June 19, 2024

Federal judge denies Mariner Finance’s motion to dismiss

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Earlier this month, a federal judge shot down a bid by Mariner Finance to dismiss a multistate lawsuit filed in 2022, which New Jersey is a part of.

The lawsuit alleges the private equity-owned lender charged borrowers millions of dollars in hidden add-on loan products and interest.

According to the filing, consumers were routinely charged for these add-ons without permission or over their express rejection of such offers, which led to hundreds to thousands of dollars in additional debt. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Mariner took particular advantage of vulnerable customers struggling with debt who had limited access to credit, incentivizing employees to attach such add-ons with bonuses. According to the lawsuit, managing employees whose branch locations did not meet Mariner’s minimum sales goals for these products were punished.

Based in Nottingham, Md., Mariner Finance has nine branches in the Garden State.

In its motion, Mariner had asked the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to dismiss all of the 15 federal and state law claims in the multistate lawsuit, which is led by Pennsylvania.

In the 35-page, Jan. 12 opinion, Judge Kelley Hodge denied Mariner’s motion in its entirety. The move reaffirms the authority of the state attorneys general to jointly bring federal Consumer Financial Protection Act claims in one court, allowing the states to conserve resources and potentially expedite the litigation.

The decision, which moves the case a step closer to trial, was applauded by leaders from the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and the Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin

“This ruling marks a substantial step forward in the states’ case against a company that sought to evade accountability for allegedly deceiving consumers out of millions of dollars,” said Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

Cari Fais, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs

“On behalf of the vulnerable consumers who were victimized in the scams detailed in our complaint, we are grateful that the court rejected Mariner’s efforts to get this case dismissed,” said Cari Fais, acting director, Division of Consumer Affairs.

Mariner Finance did not respond to a request for comment by publication of this story.

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