January 25, 2017 and Its Executives Named in Four New Lawsuits in Washington, California, Texas, and Alabama

The lawsuits are believed to be the first cases in the country where the company’s CEO and owners are named as defendants.

Four new lawsuits were filed today against the owners and operators of, including the company’s CEO, Carl Ferrer, and two of the website’s long-time owners, James Larkin and Michael Lacey.


The plaintiffs in each lawsuit allege they were teenager girls when they were sold for sex on the website by sex traffickers.  Two plaintiffs jointly filed suit in Washington, one plaintiff filed suit in California, one plaintiff filed suit in Texas, and one plaintiff filed suit in Alabama.

Jason P. Amala, a Seattle attorney who jointly represents four of the five girls, believes the four lawsuits are the first civil claims to be filed against Ferrer, Larkin and Lacey.  In the lawsuits, the girls allege that Ferrer, Larkin, and Lacey are liable because they knew they were profiting from illegal sex trafficking. On Tuesday, the three men appeared in court in California in response to 39 criminal counts for allegedly facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking.

Amala believes the lawsuits are the first cases to be filed since January 9, 2017, when the company purported to shut down the “escort” section of its website due to “censorship” by the United States government.  The “escort” section was shuttered within hours after the United States Senate issued a scathing report about the company’s alleged role in online sex trafficking.

The next day, Ferrer, Larkin, and Lacey appeared before a panel of U.S. Senators and refused to answer any questions.  Instead, each invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  The men were joined by the website’s Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Padilla, and corporate counsel, Elizabeth McDougal, who also refused to testify and invoked the Fifth Amendment.

The defendants named in the lawsuits include a number of U.S. and foreign companies that were allegedly involved in running the website or were used to conceal its profits.  Some of the lawsuits allege the companies are liable because they profited from the website “even though [they] knew those profits were derived from illegal conduct.”

In response to prior lawsuits, the website has asserted it is immune from suit under a federal law known as the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”).  The CDA provides websites immunity from suit for content posted by third parties so long as the website does not help create or develop the content.  Websites also have immunity if they edit content, but only if the content is edited in good faith.

According to Amala, the four lawsuits are being filed now because of the Senate report:  “For years the website has publicly claimed they were trying to remove sex ads.  That was the company line, but the Senate report shows that was not true.  The report details how the website, at the direction of its top executives, was systematically editing sex ads to make it less obvious that they were for sex.  They then posted the sanitized sex ad for a fee and kept the profits.”

Some of the complaints cite internal company emails that the plaintiffs claim support their allegations.  In one, Ferrer said it would be “too harsh” to ban advertisements that contained words or images that indicated the ad was for sex.  Instead, Ferrer said it was “[b]etter to edit by removing bad text or removing bad language” so that users could “adjust.”

The complaints also quote from deposition testimony that Amala obtained from a former employee of  In his deposition, the former employee agreed that his job was “to basically sanitize ads for prostitution.”  The complaints allege that the employee “would then post the sanitized ad, even though he knew the ad was a person who was trying to sell sex for money.”

The plaintiffs allege they were advertised on the website at various times between 2013 and late 2015.  According to the Senate report, generated $135 million in revenue in 2014, and the vast majority of that revenue was from sex ads.

Washington:  The Washington lawsuit was filed on behalf of two teenage girls who are identified as R.O. and K.M.  R.O. alleges she was 14 to 15 years old, and K.M. alleges she was 16 years old, when they were sold for sex on the website.  Each girls alleges she was sold for sex in the greater Seattle area.  R.O. alleges her ads appeared on the website from October 2014 until December 2015.  K.M. alleges her ads appeared in early 2015.  Both girls allege they were repeatedly sexually abused as a result of being advertised for sex on the website.

California:  The California lawsuit was filed on behalf of a teenage girl who the complaint identifies as “Jane Doe.”  Jane Doe alleges she was 15 years old when she was sold for sex on the website.  Jane Doe alleges she was sold for sex in Riverside County, California.  Jane Doe alleges her ads appeared on the website for weeks in August 2015.  Jane Doe alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused as a result of being advertised for sex on the website.

Texas:  The Texas lawsuit was filed on behalf of a teenage girl who identified as “J.M.”  In her complaint, J.M. alleges she was 15 to 16 years old when she was sold for sex on the website.  J.M. alleges she was sold for sex in Hawaii, but filed suit in Texas because Dallas, Texas, was the principal place of business for the website during the time she was abused.  In October 2016, authorities raided the Dallas offices of the website after its CEO, Carl Ferrer, was arrested.  J.M. alleges her ads appeared on the website from March 2015 through September 2015.  J.M. alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused as a result of being advertised for sex on the website.

Alabama:  The Alabama lawsuit was filed on behalf of a woman identified as “K.R.”  In her complaint, K.R. alleges she was 17 years old when she was sold for sex on the website.  K.R. alleges she was sold for sex in Houston County, Alabama.  K.R. alleges her ads appeared on the website between May 2013 and August 2013.  K.R. alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused as a result of being advertised on the website.

The four lawsuits are not the first lawsuits to be filed against the website.  In 2012, Amala and his law firm, in conjunction with Tacoma lawyer Erik Bauer, filed a separate lawsuit in Washington on behalf of three minor girls who allege they were sold for sex on the website in 2010.  The website moved to dismiss the case, citing the CDA, but the trial court denied the motion.  In October 2015, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision and concluded the plaintiffs should be allowed to move forward with their case so they could try to prove their allegations that the website was actively involved in editing their ads.  That case is currently scheduled to begin trial in Pierce County, Washington, in May 2017.

Amala believes these are important test cases regarding the CDA:  “I am proud of our clients for standing up for themselves and for thousands of other women and children who were trafficked for sex through this website.  The website has gone to great lengths to conceal its involvement in sex trafficking, but the truth is finally coming out.  Congress did not intend to give immunity to a website that created an online marketplace for sex trafficking, let alone a website that actively sanitized sex ads under the cover of trying to prevent sex trafficking.”

June 20, 2016

Express Locations Employment Lawsuit – Investigation

We are currently investigating a potential class action lawsuit against Express Locations LLC (Express Locations), a T-Mobile cellular phone and phone products retail business, on behalf of current and former employees.  It has come to our attention that Express Locations may be violating state and national wage and labor laws.  Please contact us via the form below if you are a current or former employee and have information to share.  Your information will be kept confidential.

Express Locations may have violated the rights of its employees in the following ways:

  • Not paying overtime to employees who worked more than 40 hours per week
  • Requiring employees to attend meetings “off the clock.”
  • Charging employees for lost or stolen merchandise, resulting in pay below minimum wage.

Express Locations has locations in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

If you don’t work for Express Locations, but a different employer and you have similar complaints, please contact us via our Contact page.

March 24, 2016

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Eight Sexual Abuse Cases for $9,150,000

(Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Seattle) — The Seattle Archdiocese has paid $9,150,000 to settle the claims of eight women who were sexually abused as young girls by parish priest Father Michael Cody. Documentary evidence demonstrates that the Archdiocese knew that Cody was a pedophile and that he was a danger to young people well before the abuse of these women occurred.

Cody sexually abused six of the women while he was assigned to St. Charles Parish in Burlington, Washington from 1968 to 1972, and the other two while he was assigned to Assumption Parish in Bellingham, Washington from 1972 to 1975.

During a trial last year of Jeri Hubbard, who was abused by Cody in Skagit County in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Seattle Archdiocese admitted it acted in an outrageous manner and caused Hubbard serious injuries. In 1962 the then Seattle archbishop had received a letter from a psychiatrist stating that Cody had sexually abused young girls and diagnosing him as a pedophile. Subsequent letters from other priests repeatedly warned the archbishop of Cody’s dangerous propensities. The archbishop then transferred Cody from King to Skagit County where he abused Hubbard. The Archdiocese settled with Hubbard for 1.2 million dollars the day before the jury was scheduled to begin deliberations.

The same legal team that represented Jeri Hubbard also represented the eight women whose cases were just resolved for $9,150,000 – John Murphy of Mt Vernon, Mike Pfau of Seattle and Rand Jack of Bellingham.

Attorney John Murphy, commented: “By bringing these lawsuits, these brave women have helped focus attention on the betrayal by the Archdiocese, as well as by priests. We have barely begun to understand the depth and breadth of the psychological injuries they have suffered and continue to suffer. Hopefully, the resolution of these lawsuits will be part of the healing process.”

Rand Jack of Bellingham added: “I feel privileged to have helped represent these women and to have experienced their courage and determination. They have stood up for themselves and other victims of sexual abuse. Money damages can never compensate them for the harm caused by their parish priest and the betrayal of a powerful institution they revered.”

Seattle attorney Michael T. Pfau, suspects the Archdiocese settled because it does not want the public to hear the full evidence that exists regarding Cody and because the evidence implicating the former Archbishop was so damning. Pfau says: “The evidence regarding Father Cody is overwhelming, and I don’t think the Archdiocese wants more bad publicity. The direct involvement of former Archbishop Thomas Connelly in placing this pedophile in parishes with full knowledge of his danger to children is truly disturbing.”

Pfau also states: “The 1962 record describing Cody’s diagnosis as a pedophile may be one of the earliest remaining record regarding a priest in the Seattle Archdiocese posing a danger to children, at least that I’ve seen in representing abuse survivors.”

Father Cody had previously served at St. Luke Parish in Seattle, Holy Family Parish in Seattle, St. James Cathedral in Seattle, Holy Family Parish in Auburn, and Sacred Heart Parish in La Conner. He was then transferred to St. Charles Parish in Burlington and Assumption Parish in Bellingham, followed by St. Margaret Parish in Seattle.

The plaintiffs are jointly represented by Michael Pfau of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC in Seattle, Washington, John W. Murphy of Mt. Vernon, Washington, and Rand F. Jack of Bellingham, Washington.

In the news

Washington Post (Mar. 24, 2016) – ‘Father Cody is dangerous’: Seattle Archdiocese settles sex abuse case for $9.1 million after damning letters surface

KOMO News (Mar. 23, 2016) – Seattle Archdiocese settles 8 abuse cases for $9 million

Seattle Times (Mar. 23, 2016) – 8 women settle with Seattle Archdiocese for $9.1 million in priest sex-abuse cases

March 15, 2016

iPic Theater Lawsuit over ADA Discrimination Claims

We are investigating a class action lawsuit against iPic Theaters for discriminating against people with disabilities for not providing ADA-accessible seating in their movie theaters, and requiring disabled people to pay more to enjoy the same experience as everyone else. If you, or someone you know has been over-charged by iPic Theaters for wheelchair-accessible seating, please contact us below.

Non-ADA Accessible Movie Theater Seats

Is iPic really the “Ultimate Theater Experience?”

That’s how they bill themselves.  But is it fair to charge more for people who have special equipment required to get around?  The law is that everyone should be able to experience iPic’s theaters and not have to pay extra for handicapped seating.

iPic Theaters around the US

iPic has theaters around the country:

  • iPic Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ
  • iPic Westwood, Los Angeles, CA
  • iPic Pasadena, Pasadena, CA
  • iPic Mizner Park, Boca Raton, FL
  • iPic North Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, FL
  • iPic Bolingbrook, Bolingbrook, IL
  • iPic South Barrington, South Barrington, IL
  • iPic Pike & Rose, North Bethesda, MD
  • iPic Austin, Austin, TX
  • iPic Fairview, Fairview, TX
  • iPic Houston, Houston, TX
  • iPic Redmond, Redmond WA
  • iPic Bayshore, Glendale, WI

We are seeking clients from anywhere in the US that have paid more for handicapped seating.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Violated

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides these regulations to allow everyone, regardless of physical ability, to enjoy activities without having to spend extra money. It’s not fair, and we want iPic to stop these practices and try to prevent other movie theaters from behaving the same way.  A class action lawsuit can have this effect.

We want to hear from you

If you’ve been to an iPic theater and had to pay extra for premium seating because there were no wheelchair-accessible seats available, you may have a claim in our class action lawsuit.  We are seeking class representatives, so please contact us as soon as you can.

Contact us today

There is no cost to you to contact us and we only get paid if we win.  Usually, in a class action lawsuit, the attorney’s fees are paid out of a separate fund.  Lawsuits like this are meant to incite change in the policies of corporations that take advantage of people, and when you have a company like iPic making millions of dollars unfairly, a class action suit is an excellent tool to make them change.

January 20, 2016

Chipotle Class Action – Shareholder Derivative Lawsuit

Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC is investigating a filing of a shareholder derivative class action lawsuit against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG).  PCVA Law contends that Chipotle may have issued materially misleading business information to the investing public that ultimately harmed your financial position.

Chipotle Stock Price Drop

If you purchased or owned stock in Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., between February 2015 and January 2016, we want to hear from you.  To join this investigation and the potential class action lawsuit please contact Steve Lindell toll free at 1-800-349-7282.

No Class has been certified in this action.  You must retain an attorney to be represented in this matter.

PCVA Law is currently an integral part of the Premera Class Action lawsuits ( ), and the Volkswagen emissions scandal class action. (

Take action.  Call today.  We look forward to speaking with you.

Chipotle Shareholder Derivative Lawsuit



October 2, 2015

Coach Sexual Abuse Case Featured by KING 5 and the Olympian

OLYMPIA, Wash. — For five years, Brittany kept her relationship with her soccer coach a secret.

Back in 2009, David E. Cross was a well respected coach with the premier level Blackhills Football Club in Olympia. He coached the top teenage female players and was tough on them.

“I just looked up to him immensely,” Brittany said. “I didn’t have someone that was involved in sports that I could look up to. He was a big mentor for me.”

KING 5 agreed not to disclose Brittany’s last name because of the alleged abuse she suffered as a minor.

Brittany said he started singling her out when she was 15.

“He started asking what I had done with other people my age, sexually,” she said. “And he wanted to know details about what happened, and it just started progressing from there.”

Read the rest of the story and watch the video on KING 5’s website by clicking here:

Read the story on the Olympian by clicking here:

September 21, 2015

Lawsuit Accuses Youth Soccer Coach of Sexually Abusing Former Player

A former Thurston County woman has filed and served a lawsuit that accuses a youth soccer coach of sexually exploiting her, eventually engaging her in sexual intercourse, when she was a 17 year-old player.  The woman, identified only by the initials B.W., alleges that former St. Martin’s University Men’s Soccer and Black Hills Football Club Coach David E. Cross began grooming her at age 13 and ultimately engaged in sex acts with the then-minor player multiple times, including before soccer try-outs and on trips with the team.  The lawsuit names the youth league B.W. played in, Black Hills Football Club, as well as Cross and his wife, as defendants.

The suit, filed by Tacoma attorneys Darrell Cochran and Kevin Hastings on behalf of B.W., states that B.W. was a member of the Black Hills Football Club’s “A” team coached by Cross.  Cross occasionally texted his favorite soccer players, but by January 2009, Cross was texting B.W. frequently.  The texts started as mentoring messages but moved to personal questions about B.W.’s sexual experience with boys.  Texting then turned into in-person encounters and culminated in sexual intercourse.

“Cross’s behavior is textbook grooming,” Cochran said.  “A perpetrator with a position of power who secretly and systematically showers someone under his or her control with more and more attention.  At some point he knew he had enough power over B.W. that he could move the relationship beyond the bounds of coach-and-player,” said Cochran.

Cross had intercourse with B.W. multiple times at various locations around Thurston County and on trips out-of-town with the soccer team, including Disneyland, according to the lawsuit.  The suit also alleges that Cross took pictures of himself having sex with the then-17 year-old player.

A Lacey Police Department report from February 2010 documents how at one point Cross was discovered by police alone with B.W. after 9 at night in his work van.  When a Lacey Police Officer in his patrol car approached Cross’s van as a suspicious vehicle, Cross turned the van on and drove away.  The officer caught up with Cross and pulled him over.  When questioned, Cross told the officer that he had pulled over because of a “medical condition” and that he and B.W. were “just talking”.

The officer noted in his report that, “I did not believe (Cross) had to stop for a medical condition and furthermore as a coach and adult I felt his actions were highly suspect and inappropriate.”

The incident was forwarded to Lacey Police detectives at the time, but there is no record of any further action by the department until January of this year, when B.W. contacted Lacey detectives directly.  B.W. gave detectives more information about the abuse by Cross, including specific details of the location and nature of the sexual acts, as well as the damage the abuse has done to her ever since.  Although the case was referred to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, prosecutors have declined to prosecute Cross citing concerns with the statute of limitations.

“The criminal justice system may have failed her, but she is determined not to let this happen to another youth player,” B.W.’s attorney Kevin Hastings said.  “She wants the truth to be known and forcing these defendants to answer in civil court appears to be the only way that’s going to ever happen.”

Black Hills Football Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that claims on its website to be “the premiere level soccer club of the Thurston County Youth Soccer Association.”  The lawsuit claims that Black Hills Football Club failed to protect B.W. from her coach, and that the organization knew or should have known that a soccer coach “could or would exploit young soccer players” and that the failure of the club to properly supervise Cross and his teams led to the abuse suffered by B.W.

July 15, 2015

Sexually assaulted girl awarded $754,000 from Clover Park schools

A Pierce County jury has decided the Clover Park School District owes a developmentally disabled girl more than $754,000 for failing to protect her from a troubled classmate who sexually assaulted her in a school bathroom.

In a verdict handed down last week, the jury also awarded $7,500 each to the parents of the middle school student for damages they suffered as a result of their daughter’s trauma.

The parents sued the district in 2013, contending it knew the boy who attacked their daughter had a history of acting out sexually. The district, they alleged, failed to protect their daughter from him.

“As a result of the district negligence, (the girl) has been traumatized, suffering PTSD, and becoming anxious and withdrawn,” their attorney, Loren Cochran, wrote last month in a trial brief.

“Additionally, her parents have suffered immense anger, grief and mental anguish at what happened to their daughter on the day she was sexually assaulted at school.”

The district admitted it was negligent in its supervision of the boy, but its attorneys argued at trial that the girl deserved damages of no more than $50,000.

“Given her cognitive ability, it is unlikely the girl experienced many of the psychological issues customarily associated with sexual assault, such as feeling guilty or damaged,” the district’s attorney, William Coats, wrote in his trial brief.

The attack occurred Jan. 28, 2011, at Lochburn Middle School.

The girl, then 11, was having lunch in the school cafeteria when the boy, then 13, pulled her into a bathroom and sexually assaulted her while two other boys watched, court records show.

The boy, also developmentally disabled, later told school officials he’d pulled down the girl’s pants and “touched his private area to her private area,” even as she asked him to stop, the records show.

The girl emerged from the bathroom visibly upset a few minutes later and told a school employee what happened.

Two months before, school officials found the boy in a bathroom engaged in sexual touching with another boy.

As a result of that incident, the 13-year-old boy was prohibited from using student bathrooms and “could only use the nurse’s bathroom under supervision,” court records show.

“The teacher at Lochburn followed this directive when (the boy) left her classroom for bathroom privileges, but there was no plan in place to supervise him during unstructured times, such as lunch and recess,” Coats said in his trial brief.

“When the incident … occurred, there was no apparent supervision of the students, and they were allowed to leave the cafeteria and enter the boys’ bathroom unnoticed.”

Cochran contended the district compounded its negligence by failing to immediately disclose to the girl’s parents the details of the assault or to offer the family counseling services.

Coats countered that the family was offered counseling through a local hospital where the girl was examined, but they did not take advantage of it.

The girl finished out the school year at Lochburn before moving out of state with her family, court records show.

The district transferred the boy to Hudtloff Middle School, where he sexually assaulted a boy while being briefly left unsupervised, court records show. In 2013, the district agreed to pay the victim in that case $275,000 as part of a settlement.

Lakewood police investigated the incidents, but the boy — described in school records as impulsive and of extremely low cognitive ability — was never charged with a crime.

Instead, he was referred to a diversion program designed to provide early intervention and rehabilitation to trouble youth.

A team assembled by the school district determined the boy’s actions in the Lochburn incident were “a manifestation of his disability,” and his expulsion was converted to a short-term suspension.

He’s since left the district and is thought to be living in Montana, court records show.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 @TNTAdam

Read more here:

March 19, 2015

Medical Liens Bill SHB1503 is heard after our MultiCare Lawsuit

A state lawmaker who represents Tacoma wants to tighten some aspects of medical lien law, in response to some billing practices brought to light by a lawsuit against Pierce County’s largest private employer, MultiCare Health Systems.

The bill by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, would more tightly regulate any third-party vendors who issue medical liens, as well as to require medical providers to tell patients up front that they use medical liens as part of their billing practices. The bill also creates a way for a person to collect damages if a medical lien isn’t immediately removed when a person pays the debt.

“I try not to do bills about single incidents,” Jinkins said Wednesday. However, she said this legislation is “a warning shot” to ensure other health systems walk the line on use of medical liens.

“We want to see how the medical systems react,” she said.

State law allows some health-care providers, including hospitals and doctors, to seek medical liens to recover the cost of providing care to patients who have no medical insurance or other ways to pay. Medical liens — essentially a claim for payment — show up on credit reports and can make it hard, for example, for a person to buy or sell property.

In the case of MultiCare, a group of former MultiCare patients sued the health system and its third-party vendor, a California-based company, alleging it had filed thousands of liens improperly starting in 2010. The vendor used a notary public who was illegally registered in Washington state to file many of the liens, the patients alleged.

MultiCare denied wrongdoing and blamed its vendor and a former employee for the aggressive collection practices. The vendor was fired and filed for bankruptcy protection, and the employee no longer works for MultiCare.

The health system settled the lawsuit last fall for $7.5 million.

Read more here:

March 19, 2015

Premera Data Breach Exposes Personal Data on 11M Subscribers

Update: We have set up a separate website dedicated to providing information about the Premera Data Breach.  Please visit there and find out how we can help.  We have filed a class action lawsuit and are taking clients now.

Social Security numbers, Dates of Birth, email addresses, mailing addresses, and more were potentially exposed in what Premera Blue Cross is calling a “sophisticated cyberattack.”  The attack happened May 5, 2014, but wasn’t discovered until January 29, 2015.  This likely means that the hackers had access to Premera’s data for more than 8 months.  If you were a Premera subscriber between those dates, it is likely that your personal information has been compromised.

What kind of personal information was available to the hackers?

  • Full name
  • Social security number
  • Bank Account information
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Email Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Claims information, including clinical information

PCVA is investigating a class action lawsuit and is looking for Premera clients who think their data has been compromised.  According to this Seattle Times article, Premera learned about its technical vulnerabilities 3 weeks before the breach from federal auditors.  Premera received the findings and 10 recommendations April 18, 2014, more than 2 weeks before the breach.

Identity theft a real concern

Identity theft a real concern

With the right information, a hacker can wreak havoc on a person’s life.  Your tax return can be stolen, or subverted by a hacker with your SSN and address.  Your bank’s customer service center may authenticate “you” by your address, date of birth, and a few digits of your social security number.  Someone can file for unemployment in your name, causing a big headache for you and your boss.  Of course, there’s the old standby of using your information to open new credit accounts and racking up huge balances that will affect your credit score.

This attack on Premera was discovered around the same time as a similar attack on Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurance company, was disclosed by the FTC.  In that data breach, hackers stole information on as many as 80 million people.

What can you do?

Premera is offering 2 years of free credit monitoring that can help with some of the concerns. has information about that.  You can stay vigilant and watch your credit.  You can call your bank and add a phone passcode to require that one extra step that can save your accounts.

Class Action Lawsuit

Our law firm is investigating the possibility of a class action lawsuit against Premera for failing to protect your personal information and causing harm to its 11 million subscribers.  If you were a Premera subscriber or if you have Premera insurance coverage through your employer, we would love to hear from you and discuss the potential for legal action against Premera.  Please contact us today for a free consultation.

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