decision we doubt they are laughing.


Debt Collection


Adkins vs. Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., LPA


           February 24, 2012 

Court ruled that an action such as garnishment of personal earnings of judgment debtor constitutes a legal action requiring debt collector to comply with the FDCPA in filing such action in either the County in which the debtor resides or the County in which the debt was contracted for.
In this case the debt colletor, Weltman, Weinberg & Reis, took a judgment against the debtor in Lawrence County yet sought garnishment in the Franklin County Muncipal Court some 132 miles from where she lived and a 2 1/2 hour drive. Ohio permits a judgment debtor has the right to demand a hearing.


Debt Collection


USA vs. Asset Acceptance- FTC News Release


            January 30, 2012

 A Consent Decree was entered into between the government and debt buyer, Asset Acceptance, resolving the complaint brought against Asset by the FTC for Asset's unlawful debt collection and credit reporting activity. The activity complained of, among others, involved its collection of time-barred debts as well as its reporting to the credit reporting agencies of credit information  it knew or should have known was inaccurate
It also failed to conduct reasonable investigations of consumer disputes when transmitted to it by the credit bureaus. Asset agreed to pay $2,500.000.00 in civil damages and to cease such activities.


CompuCredit Corp. vs. Greenwood


           January 10, 2012 

In a further erosion of consumer rights, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that makes it easier for predatory lenders to hide their fraudulent and abusive practices. Consumers who were sold predatory fee-harvester cards by CompuCredit must give-up their rights to pursue their claims within the judicial system and, instead, submit all their legal claims to forced arbitration. CompuCredit is a lender which has been investigated by state and federal regulators as having engaged in deceptive practices of marketing an "Aspire Visa"  credit card with a $300 line of credit to consumers with weak credit. Only it charged holders as much as $257 in fees against that $300 line of credit. CompuCredit includes a binding arbitration provision in its contract.
Wanda Greenwood and fellow plaintiffs brought suit alleging violations of the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). These plaintiffs relied on the provisions of the CROA which expressly provides that they had the right to sue any credit repair organization which violated the Act and that this overrode the arbitration provision. Unfortunately, the Court disagreed and ruled that since the CROA was silent as to whether claims of consumers under the Act could be submitted to arbitration, the FAA requires the enforcement of any arbitration provision.



AT&T Mobility, LLC. vs. Concepcion


           April 27, 2011 

The United States Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote delivered another blow to consumer rights by deciding that the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") pre-empts California state law which prohibited arbitration waivers of class actions as unconscionable in consumer contracts. The consumer filed a class action suit against AT&T in federal court in connection with a cell phone contract alleging a fraudulent charge of sales tax on cell phones which were advertised as free. AT&T moved to compel arbitration and to enforce the contractual arbitration provision which further required all such claims to be arbitrated individually and not as a class action. The trial court denied the motion which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court granted Certiorari and in the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia reversed and ruled that "requiring the availability of classwide arbitration interferes with the fundamental attributes of arbitration and this creates a scheme inconsistent with the FAA."

Debt Collection


Jerman vs. Carlisle, McNellie, Rini, Kramer & Ulrich, LPA


           April 21, 2010 

A major victory for consumers. The United States Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court which previously ruled that a debt collection lawfirm was entitled to assert the bona fide error defense. Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of Court. Prior to this decision there existed a divergence of opinion among the Circuits as to whether the defense of bona fide error should include, not only clerical errors, but errors of law based upon on mistakes of law resulting from a debt collector's mistaken interpretation of the requirements of the FDCPA. The case arose out of the debt collector's notice to the debtor that in order to dispute the debt it had to be in writing. The trial court initially found for the debt collector ruling that, while this was a mistake of law, the defendant lawfirm was entitled to assert it as part of the defense of bona fide error provided for under the FDCPA which, if proven, allows the debt collector to escape liability. This decision was affirmed by the Sixth Cicuit but, ultimately, reversed by this case.

The undersigned attorney found this to be some vindication for a case lost some years ago where the trial court found that the Columbus, Ohio collection lawfirm of Luper, Sheriff & Neidenthal was entitled to assert the bona fide error defense for filing numerous lawsuits in which it unlawfully sought reimbursement for attorney fees from consumers. Ohio law prohibits the collection of attorney fees in connection with consumer contracts. The trial judge found this, a far more serious error than in Jerman, to be a bona fide error.




Minnesota vs. NAF


           July 20, 2009 

The Minnesota AG, Lori Swanson, and the National Arbitration Forum have entered into a consent decree whereby NAF has agreed to no longer arbitrate credit card and other consumer collection disputes. The Minnesota AG had filed suit only a short time earlier alleging that NAF was engaging in corrupt practices through its close association and financial




support from credit card companies which routinely designated the NAF as the forum to arbitrate in millions of credit card agreements.










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Steven C. Shane
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Steven C. Shane
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