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 SET OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida liability that is limited, Defendants – Counter Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, separately and also as an owner, officer, manager, and/or agent of this above-mentioned entities, Defendant – countertop Claimant – Appellant, FORTRESS LAW GROUP, LLC, a Florida restricted liability business, et al., Defendants.

This situation calls for us to think about 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 home loan help relief solutions. Lanier contends that the region court must not have given summary judgment for many reasons, including that the region court improperly admitted proof against him, overlooked disputes of material reality, making factual findings in the FTC’s benefit. We conclude that none among these arguments has merit and affirm the region 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 vulnerable to losing their homes to foreclosure. 1 Lanier along with his affiliates promised homeowners that in return for an upfront cost, he would negotiate cheaper month-to-month mortgage repayments, reduced interest levels, and paid off major balances with the person.

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, therefore the Department of Loss Mitigation and Forensics (“DOLMF”) (collectively, the “staffing agencies”). These entities offered staffing, recommendations, along with other solutions to Lanier Law.

In 2012, the Florida Bar filed an issue against Lanier associated with their foreclosure relief services. Lanier sooner or later joined a conditional bad plea, admitting which he had improperly solicited customers and neglected to supervise non-lawyers, in which he ended up being suspended quickly through the training of law.

Ahead of Lanier’s instant payday loans Mountain City suspension, 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 consumers with home loan support solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices situated in the District of Columbia, nonetheless 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 to your D.C. businesses, 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 formerly caused Lanier Law customers proceeded to get results with respect to the D.C. organizations. Also to collect re re payments, the D.C. companies utilized the vendor processing portal that Lanier had utilized for Lanier Law.

In order that Lanier Law and also the D.C. firms could attract customers nationwide, they connected with “of counsel” attorneys across the nation. The counsel that is“of solicitors had been compensated a month-to-month retainer of around $300 every month; the job they performed had been 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 while the D.C. companies operated a volume company recruiting customers to buy mortgage help relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers over the internet, letters, and leaflets mortgage assistance that is offering. The ads promoted the counsel that is“of community, noting that the law practice “has working arrangements with skilled and competent solicitors and lawyers in a lot of other states.” 2013 Flyer at 56 (Doc. 246-5). One flyer, entitled the “Economic Stimulus Mortgage Notification” (the “Flyer”), which looked like a federal federal government document, informed customers that their house was indeed “selected for a program that is special the national Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your home re 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 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 even the D.C. organizations. Through the enrollment procedure, situation supervisors told clients that the company would get loan improvements with dramatically reduced re re payments and interest levels. The representatives guaranteed customers that the businesses had very high success prices in bringing down re re payments—over 90 per cent. As soon as new business enrolled, Lanier Law while the D.C. businesses delivered them paperwork that is similar. The customers were necessary to spend advance charges greater than $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to cease their mortgage repayments also to pay Lanier Law or even the D.C. businesses rather.

After the customers started making payments, Lanier Law while 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 therefore the D.C. companies had never tried to make contact with lenders. All of the customers reported that the organizations neglected to get any alterations with the person. Other people stated that however some customizations were acquired, they certainly were never as guaranteed and often needed higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.

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