FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. FORTRESS LAW GROUP LLC

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. FORTRESS LAW GROUP LLC

United states of america Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff – countertop Defendant – Appellee, v. LANIER LAW, LLC, a Florida liability that is limited, d.b.a. Redstone Law Group, d.b.a. What the law states Offices Of Michael W. Lanier, LIBERTY & TRUST LAW BAND 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 associated with above-mentioned entities, Defendant – countertop Claimant – Appellant, FORTRESS LAW GROUP, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation business, et al., Defendants.

This instance calls for us to think about if the region court properly awarded summary judgment to your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated a few statutes that are federal laws relating to the purchase of home loan support relief solutions. Lanier contends that the region court must not have given summary judgment for a number of reasons, including that the region court improperly admitted proof against him, overlooked disputes of product reality, making findings that are factual 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 Pinnacle that is including Legal, Fortress Legal Services, while the Department of Loss Mitigation and Forensics (“DOLMF”) Brownfield finance payday loans (collectively, the “staffing agencies”). These entities offered staffing, recommendations, along with other solutions to Lanier Law.

In 2012, the Florida Bar filed a problem against Lanier pertaining to their foreclosure relief solutions. Lanier ultimately entered a conditional responsible plea, admitting he was suspended briefly from the practice of law that he had improperly solicited clients and failed to supervise non-lawyers, and.

Ahead of Lanier’s suspension system, he became a part of three newly developed entities into 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, supplied customers with home loan support solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices located in the District of Columbia, nevertheless they had been in fact “virtual office[s]” for Lanier’s operations in Florida. Rennick Dep. at 33 (Doc. 271). 3 Although Lanier “transferred” their foreclosure defense cases to your D.C. companies, any mail delivered to D.C. ended up being forwarded instantly 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 to exert effort on behalf of the D.C. companies. Also to gather re re payments, the D.C. organizations utilized the vendor processing portal that Lanier had employed for Lanier Law.

To make certain that Lanier Law plus the D.C. organizations could attract customers nationwide, they connected with “of counsel” attorneys across the nation. The counsel that is“of lawyers had been compensated a monthly retainer of approximately $300 each month; the job they performed had been generally speaking limited by reviewing retainer agreements for customer email address also to ensure that the agreements had been finalized and dated.

Together, Lanier Law additionally the D.C. businesses operated an amount company consumers that are recruiting buy home loan support relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers over the internet, letters, and leaflets providing mortgage help. The adverts promoted the counsel that is“of community, noting that the law practice “has working arrangements with skilled and competent attorneys and attorneys in a lot of other states.” 2013 Flyer at 56 (Doc. 246-5). One flyer, entitled the “Economic Stimulus Mortgage Notification” (the “Flyer”), which appeared as if a federal government document, informed customers that their home was in fact “selected for a unique system by the national Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your home payments present at under you borrowed from 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 part in “drafting, giving, approving, or us[ing]” the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).

Customers whom taken care of immediately the adverts had been known Lanier Law or perhaps the D.C. organizations. Throughout the enrollment procedure, situation supervisors told clients that the company would obtain loan alterations with dramatically reduced re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed customers that the businesses had exceedingly high success prices in reducing re re payments—over 90 %. When new business enrolled, Lanier Law and also the D.C. companies delivered them comparable documents. The customers were necessary to spend advance charges greater than $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to quit their mortgage repayments and also to pay Lanier Law or the D.C. companies rather.

When the customers started making payments, Lanier Law therefore the D.C. companies stopped interacting using them or transferred them to different situation managers whom guaranteed them that work had been done on the loan alterations. Some consumers discovered from their lenders that Lanier Law together with D.C. companies had never tried to make contact with lenders. The majority of the customers reported that the businesses did not get any adjustments with the person. Other people stated that even though some changes were acquired, these were never as guaranteed and often required higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.

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