Why Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff?
Early in his career, Robert Duff defended large companies. He observed that an error-riddled credit report or ownership of a lemon vehicle could have devastating consequences for consumers. Even when the results were not catastrophic, errors and fraud by big companies left consumers angry, confused, and frustrated. Mr. Duff sometimes saw that consumers chose lawyers who did not have the appropriate skills to protect their client’s rights, or who were guarding their own (financial) interests more than the client’s interests. Today, Mr. Duff pursues the goal of levelling the playing field for consumers, putting their interests first as a consumer lawyer serving Indiana residents.
The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff was founded in 2007 and has a long history of helping Indiana consumers. Consumer law is all we do. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and assisted them in extinguishing tens of millions of dollars of debt. In 2019 and 2020, Robert E. Duff was the only lawyer in the State of Indiana to be recognized by Super Lawyers® for exhibiting excellence in the practice of consumer law.
With this experience in consumer law, you might think hiring Mr. Duff isn’t affordable to retain as your Indiana consumer lawyer. Fortunately, many consumer protection statutes used by our firm shift the cost of the prevailing consumer’s attorney fees to the defendant business. Consumer protection statutes do this so that ALL consumers, not just wealthy ones, can have access to legal representation (and justice) when a business has not treated them fairly. This means that we may be able to represent you without charging you attorney fees out-of-pocket. If you are a consumer who has been wronged, you need a consumer lawyer serving Indiana residents. Consult with the Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff. Call us at 800-817-0461 or complete our online form.
Even if we can’t help you, we will try to give you information and point you toward resources that will help you on your journey for justice.
Here are some of our primary practice areas:Consumer Class Actions
Federal and state consumer class action laws offer tools to allow individuals with smaller claims to band together to bring those claims against corporations and other businesses. A class action can be filed by a single individual or several individuals, but, importantly, it is a lawsuit filed on behalf of everyone who has suffered a certain type of harm. Certain requirements must be met to institute a class action. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a), the class must be of a large enough size that individually joining parties would be impractical (more than 35 persons, for example). The claims must present common factual and legal issues, and the claim of the named plaintiff must be typical of the whole class. The named plaintiff also must be able to fairly and adequately represent the members of the class. A class action lawsuit is often appropriate when a corporation has been involved in systematic abuses, such as violating the FDCPA in a form collection letter, sending out Notice of Sale pre-disposition repossession notices that do not comply with the law, auto-dialing consumers’ cell phones without express permission to do so or charging consumers illegal fees in the sale of a consumer product such as a car. The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff has extensive experience handling consumer class action lawsuits.FDCPA/Debt Collector Harassment
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protections to consumers against debt collectors who engage in wrongful, deceptive or abusive debt collection, including collecting debts that are not owed, harassing consumers, contacting consumers’ relatives or contacting consumers after being asked in writing to stop contacting them. It is a violation of the FDCPA for a debt collector to try to collect any debt from you that you do not owe. It is also a violation of the FDCPA for a debt collector to harass or abuse you when trying to collect a debt. Harassment could involve threatening violence or repeatedly calling you. The FDCPA also prohibits debt collectors from calling you at your job if a debt collector has reason to know that your employer prohibits you from getting those phone calls at work. Debt collectors cannot communicate with you if they know that you are represented by an attorney, and they cannot try to contact your friends, family members, or references about your debt except to get contact information for you (if they don’t already have it). When a debt collector violates the FDCPA, a consumer attorney in Indiana may be able to help you recover damages and/or settle or extinguish the related debt. The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff has extensive experience handling both individual and class action FDCPA lawsuits.Lemon Law/Magnuson-Moss Breach of Warranty
The Indiana Motor Vehicle Protection Act is Indiana’s “lemon law.” It is important to note the lemon law only applies to new vehicles (vehicles that have been in service for 18 or fewer months and for 18,000 or fewer miles). When applicable, the lemon law is a very consumer-friendly statute. A covered vehicle is a lemon if it has been subject to four or more repair attempts for the same defect and the problem continues to exist, OR if it has been out of service by reason of repair for 30 or more days (days the service department is open) and the problem continues to exist. Once the vehicle meets the requirements of the lemon law, the consumer is entitled to a repurchase – which means a replacement vehicle or a refund at the consumer’s election. A mileage deduction applies when a refund is sought but not when a replacement vehicle is requested. The lemon law applies to both purchased and leased vehicles, but only if the vehicle was purchased or leased in Indiana. Unfortunately, it does not apply to conversion vans, recreational vehicles, motor homes, motorcycles or large commercial vehicles.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is often called the federal lemon law. It can help an Indiana consumer lawyer help a consumer whose vehicle is no longer covered by the lemon law. It’s primary benefit to consumers is to allow them to recover attorney fees in a successful lawsuit to enforce a warranty or service contract. But it isn’t nearly as consumer friendly as the lemon law because there is no bright line for when a warranty or service contract has been breached. A warranty or service contract generally only requires that the warrantor or service contractor attempt to repair a defective vehicle – it doesn’t require that it be repaired on the first, second or even fifth attempt. So as long as a warrantor or service contractor is continuing to attempt to make the repair, a breach of warranty or service contract claim is very difficult. To have a successful claim, the warrantor or service contractor either has to refuse to repair, state that they are unable to repair or attempt the repair so many times (perhaps 10 or more) that it becomes clear they are unable to make the repair. If this happens to a consumer in Indiana, it is often necessary to hire a consumer lawyer serving Indiana residents to help.
The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff has extensive experience handling lemon law and breach of warranty claims.Wrongful Repossession
Sometimes cars are wrongfully repossessed. A wrongful repossession occurs when a towing company takes possession of vehicle that they had no right to take. The most common way this occurs is when the consumer is present at the time and place and refuses to allow the car to be towed. Proceeding with repossession in light of the consumer’s refusal is a breach of the peace, and Indiana law only allows a repossession when it can be done WITHOUT a breach of the peace. A wrongful repossession can also occur when the car is taken even though the consumer is not in default, when the wrong car is taken (yes, this happens!) or when the repo agent enters a closed or locked building (which is also a breach of the peace) to get the car. A consumer lawyer in Indiana can help get justice for wrongful repossessions.
Although it doesn’t make the actual repossession wrongful, lienholders are required by Indiana law to provide the consumer a pre-disposition notice, sometimes called a Notice of Sale, a reasonable time before selling the repossessed vehicle. The consumer has to be given a reasonable opportunity to redeem their vehicle, and receiving the Notice of Sale is part of that. Indiana law requires that the Notice of Sale contain certain very specific information. Lienholders often fail to provide all of the required information. We review these documents for consumers, and if we find a violation of Indiana law, it may be possible for the Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff to help a consumer obtain a damages award or avoid liability for the deficiency.
The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff is experienced in dealing with repossessions and their aftermath.Debt Defense
Many consumers have no idea what to do when they are served with a lawsuit. Sometimes bankruptcy is an option, but many times bankruptcy is not an option or not necessary. We defend debt collection lawsuits for consumers for a flat fee. The flat fee for a consumer lawyer in Indiana depends on the location of the lawsuit, the amount at issue, the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorneys and other relevant factors. As your consumer lawyer in Indiana we cannot promise a particular result, but we have had success defending these lawsuits by pushing debt collectors and creditors to prove their case. Debt collectors and large corporate creditors collect debt en masse on a conveyor belt-type system. Most of their lawsuits result in default judgments, which they need minimal documentation to obtain. So these plaintiffs often don’t have the documentation to prove their case when challenged. That’s not fair – everyone should have to follow the rules of court. We challenge them prove their case, and often they either give up, dismiss their case or settle the case for pennies on the dollar because they are not prepared to overcome resistance. It’s easier for them to move on to the next thousand cases where there is no pushback and obtain default judgments.
We are contacted almost daily by consumers who first learn of a lawsuit during proceedings supplemental and are seeking advice from an Indiana Consumer Lawyer. Proceedings supplemental is the procedure by which a judgment creditor collects on a judgment. Often, the consumer is surprised to learn that the case has already been decided and there is a judgment against them. In Indiana, service of a lawsuit does not have to be personally handed to a defendant. It is sufficient if a copy of the complaint and summons is left at the front door of the person’s home and a copy of each is mailed to the same address by regular first-class mail. This is called copy service, and it results in a multitude of problems, particularly when copy service is accomplished at an old address for the defendant. If a default judgment is obtained without good service, the judgment is void and can be set aside at any time. We also help consumers set aside default judgments for a flat fee.
The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff has saved our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars defending debt collection cases. We have the experience as a consumer lawyer serving Indiana residents to beat debt collectors and creditors or settle the case for much less than is being sought in the lawsuit.Credit Report Errors
According to a study conducted several years ago by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people have an error on at least one of their credit reports. That is an incredibly high error rate. It is important to check your credit report periodically. Federal law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report each year (at annualcreditreport.com) as well as a free report if an adverse action is taken against you, such as the denial of credit, insurance or employment, as long as you request the report within 60 days of receiving notice of the adverse action. Problems that may arise in connection with incorrect credit reports include identity theft, failing to show a bankruptcy discharge of debts, failing to report an account as disputed, the presence of obsolete, false or someone else’s information and someone obtaining a credit report without a permissible purpose to do so. A consumer lawyer in Indiana can help with these problems. We represent consumers in claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act against the big three credit reporting agencies and companies that furnish credit information to them.Automobile Dealership Fraud
The Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff has probably sued more automobile dealerships in the past twelve years than any other law firm in the State of Indiana. We know the industry and it is scary how often dealers cheat consumers. It would be almost impossible to list all the different ways car dealers cheat consumers, but they include misrepresenting the condition of the car, odometer fraud, selling a car with an unperformed recall, failing to properly disclose that the car was previously a lemon buyback, failing to disclose the car has a rebuilt title and selling a new car without disclosing repaired damage that exceeded four percent of the car’s MSRP. The Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act is a great tool for Indiana consumer lawyers dealing with automobile dealership wrongdoing.
If you think we can help, call the Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff at 800-817-0461 *3 or complete our online form.