Target Describes Hell He Went Through From FTC-Shuttered Firm's "Smokescreen" Lawsuit
A Newport Beach-based company that provided legal advice to consumers and small businesses facing crushing debt filed a civil suit against four former "employees" accused of stealing client data, but the case was dismissed a year after it was filed--in November 2011.
We'd Naval Gazed the complaint back when it was originally filed, but only heard back this week from one of the defendants cleared in Orange County Superior Court in November 2012.
Jackson Hunter Morris & Knight, LLP, which went by JHMK, sought $10 million in damages from the defendants it accused of not only stealing client data but defaming the firm on blogs and posing as sheriff's deputies when contacting some of JHMK's "impressionable clients."
Our original post on JHMK's suit, which has since been updated with a link to this one to reflect the dismissal:
Online Orange County Superior Court records bore out defendant Ross Erskine's tip: the case filed Nov. 16, 2011, was dismissed on Nov. 19, 2012. But Erskine also adds in an email that he was never an employee of JHMK and that he never had any other type of relationship with the company, calling the legal action against him and three others "a smokescreen to confuse their clients."
We would ask JHMK officials to confirm that--and Erskine says he'd have countersued the firm--were it not for the fact that the Federal Trade Commission shut down Jackson Hunter Morris & Knight.
According to a September 2012 FTC release, "At the Federal Trade Commission's request, a federal court halted a purported debt relief operation that allegedly contacted consumers through prerecorded telemarketing calls, falsely claimed it would reduce their unsecured debt by 50 percent or more, made unauthorized charges to their bank accounts, and called phone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry."
"According to the FTC's complaint against Jeremy R. Nelson and four companies he controlled, Nelson Gamble & Associates LLP, Jackson Hunter Morris & Knight LLC, BlackRock Professional Corporation, and Mekhia Capital LLC, the defendants marketed and sold debt relief services via telemarketing and websites."
The FTC noted that "the court ordered a stop to the defendants' allegedly deceptive practices and froze their assets pending a trial," which JHMK lost. That was a bittersweet moment for Erskine.
"In light of the fact that the Federal Trade Commission won their injunction against Jackson Hunter Morris & Knight and Jeremy Nelson," Erskine writes, "there would not be anything left to sue for. I would basically be lighting money on fire."