Donovan Searles, LLC Announces $5,213,670 Verdict in Class Action Against Debt Collection Law Firm

PHILADELPHIA, March 12, 2008 LAWFUEL – Litigation Announcements — The law firm of Donovan Searles, LLC, announces that it has obtained a $5,213,670 class action verdict in the case of Roethlein v. Portnoff Law Associates, Ltd., November Term 2002, No. 3888, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The case was filed on behalf of Pennsylvania real property owners who received delinquent tax communications from the law firm of Portnoff Law Associates and were charged unauthorized fees, interest, penalties or attorney fees by that law firm. The case was tried before the Honorable Mark I. Bernstein over ten days in September, 2007. In a detailed Order, Memorandum Opinion and Findings of Fact issued on March 12, 2008, the Court found that the defendants had “refused to obey the law” by continuing to charge and collect fees, interest, penalties and attorney fees that the Pennsylvania courts had forbidden. The Court
wrote: “The defendants refused to obey the law, and failed to even notify their clients that significant decisions forbidding their collection practices had been handed down. A penalty for continuing to charge add-on attorney fees in disregard of clear appellate court decisions and retaining those add-on attorney fees previously mistakenly charged must be imposed.” The Court entered a verdict against defendants awarding the Class $2,654,972 for unlawfully received attorney’s fees, $510,855 for unlawfully collected administrative fees, and $18,493 for interest on the unlawfully collected administrative fees. Under the Pennsylvania law known as Act 6, the Court doubled the award relating to the administrative fees for a total of $1,058,697 and assessed a $500,000 statutory penalty. The Court also awarded $1,000,000 in punitive damages due to the defendants’ “intentional disregard of the rule of law as stated by the Appellate Courts of Pennsylvania.”

Donovan Searles partner David A. Searles was one of the lead trial counsel for the Class in the case. He says, “We are gratified by the detailed and careful decision of the trial court, which makes clear that debt collection lawyers must follow the law and cannot collect add-on attorney fees when the appellate courts have held those fees to be unauthorized.”

The Roethlein case is the third class action successfully tried to verdict by Donovan Searles lawyers in the last three years. If you wish to discuss this action, or have any questions, please contact David A.
Searles at Donovan Searles, LLC, 1845 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19103; phone: (800) 619-1677 or (215) 732-6067;
e-mail: [email protected]

More information on this and other class actions can be found on the Class Action Newsline at

CONTACT: Donovan Searles, LLC
David A. Searles
Fax: 215-732-8060
[email protected]
1845 Walnut Street, Suite 1100
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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