Orange Lake Resorts and Diamond Resorts, two big timeshare companies, are entrenched in a legal fight with Florida attorney Michael Finn, whose work is devoted entirely to canceling timeshare contracts.
The attorney, Michael Finn of Largo, has sued most of the major timeshare companies, many of which are based in Orlando.
Orange Lake, which is based in the Orlando area, sued Finn in 2015 and is still pursuing the lawsuit in Orange County Circuit Court.
It accuses Finn of targeting its customers with a sophisticated ad campaign, using “false and misleading” claims in his ads, and that he simply advises Orange Lake’s customers to stop paying on the timeshares while his firm fires off form letters to the company.
The letters accuse Orange Lake of fraud, but “there is no specificity as to what of Orange Lake’s actions constitute the alleged fraud or deceptive sales practice.”
In court documents, Finn has fired back with a list of accusations about Orange Lake’s sales practices, saying the timeshare company has unclean hands. His response alleges that Orange Lake is routinely:
- Misstating the true costs of ownership of the timeshare;
- Misrepresenting to Orange Lake owners the value of the timeshare;
- Failing to disclose efforts to thwart development of a viable secondary market for the resale of the timeshare.
Diamond Resorts, based in Las Vegas, goes one step further in a lawsuit filed in 2017.
Finn and Diamond signed a settlement agreement in 2015 because Finn was bringing so many cases against the company, according to Diamond’s lawsuit.
It says in its latest lawsuit documents that the contract required them to cancel a number of contracts for Finn’s clients, while Finn agreed to stop reaching out to Diamond timeshare owners.
Diamond says Finn disclosed the contract to third parties, violating an agreement to keep it confidential. But Finn responded in court that Diamond failed to cancel some of the contracts it had promised to, while the timeshare company also violated the confidentiality agreement, rendering the contract void.
Finn is cited as a successful cancellation attorney by many publications and groups who monitor timeshare companies, including the National Timeshare Owners Association and InsideTimeshare.com, a blog run by timeshare-owner advocate Irene Parker.
Finn told the Sentinel he’s proud of the lawsuits. He didn’t specifically address the contract he allegedly signed with Diamond.
“So typically if a lawyer gets sued that’s a very bad thing,” he said. “However these suits actually feel like a positive thing because it means we are being effective on behalf of our clients.”
The timeshare industry, like many others, has roared back from the Great Recession. The American Resort Development Association says 9.2 million households in the U.S., about 6.9 percent of all households, own some type of timeshare.
Big timeshare companies face serious court battles. Orlando-based Wyndham, the biggest, lost a $20 million court verdict in California courts in November 2016, when a whistleblower employee accused the firm of targeting elderly people with deceptive claims about the ability to sell a timeshare back to the company among other allegations.
The timeshare industry is roiling with new allegations about cottage industries that claim to help people cancel their timeshares.
Wyndham said in a recent conference call about its first-quarter earnings that it increased its loan loss outlook because of “increased effort by third parties to encourage customers to default on their timeshare loans.”
Orange Lake also sued Tennessee cancellation firms, saying they are charging some customers an upfront litigation fee of $7,500, when they don’t ever file litigation.
Original Source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-orange-lake-timeshare-finn-20180404-story.html