Be careful what your getting into when you attend a timeshare presentation. While you may get a “free” vacation for sitting through the sales pitch, you could be getting into more trouble then it is worth. This was the case for over one hundred purchasers of timeshares who bought from Festiva Resorts, LLC and Festiva Development Group, LLC. Festiva held sales presentations in New Orleans, Louisiana, for points based timeshares memberships.
In two separate suits, plaintiffs sought for damages alleging they were subjected to high pressure sales tactics coercing the buyers into signing purchasing documents without reading them. Moreover, the plaintiffs stated in their petitions they were not provided with documents as described in the selling documents. Essentially, the claim boiled down to being the victims of unfair and deceptive practices on the part of Festiva. The group of people seek for the contracts to be declared null and void, in addition to money back for all of the charges they had incurred and reversal of negative actions taken by creditors.
Festiva argued to the court that the cases did not satisfy the requirements for joinder and therefore the trial court erred in not requiring each case be tried individually. The law applying to joinder in Louisiana is “Two or more parties may be joined in the same suit, either as plaintiffs or as defendants, if: (1) There is a community of interest between the parties joined; (2) Each of the actions cumulated is within the jurisdiction of the court and is brought in the proper venue; and (3) All of the actions cumulated are mutually consistent and employ the same form of procedure.” La. C.C.P art. 463. Essentially if the parties contain similar community of interest, venue where the harm took place, and procedure by which the harm occurred it is proper for the court to allow the cases to be joined together.
The sales pitch made by Festiva took place for every plaintiff in New Orleans, Louisiana, and were the product of the same procedure. Thus the court immediately recognizes that elements (2) and (3) were satisfied. The case turned on whether the group of buyers could be considered as sharing a “community of interest.”
The court looks to whether or not the plaintiffs share a strong similarity in the factual and legal issues raised by their case. If the plaintiffs can prove that a strong similarities occur, then they satisfy the requirement for a “community of interest.” This however, does not mean that the issues raised by each of the plaintiffs need to be exactly identical.
The appeals court found that because every one of the plaintiffs alleged that “a ninety-minute sales presentation, experienced a sales pitch from Festiva, paid Festiva for what the plaintiffs understood to be a timeshare, signed contracts with Festiva, and experienced not being able to use what they had purchased” enough similarities existed to justify the group of buyers as sharing a community of interest.
However, while joinder can be found as proper, if at any point during the court believes that it would simplify or make easier the trying of the case, the court may separate the actions. The court can do this even if the culmination is deemed to be proper under the law. La. C.C.P. art. 465. Because of this exception, even if the requirements of joinder are satisfied cases may not necessarily be combined. This rule gives a great deal of discretion to the court to do what it thinks is best.
In the end, the cases in the Festiva action where sent back down to be tried individually. This happened despite it satisfying those elements needed for joinder.
No legal problem is a worry free vacation. Often, legal problems, end up being much more high pressure like time share sales. Make sure you understand the law as it applies to your situation whenever you are seeking legal action by talking to a qualified legal professional. Each and every case is different and the law may apply to your situation differently then another similar case.
Additional Sources: ANGELA COOPER, ET AL. VERSUS FESTIVA RESORTS, LLC AND FESTIVA DEVELOPMENT GROUP, LLC (D.B.A./A.K.A FESTIVA ADVENTURE CLUB, FESTIVA MANAGEMENT GROUP, AND/OR FESTIVA HOSPITALITY GROUP) CONSOLIDATED WITH: LARRY ADAMS, JR., ET AL. VERSUS FESTIVA RESORTS, LLC, ET AL.
Written by Berniard Law Firm Blog Writer: Jacob Weil
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