West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is looking into hiring a lawyer licensed in California to collect a $13.8 million judgment against loan company CashCall Mortgage.
Nearly 300 residents of the state are awaiting refunds and restitution after a judgment came down against the company for allegedly charging exorbitant interest rates and harassing borrowers.
CashCall, based in Orange, Calif., has refused to pay the judgment after exhausting all appeals. The online lender, previously known as CashCall Inc., owes some people tens of thousands of dollars, court documents indicate.
The West Virginia Supreme Court in 2014 upheld the $13.8 million judgment against CashCall and also awarded more than $440,000 to reimburse legal costs incurred by the AGs office.
Morrisey took over the CashCall case from former Attorney General Darrell McGraw. The U.S. Supreme Court in May refused to hear CashCalls appeal, so the state courts decision became final.
CashCall allegedly charged interest rates up to 99% and harassed borrowers with abusive collection practices. Under West Virginia law, consumer loans are capped at 18% interest. Investigators with the AG's office said some consumers received up to 1,000 phone calls during one CashCall debt collection campaign.
McGraws office first sued CashCall in 2012, accusing the company of using a South Dakota bank to circumvent West Virginias usury laws. Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom ruled against the company, finding that it violated several West Virginia consumer protection laws. Bloom found that after CashCall depleted borrowers' bank accounts with automatic payment withdrawals, its collectors would begin calling them dozens of times per day.
Bloom ordered that CashCall cancel all existing debts owed by West Virginia consumers and pay court costs to the West Virginia AG's office, which began investigating CashCall in 2007.
The estimated cost to hire a California-licensed lawyer to collect the $13.8 million wont be known until Morrisey opens the bids. The AG's office previously has handled the lawsuit using in-house lawyers from its Consumer Protection Division.
CashCall owner and CEO J. Paul Reddam owned the thoroughbred, Ill Have Another, which won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2012. National media outlets reported on Reddams legal troubles in West Virginia and in California and Maryland for similar lending-law violations while Ill Have Another was making headlines for winning those races.
The horse retired from competition that year after suffering a tendon injury. Reddam sold Ill Have Another to a Japanese farm for $10 million.