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Class Sues L.A.-Based Attorneys

LOS ANGLES (CN) - Attorneys with Los Angeles-based Bander Law Firm bailed out on clients after charging $8,500 to get their mortgage payments reduced, then filed bankruptcy on the clients' behalf without their knowledge, a class action claims in Superior Court.

Homeowners trying to reduce their mortgage payments say they met in February 2009 with attorneys Timothy Umbreit and Joel Bander, who promised to negotiate with the lenders.

The Bander attorneys charged a flat, nonrefundable fee of $8,500 and then sent a letter claiming that negotiations were under way with lenders and servicing agents, according to the complaint.

That letter was the "first and last correspondence" between the attorneys and clients, the complaint states.

The class claims that in September last year the Bander attorneys filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy on behalf of the clients, who found this out only when they received notice from creditors that their accounts were being closed.

"At no point," the clients says, did they "ever authorize or even discuss the option of filing bankruptcy."

The clients seek refunds and other damages, alleging malpractice, breach of contract, negligence and breach of faith.

They are represented by Tamar Arminak with Geragos & Geragos.

Joel Bander said he would seek immediate dismissal, "as there is not a single allegation that is anywhere near close to fact."

He said the lawsuit amounted to "malicious prosecution" and asked Arminak in a letter, "How can you file lawsuits like this?"

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