Miscellaneous Law Areas of Practice

Animal Law

 

Animal law is designed to protect the welfare and interests of pets, wildlife, farm animals, animals used in entertainment, and animals used in research and experiments.

In addition to defining the rights of animals, animal law also defines the rights of animal owners. Issues may include:

  • custody over pets in divorce disputes
  • veterinary malpractice
  • wrongful death or injury to a pet
  • enforceable trusts for pets
  • disputes involving “no pet” policies
  • cruelty against animals, including the issue of who has standing to sue on behalf of animals.

I understand the unique and loving friend that a pet can be.  Whether it is a show goat or the family cat, I can help you decide if you have any action to take and what your options are.

 

Oil and Gas

I am associated with and have an experienced team of oil business and legal professionals.

My primary goal is to acquire or place oil and gas mineral leases with companies that will drill, produce oil and gas in a safe, profitable and environmentally friendly manner.

I want to lease or assist you in leasing your mineral rights.

 

Consumer Law

Consumer Definition  – A consumer or “Buyer” is defined as “one who buys, uses, maintains and disposes of products and/or services” and although, many may still be familiar with the doctrine of “Let the Buyer Beware” this is no longer the case with the advent of Consumer Protection law.

This legal area encompasses a large body of laws enacted by the government to protect consumers by regulating many of the following business transactions and practices: advertising, sales and business practices; product branding; mail fraud; sound banking and truth in lending; quality produce and meats; housing material and other product standards; and all manner of other types of consumer transactions. Some states also regulate door-to-door sales, abusive collection practices and referral and promotional sales.

These laws have been created on both the state and federal level. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was originally established to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce, but after 1938 its scope grew to include consumer protection law oversight as well. Most states have established some type of consumer protection agency.

There are various Federal Acts that address different aspects of consumer protection. The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), also referred to as the federal Truth in Lending Act, regulates the credit industry with respect to consumer rights, which includes credit card companies and credit reporting agencies, as well as loan sharks and wage garnishment. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates credit reporting agencies and those who use them. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was added to the CCPA in 1978 to abolish abusive collection practices and give consumers a means to dispute inaccurate debt information. The Fair Credit Billing Act was added to the CCPA in 1975 to deal with billing practices in credit accounts. The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1973 deals with standards for product warranties, both implied and express. And to address the growing crime of identity theft, Congress enacted the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which was signed into law in 1998.

The practice of consumer protection law includes pursuing lawsuits for consumers who have been the victims of unlawful business and/or credit practices; identity theft lawsuits; and defending debt collection agencies and other companies when accused of these violations.

Debt & Debt Collection:

If you are a Texas resident, you’ll be happy to know that we have some of the best consumer protections in the United States as they relate to the collection of debts. Texas Law, specifically Texas Finance Code, goes much further than Federal debt collection laws by providing a set of detailed guidelines that must be followed by debt collection firms and credit reporting agencies.

What are the benefits of using Texas Debt Collection protections as opposed to Federal protections?

Some key protections for Texas consumers are listed below and include but are not limited to:

  • Clear definitions for who can and cannot collect debts in the State of Texas, including specific guidelines for so called ‘debt collection attorneys’.
  • Bonding requirements for debt collectors to legally collect debts in Texas, even if the debt collector’s business resides in another state. A debt collector must have an active Surety Bond in the State of Texas to legally collect debt.
  • The right to sue a debt collector and file a claim against their surety bond in the event that they engage in various deceptive trade practices.
  • Strict guidelines for the correction and/or removal of inaccurate debt information with credit bureaus.
  • Strict guidelines and definitions for what constitutes threats, coercion, harassment, abuse, unfair and unconscionable means in the practice of debt collecting.
  • Guidelines for debt collectors that require express authorization for the collection of interest and fees in addition to the original balance.
  • Guidelines for identifying if a debt collector is engaging in fraudulent, deceptive or misleading representations when collecting debt.
  • Criminal Penalties for debt collectors who violate provisions of the Debt Collection statutes.
  • Civil Remedies, including injunctive relief and damages sustained by a Texas resident as a result of debt collector violations of the Debt Collection Statutes.

 

Where can I read Debt Collection Laws and Protections?

Laws governing debt collection in the State of Texas can be found in the Texas Finance Code, Title 5,  Chapter 392.

I am more then happy to handling the civil litigation of cases involving consumer harassment.

There are established practice areas designed to help people that are being harassed by debt and bill collectors. If you have experienced, or think you have experienced, a violation you rights, feel free to call me directly to discuss.

The Top 10 collector violations are elaborated on below. Harassing conduct by debt collectors attempting to collect consumer debts is a violation of the law in Texas. The following examples are a small sample of the many schemes debt collectors use to harass consumers. Typically debt collectors commit at least one violation of the law during the first phone call, and then commit many violations during the course of the collection process.

1. Harassment – There is no actual definition of “harassing conduct” by a debt collector, but I know it when I see it! Debt collectors abuse consumers in many ways. Common examples of harassing conduct include numerous daily phone calls to alleged debtors, their family and friends, calling on back to back days, repeated calls with no messages, hang-ups, using social media networks such as Facebook and the use of “robo-dialers.” Lies, misleading comments, speaking in a belittling manner, embarrassing, argumentative and rude conduct are examples of harassing conduct.

2. Collecting debts not owed– No debt collector, including banks, mortgage companies, collection agencies or other financial institutions can attempt to collect one penny more than what is actually owed. This includes any “fees”, such as late fees when alleged debtor is not late, penalties, higher interest rates, attorney fees, costs or any miscellaneous fees. Obviously if an alleged debtor doesn’t owe the money it is a violation of the law for a collector to try and force the alleged debtor to pay the money. A favorite scheme of debt collectors is to try and “guilt trip” family members into paying family debts they don’t owe.

3. Threats – Creating a “false sense of urgency” or suggesting something bad will happen such as arrest, criminal prosecution, jail, repossession of all the alleged debtors property (cars, homes, furniture) garnishing wages, threatening to file lawsuits or ruining credit. Unless a collector has the legal ability and intention to do what they say, it is illegal for them to mention it.

4. Calls at work – Phone calls to the workplace can and do cause many serious problems, which is why debt collectors make the calls. Any calls to the workplace, especially after a collector is told not to call, such as speaking to or leaving messages with a receptionist, calling the cell phone while alleged debtor is at work or calling alleged debtors direct line, is a violation.

5. Contacting 3rd Parties – Collectors may not speak to any party about a debt without the express permission of the alleged debtor, including the spouse or any other family member, neighbors, friends, co-workers, or references. Any outside contact is a violation of the law.

6. Written Notice – Debt collectors must send a written notice stating the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and a statement that the debtor has 30 days to in writing dispute the debt. Upon receiving written notice that a consumer disputes a debt, the collector within 30 days must obtain written verification and validation of the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed and must mail said verification to the consumer.

7. Proof of debts – Debt collectors are required by federal law to send “verification and validation” of a debt when the alleged debtor in writing disputes the debt within 30 days of a debt collector’s first contact. The debt collector must send supporting documentation proving a debt is owed and until they send proof of debt they may not communicate or attempt to collect the alleged debt. It is important the alleged debtor request validation and verification within 30 days of a debt collector’s first contact and that the dispute letter be certified return receipt requested, to establish a paper trail.

8. Cease and Desist – Any and all communications, including telephone calls and letters, must immediately stop once a debt collector receives a “cease and desist” letter. There is no specific required language, only a directive that all communications must stop. All cease and desist letters should be sent with return receipt requested.

9. No “Mini-Miranda”– In the initial communication, the debt collectors must state “This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information will be used for that purpose.” In every conversation, message, or letter they must state they are a debt collector. Debt collectors must also identify their company name during the communications, whether verbal or written. It is a violation of federal law if a debt collector fails to provide this required information.

10 . Contact after attorney representation– Once a collector is told a individual is represented by all conversations, messages, letters or any other communication must immediately stop.

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