Banking

Big Picture Loans Class Action Lawsuit over Predatory Lending Practices

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Big Picture Loans Class Action Lawsuit over Predatory Lending Practices

In an unfolding legal drama, Matthew Hall, a plaintiff from Illinois, has filed a class action lawsuit against Big Picture Loans, LLC, Matt Martorello, Eventide Credit Acquisitions, LLC, Liont, LLC, and John Does 1-20. The lawsuit alleges that Big Picture Loans, LLC, under the control of Martorello and his entities, has been making predatory and unlawful loans to Illinois residents.

Unraveling the Legal Knot: What Laws Were Allegedly Violated?

According to the lawsuit, the loans made by Big Picture Loans, LLC violate several Illinois laws. These include the Illinois Predatory Loan Prevention Act, the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, and the Illinois Interest Act. The Illinois Predatory Loan Prevention Act, for instance, prohibits loans with annual percentage rates exceeding 36%. Any loan made in violation of this act is deemed null and void. Violations of the Predatory Loan Prevention Act are also considered violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.

The Illinois Interest Act, on the other hand, prohibits loans at more than 9% interest unless the lender has a banking or credit union charter or a consumer lending license. Loans made by unlicensed lenders in Illinois are void and unenforceable, and the lenders have no right to collect any principal, interest, or charges related to the loan.

The lawsuit alleges that Big Picture Loans, LLC, and the other defendants have violated these laws, leading to the current legal predicament.

The Alleged Predatory Scheme: What Happened?

The lawsuit alleges that Martorello devised a "rent-a-tribe" scheme where he conducts a high-interest lending operation and claims it is exempt from state usury laws by using the name of a Native American tribe. The lending operations are conducted by non-tribal entities in various locations, including Atlanta, Georgia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The arrangement has reportedly been revised multiple times due to legal challenges. Martorello now controls the lending operations through his entities, while the tribe and Eventide Credit Acquisitions, LLC receive a small percentage of the revenues.

Plaintiff Hall took out a loan from Big Picture Loans, LLC, and the loan had an amount financed of $950 and an annual percentage rate of 294.19%. The loan was obtained for personal purposes, and Plaintiff made payments on the loan, but Big Picture Loans claims that amounts are still outstanding.

Who Are the Class Members?

The lawsuit seeks class certification, claiming that there are at least forty class members who have received loans from Big Picture Loans, LLC at more than 9% interest. These class members, like Hall, are Illinois residents who have allegedly been subjected to the same predatory lending practices.

These individuals are entitled to statutory damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney's fees, and costs of suit. The lawsuit seeks to represent these individuals and obtain justice for the alleged financial harm they have suffered.

What's at Stake: How Much is Being Sought in Damages?

The plaintiff is seeking a hefty sum in damages. The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the collection of the void debts, damages under the Illinois Interest Act, damages and injunctive relief under the Predatory Loan Prevention Act and the Consumer Fraud Act, and treble damages under RICO.

The lawsuit also demands a trial by jury and includes a notice of lien and assignment of attorney's fees. Plaintiff also issues a document preservation demand, requesting that Defendants preserve all relevant recordings, data, documents, and tangible things related to the case.

What's Next in this Legal Battle?

As the case unfolds, the court will need to determine the validity of the plaintiff's claims and whether the defendants have indeed violated the laws as alleged. If the court finds in favor of the plaintiff, the defendants could be ordered to pay a significant amount in damages.

This case serves as a reminder of the importance of consumer protection laws and the potential consequences of violating them. As the legal proceedings continue, all eyes will be on the court's decision and its implications for the lending industry.

Case Facts

  • Status:
    Lawsuit Filed
  • Case Number:
    1:23-cv-04502
  • Filing Date:
    July 12, 2023
  • Jurisdiction:
    U.S. District Courts
  • State:
    Illinois
  • Court:
    Illinois Northern District
  • Plaintiff:
    Matthew Hall
  • Defendant:
    Big Picture Loans, LLC
  • Plaintiff Firm:
    Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC
  • Defendant Firm:
  • Claims Administrator:
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