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 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 NUMBER OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation company, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, separately 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 requires us to take into account whether or not the region court precisely granted summary judgment to your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated a few statutes that are federal regulations associated with the purchase of home loan support relief solutions. Lanier contends that the district court must not have awarded summary judgment for many reasons, including that the region court improperly admitted proof against him, overlooked disputes of material fact, 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 a workplace with Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated some other entities Pinnacle that is including Legal, Fortress Legal Services, and also the Department of Loss Mitigation and Forensics (“DOLMF”) (collectively, the “staffing agencies”). These entities supplied staffing, recommendations, as well as other solutions to Lanier Law.

In 2012, the Florida Bar filed a grievance against Lanier pertaining to their foreclosure relief services. Lanier ultimately joined a conditional responsible plea, admitting which he had improperly solicited customers and did not supervise non-lawyers, and then he ended up being suspended quickly through the training of legislation.

Ahead of 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, supplied customers with mortgage help solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices located in the District of Columbia, nevertheless 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 towards the D.C. businesses, any mail delivered to D.C. ended up being forwarded immediately to Jacksonville, Florida, where Lanier Law operated. Lanier Dep. at 37 (Doc. 269). The Pinnacle and DOLMF employees that has formerly caused Lanier http://badcreditloans4all.com/payday-loans-ar/ashdown Law consumers proceeded to exert effort on behalf of the D.C. organizations. And also to gather re re payments, the D.C. companies utilized the vendor processing portal that Lanier had employed for Lanier Law.

To ensure that Lanier Law together with D.C. companies could attract customers nationwide, they connected with “of counsel” attorneys across the united states. The counsel that is“of lawyers had been compensated a month-to-month retainer of approximately $300 each month; the job they performed ended up being generally speaking restricted to reviewing retainer agreements for customer email address and also to verify the agreements had been finalized and dated.

Together, Lanier Law together with D.C. companies operated a volume company recruiting customers to buy home loan support relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers through the web, letters, and leaflets providing home loan help. The ads promoted the counsel that is“of network, noting that the law practice “has working arrangements with skilled and competent attorneys and law offices in lots 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 federal government document, informed customers that their house have been “selected for a special system by the national Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your property 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, giving, approving, or us[ing]” the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).

Customers who taken care of immediately the ads had been described Lanier Law or even the D.C. businesses. Through the enrollment procedure, instance supervisors told clients that the company would get loan changes with considerably reduced re re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed consumers that the businesses had exceptionally high success rates in reducing re re re payments—over 90 per cent. When new business enrolled, Lanier Law therefore the D.C. organizations delivered them paperwork that is similar. The customers were needed to spend advance costs in excess of $2,000, sometimes payable in installments. Some customers had been told to avoid their mortgage repayments also to pay Lanier Law or even the D.C. businesses alternatively.

When the consumers started making re payments, Lanier Law therefore the D.C. companies stopped communicating that work was being done on their loan modifications with them or transferred them to various case managers who assured them. Some consumers learned 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 companies neglected to get any improvements with the person. Other people stated that though some alterations had been acquired, they certainly were much less guaranteed and often needed higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.

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