A Missouri man claims in a proposed class action that Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. has defrauded consumers into purchasing “worthless” timeshares while the company’s counsel has attempted to intimidate and threaten timeshare owners’ attorneys out of representing them in cases against the company.
The lawsuit takes issue with the allegedly high-pressure, deceptive sales tactics that at least one other case has claimed were utilized by Wyndham sales representatives in order to sell timeshares to consumers. As the plaintiff tells it, he was told a number of falsehoods by a Wyndham representative, including that he would be able to sell his timeshare for a profit, that the meeting he attended would only last 90 minutes, and that he was attending an “Owner’s Update” meeting when it was really “another sales presentation.” According to the case, the plaintiff, in June 2017, spent more than $134,000 on a timeshare based on Wyndham representations that amounted to “deception, fraud, false pretenses, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of a material fact.”
Further, the lawsuit chides Wyndham for its alleged failure to register as a travel club, as well as for the $349.00 in “document processing fees” charged to the plaintiff in connection with his timeshare purchase. The charging of such fees for the preparation and processing of legal documents amounts to an unauthorized practice of law on the part of Wyndham, the case alleges.
“By charging a document fee to its customers, Defendants Wyndham have engaged in unauthorized law business, and are therefore liable to each customer to whom they charged such document fees,” the suit states.
A step further, the case alleges that Wyndham has engaged defendant Shutts & Bowen LLP and its attorneys to effectuate a scheme to “chill access to counsel and to the Courts for timeshare and travel club fraud victims.” According to the suit, the defendant attorneys have filed lawsuits in Florida (and one in Nevada) against firms and attorneys in other states who represent timeshare owners who claim they were defrauded.
The plaintiff claims the defendants’ lawsuit against his attorneys, who “have no continuous and systematic affiliations whatsoever with the State of Florida,” is “replete with false allegations” and was only filed to discourage the firm from representing clients who believe they were victims of Wyndham’s deception (“Class II members”). The lawsuit argues that the plaintiff and his counsel will spend “considerable time and money” defending against the “baseless contentions” in the defendants’ lawsuit, which, according to the plaintiff, “are not supported by evidence.”
“As Defendants well know, every minute spent by Plaintiff’s counsel defending against the frivolous and abusive Florida case is time that could not be spent upon the representation of Plaintiff and Class II members,” the complaint reads, adding that the defendants’ alleged “scheme and conspiracy” is nothing but an intimidation tactic to prevent timeshare owners “from having their day in court.”
According to the lawsuit, the defendants have raked in billions of dollars “by defrauding elderly and unsophisticated consumers into purchasing worthless timeshares or points” and then robbing them of any legal remedy. As the complaint tells it, the defendants have used lawsuits like those filed against the plaintiff’s attorneys as a “procedural weapon,” and that such amount to an interference with justice, intimidation and bullying for the sake of profit. From the complaint:
“The Florida lawsuit, and the others like it filed by Wyndham’s attorneys, are designed to allow Wyndham to keep all of their ill-gotten gains and to continue to sell worthless timeshares and points in the future while suffering no legal repercussions.”
The suit seeks to certify proposed classes consisting of:
“All persons or other entities who were charged and who paid a document fee to Defendants Wyndham, and who entered into said contracts in the State of Missouri and/or related to timeshares and packages relating to property in the State of Missouri;” and
“All persons who obtained representation in Missouri by the Missouri based law firm of Montgomery and Newcomb, LLC, for their claims against Defendants.”