About The Consumer Law Office of Steve Hofer

Steve Hofer has been practicing consumer law in Indiana for more than 20 years. He is the Indiana State Chairperson of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a national organization of attorneys striving for fairness in the consumer marketplace. Contact me by phone at 317-662-4529 or via email at hoferlawindyATgmail.com. You can also leave a message through my website at www.hoferlawindy.com.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mid 2018 - Trends in Nextgear Dealer Litigation

Here are my impressions in what I've seen in recent cases filed by Nextgear Capital, Inc. against dealers floorplanned with Nextgear.  The overall rate of filing seems about the same as last year, on an annualized rate of about a thousand cases a year. It varies from week to week. It seems like the average size of the debt claimed that I'm seeing is smaller, in some cases much smaller, even under $10,000. It also seems that Nextgear is not waiting as long before an account goes into default before filing suit, sometimes 2-3 months.  As i wrote in a previous post, it seems like Nextgear is suing more wholesale dealers, although because of a small sample size that might actually not be true.

From the point of view of our defense, the thing that I have noticed is Nextgear is a bit more aggressive in filing for summary judgment in cases where an answer has been filed.  In tew cases we have seen motions for summary judgment filed approximately 6 months after we filed an answer. Other cases have gone as long or longer with no action.  This is not completely surprising. Nextgear can't keep an unlimited number of open cases on the docket.  What I think a potential Nextgear defendant should take from this is that if you have an attorney answer your case on your behalf, you should have a "Plan B" ready by six months after your answer is filed. That plan could be a plan to settle the case, a plan to litigate the case actively, a plan to file bankruptcy, or something else.  It's not uncommon for you to not have a plan immediately when you are sued, and an answer will buy you time, but you need to dust yourself off and look at all alternatives after the answer is filed.

If you would like to talk to an attorney who is experienced at dealer floorplan defense - with no obligation, call me at 317-662-4529.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Nextgear vs the Wholesalers

I have been receiving a rash of complaints lately from Wholesale auto and truck sellers who floorplanned with Nextgear. It seems the Nextgear model of requiring periodic inventory checks at the dealer's place of business doesn't mesh with typical wholesaling practice where vehicles are physically located in warehouses or out on consignment.  This has the potential to cause breaches of contract (or claimed breaches of contract)  when the floorplanning account is up-to-date. 

If you are a wholesale dealer financing with Nextgear, I suggest that you read the whole boring Nextgear contract and make sure you are in compliance.  If you aren't, and practically can't be, I suggest you shop for alternate financing, and proactively come up with a plan that will satisfy nextgear, and put it in writing. 

By the way, consignment selling to used car dealers is an unavoidably risky business.  I personally question whether it is compatible with a floorplanned inventory in any case.  Who knows, maybe Nextgear sees things the same way.  That might be true, but the fact is that Nextgear has financed numerous wholesalers. Complaining that they are wholesalers now seems questionable to me. 

We have defended or are defending over 50 dealers and guarantors sued by Nextgear, in suits rainging from around $10,000 to over $2 million.  If you are sued by Nextgear in Indiana, call us at 317-662-4529. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bedbugs in a new bed - is it possible?

After receiving a complaint from an individual who claimed to have bought a new bed that was infested with bedbugs, I started looking into the question of whether new mattresses and bedding could be infested with bedbugs. I found a Dateline NBC report from 10 years ago that suggested not only was it possible, but that it is fairly common, especially in the context of "rebuilt" mattresses.  An online search found more than one claim of bedbugs associated with products from Wayfair.  (Of

Wayfair is a relatively large company that sells reconditioned furniture including bedding.  An online search found more than one claim of bedbugs associated with products from Wayfair. (Of course, I have no way of knowing if these complaints are valid or accurate. I am just pointing out that the complaints exist. 

If you buy a new, used or reconditioned piece of furniture or bedding, and it has bedbugs, what should you do?  First, don't call me. You aren't ready for a lawyer yet. You need to document the product. Show the product and the evidence to some friends, and document it by taking pictures and video.  Call the county or state department of health, and ask them to come in and do an inspection.  If you can, encase the product in plastic sheeting or get it out of your house If you have a garage, you can put it in the garage.  If you are going to ask for compensation, though, don't get rid of the product yet.  don't get rid of the product until the health department or an independent inspector can come to inspect it.  Either the board of health or the pest control expert needs to do a detailed inspection of the product and of your residence. For there to be the core of a legal claim against the seller of the product, you have to prove that it is more probable than not that the bedbugs came from the seller's product. There are two main ways that you can do this.  Of course your testimony that you had no bedbugs pefore you had the product is useful, but more useful is being able to show evidence that there is long-term evidence of bedbugs on the product and no long-term evidence of bedbugs in your residence, or, you could come up with evidence of bedbugs at the seller's or manufacturer's facility.  Obviously, you would need help in getting evidence of bedbugs at the facility. 

If you or your family members are injured by bedbugs, and you can prove where they came from, at that point you can contact either a personal injury lawyer or a consumer lawyer in your area.  You can ask for the cost of the product replacement, the cost of disposal of the infected product, your medical bills, pain and suffering, the cost of treating yoru residence and any other residences that you were forced to contribute to treating due to lease covenents.  You might also get compensation for your attorney fees. 

You may also want to contact your homeowners or renters insurance company. 

How does a "new" mattress get infested by bedbugs?  On the local news clip below, the homeowners speculates that the bedbugs jump from the used mattresses in the delivery truck to the new ones. This suggests that it may be negligent for delivery companies to transport mattresses this way. 

I can take complaints relating to individuals in the central Indiana region only.  To find a alwyer in your area, go to the National Association of Consumer Advocates' "find a lawyer" page. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Vietnamese Nail Salon owners - are you having a problem with high credit card processing fees?

We have had indications that credit card processing companies are taking advantage of the fact that English language skills are often low among Vietnamese nail salon owners.  There have been stories of vietnamese-speaking salesmen doing cold calls on salons, promising to charge low fees to handle credit card transactions, but instead the salons are charged several times the going rate.  If this applies to you or someone in your family, please go to my website at www.hoferlawindy.com, and fill out the quick intake form.  Thank you. 

Indiana Workers - Have you been cheated out of earned wages?

If you are an Indiana Worker who has been cheated out of earned wages, I'd love to hear from you.  As a general rule under federal wage and hour statutes you need to be paid at least federal minimum wage for every hour you work,  anb by work, that generally means all the time that you aren't free to pursue your daily life routine, so that would include on call time and waiting time.  You should be paid training time, orientation time and travel time from your office or central location to a job site.

Some industries that commonly don't pay their workers

Cable Installers
Security System Installers
Truckers  (special rules apply to the trucking industry, but there are frequent violations)
On-call workers in general

I'll try to update this when time is available. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What's the deal with Capital One and the "Soft Pulls"?

I have a client who's had a problem with "soft pulls" by Capital One showing up regularly on some of his credit reports.  That's great, you say, but "what's a soft pull?"  A soft pull is a credit report inquiry by a third party that doesn't show up when other people pull your credit report, and it isn't reflected in your credit score.  What's the big deal then? you might ask.  Well, regardless of whether it shows up when potential creditors evaluate you for credit, each time there is a soft pull, it means somebody saw some of your credit data. 

There are two primary types of "soft pulls" . The first is an account review inquiry. This is done by a credtior with whom you already have an account, just keeping tabs on your general financial health.  It's pretty much allowed period as long as you actually have an account with the company. If you don't have an account with the company, they shouldn't be doing account reviews.  The other type is trickier. It is the "PRM" or "promotional inquiry".  A promotional inquiry shows on your credit report when the credit bureau sells a targeted list to a prospective creditor based on defined characteristics chosen by the company that wants to sell you credit. The prospective creditor does not get your full information; rather, the creditor simply gets a ping that you are in the group they are looking for.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows these inquiries, but only when, in exchange for the information, the prospective creditor agrees to make you a "firm offer of credit."  The catch with Capital One seems to be how often they are doing it, and whether they are really making firm offers in connection with all of the inquiries.  One thing I found out in my web research, that people have been complaining about the quantity of Capital one promotional inquiries for at least a decade.  Here's a link to an articles at consumeraffairs.org talking about Capital One's promotional inquiries back in 2006. 

If you find out that Capital One has been making a number of promotional inquiries on your credit report that do not correspond with firm offers of credit that you received, please call my office at 317-662-4529. I'd love to hear from you. You can also send me an email inquiry through my website at www.hoferlawindy.com. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Prospective RICO Class Action Filed (by another law firm) against Kevin Mason and Stuart Goldberg

About a year ago, I filed on behalf of clients a lawsuit against National Legal Staffing Support LLC, Kevin Mason and V. Stuart Goldberg regarding a student loan debt settlement operation.  That was an individual law suit which is still pending as I write this. Since then I have received a number of calls from consumers asking if this lawsuit was a class action or was going to be turned into a class action. The answer is no. 

HOWEVER, somebody else has stepped into the breach.  Two other attorneys, Daniel Gamez (gamezlawfirm.com)  and Macy Hanson (macyhanson.com) have filed a putative class action lawsuit, Matthew Ali v. Kevin Mason, P.A. et al in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, case 2:18-CCV-01110-CBM-FFM.  A copy of the complaint and a write-up can be found at classaction.org with this link.  Please note that I am not associated with the Ali lawsuit in any fashion.

This lawsuit alleges Racketeering (RICO) on the part of the defendants. RICO is hard to prove and many if not most RICO cases get dismissed early in the proceedings. - Which is not to say that it is a waste to file them, because it often isn't. If nothing else, this lawsuit may extend the statute of limitations for a number of consumers who have potential claims.

Do not call me regarding the class action lawsuit.  Please call either attorney Gamez or Hanson through their websites referenced above.