Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton Wins Judgement in RealtySouth Case

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RealtySouth Liable to 30,000 Consumers for Illegal Fees

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RESPA was specifically designed by Congress to protect consumers from unreasonably high settlement charges and to eliminate unearned fees.

Attorneys at the law firm of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton LLP announced today that a federal judge has held real estate brokerage firm RealtySouth liable for charging illegal fees to more than 30,000 consumers represented by the firm.

The Federal District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued an opinion on Monday evening entering judgment against RealtySouth. The Court held that RealtySouth violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by illegally charging consumers a $149 ABC Fee for which no service was performed. Judgment was entered on behalf of class representative Vicki Busby and the class of more than 30,000 consumers she represents.

"This case is a victory for consumers and RESPA enforcement," said Don McKenna. "RESPA was specifically designed by Congress to protect consumers from unreasonably high settlement charges and to eliminate unearned fees." Class attorneys Scott Powell, Jamie Moncus and McKenna state that this case will make home ownership more affordable by eliminating costly junk fees for which the consumer receives no benefit.

The Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton attorneys say that RealtySouth implemented the ABC fee in 2003 and included it as a separate line item fee on the HUD-1 settlement statement. Rather than ceasing to charge the fee when the lawsuit was filed, RealtySouth chose to continue charging the fee and, as of last month, increased the fee to $250. The suit alleges, and the Court found, that RealtySouth performed no specific service for the fee in violation RESPA.

In its thirty-nine page opinion, the Court relied on sworn testimony of RealtySouth executives Tommy Brigham and Ty Dodge who stated that no specific service was provided in exchange for the ABC fee. Rather, the fee went to RealtySouth's overhead and bottom line and no benefit was provided to consumers. Information about the suit, including the Court's opinion, can be found at http://www.hwnn.com/realtysouthclassaction .

Case No.: 2:04-CV-2799-VEH

About Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton LLP: Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton is the oldest existing plaintiffs' firm in Alabama and the successor of Bowman & Harsh, founded in 1890. Now in its third generation of practice, it continues to work diligently to protect and preserve the dignity and rights of all individual, corporate and institutional victims of injury -- physical, intellectual, legal or financial. The firm is committed to reinvesting its energies and resources into bettering the community and state in which we live and practice our profession. For more information, visit http://www.hwnn.com .

Media Contact: Joe Terry, Panorama Public Relations, 205-328-9224 ext. 110, joe(at)prview.com


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