The office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General yesterday said it was suing David Myrland of Kirkland, WA, the owner of legal opinion services site www.taxthis.net, for selling legal opinions online without a law license. The action versus Myrland follows similar lawsuits filed against him by Illinois and Wisconsin last year.
The key to the Pennsylvania lawsuit states that a legal opinion being sold at the site claims “gifting clubs” or pyramid schemes are legal in the state.
Barbara Petito, spokeswoman for the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, said pyramid schemes, where no tangible good or service is being sold or exchanged, are illegal in her state.
She said Myrland is being sued to thwart the disinformation on the grounds that selling legal opinion without a license is illegal in Pennsylvania.
Petito said the site sold legal information to at least one person in Erie, PA, where the lawsuit was filed in a county court. She didn’t disclose the identity of the person, but said he or she spurred the recruitment of 75 people, many elderly, in the area to become part of a pyramid scheme last summer.
“Some people were investing up to $2,000 that they should’ve been spending on heart medication,” Petito said. “A lot of these folks were elderly and we’re thinking they we’re going to get eight times back on their investments to give to their grandchildren.”
Ten area promoters connected to the pyramid were charged with misdemeanor offenses last August in agreements that they would cooperate with investigations. Most were charged up to $4,000 in penalties.
Petito said Myrland has used the Web site to advertise and sell legal opinions since last spring. The defendant has typically charged $50, plus shipping and handling, for legal letters that offer analysis of a variety of issues like pyramid schemes, according to a statement by the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Harrisburg, PA.
The lawsuit asks the court to:
• Require the defendant to cease the advertising and sale of his legal opinions to Pennsylvanians via the Internet.
• Require the defendant to pay civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and $3,000 for each violation involving a person age 60 and older.
• Require the defendant to pay Pennsylvania’s costs connected to the investigation of the case.
Myrland or other www.taxthis.com representatives could not be reached for comment.