The State Bar of California moved Thursday to block a Beverly Hills law firm from practicing in the state, saying it has filed thousands of baseless lawsuits against small businesses, coercing many of them into paying thousands of dollars in settlements.
The state bar also said it would seek to disbar the Trevor Law Group's three attorneys, and would refer the matter to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Attorney Shane Chang Han of the Trevor Law Group declined to comment, saying he and partners Damian S. Trevor and Allan Charles Hendrickson had not reviewed the bar's action.
The bar contends that, in addition to filing baseless lawsuits, Trevor Law Group improperly split fees with a Los Angeles litigation funding firm, LitFunding Corp. The bar said that company had bankrolled the law group. In exchange, it allegedly received a share of settlement money, which is unethical conduct, according to Jayne Kim, a state bar deputy trial counsel.
The State Bar Court is scheduled on April 7 to consider temporarily blocking the firm and its lawyers from practicing. State bar officials said they would ask the State Supreme Court to have the lawyers disbarred.
Bar lawyers said the Trevor group sued more than 3,000 owners of restaurants, auto repair shops and nail salons, mostly in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Government agencies had cited the businesses for violations from minor paperwork infractions to performing work unauthorized by customers, the lawyers said.
The firm pressured the owners to settle for thousands of dollars, Anderson said, adding that it was unclear how much money the firm had collected.
The owner of LitFunding Corp., Morton Reed, said it is legal for the company to help finance suits.
"We're a legitimate company and we got duped by Trevor Law Group," Reed said. "They told us they were supported by the Orange County district attorney, and that wasn't true. They told us they were filing suits against repeat offenders, and that wasn't true. When we learned about all the things they were doing, we were terrified. We cut off their funding that day."