Jackson Hewitt wants state Supreme Court rehearing

By Steve Korris | Dec 8, 2010


CHARLESTON -– Tax preparer Jackson Hewitt plans to ask the state Supreme Court of Appeals to review a decision defining it as a credit broker for purposes of a class action.

On Dec. 2, Charles Woody of Charleston notified U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers of Huntington that he would petition the Justices for rehearing.

Woody moved to extend a stay Chambers imposed last year after certifying three questions to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Chambers asked if state law protecting credit consumers applied to Jackson Hewitt when it arranged for Christian and Elizabeth Harper to borrow against refunds.

He asked if the statute of limitations barred the claim.

He asked if Jackson Hewitt acted as agent of the Harpers.

In a Nov. 23 opinion, Justice Brent Benjamin told Chambers he found no other possible conclusion but to apply credit consumer protection law.

He wrote that "a tax preparer who receives compensation, either directly from the borrower or in the form of payments from the lending bank, for helping a borrower obtain a refund anticipation loan meets the statutory definition of a credit services organization."

He wrote that the statute of limitations didn't bar the claim.

He wrote that Chambers didn't supply enough facts for the Justices to decide if Jackson Hewitt acted as agent.

John Barrett, Brian Glasser, and Jonathan Marshall, of Bailey and Glasser in Charleston, started the suit for Linda Hunter.

She alleged violations of state credit law and breaches of fiduciary duties.

She dropped out in 2008, and the Harpers replaced her.

They claimed they borrowed against refunds from 2005 to 2008, at interest rates from 56 to 83 percent.

They moved last year to certify a class action, and Chambers stayed the motion while awaiting answers from Charleston.

Woody practices at Spilman, Thomas and Battle in Charleston.

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