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Court Decisisons on rent to own:
Class Action settled for $59 million
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Fact Sheet: Iris Green
v. Continental Rentals
Iris Green, of Paterson NJ in suit stated that Continental
Rentals was selling the following items in a series of rent to
own sales on credit:
Total of Payments
to buy item
Living room set
Two end tables
After Mrs. Green had paid $3950- more than their value- she
had to go into the hospital, and missed payments. Continental
Rentals repossessed all the furniture, so she had nothing to
show for her $3950.
The N.J. Superior Court saw through this scam, holding this
rent to own was criminal usury and violation of N.J. Consumer
v. Continental Rentals; Robert Del Tufo, Attorney General, Intervenor,
292 N.J. Super 241 (Superior
Court, Passaic County, 1994), held:
- Rent to own is really a sale
of goods on credit, not a lease,
- Rent to own's extra cost is
not "...services. This is interest."
- Rent to own violated the
N.J. Criminal Usury Law, NJSA
- Rent to own contracts were
- Rent to own violated the
N.J. Consumer Fraud Act. Rent
to own violated the N.J. Retail Installment Sales Act.
- Rent to own violated the federal
Truth in Lending Act.
The attorney for Ms. Green was
Madeline Houston, Paterson.
decisions from the Superior Court, Camden County also held that
RTO violated the N.J. Consumer Fraud Act and the N.J. Retail
Installment Sales Act:
- Gallegher v. Crown Leasing
& Renter's Choice,
No. L-3859-94 (1996) and
- Robinson v. ThornAmericas
and Rent-a-Center, No.
action settled for $59 million:
here for the latest on bills A.1097/S.1343 (199 bill numbers)
in the Legislature.
After appealing the Robinson class action to the Appellate
Division, Rent-a-Center agreed to settle the class action. Rent
to own thus is now set to pay $59 million to former N.J. customers
in a case where RTO was held guilty of consumer fraud.
The attorneys for the consumers in Robinson and related
cases are Donna Siegel Moffa, Tomar Simonoff Adourian
O'Brien Kaplan Jacoby & Graziano, 20 Brace Rd, Cherry Hill
NJ 08034 (856-429-1100) and Lisa Rodriguez,
Trujillo, Rodriguez & Richards, 3 Kings Hwy East, Haddonfield
NJ 08033 (856-795-9002). Questions about the class action, such
as timing and amounts of payments to consumers, should go to
The NJ Legislature is constantly being asked by the RTO industry
lobbyists to put its goverment stamp of approval on the same
practices which the Judiciary held to be consumer fraud in the
is the N.J. Attorney General doing?
The N.J. Attorney General's Office has entered all the RTO lawsuits
on the side of consumers. Consumers Affairs Director Mark Herr
has supported the pro-consumer bills, and opposed the industry
bills. consumers. But the recent Attorney Generals have taken
an apparent oath of silence while the rent to own legalization
bills sail through the Legislature. The Attorney Generals have
not allowed Mr. Herr to testify in the Legislature on rent to
own in the last several years.
One word from our state's chief law enforcement officers, Attorney
General John Farmer, Jr.or Governor Whitman, could kill the bills.
Governor Whitman was silent in 1997-98-99 while the rent to own
lobbyist, Dale Florio (yes, Governor Whitman's chief fundraiser
in her last election) has been sweet talking the Legislature
to get soft on criminal usury. We would love to see the Governor
get involved on the cosnumer side. The more publicity on these
awful rent to own bills, the more politicians find they agree
with Consumers League that N.J.'s urban citizens should not be
scammed with outrageously high prices and loanshark-high interest
rates, and that there should not be a set of second class laws
permtting exploitation of the poor. All citizens of New Jersey,
especially the poor, deserve to be protected by the same laws,
such as the 30% criminal usury limit.
The Division of Consumer Affairs could still promulgate a regulation
on rent to own, to control the practices which were found by
the Judiciary to violate the N.J. Consumer Fraud Act and the
Criminal Usury Act. This has not been done in New Jersey.
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