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Broker Sued for Faxing

Broker Sued for Faxing

Pioneer Mortgage accused of TCPA violation

December 16, 2004

By PATRICK CROWLEY

Unwanted faxes that pitch a product or service are like Internet Spam and telemarketing calls — a typically unwanted part of doing business in an office environment.But an Indiana mortgage brokerage that apparently persisted in faxing a technology company has been hit with a lawsuit.

Pellegrino & Associates of Fort Wayne, Ind., has filed suit in Allen County Superior Court against Pioneer Mortgage, also of Fort Wayne.

The suit accuses Pioneer Mortgage of breaking the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which is designed to crack down on unwarranted telemarketing calls and faxes, said Indiana lawyer Michael McIlree, who filed the suit on behalf of Pellegrino & Associates.

“It’s pretty much like harassment,” McIlree said in a phone interview with MortgageDaily.com. “We made the allegations in the complaint…to stop that sort of activity.

“I don’t think a lot of mortgage companies engage” in sending unwanted faxes,” McIlree said. “But people should be aware there are things out there they can not do.”

Pioneer Mortgage founder and owner Gerald King did not return a phone call to comment. The company has not yet formally responded to the lawsuit, McIlree said.

The company’s Web site proclaims that “King founded the company on a referral basis of strictly word of mouth.”

According to the lawsuit he is trying to build his company by faxing offers for low interest mortgage loans to Pellegrino and other businesses.

McIlree said that between April and August Pellegrino received four unsolicited faxes from Pioneer. Because the faxes contained graphics and bold headlines the messages ate up lots of toner and ink.

McIlree said the messages “waste resources.”

McIlree said similar suits have been filed in other states. “We have case law from various jurisdictions,” he said.

Pellegrino & Associates is seeking unspecified damages and wants a judge to grant an injunction against Pioneer Mortgage that prevents the company from sending any more faxes.

McIlree is also seeking more defendants and wants to certify his case as a class action suit.

To assist on the case a high-powered Chicago law firm — Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin LLC — has been brought in.

According to the firm’s Internet Web site, it practices almost exclusively in consumer protection and class action law.

Earlier this year the firm filed suit against a California advertising agency known for sending unwanted faxes on behalf of its retail business clients.

“Right now this case is in the preliminary stage,” McIlree said. “We trying to prevent (these) things from happening.”


Patrick Crowley is a political reporter and columnist and former business writer for The Cincinnati Enquirer. Email Patrick at: pcrowley@enquirer.com

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