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Lawsuit Tries to Stifle Timeshare Attorney

Law360, New York, 10-17-2017 -- A company that helps people exit timeshares urged a Florida federal court Monday to release it from litigation alleging that it interferes with contracts between a developer of time-share resorts and property owners, arguing that allowing the suit to go forward would chill consumers' rights.

Reed Hein & Associates LLC, which goes by Timeshare Exit Team, contended that it is in the business of helping dissatisfied consumers, who are often given high-pressure sales pitches, safely and legally exit their timeshares. But, Reed Hein argued, developer Orange Lake Country Club Inc. and financing affiliate Wilson Resort Finance LLC bring a number of "spurious" allegations in an attempt to thwart that process, accusing the time-share-exit company of luring consumers into breaching their time-share contracts.

"In doing so, plaintiffs are attempting to reduce, or otherwise eliminate, the ability of timeshare purchasers to exercise their right to seek out assistance in order to obtain relief from their time-share contracts,"Reed Hein said. "Allowing such a claim-and in fact, this complaint as a whole-to go forward would produce a chilling effect on consumers' rights in this regard."

Orange Lake filed suit in August, accusing Reed Hein of scheming to interfere in the valid contracts between the timeshare resort developer and property owners with the assistance of attorney Mitchell Sussman.

The complaint alleged that though the company presents itself as a "consumer protection group" that relieves timeshare owners of their obligations, Reed Hein isn't actually helping consumers get out of a situation wherein a company did something illegal. Rather, the suit said, Reed Hein simply wants to divert the property owners' money to itself instead of the funds going toward paying their annual maintenance, taxes or mortgage payments for their timeshares.

The suit brings a number of claims stemming from these alleged unlawful and fraudulent business practices, including tortious interference, false and misleading advertising and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Sussman fought back on Oct. 5, contending that he should be released from the suit because Orange Lake has shown no evidence that the attorney interfered with its contracts with time-share owners.

The attorney had no contact with the timeshare owners and played no part in persuading them to stop paying for the properties, Sussman argued, saying all he did was send letters to Orange Lake on behalf of Reed Hein's customers.

For instance, Orange Lake accuses Sussman and Reed Hein of tortious interference, but that can’t be the case because they are hired by and work for the property owners, who cannot be accused of interfering with their own contracts.

Reed Hein chimed in on Monday, October 16th to say it should be dismissed from the action as well, contending that none of Orange Lake's claims against the company hold up.

The other allegations are no more availing, including the Florida unfair trade practices claim, Reed Hein argued. That allegation is "hopelessly vague," the timeshare-exit company asserted, saying there are no claims that the actual consumers were harmed by either Sussman or Reed Hein's conduct.

The suit is Orange Lake Country Club Inc. et al. v. Reed Hein & Associates LLC, suit number 6:17-cv-1542, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

As one of the original founders of the timeshare release industry, Mitchell Reed Sussman is one of the few timeshare attorneys who has enjoyed a large amount of success by winning multiple cases on behalf of his timeshare owner clients.

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Attorney Mitchell Sussman being interviewed on Real Estate Today

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