FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. FORTRESS LAW GROUP LLC

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. FORTRESS LAW GROUP LLC

Usa Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff – countertop Defendant – Appellee, v. LANIER LAW, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation business, d.b.a. Redstone Law Group, d.b.a. What the law states Offices Of Michael W. Lanier, LIBERTY & TRUST LAW NUMBER OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida liability that is limited, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, independently so when an owner, officer, supervisor, and/or agent for the above-mentioned entities, Defendant – countertop Claimant – Appellant, FORTRESS LAW GROUP, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation business, et al., Defendants.

This situation calls for us to take into account perhaps the region court correctly awarded summary judgment to your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated several federal statutes and laws associated with the purchase of home loan support relief services. Lanier argues that the region court must not have given summary judgment for all reasons, including that the region court improperly admitted proof against him, overlooked disputes of product reality, making factual findings in the FTC’s benefit. We conclude that none of the arguments has merit and affirm the region court.

Factual Background

An attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida, offered mortgage assistance relief services to people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. 1 Lanier and his affiliates promised homeowners that in exchange for an upfront fee, he would negotiate more affordable monthly mortgage payments, lower interest rates, and reduced principal balances on their behalf through Lanier Law, LLC, his law firm, Michael Lanier.

Lanier Law shared work place with Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated various other entities including Pinnacle Legal Services, Fortress Legal Services, and also the Department of Loss Mitigation and Forensics (“DOLMF”) (collectively, the “staffing agencies”). These entities offered staffing, recommendations, along with other solutions to Lanier Law.

In 2012, the Florida Bar filed a grievance against Lanier linked to their foreclosure relief services. Lanier fundamentally joined a conditional accountable plea, admitting he was suspended briefly from the practice of law that he had improperly solicited clients and failed to supervise non-lawyers, and.

Just before Lanier’s suspension system, he became a part of three newly produced entities when you look at the District of Columbia: Fortress Law Group, LLP; Redstone Law Group, LLP; and Surety Law Group, LLP (collectively, the “D.C. firms”), which, like Lanier Law, offered customers with home loan help solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices located in the District of Columbia, however they had been in fact office[s that are“virtual” for Lanier’s operations in Florida. Rennick Dep. at 33 (Doc. 271). 3 Although Lanier “transferred” his foreclosure defense cases into the D.C. businesses, any mail provided for D.C. had been forwarded straight away to Jacksonville, Florida, where Lanier Law operated. Lanier Dep. at 37 (Doc. 269). The Pinnacle and DOLMF employees that has formerly caused Lanier Law consumers proceeded be effective with respect to the D.C. organizations. And also to gather re payments, the D.C. organizations utilized the merchant processing portal that Lanier had utilized for Lanier Law.

To ensure Lanier Law and also the D.C bad credit payday loans Baraboo WI. companies could attract customers nationwide, they connected with “of counsel” attorneys across the nation. The counsel that is“of lawyers had been compensated a month-to-month retainer of around $300 each month; the task they performed had been generally speaking limited by reviewing retainer agreements for customer contact information and also to ensure that the agreements had been signed and dated.

Together, Lanier Law as well as the D.C. businesses operated a amount company consumers that are recruiting buy mortgage support relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers through the web, letters, and leaflets offering home loan help. The adverts promoted the counsel that is“of community, noting that the law practice “has working arrangements with skilled and competent attorneys and law offices in a lot of other states.” 2013 Flyer at 56 (Doc. 246-5). One flyer, entitled the “Economic Stimulus Mortgage Notification” (the “Flyer”), which seemed to be a federal federal government document, informed consumers that their home was in fact “selected for a program that is special the national Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your home re re payments present at under your debt or your major balance down.” 2012 Flyer at 66 (Doc. 246-1). Other leaflets identified the transmitter as DOLMF, that has been owned by Robles. Lanier denies any right part in “drafting, delivering, approving, or us[ing]” the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).

Customers whom taken care of immediately the ads had been described Lanier Law or the D.C. organizations. Throughout the enrollment procedure, situation supervisors told clients that the company would get loan customizations with somewhat reduced re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed consumers that the organizations had success that is extremely high in decreasing re payments—over 90 per cent. When new customers enrolled, Lanier Law and also the D.C. organizations sent them comparable paperwork. The customers had been necessary to spend advance costs of greater than $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to cease their mortgage repayments also to pay Lanier Law or the D.C. companies rather.

After the customers started making re payments, Lanier Law plus the D.C. businesses stopped interacting that work was being done on their loan modifications with them or transferred them to various case managers who assured them. Some consumers discovered from their lenders that Lanier Law together with D.C. organizations had never attempted to get hold of lenders. All of the consumers reported that the businesses neglected to get any customizations for the kids. Other people stated that though some adjustments had been acquired, these people were not quite as promised and sometimes needed higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.

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