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Celebrating Successes in 2020

December 24, 2020

Terrell Marshall would like to thank its co-counsel, clients, and coalition partners for working toward justice during 2020. Despite the obstacles and challenges of 2020, with all of you we achieved the following successes:

Working to Dismantle Institutional Racism

Through its new Diversity and Inclusion Committee Terrell Marshall took immediate action to further its anti-racist values inside and outside the firm, including: created a new pro bono program for staff at all levels to be able to dedicate paid time to fight systemic racism through legal observing and other work; improved its recruitment practices to diversify hiring and internship pool; and created a targeted scholarship for students of color pursuing careers as lawyers, paralegals, and legal secretaries.

Combatting the Criminalization of Poverty

  • Worked with Public Justice, National Center on Law and Economic Justice, and several others to hold City of Montgomery, Alabama and private probation company accountable for jailing people too poor to pay court debt. Carter v. City of Montgomery.
  • Continued fighting to end unconstitutional practices in the magistrate courts of Lexington County, South Carolina. Brown v. Lexington County.

Fighting Predatory Landlords, Lenders, & Debt Collectors

  • Certified a class of tenants who challenged the predatory and unfair policies of a property management company for more than 20 low-income housing communities in Washington and a debt collection company that collects on amounts allegedly owed after tenants move out. The case has recently settled. Jammeh v. HNN Associates, LLC.
  • Obtained reversal by the Ninth Circuit of order dismissing tenants’ claims that Washington’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Act violates due process by permitting evictions without a hearing. Moore v. Johanknecht, 2020 WL 7419574 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2020).
  • Negotiated a settlement that cancels over $170 million in outstanding payday loans carrying triple-digit interest rates and returns millions of dollars to more than 350,000 consumers across the country. Turner v. ZestFinance, Inc.
  • Helped obtain final approval of a settlement that resolves claims against 25 of 33 defendants engaged in an unlawful online tribal lending scheme. The settlement provides hundreds of millions of dollars in debt relief to over 491,000 class members and litigation continues against the remaining non-settling defendants. Galloway v. Big Picture Loans.

Enforcing Worker Rights and Fighting Wage Theft

  • Defeated appeal to the Washington Supreme court of an order denying a motion to compel arbitration in a class action brought on behalf of pizza delivery drivers. Burnett v. Pagliacci Pizza, Inc., 196 Wn.2d 38 (2020).
  • Defeated a motion to decertify a class of call center employees who challenge a piecework payment plan and a motion to compel arbitration of their claims. Hill v. Xerox Business Services, LLC.
  • Negotiated settlements that will return millions of dollars in back wages to thousands of workers.

Holding Corporations Accountable to Consumers

  • Negotiated $15 million-dollar settlement of class action against Sterling Infosystems, Inc., a background screening company, for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Obtained settlement on behalf of nearly 2,700 credit union customers who were charged overdraft fees based on the alleged unfair and deceptive practices the credit union used to determine when an account was overdrawn. Diel v. Salal Credit Union.
  • Defeated motion to compel arbitration of TCPA claims brought on behalf of over 700,000 consumers who received unlawful calls and texts marketing the debt relief services of Freedom Debt Relief, LLC and Freedom Financial, LLC. Berman v. Freedom Financial Network, LLC.
  • Defeated effort to compel arbitration of claims for violation of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and New York consumer protection law brought on behalf of a class of consumers who opened savings accounts. Cheng v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
  • Defeated a motion to dismiss claims alleging a credit union’s methods to charge overdraft fees and repeated NSF fees are unfair and deceptive under the Washington CPA. Marical v BECU.

Improving the Law Through Appeals

  • Drafted amicus curiae briefs in support of workers who defeated Amazon’s efforts to compel arbitration of misclassification claims. Rittmann v., Inc., 971 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2020); Waithaka v., Inc., 966 F.3d 10 (1st Cir. 2020).
  • Filed amicus briefs in two Washington Supreme Court cases impacting consumer rights. In Young v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., 196 Wash.2d 310 (2020), the court reversed a court of appeals decision finding that false statements by a car dealership were not material to the consumer, declaring “Buyer beware is not the law in the State of Washington.” In Silver v. Rudeen Management Co., we filed a brief supporting a tenant suing his former landlord that is expected to resolve the statute of limitations for claims under the Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

Terrell Marshall proudly supports and partners with organizations like Public Justice, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Fair Work Center, Working Washington, National Consumer Law Center, NW Consumer Law Center, Towards Justice, Unemployment Law Project, Consumer Federation of America, and Public Citizen. We look forward to continuing to partner with you to protect workers, consumers, and other individuals and groups whose rights have been violated.