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TCPA VICTORY FOR COLLECTION AGENCY DRAWS NATIONAL ATTENTION

Defense Attorneys in Ammons v. Diversified“GREAT WIN!” is how the National Law Review characterized the granting of a summary judgment Oct. 9, 2019 in favor of an Ellis Law Group client accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The ruling in Ammons v. Diversified Services, Inc. is the first by a district court within the Ninth Circuit to further define Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ADTS) as articulated in the 2018 decision Marks v. Crunch by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. According to Marks, ADTS "means equipment which has the capacity—(1) to store numbers to be called or (2) to produce numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator—and to dial such numbers automatically (even if the system must be turned on or triggered by a person.)”

In Ammons, the plaintiff contended that HCI conformed to the Marks definition of ADTS because it could store and dial numbers. Defense attorneys Mark E. Ellis and Anthony Valenti argued that the system was manual because the numbers generated were not dialed automatically. Rather, a human being must physically click a dialogue box to initiate each call. The court rejected the plaintiff’s counterargument that the human role of “clicker agent” was so minimal that it was created to avoid TCPA liability. It concluded:

LiveVox HCI goes far beyond merely triggering a system to run automatically. It requires human interaction to initiate each call. The Court agrees with other courts to consider the LiveVox HCI system and, applying Marks, finds that the clicker agent’s role precludes LiveVox HCI from qualifying as an ATDS.

The website Inside ARM characterized the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District as not only “a big win for users of HCI,” but one that “stands tall as the first decision within the Ninth Circuit to delimit the extent of Marks.”

ELLIS LAW GROUP AGAIN NAMED TOP TIER LAW FIRM BY U.S. NEWS

2020 marks the ninth consecutive year that Ellis Law Group, LLP has been named a "top tier" law firm in legal malpractice defense by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. The ranking will appear in the 2020 edition of “Best Law Firms,” which ranks firms nationwide based on reviews by clients, professional references and licensed attorneys. Addressed is a firm's expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether the surveyed would refer a client to the firm. Managing partner Mark E. Ellis was also named a “Best Lawyer” in legal malpractice defense for the 12th consecutive year. The 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings can also be seen in their entirety by visiting https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

MARK ELLIS AGAIN NAMED A “TOP LAWYER” BY SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE

For the fifth consecutive year, Sacramento Magazine has named Mark Ellis to its “Top Lawyers List.” The list is based on a survey of licensed Sacramento attorneys asked to name the top three attorneys in each of 56 legal specialties. Mr. Ellis was voted preeminent in the specialty of Legal Malpractice Defense.  

MARK ELLIS AGAIN NAMED SUPER LAWYER IN CIVIL LITIGATION

Mark Ellis was named a 2019 “Super Lawyer” in civil litigation by the national attorney-rating firm Super Lawyers. The honor, which recognizes Mr. Ellis' trial lawyer skills in general, complex and class action litigation, marked the sixteenth year Mr. Ellis has been so honored. Honorees are nominated by their peers and then evaluated by SuperLawyers' research team and a blue ribbon panel of attorneys.

U.S. NEWS AGAIN NAMES ELLIS LAW GROUP A TOP TIER LAW FIRM

Best Law Firms 2014For the eighth consecutive year--2019--Ellis Law Group, LLP has been named a "top tier" law firm in legal malpractice defense by U.S. News & World Report. Led by managing partner Mark Ellis, who was named a "best lawyer" in legal malpractice defense by Best Lawyers for the eleventh consecutive year, Ellis Law Group attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of lawyers and/or law firms accused of malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, ethics violations and malicious prosecution. More than 40 victories in attorney malpractice cases have been achieved in jury and bench trials. The 2019 U.S. News & World Report rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

ATTORNEYS WIN UNANIMOUS JURY VERDICT DEFENDING COLLECTION AGENCY

Mark Ellis won a 8-0 jury verdict in federal district court April 17, 2017 defending a collection agency accused of violating the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and California’s Rosenthal FDCPA. In Littlejohn v. Financial Credit Network, Inc., the plaintiff claimed the defendant violated the TCPA by automatically dialing his cell phone 75 times over 19 months without express consent. The plaintiff also claimed the number of calls constituted harassment under the FDCPA and Rosenthal FDCPA. The defense successfully argued that the calls were made with consent conferred by Littlejohn’s creditor. Precedent holds that a debt collector acting on behalf of a creditor who has been provided consent obtains that consent. Although Littlejohn claimed he revoked consent on January 2015, no record of a call exists, either from Littlejohn to the defendant or from the defendant to Littlejohn. The jury also found that the 75 calls placed to Littlejohn did not constitute harassment under FDCPA and Rosenthal FDCPA because none were answered. The statutes stipulate that a high frequency of calls is only actionable when it demonstrates an intent to annoy, abuse or harass. The case was tried in U.S. District Court, Central District of Calofornia, John A. Kronstadt presiding.

APPEAL DENIED: BANKS' RIGHT TO ARBITRATION WAIVED BY LITIGATION

On March 21, 2017, the First District Court of Appeal, Division 3, affirmed an order by the Alameda Superior Court in favor of Ellis Law Group's client HPROF. In HPROF, LLC v. Bank of America, NA, and Bank of New York Mellon, the Superior Court previously found that the defendant banks had waived their right to arbitrate the parties' dispute because they had litigated heavily in the Superior Court for some 21 months before seeking to compel arbitration. The Court of Appeal also affirmed the trial court's holding that the determination of who decides the issue of waiver by litigation conduct is normally for a court, not an arbitrator. This important decision was written by Justice Stuart R. Pollack.

FIRM THWARTS ATTEMPT TO COLLECT DEBT THROUGH PIERCING CORPORATE VEIL

California GuildOn March 2017, Ellis Law Group rescued the president of the California Guild (formerly the California State Grange) in a lawsuit brought against him to collect $144,715.70 in attorneys’ fees awarded in trademark infringement litigation against his non-profit corporation. When California Guild lacked cash to pay the court ordered fees, National Grange filed a lawsuit against the president claiming that he and his corporation were indistinguishable. Enter Mark Ellis who, as the president’s defense counsel, defeated claims in U.S. Court, Eastern District of California, that the president treated California Guild’s assets as his own, divested it of funds needed to pay the attorneys’ fees, ignored corporate formalities and acted as the sole decision maker regarding litigation.

MARK ELLIS PREVAILS IN NINTH CIRCUIT APPEAL OF TCPA CLASS ACTION

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on January 31, 2017 a district court summary judgment in favor of the defendant in Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness Group, LLC, a class action arising from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. At issue was whether a fitness gym could solicit former members using telephone numbers given on membership application forms. The class action, defended at trial by Mark E. Ellis and in appellate court by Mr. Ellis, sought damages on behalf 30,000 former gym members who received automatically-dialed phone calls and texts from Vertical Fitness. Plaintiff’s counsel argued on appeal that a signature and telephone number on a membership form did not constitute express consent to receive solicitations. And even if it did, express consent was revoked when the plaintiff terminated his membership three years prior to the solicitations. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the defense that 1) solicitations were within the scope of consent expressed by a signed membership application and 2) revocation of that consent needed to be expressed verbally or in writing by Van Patten to Vertical Fitness.

WIN IN BREACH OF CONTRACT TRIAL TURNS ON WRITTEN VS. ORAL

Mark Ellis won a trial, Obrien v. Gjelsteen, Nov. 17, 2016 on behalf of a plaintiff who claimed breach of a written contract for hay bailing. Superior Court Judge Christopher Krueger ruled that by reviewing an invoice and writing a check for its full amount, the defendant became party to a written and fulfilled contract despite having later stopped payment on his check. The defendant had argued that the contract was unenforceable because it was not fully performed and, notwithstanding that, it was an oral not written contract whose statute of limitations expired after two rather than four years.   

FIRM ATTORNEYS VICTORIOUS IN DEFENSE OF TCPA & FDCPA CLASS ACTION

Defense counsel Mark Ellis won a summary judgment Oct. 3, 2016 in Goodson v. Designed Receivable Solutions Inc., a class action trial arising from alleged violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and California’s Rosenthal FRCPA. Allegedly the defendant violated the FDCPA and Rosenthal FDCPA by telephoning the plaintiff’s cell phone several times to collect a debt already paid. Moreover, the calls allegedly violated the TCPA because they were made using an "automatic telephone dialing system." U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna ruled that 1) the TCPA claim failed because the defendant was given permission to call the plaintiff and 2) the FDCPA and Rosenthal claims failed because defendant's calls did not constitute abusive, harassing, or oppressive practice.

U.S. NEWS NAMES ELLIS LAW GROUP TOP TIER LAW FIRM IN 2017

Best Law Firms 2014For the sixth consecutive year--2017--Ellis Law Group, LLP has been named a "top tier" law firm in legal malpractice defense by Best Law
Firms
, a ranking of law firms published by U.S. News & World Report and the lawyer peer-review firm Best Lawyers. Led by partner Mark Ellis, Ellis Law Group attorneys have successfuly defended hundreds of lawyers and/or law firms accused of malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, ethics violations and malicious prosecution. More than 40 victories in attorney malpractice cases were won in trials with jury and bench verdicts. Firms selected for Best Law Firms are "recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise." Factors evaluated by clients included expertise, responsiveness, integrity, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness. Rankings also reflect evaluations of law firms by more than 17,000 attorneys. The 2017 Best Law Firms rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

MARK ELLIS NAMED 2016 SUPER LAWYER

Mark Ellis was named a 2016 “Super Lawyer” in civil litigation by the national attorney-rating firm Super Lawyers. The honor marked the twelfth year Mr. Ellis has been so honored.

ELLIS LAW GROUP NAMED "TOP TIER" BY U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

Best Law Firms 2014Ellis Law Group has again been recognized as a firm that lawyers themselves go to for legal representation. For the fifth consecutive year, Ellis Law Group has been named a Northern California "Top Tier" law firm in legal malpractice defense by U.S. News & World Report and the lawyer peer-review firm Best Lawyers. Firms appearing in the 2016 edition of Best Law Firms are "recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise." Factors evaluated by clients included expertise, responsiveness, integrity, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness. Rankings also took into account 6.7 million evaluations of 55,041 individual leading lawyers. The 2016 Best Law Firms rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

ELLIS AGAIN RECOGNIZED AS TOP ATTORNEY IN LEGAL MALPRACTICE DEFENSE

Mark EllisFor the seventh consecutive year, Best Lawyers has named Mark E. Ellis one of America's leading legal malpractice defense attorneys. Mr. Ellis will be included in the 22nd edition (2016) of The Best Lawyers in America, which honors attorneys in 137 practice areas based on more than 5.5 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Best Lawyers selections are also published by numerous co-sponsors, which include the Los Angeles Times. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report.

Mr. Ellis has defended hundreds of lawyers and/or law firms accused of malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, ethics violations and malicious prosecution. Certified as a specialist in legal malpractice law by the State Bar of California, Mr. Ellis is author of the bestselling E-Book,“The Defense of the Attorney Judgment—Tactical Immunity Doctrine,” which is also a chapter in Best Practices for Defending Professional Liability Claims: Case Studies From Leaders in The Field, a book available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read press release, click here.

ELLIS WINS BREACH OF GUARANTY CONTRACT FOR WELLS FARGO

Mark Ellis successfully represented Well Fargo Bank in a trial (Wells Fargo Bank v. Weiner) arising from defendants’ claim that their guaranty of a $101,654.33 line of credit was revoked by mail prior to its payment to Village Concepts, Inc., a company since dissolved in bankruptcy. Wells Fargo had no record of receipt of the revocation. On June 29, 2015, Judge Alan Perkins of the Sacramento Superior Court ordered the defendants to pay the full amount of the guaranty, plus interest, attorneys’ fees and costs.  

ELLIS AGAIN NAMED SUPER LAWYER IN 2015

super lawyerFor the eleventh year, managing partner Mark Ellis has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers, a rating service that identifies the top 5 percent of American lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. In 2015, Mr. Ellis was deemed by his peers and independent research to be a top attorney in the areas of Civil Litigation, Professional Liability Defense, Class Action/Mass Torts Defense.

ELLIS LAW GROUP PREVAILS IN $45 MILLION LAWSUIT

Mark Ellis successfully defended a winery against allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination in a two-month trial in which four plaintiffs sought damages totaling more than $45 million. Patterson v. Abundance Vineyards ended in March 2015 with a jury denying any damages to three plaintiffs and awarding a token amount to the fourth. All four plaintiffs were former employees of Abundance Vineyards, which is based in Lodi, CA. The case was tried in Stockton, CA before a jury composed of seven men and five women.  

U.S. NEWS NAMES ELLIS LAW GROUP TOP TIER IN 2015

Best Law Firms 2014For the fourth consecutive year, Ellis Law Group, LLP has been named a Northern California "Top Tier" law firm in legal malpractice defense by the 2015 edition of Best Law Firms, a ranking of law firms published by U.S. News & World Report and the lawyer peer-review firm Best Lawyers. Firms on the list are "recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise." Factors evaluated by clients included expertise, responsiveness, integrity, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness. Rankings also took into account evaluations of law firms by more than 17,000 attorneys. The 2015 Best Law Firms rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

MARK ELLIS ACCLAIMED TOP LEGAL MALPRACTICE DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Best Lawyers has named Mark Ellis one of America's leading legal malpractice defense attorneys in its 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. This is the sixth consecutive year that Mr. Ellis has been so honored by Best Lawyers, whose publication includes attorneys in 137 practice areas located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Rankings are based on more than 5.5 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.

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