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Press Release: $12 Million Settlement Reached in Los Angeles Clean Energy Predatory Loan Case (PACE)

ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED
JOINT DEFENSE COMMUNICATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 26, 2024

Media Contact:
Alex Comisar
Rise Strategy Group
(214) 728-4909
alex@risestrategygroup.com

$12 million settlement reached in Los Angeles clean energy predatory loan case
Thousands of homeowners entitled to money to cover unaffordable PACE property liens

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County and Renew Financial Holdings have agreed to pay homeowners millions over Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans, which were meant to help homeowners finance the installation of clean energy products like solar panels, but resulted in hundreds of Angelenos facing unaffordable payments and property liens. 

Twin lawsuits, filed in 2018, alleged Renew and Renovate America targeted the loans at homeowners whom they should have known could not afford the payments. They similarly alleged the county put inadequate safeguards in place to protect homeowners.

“For years, we’ve struggled to pay our bills because of our PACE loan,” said Zenia Ocana, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “This settlement comes as such a relief. I finally feel like we can breathe again.”

“The stress of our PACE lien weighed heavy on me and my family,” says Bet Tzedek client Reginald Nemore. “I’m so relieved that that burden is no longer on my property, and we can enjoy peace of mind.”

Under the settlement, anyone who entered into a Renovate or Renew PACE loan in Los Angeles County between March 1, 2015 and March 31, 2018 qualifies if a lien was recorded against their property. 

The amount each homeowner will receive will vary based on their financial circumstances, their age, whether they received documents in English when the loans were negotiated in another language, and the number of people who file a claim.

“PACE should have been a good program that enabled homeowners to upgrade their homes with renewable energy,” said Ghirlandi Guidetti, a lead attorney on the case from Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. “Instead it turned into a nightmare for too many families. This settlement should help make that right.”

Anyone who believes they may qualify should visit publiccounsel.org. They will be able to sign up to receive a notification and link to the official settlement website when it is available for them to file a claim.

“We are proud to stand with our clients, and co-counsel at Public Counsel and Bet Tzedek, to help bring a measure of relief and justice to those who have suffered because of the PACE program implemented in L.A. County,” said Hogan Lovells partner Michael Maddigan. “It’s a great example of our firm’s commitment to pro bono assistance in the communities in which we live and work.”

“The PACE Program’s fundamentally flawed structure resulted in many elderly and low-income community members suffering under the crushing weight of untenable payment obligations incurred under false pretenses,” explained Taylor Amstutz, a homeowner protection attorney at Bet Tzedek Legal Services. “This settlement is a lifeline for our clients.”   

The case is Ocana, et al. v. Renew Financial Holdings, Inc., et al. It was consolidated with Nemore, et al. v. Renovate America Inc. The plaintiffs were represented by Public Counsel, Bet Tzedek and Hogan Lovells.

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About Public Counsel
Public Counsel is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to advancing civil rights and racial and economic justice, as well as to amplifying the power of our clients through comprehensive legal advocacy. Founded on and strengthened by a pro bono legal service model, our staff and volunteers seek justice through direct legal services, promote healthy and resilient communities through education and outreach, and support community-led efforts to transform unjust systems through litigation and policy advocacy in and beyond Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.publiccounsel.org. 

About Bet Tzedek
Bet Tzedek is an internationally recognized force in economic justice law and one of the largest legal aid organizations in Los Angeles County. With more than 100 staff members supported by more than 1,200 active volunteers, Bet Tzedek assists those most in need with some of the most pressing legal issues faced by our communities including elder abuse, employment rights violations, landlord/tenant and housing matters, real estate fraud and foreclosure prevention, basic estate planning, Holocaust reparations, probate guardianship, low-income tax advocacy, small business development, transgender advocacy, immigration, and public benefits. In addition to direct legal representation in each of these areas, Bet Tzedek staff conducts expansive outreach and education programs, and undertakes impact litigation and policy advocacy on issues of significance to our clients. To learn more, visit bettzedek.org

About Hogan Lovells
Global law firm Hogan Lovells has a long tradition of supporting ground-breaking social developments, focusing on access to justice and the rule of law. As lawyers, we recognize this commitment is part of our professional practice and collectively we spend more than 156,000+ pro bono hours per year on work to achieve lasting impact for others.