DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers today announced that his office filed a consumer fraud lawsuit on January 29, 2008, against Legal Aid National Services, Inc., commonly known as The LANS Corp. (http://www.thelanscorp.org/). Also named in the lawsuit are LANS founder and president Kendrick E. White (DOB 12/05/1957), White’s wife Jasmine Ewing (DOB 10/30/1972), and White’s half-brother Derrich E. Brown (DOB 06/08/1943), both of whom assisted with the company.
A Temporary Restraining Order was issued on the day of filing by Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey, freezing the defendants’ bank accounts and preventing them from advertising or accepting money for “legal services” of any kind.
“With the ever-increasing cost of legal services, several companies have stepped in to offer low-cost alternatives,” said Attorney General Suthers. “In the case of LANS, we believe that the defendants preyed upon lower-income consumers with confusing business names and false promises of legal aid.”
According to the Attorney General’s complaint, the defendants misrepresented the “legal services” they provided to consumers in Colorado and across the country. Although the defendants claimed that trained professionals would provide legal services, the complaint alleges that consumers were charged for legal advice by staff with little or no legal training. The suit further claims that consumers often received poorly drafted documents that were routinely rejected in court. Other consumers received no documents at all, despite paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The defendants are supposed to have relied upon a no-refund policy that was not disclosed to consumers until after they had already paid.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit further alleges that the defendants purposely used business names that incorporated terms such as “legal aid” in order to confuse consumers looking for free or low-cost legal services. According to the complaint, consumers who called directory assistance and requested “legal aid” were frequently provided the phone number for LANS. Throughout the country, the defendants purchased local phone numbers so that consumers believed they were dealing with a local entity when, in fact, their call was routed to the defendants’ Colorado offices. The complaint alleges that LANS’ sales representatives were trained to answer the phones with the words “legal aid” to further confuse consumers.
The Attorney General’s Office was assisted in its investigation by the Colorado Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation, and has received consumer complaints filed against the defendants with the Better Business Bureau and Colorado Legal Services Corporation.
In addition to naming LANS, White, and Brown, the Attorney General’s Verified Complaint also names Legal Aid National Paralegal Services Division, Inc., a Colorado for-profit corporation which has also called itself National Document Preparation Services, National Document Filing, and National Document Service Filing. The Verified Complaint also names Legal Aide Divorce Services, and Ed Brown Management, Inc., a for-profit company operated by Defendant Brown, which receives fees paid by consumers to Legal Aid National Paralegal Services Division, Inc., for legal services.
The case has been filed in Denver District Court.