Legal Newsline

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Oasis Legal Finance claims consumer can't file class action because she waived rights in agreement

By Angela Underwood | Oct 6, 2017

TAMPA (Legal Newsline) - After months of loan-funding controversy, a lawsuit lending company finds itself charged again with cheating its clients and has moved to dismiss the lawsuit.

In May, Legal Newsline reported how Oasis Legal Finance, which provides money to plaintiffs prior to a verdict in return for the principle amount plus interest after a successful settlement, came under fire by multiple clients for allegedly charging 100 percent interest on monies it lent. 

Now Oasis is asking the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, to terminate a recent suit brought against it.

Plaintiff Heather Smith filed a class action lawsuit against the company Sept. 19, demanding a trial by jury. 

“While the exact number of class members is unknown at this time, the plaintiff estimates there are in excess of 40 and more likely hundreds of individuals throughout the state of Florida who are potential class members in this action,” the complaint states.

Smith’s suit claims Oasis loans out money and charges borrowers unacceptable interest rates that violate the Florida Consumer Finance Act, Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices, and the Florida Interest, Usury and Lending Practices. 

Filing a motion to dismiss Sept. 20 -- one day after Smith filed the class action -- the loan lending company argues Smith’s accusations have no authority since she and others waived any class action lawsuit rights when they borrowed money.

“Because the agreement contains fee-shifting provisions and does not limit the type or amount of damages that the plaintiff can recover, the class action waiver provision is valid and enforceable under Florida law,” the motion states.

Oasis argues Smith breached the signed agreement’s limited venue provision and failed to file the class action in the "bargained-for forum," and her complaints do not prove she was persuaded to enter into a fraudulent agreement.

“Plaintiff had many alternatives to entering into the agreement with Oasis. She could have obtained loans from family or friends, advances on their credit cards, bank loans, or title loans,” according to the motion.

"The agreement includes a fee-shifting provision that provides that, should plaintiff prevail on her individual claims against Oasis, plaintiff would be entitled to recover all reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred prosecuting her claims." 

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Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida