$3 Million Settlement Approved Benefiting Hundreds of Alabamians
James Marquez, et al. v. Oasis Legal Finance, et al. | Mobile County Circuit Court | CASE NO. 02-CV-2014-000248
The Mobile County Circuit Court approved a $3 million class action settlement negotiated by attorneys from the law firms of Cunningham Bounds, LLC and Holston, Vaughan, and Rosenthal, LLC. The settlement resolves the claims of hundreds of Alabama residents related to contracts they entered with Oasis Legal Finance, LLC.
This class litigation arose from uniform contracts pursuant to which Oasis advanced sums to customers for which it claimed to obtain a “Purchased Interest,” which Oasis defined as the right to receive an amount to be determined by formula from the proceeds that customers receive “as a result of [a] legal claim.” Oasis explicitly claimed to “own a portion of the potential proceeds from the legal claim[s]” of Class Members, all of whom have or had claims under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Plaintiffs asserted that the Oasis Purchase Agreements were void ab initio because they were against public policy as it is stated in the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, which generally prohibits retaining an interest in the amount to be collected from a workers’ compensation claim. Oasis denied the claims.
After a class was certified by the Mobile County Circuit Court in January 2019, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement that has four primary components. First, Oasis must pay the sum of $2 million into a Settlement Fund out of which class members who already repaid Oasis will receive an allocated share. Second, Oasis was prohibited from accepting any amounts due under Oasis Purchase Agreements from any member of the class who had not yet repaid (this relief was valued at $1.089,000). Third, an injunction entered by the Court prohibits Oasis from accepting any payment from any person pursuant to any Purchase Agreement for which the Legal Claim, as defined in the Purchase Agreement, is an Alabama workers’ compensation claim. This injunction shall remain in effect so long as Alabama law prohibits the seizure or garnishment of workers’ compensation claims for the payment of any debt or liability. Finally, all attorneys’ fees and expenses were paid by Oasis in addition to the $3 million class recovery, so no class members had to come out of pocket to pay for their representation.
“This was a complex case that was litigated in the Mobile County Circuit Court, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Alabama Supreme Court. We are proud that our hard work and persistence restored millions of dollars to hundreds of deserving Alabamians,” said Lucy Tufts, an attorney with Cunningham Bounds.
Lucy Tufts of Cunningham Bounds, LLC and Ian Rosenthal of Holston, Rosenthal, and Vaughan, LLC were appointed by the Court as Class Counsel.