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Peevish justices shield predatory lenders

By this one-page unsigned order, five Tennessee supreme court judges refuse to hear a first-of-its-kind case seeking to overthrow predatory business lenders working in the state. (Photo David Tulis)

Roger Page,is former chief justice of Tennessee

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Monday, April 15, 2024 — Tennessee supreme court justices today deny the application for a hearing in a radio journalist’s attack against payday-style “merchant cash advance” lenders.

The industry targets small business owners facing cash emergencies and soaks borrowers with interest rates of 208% per year (Flexibility Capital) and as high as 598% (Lendini).

Says David Tulis of NoogaRadio Network, “These are snarling, vicious businesses — with fraudulent two-faced contracts and oppressive claims upon the weak and the poor who are supposed to be protected by our state’s usury laws”

The case is styled Flexibility Capital Inc. vs. Cupelli et al and focuses on a $16,320 loan for which $24,140 was demanded in repayment, the annual interest rate at 208.05%. The borrower radio station defaulted just before the state of emergency March 2020.

David Tulis is reporter for NoogaRadio Network.

The one-sentence order denying a hearing comes amid a suit by Tulis of former chief justice Roger Page for false imprisonment and false arrest. The federal case is on appeal in the U.S. 6th circuit, stemming from Tulis’ arrest Nov. 6, 2021, reporting on the state judicial conference.

The Tennessee judicial conference is required to be open under the open meetings act, and also under constitutional press protections at Tenn. const. art. 1, sect. 19. The case against Justice Page, a police officer and others awaits a ruling on timely filing and extent of harm issues. In the suit Tulis is demanding relief with two injunctions, one requiring the conferences be public.

Tulis has been an irritant more than once to the supreme court. In his 878-day suit against Gov. Bill Lee filed Oct. 2, 2020, for fraud in the COVID-19 epidemic, Tulis filed two rounds of demands for recusal upon first two, then all five, of the justices for interest and bias. The supreme court issued a two-page order saying the case was not frivolous but refused to hear it.

“They are willing to let tens of thousands of people fall victim to these shysters because I caught them in flagranto delicto in their secret meetings shafting the public. They won’t give anybody a break if they have to give me one.”

“Up ’til now, nothing like this has reached the appellate level,” Tulis says. “They had a perfect opportunity to settle whether predatory lenders with contracts like these may do business in Tennessee, and they blew it. Now I’m going to have to go to federal court.”

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