Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic

The Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic is part of the St. Vincent de Paul Legal program, Inc. It is an in-house, one-semester civil litigation and advocacy clinic. Under the supervision of two full-time clinical faculty members, our students represent low-income, elderly Queens residents in cases involving:

Deed Theft. Deed theft occurs when a person’s home is essentially taken from them through fraudulent deed transactions, sometimes as part of a foreclosure rescue scam.  When the victim is elderly, he or she may have diminished mental capacity. The fraud is perpetrated through forged or fraudulently obtained deeds and powers of attorney. The property is quickly sold or “flipped” to another party, and the victim threatened with eviction or foreclosure. Clinic students work to have title restored to the true owner. 

Foreclosure Defense and Predatory Lending. The Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic is a leader in litigating predatory mortgage lending cases in the Queens courts. We have had several large predatory lending cases in which elderly clients were defrauded by unscrupulous mortgage brokers, and entered into unaffordable mortgage loans, with the false promise that their total debt burden would be lightened or that the house they were purchasing or repairing would be as good as new. Now, many of these clients are facing foreclosure and clinic interns are fighting for our clients to keep their homes.  Some of the relief we obtain for clients are loan modifications through the federal government’s Making Home Affordable Program.

Home Improvement Contractor Fraud Cases. Clinic students have filed lawsuits against home improvement contractors who sign contracts with our clients, take their money, but never complete the home repair work or perform defective work. In some of these cases, the contractor assists the client in obtaining a loan on unfavorable terms to finance the work.

Debt Collection. Clinic students counsel clients who are being harassed by debt collectors and occasionally commence lawsuits in federal court under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. When clients have been sued on a consumer debt, we defend them. We also protect clients’ Social Security and other protected income from being seized by judgment creditors.

Other Consumer Matters. We assist clients who have suffered from deceptive business practices in the sale of automobiles, in door-to-door sales, and in the sale of other consumer items.

Clinic students practice law under a student practice order issued by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department. Working in teams of two or three, they develop the following lawyering skills:

  • Client interviewing and counseling
  • Case assessment and strategy
  • Professional responsibility
  • Legal research and writing
  • Courtroom and oral advocacy
  • Pre-trial litigation
  • Negotiation, informal advocacy, dispute resolution
  • Collaboration
  • Policy and Law Reform
  • Community Lawyering

Contact

Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic
Clinical Office
St. John’s School of Law, Room 2-26
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
benjamil@stjohns.edu
718-990-6689
Fax 718-990-1961