ORLANDO — A federal judge has granted a partial win to a law firm that offers "timeshare-relief services" in a lawsuit brought by a time share resort developer.
According to the March 21 court filing in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the defendant, attorney Austin N. Aaronson and his law firm Aaronson, Austin PA, filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Club Exploria LLC and Club Exploria Management LLC (CEM). The plaintiffs allege violation of two federal laws and four claims under Florida law by the defendants who help timeshare owners rescind their timeshare agreements.
In their lawsuit, Club Exploria and CEM allege Aaronson convinces "consumers that they have a purportedly 'lawful' way to escape their [timeshare ownership] obligations without regard to whether there is any factual or other basis." The plaintiffs also allege the defendant uses "aggressive and dramatic" tactics including suggesting owners of the timeshares have "an automatic or inherent right to cancel their contractual obligations to pay...." which has caused owners to stop making loan payments to Club Exploria.
In their motion to dismiss, the law firm argues that the plaintiffs "lack standing to bring any claims associated" with the firm's representation of the timeshare owners and that Club Exploria's suit is not allowed under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine under First Amendment rights.
The defendants also argue the plaintiff's suit is not allowed under Florida's litigation immunity privilege and that Club Exploria's claims under the federal RICO statute do not show the required "pattern of racketeering" and that the plaintiff's assertions of misleading advertising by the law firm are "opinion" and "not actionable." The plaintiffs also did not "articulate why" the defendant's advertising is false, according to the court filing.
U.S. District Judge John Antoon II granted the plaintiff's motion to dismiss in part and denied in part stating that the court "granted without prejudice as to Count II (RICO Act) and with regard to the prayer for declaratory relief." The judge added, "The motion is granted with prejudice as to Count V (misleading advertising). Count II and the prayer for declaratory relief are dismissed without prejudice. Count V is dismissed with prejudice. In all other respects, the motion is denied."