Foster City attorney suspended for obtaining information on people he didn't represent

By Olivia Olsen | Apr 26, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Louis Allen Liberty, a Foster City attorney, was recently suspended from practicing law for 90 days by the State Bar Court of California. 

The suspension stems from an incident in which Liberty solicited consumers who had purchased used cars with frame damage to create a class action lawsuit against the car dealers.

In August 2010, Liberty began searching for potential clients with partners William Sutton and Larry Maloney, who are not licensed attorneys. Sutton, a used car salesman, would identify frame damage on vehicles to be sold at auction while Maloney created a software to obtain the vehicle identification numbers (VIN). Liberty would then contact the car owner’s to see if they could sue the dealers. 

In September 2011, Liberty discovered that he could not evenly split the earnings with non-attorneys. Liberty then purchased the information Sutton and Maloney had gathered for referrals for $3,500. However, the information Liberty purchased only contained VINs and not contact information for the owners. It was at this point that Liberty went to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

As an attorney, Liberty was able to access contact information for clients whom he already represented. The attorney allegedly used this ability to wrongly obtain the contact information for people he did not yet represent. The DMV provided him with the information for 180 vehicle owners, and Liberty sent 180 solicitation letters. Various versions of the letter were sent, all of which stated that the owner’s vehicles were worth significantly less than what they paid, though the percentages he provided were not factual. 

The state bar court determined that Liberty’s misrepresentation to both potential clients and the DMV displayed moral turpitude. Due to the nature of his misconduct, suspension was recommended and ordered.

In 2014, Liberty was disciplined twice for accepting advanced fees in nine loan modification matters. Liberty has been a member of the California State Bar since 1990 and is a graduate of San Francisco Law School. 

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