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 liability that is limited, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, separately and as 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 think about perhaps the region court correctly granted summary judgment to your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated a few federal statutes and laws associated with the purchase of home loan help relief services. Lanier contends that the region court must not have awarded summary judgment for all 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.
Through Lanier Law, LLC, their attorney, 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 their affiliates promised homeowners that in return for an upfront cost, he would negotiate less expensive month-to-month home loan repayments, reduced interest levels, and paid down major balances for the kids.
Lanier Law shared a workplace with Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated various other entities including Pinnacle Legal Services, Fortress Legal Services, plus the Department of Loss Mitigation and Forensics (вЂњDOLMFвЂќ) (collectively, the вЂњstaffing agenciesвЂќ). These entities supplied staffing, recommendations, as well as other solutions to Lanier Law.
In 2012, the Florida Bar filed an issue against Lanier pertaining to their foreclosure relief services. Lanier fundamentally entered a conditional responsible plea, admitting which he had improperly solicited customers and did not supervise non-lawyers, in which he ended up being suspended shortly through the training of legislation.
Ahead of Lanier’s suspension system, he became associated with three newly developed entities into the District of Columbia: Fortress Law Group, LLP; Redstone Law Group, LLP; and Surety Law Group, LLP (collectively, the вЂњD.C. firmsвЂќ), which, like Lanier Law, supplied customers with home loan help solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices situated in the District of Columbia, nevertheless they had been in fact office[s that areвЂњvirtualвЂќ for Lanier’s operations in Florida. Rennick Dep. at 33 (Doc. 271). 3 Although Lanier вЂњtransferredвЂќ their foreclosure protection 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 worked with Lanier Law consumers proceeded to focus on behalf of the D.C. companies. And also to gather re payments, the D.C. businesses utilized the vendor processing portal that Lanier had employed for Lanier Law.
Making sure that Lanier Law and also the D.C. organizations could attract customers nationwide, they connected with вЂњof counselвЂќ attorneys across the nation. The вЂњof counselвЂќ lawyers had been compensated a month-to-month retainer of approximately $300 each month; the task they performed was generally speaking limited by reviewing retainer agreements for client email address also to make certain the agreements had been finalized and dated.
Together, Lanier Law and also the D.C. organizations operated a volume company consumers that are recruiting buy home loan support relief solutions (вЂњMARSвЂќ). The staffing agencies solicited customers over the internet, letters, and leaflets mortgage assistance that is offering. The ads promoted the вЂњof counselвЂќ community, noting that the law practice вЂњhas working arrangements with skilled and competent solicitors and law offices in lots of other states.вЂќ 2013 Flyer at 56 (Doc. 246-5). One flyer, entitled the вЂњEconomic Stimulus Mortgage NotificationвЂќ (the вЂњFlyerвЂќ), which appeared as if a government document, informed customers that their home was вЂњselected for the program that is special the national Insured Institutions,вЂќ that will вЂњbring your property re payments present at under your debt or your principal balance down.вЂќ 2012 Flyer at 66 (Doc. 246-1). Other leaflets identified the transmitter as DOLMF, that was owned by Robles. Lanier denies any part in вЂњdrafting, giving, approving, or us[ing]вЂќ the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).
Consumers whom taken care of immediately the adverts had been described Lanier Law or even the D.C. organizations. Through the enrollment process, case supervisors told clients that the company would get loan improvements with notably lower re re re payments and rates of interest. The representatives assured customers that the companies had success that is extremely high in reducing re paymentsвЂ”over 90 per cent. When new business enrolled, Lanier Law plus the D.C. companies delivered them paperwork that is similar. The customers had been needed to spend advance charges in excess of $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to avoid their mortgage repayments and also to pay Lanier Law or perhaps the D.C. businesses rather.
After the customers started making re re payments, Lanier Law in addition to 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 therefore the D.C. businesses had quick payday loans Chatsworth never tried to get hold of lenders. All the customers reported that the organizations did not get any changes with the person. Other people stated that while some adjustments had been acquired, these were never as guaranteed and often required higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.