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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 SELECTION OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation business, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, separately and also as an owner, officer, supervisor, and/or agent associated with above-mentioned entities, Defendant – countertop Claimant – Appellant, FORTRESS LAW GROUP, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation company, et al., Defendants.

This instance 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 a few statutes that are federal laws relating to the purchase of mortgage help relief services. Lanier argues that the region court must not have awarded summary judgment for a couple of reasons, including that the region court improperly admitted proof against him, overlooked disputes of product reality, making factual findings in the FTC’s favor. We conclude that none of those arguments has merit and affirm the district court.

Factual Background

Through Lanier Law, LLC, their law practice, Michael Lanier, a lawyer situated in Jacksonville, Florida, offered mortgage help relief solutions to individuals at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. 1 Lanier and his affiliates promised homeowners that in return for an upfront charge, he’d negotiate cheaper month-to-month mortgage repayments, lower rates of interest, and paid down major balances with the person.

Lanier Law shared work place with Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated some 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, referrals, as well as other solutions to Lanier Law.

In 2012, the Florida Bar filed an issue against Lanier pertaining to their foreclosure relief solutions. Lanier ultimately joined 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 associated with 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 support solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices situated in the District of Columbia, but 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” their foreclosure protection cases into the D.C. organizations, any mail delivered to 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 previously caused Lanier Law customers proceeded to exert effort on behalf of the D.C. businesses. And also to gather re re payments, the D.C. companies utilized the vendor processing portal that Lanier had utilized for Lanier Law.

To make certain that Lanier Law and also the D.C. businesses could attract customers nationwide, they related to “of counsel” attorneys across the nation. The “of counsel” solicitors had been paid a month-to-month retainer of around $300 each month; the task they performed ended up being generally speaking restricted to reviewing retainer agreements for customer contact information and also to ensure the agreements had been finalized and dated.

Together, Lanier Law together with D.C. businesses operated a volume company consumers that are recruiting buy home loan support relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers over the internet, letters, and leaflets providing home loan help. The adverts promoted the counsel that is“of community, noting that the law practice “has working arrangements with skilled and competent solicitors and law offices in several 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 federal government document, informed customers that their home was indeed “selected for a unique system by the Government Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your home re re payments present for under you borrowed from or your major balance down.” 2012 Flyer at 66 (Doc. 246-1). Other leaflets identified the sender as DOLMF, that was owned by Robles. Lanier denies any right 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 the D.C. companies. Throughout the enrollment process, situation supervisors told clients that the company would get loan improvements with notably reduced re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed customers that the companies had success that is extremely high in decreasing re payments—over 90 %. As soon as new business enrolled, Lanier Law in addition to D.C. businesses delivered them paperwork that is similar. The customers had been needed to spend advance charges greater than $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to cease their home loan repayments also to pay Lanier Law or even the D.C. companies rather.

After the customers started making re re payments, Lanier Law plus the D.C. companies 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 make contact with lenders. A lot https://badcreditloans4all.com/payday-loans-ma/hyde-park/ of the customers reported that the organizations neglected to get any customizations for the kids. Other people stated that while some improvements were acquired, they certainly were much less guaranteed and often needed higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.