A.G. Schneiderman Announces Legal Docs By Me Must Pay Full Restitution to Consumers Victimized By Company's Illegal and Deceptive Business Practices
Court Order Obtained By Attorney General Requires Company, Now Known As NextGenJustice, To Repay Consumers
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced that Supreme Court Justice James P. McClusky ordered the business formerly known as Legal Docs by Me and its owner, Derek Distenfield, to provide full refunds to certain customers, after failing to comply with an order to do so last October. The court also ordered the business—now known as NextGenJustice—to turn over a full accounting of those consumers, together with other business records requested by the Attorney General.
"This is a victory for consumers who were the victims of illegal and deceptive business practices," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Though this matter is not yet over, it has always been the paramount concern of my office that consumers deceived by this business be made whole."
In April, Attorney General Schneiderman initiated a proceeding to hold NextGenJustice in contempt for multiple violations of two court orders stemming from a case brought last summer. In that initial case, Attorney General Schneiderman accused the business of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and deceiving consumers by regularly misrepresenting its pricing, its expertise in the preparation of legal documents, and the nature of the services it provided.
In the current contempt proceeding, the Attorney General alleges that the business violated a temporary restraining order by continuing to operate and provide unlicensed legal services to consumers, despite a clear court mandate to halt such practices. The Attorney General further alleges that the business violated a consent order agreed upon by the parties, by:
- failing to issue all required consumer refunds;
- failing to make full disclosures to the Attorney General;
- deceiving consumers regarding prices by failing to disclose potential fees;
- deceiving consumers by falsely misrepresenting employees' credentials;
- deceiving consumers by failing to disclose the source of the consumer and resource documents it offers to the public; and
- falsely representing to the public that the Attorney General had no basis for its action.
Despite obtaining more time from the Court to do so, NextGenJustice has failed to file any opposition to the contempt application pending against the company and its owner. At a hearing held yesterday, Justice McClusky gave the business another opportunity to respond, and a new hearing is currently scheduled for July 22, 2015.
Consumers who have unresolved complaints with Legal Docs By Me, NextGenJustice, or any other business are urged to contact Attorney General Schneiderman's Regional Office in Watertown at 315-523-6080.
The contempt proceedings in this case are being handled by Assistant Attorney General Alicia M. Lendon and Senior Investigator Chad Shelmidine, of the Watertown Regional office, led by Assistant Attorney General In Charge Deanna R. Nelson and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices Martin J. Mack.