Services

Unfair Business & Insurance Practices

Small Business Litigation

Although North Carolina law has claims designed to protect us from civil wrongs (negligence, assault, fraud, etc.) and compensate us for breach of contract, corporations have become more sophisticated and evasive. In an effort to shore up consumer protection and the protection of small business, the North Carolina legislature enacted a law to prevent “unfair and deceptive” trade practices. The bad act (unfair or deceptive) must be in a business or consumer context.

A successful claim entitles you to triple damages plus attorneys’ fees. In this short space, it is impossible to define a “bad” act. In fact, before we could define one bad act, a new bad act would appear. The law prohibits unfair or deceptive acts in commerce.

Unfair and Deceptive Acts

An unfair act has been described as using power or position unfairly. A deceptive act is lying or concealing. Conduct which stifles competition is covered by this law.

Even unintentional acts have been held to be deceptive. If you were treated unfairly or were deceived in a business setting, you may have a claim. The cases are very fact specific. You should call for an evaluation of any potential claim.

Our lawyers represent emerging and small businesses in litigation related matters. We have successfully represented North Carolinians in both individual and class action lawsuits involving securities fraud, antitrust, breach of contract, tortious interference with business relations and contracts, fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Although we do not practice in the area of business formation, we are available to consult on limited matters. We will provide our trial experience for your business.

Our goal is to help even the playing field between individuals and the corporate interests who too often seek to take unfair advantage of their superior position and power. We regularly handle consumer claims and class actions. We seek to recover damages on behalf of individuals who lost money as a result of unfair or deceptive trade practices or acts.

Consumer Law Issues

Our goal is to help even the playing field between individuals and the corporate interests who too often seek to take unfair advantage of their superior position and power. We regularly handle consumer claims and class actions. We seek to recover damages on behalf of individuals who lost money as a result of unfair or deceptive trade practices or acts.

Universal Life Insurance

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, many consumers were sold a type of life insurance known as “Universal Life Insurance.” They were told that their monthly premiums would never increase over the life of that insurance policy, which was not true. Many policy holders have already had their premiums double, triple, or even quadruple. Others are just now learning that their premiums are about to be increased. Purchasers of the Universal Life Insurance were misled when told that their premiums could not increase. The insurance companies knew that monthly premiums would have to go up when interest rates dropped well below the sky-high levels of the 1980’s, but they did not tell the customers who were being sold Universal Life policies. The insurance companies were focused only on profits.

As interest rates have decreased significantly over the past two decades, these insurance companies have been raising the monthly premiums for the same customers they once told that their premiums would never go up. Some insurance companies have already settled class action cases based on these practices, but many insurance companies continue to increase premiums and have not yet compensated the customers they misled. If your Universal Life Insurance premiums have gone up or you’ve been advised that they are about to be increased, we can help. Martin & Jones is handling Universal Life Insurance cases for consumers, so call us today if you think you have been a victim of this insurance scam.

Securities Fraud

If you lost a significant amount of your savings by investing with a stockbroker, insurance salesperson, broker or other financial advisor, there is a chance we can help you recover some or all of your losses. While the law does not allow investors to sue simply because the stock market went down or an investor lost some of his or her money, there are laws that require brokers and investment professionals to “know their customers” and to only recommend “suitable” investments.

Annuities Sold to Seniors

Annuities are a financial planning tool in which an individual purchases a guaranteed stream of income, usually through monthly payments, for a lump sum payment. Annuities typically pay a monthly amount tied to the individual annuitant’s life. Some unscrupulous financial advisors and insurance salespersons are fraudulently persuading senior citizens to purchase costly annuities when it is a certainty that the individual will never see more than a fraction of the invested funds paid out in annuity payments because of the individual’s advanced age at the time of the annuity purchase. If you or a loved one was persuaded by an insurance salesperson or financial advisor to purchase a high-priced annuity at an advanced age, you or the loved one may have claims for unfair or deceptive trade practices and breach of fiduciary duty under North Carolina law.

Probate/Financial Planning Services

Unscrupulous companies are targeting senior citizens for sales of inappropriate living trusts and annuities which are often unsuitable due to the consumer’s age and circumstances. These companies often begin taking advantage of seniors by convincing them to buy a living trust for $1,995.00 to “avoid probate costs and estate taxes.” They often then try to sell costly annuities which may deprive seniors of needed funds and retirement savings.