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 restricted obligation business, 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 restricted obligation business, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, independently and also as an owner, officer, manager, and/or representative associated with 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 think about if the region court correctly awarded summary judgment to your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated a few federal statutes and laws relating to the purchase of home loan support relief services. Lanier contends that the region court must not have awarded summary judgment for many 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 among these arguments has merit and affirm the district court.

Factual Background

Through Lanier Law, LLC, their attorney, Michael Lanier, a lawyer situated in Jacksonville, Florida, offered mortgage help relief solutions to individuals vulnerable to losing their homes to foreclosure. 1 Lanier and their affiliates promised homeowners that in return for an upfront cost, he’d negotiate less expensive month-to-month home loan repayments, reduced rates of interest, and paid off major balances for the kids.

Lanier Law shared a workplace with Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated some other entities including Pinnacle Legal Services, Fortress Legal Services, together with 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 associated with their foreclosure relief badcreditloans4all.com/payday-loans-sd/aberdeen/ solutions. Lanier fundamentally joined a conditional responsible plea, admitting that he had improperly solicited clients and neglected to supervise non-lawyers, in which he ended up being suspended quickly through the training of legislation.

Ahead of Lanier’s suspension system, he became involved in three newly created 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, offered consumers 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 protection cases towards the D.C. organizations, any mail provided for D.C. ended up being 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 to exert effort with respect to the D.C. organizations. Also to collect re re re payments, the D.C. companies used the vendor processing portal that Lanier had employed for Lanier Law.

Making sure that Lanier Law additionally the D.C. organizations could attract customers nationwide, they related to “of counsel” attorneys across the nation. The counsel that is“of solicitors had been compensated a month-to-month retainer of around $300 each month; the task they performed ended up being generally limited by reviewing retainer agreements for customer contact information also to verify the agreements had been finalized and dated.

Together, Lanier Law in addition to D.C. companies operated an amount 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 support. The ads promoted the “of counsel” community, noting that the law practice “has working arrangements with skilled and competent solicitors and lawyers 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 government document, informed customers that their house was in fact “selected for the program that is special the national Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your property re payments current 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 was 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 adverts had been known Lanier Law or even the D.C. organizations. Throughout the enrollment procedure, instance supervisors told clients that the company would get loan customizations with somewhat reduced re re re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed consumers that the companies had success that is extremely high in bringing down re re payments—over 90 per cent. Once new customers enrolled, Lanier Law plus the D.C. businesses sent them comparable documents. The customers had been necessary to spend advance charges greater than $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to avoid their home loan repayments and also to pay Lanier Law or perhaps the D.C. organizations alternatively.

When the customers started making re payments, Lanier Law together with D.C. organizations 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 as well as the D.C. companies had never tried to make contact with the loan providers. The majority of the customers reported that the companies did not get any adjustments with the person. Others stated that however some changes had been acquired, these people were never as guaranteed and often needed higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.

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