Reed Hein Harms Consumers

Orange Lake Country Club filed lawsuits against eight families for one reason — they were customers of Timeshare Exit Team.

By enlisting the help of Timeshare Exit Team, a dissatisfied timeshare owner increases his or her chances of being named as the defendant in a lawsuit.

That’s right: By signing up with Timeshare Exit Team, a customer makes it more likely that he or she will be sued.

Timeshare Exit Team and timeshare developers both treat clients as pawns in their chess match against each other.

Timeshare developers and Timeshare Exit Team see themselves as playing a game of chess, and they consider themselves to be the kings on the board.

They consider their customers to be mere pawns.

Eight Clients — Paragraph 12

Paragraph 12 of the Orange Lake settlement contains the names of eight Timeshare Exit Team customers who were sued by Orange Lake Country Club.

Orange Lake sued the customers in January 2021, as the case with Timeshare Exit Team was nearing trial. As part of the settlement, Orange Lake agreed to dismiss the cases against those customers.

Think about that: Orange Lake filed lawsuits against real people, for the purpose of securing an advantage in their fight against Timeshare Exit Team.

Timeshare Exit Team responded by giving Orange Lake $750,000.

Like Orange Lake, Welk Resorts had also filed lawsuits against its own customers — in the hopes of securing victory against Timeshare Exit Team.

This wasn’t the first time that a major timeshare developer had sued customers of Timeshare Exit Team because they are customers of Timeshare Exit Team. Welk Resorts had used the same tactic a few years earlier.

Welk Resorts & Thomas Breen

Lawyer Thomas Breen works at a reputable Seattle law firm that used to accept client referrals from Timeshare Exit Team. He led the department that handled the timeshare-exit cases.

According to Mr. Breen, timeshare developers are willing to use their own customers as pawns to defeat Timeshare Exit Team. He described his experience working against an attorney representing Welk Resorts.

  • I was negotiating with their — one of their general counsels, Dominick Peterson, and we were doing the ordinary work lawyers do every day in this country.
    And then at some point, at — Mr. Peterson changed how he addressed me and started asking me odd questions, asking me to prove I represented my clients. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked before by a lawyer “show me your engagement letter,” these kinds of things.
    And then he asked me if I was going to continue to represent the client if this matter needed to be litigated. And I told him I was a litigator and I would litigate if it needed to be litigated.

Mr. Breen described Welk’s response:

  • The next thing you know, he filed five arbitrations against our clients.
    And I — I viewed it as Welk using these individuals as pawns in some kind of competition he was having with Reed Hein.

Mr. Breen was right: Timeshare developers are willing to punish their own customers to deny a victory to Timeshare Exit Team.

The Orange Lake settlement demonstrates that nothing has changed: Timeshare developers continue to treat their customers as pawns to be sacrificed in pursuit of their ultimate goal — the defeat of Timeshare Exit Team.

Clients as Pawns — My Experience

I worked briefly at a different Seattle law firm that accepted referrals from Timeshare Exit Team. During my time there, I came to conclude that the firm’s relationship with Timeshare Exit Team was harming clients. I explained my reasoning in a memorandum that I wrote a few days after my departure:

  • In response to our letters, the developers are doing two things: (1) throwing the letter in the trash can, and (2) placing the client in the category of those individuals whom the developer will never release from any contractual obligation under any circumstances.
    The developers are using our clients as pawns in a fight against Timeshare Exit Team, and we insist on placing them on the chessboard.

When I wrote those words in October 2019, I was entirely unaware that Mr. Breen had used the same metaphor to describe developer tactics only a few months earlier.

In fact, I had never met Mr. Breen, and I didn’t know that he had previously represented timeshare clients — much less that he had been recently been deposed about his representation.

In any chess match, a player needs to be thinking several moves ahead.
At Hancock.Law, we believe that the moves that Orange Lake made in its struggle against Timeshare Exit Team were incredibly short-sighted. Orange Lake might have gained a brief advantage in the match, but it did so by treating customers with disdain.

The Duty of Undivided Loyalty

Timeshare developers might be within their legal rights to treat their own customers as pawns in their match against Timeshare Exit Team. Timeshare developers have never claimed to serve as a customer’s fiduciary.

A fiduciary, on the other hand, can never treat his client as a pawn. A fiduciary has a duty to treat the client as the king: A fiduciary can sacrifice everything else on the board, but a fiduciary cannot sacrifice the best interests of the client.

For a lawyer, the client is king.

A lawyer is a fiduciary, and a lawyer’s only duties are to the client. When a lawyer treats his client as pawns in some larger struggle, the lawyer breaches the duty of undivided loyalty.

Justice Cardozo explained the reason for two different sets of rules more than ninety years ago: “Many forms of conduct permissible in a workaday world for those acting at arm’s length, are forbidden to those bound by fiduciary ties. A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place.”

Value to Clients

In the hands of a competent chess player, a pawn can become a queen — the most powerful piece on the board.

At Hancock.Law, we take seriously our fiduciary duties to our clients, and we deliver to our clients a standard of loyalty “stricter than the morals of the market place.”

At Hancock.Law, we have a simple and straight-forward policy: If we know facts that are relevant to the legal interests of our clients, we disclose those facts to our clients.

If your legal interests have been sacrificed to protect the interests of Timeshare Exit Team or a timeshare developer, call us for a free consultation. We are confident that we can help.

This blog post isn’t legal advice.
To schedule a free consultation with Hancock.Law, call us 24/7 at (206) 785-7019.

Author: David Hancock

consumer lawyer

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