Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means “brazen impudence” or “shameless audacity.”
In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten gave a definition that is still often used today: “Chutzpah,” Rosten wrote, “is the quality of a man who kills his father and mother, and who then begs the Court for mercy because he is an orphan.”
Timeshare Exit Team
In a recent press release, Timeshare Exit Team celebrated the end to a lawsuit that timeshare developer Orange Lake filed against the company in August 2017. According to company chief executive Brandon Reed, the case represented a “major win for consumers.”
After almost two and one-half years of litigation in federal court, the case finally ended. What had the company achieved for its customers? Quoting from the press release:
In the settlement, Orange Lake agreed that its “paid-in-full” timeshare owners who’d been working with Timeshare Exit Team can now exit their timeshares through Orange Lake’s “Horizons” program without having to represent any “financial hardships, health issues or other unforeseen difficulties,” as owners seeking out of their contracts via Horizons typically would.
The press release also described the relief that Timeshare Exit Team had secured for customers who continued to owe on an Orange Lake mortgage:
These frustrated timeshare owners will receive a proposal to resolve their mortgage or lien, a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or in some cases, an exit through foreclosure.
At Hancock.Law, we have a few simple questions: (1) Where is the great victory? (2) How much did this case cost?
In its own press release describing the settlement, the timeshare developer described things somewhat differently. After noting that the Horizons program is “safe, legal, and free” for all Orange Lake customers, the developer described elements of the settlement that Timeshare Exit Team had failed to mention in its own press release:
This settlement requires an undisclosed payment from Timeshare Exit Team to Holiday Inn Club Vacations Incorporated, and Timeshare Exit Team is prohibited from soliciting or taking money from any additional Holiday Inn Club Vacations owners.
Unless Timeshare Exit Team has some source of funds other than the money it charges customers, the company used fees that it charged dissatisfied timeshare owners to pay money to a timeshare developer.
How is that a victory?
You can review a copy of the Court’s docket in Orange Lake v. Timeshare Exit Team by clicking this link.
This case must have been expensive: Filed in August 2017, the case settled in January 2020, almost two and one-half years later. The docket has 458 different filings. It includes multiple briefs written by lawyers representing Timeshare Exit Team and the company’s chief executive Brandon Reed. The docket includes copies of multiple deposition transcripts.
After all that time and after all that money, Timeshare Exit Team settled the case only two days before jury trial was scheduled to begin.
That’s right: Two days before Timeshare Exit Team was finally going to get the chance to “shine a light” on the abusive tactics of timeshare developers in an open courtroom, the company settled on terms that included a payment to the developer.
The Court’s docket lists six different lawyers who represented Timeshare Exit Team and the company’s executives. All those lawyers filed a “notice of appearance,” in which they identified themselves as representing Timeshare Exit Team, Brandon Reed or some other company executive. None of the lawyers claimed to be representing the customers of Timeshare Exit Team who own Orange Lake timeshares.
On the day of settlement, Timeshare Exit Team and Brandon Reed had lawyers at the negotiation table who working to protect their interests.
Who was the lawyer at the table protecting the interests of the people who owned an Orange Lake timeshare and who had turned to Timeshare Exit Team for help?
The facts: Timeshare Exit Team spent untold sums of money to litigate a case against Orange Lake. Two days before finally getting the chance to hold the developer accountable in an open courtroom, the company agreed to pay even more money to a timeshare developer.
Timeshare Exit Team then issued a press release describing the case as involving a “landmark settlement” that was a “major win for consumers.”
That takes chutzpah.
This blog post isn’t legal advice.
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