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Completing the largest investigation in its history, the State Bar on Thursday moved to disbar three attorneys who are at the center of a political debate over whether to reform California’s unfair competition law. The Bar accused Allan Hendrickson, Shane Han and Damian Trevor of Trevor Law Group in Beverly Hills of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act with their filing of thousands of suits against small businesses. Investigators will ask a judge to suspend the three attorneys April 7, when the case is scheduled for an initial State Bar Court hearing. The lawyers face several charges, including moral turpitude, fraud, malicious prosecution and bringing action with intent to harm. Trevor lawyers used the unfair competition law, Business and Professions Code � 17200, to sue auto repair shops and dealers, restaurants and mortgage brokers over minor regulatory violations. They served at least 4,500 defendants. “What we’re alleging is that this whole plan was set up as a money-making scheme … with no intention of protecting the public,” said Bar investigator John Noonen. Trevor lawyers did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment. Noonen said the attorneys lied in settlement letters and used “coercive” techniques to get defendants — many of them minority entrepreneurs � to settle. Some defendants told investigators that Trevor lawyers told them to come down to the law office for a deposition, but then would place them in a small room and threaten them with more litigation unless they agreed to settle, Noonen said. The lawyers collected $150,000 in settlements. The Bar alleges the scheme began in August, when the lawyers began getting loans from Los Angeles-based Lit Funding Corp. to pay for suits. Eventually, Lit Funding gave them $600,000. Noonen said the company told investigators it was duped. According to testimony earlier this year from Han and Hendrickson at a legislative hearing, their business plan was launched before the loan. While attending Fullerton’s Western State University College of Law, the lawyers hooked up with Ron Jamal, a law school dropout who attended business school and then founded Consumer Enforcement Watch Corp., which served as plaintiff in the suits. Han said settlement proceeds are shared between the consumer group and the firm. The Bar’s action is the latest development in the reform push taking shape in Sacramento. Although big business-backed tort reformers have previously tried to change the unfair competition law, this year they’ve pointed to the practices of Trevor lawyers as exhibit No. 1 in their case against 17200. But the tort reformers’ use of the Trevor cases could backfire. Two weeks ago, Attorney General Bill Lockyer thrust himself into the debate when he filed a 17200 suit against Trevor. Plaintiffs attorneys opposed to reform point out that if the State Bar and the AG can deal with 17200 abusers, why have a legislative fix at all? Bruce Brusavich, president of Consumer Attorneys of California, said he believes the Bar action appropriately punishes “the conduct of those misusing 17200, yet sustains the integrity of the statute.” So far, legislators have introduced 11 reform bills. Among those, according to stakeholders, are three spot bills that might have legs. One is by Democratic Assemblyman Lou Correa, who attended the Bar’s press conference Thursday. Correa, of Santa Ana, said he still believes in “responsible and permanent reforms of the 17200 code.” Correa’s office is still evaluating what stakeholders want before it announces bill language. Other legislators continue with a wait-and-see approach. Assemblywoman Ellen Corbett, chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which also has a spot bill, said the Bar action doesn’t “obviate anything.” She’s eager to see how the Bar’s case progresses and doesn’t know when she might be ready to announce language. “This isn’t over yet,” said Corbett, a San Leandro Democrat. The third spot bill is by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Montebello. “The attorney general and State Bar actions are clearly appropriate. Whether corrective legislation is needed is too early to tell,” Escutia said through a spokeswoman. She said she’ll be “looking at evidence presented to see if the abuses were due to illegal practice and bad motives or a loophole in the law.” Consumer Attorneys, which lobbies for the powerful plaintiffs bar, is looking to Escutia and Corbett for reform. “We’re still going to work this thing through,” Brusavich said. Consumer Attorneys will “look at the allegations and see if there’s a need to do anything [more],” he added. Noonen said he didn’t receive any pressure from Sacramento to hurry his investigation, but wanted to be finished by April. The task force included 40 investigators who interviewed thousands of defendants. The evidence is contained in binders that stack 10 to 12 feet high, and the charging document is 100 pages.

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