FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. FORTRESS LAW GROUP LLC

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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 SET OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation company, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, separately so that 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 instance calls for us to think about perhaps 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 laws associated with the purchase of home loan help relief solutions. Lanier contends that the region court must not have given summary judgment for a couple of 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 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 always payday Moultrie GA Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated some other entities including Pinnacle Legal Services, Fortress Legal Services, additionally 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 fundamentally 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, he became a part of three newly developed entities within 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 home loan support solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices situated in the District of Columbia, however 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” his foreclosure protection cases towards the D.C. companies, any mail sent to D.C. had been forwarded instantly 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 continued be effective with respect to the D.C. companies. Also to gather payments, the D.C. businesses used the vendor processing portal that Lanier had useful for Lanier Law.

To ensure that Lanier Law as well as the D.C. businesses could attract customers nationwide, they related to “of counsel” attorneys across the united states. The “of counsel” solicitors had been compensated a month-to-month retainer of around $300 per month; the task 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 in addition to D.C. companies operated a volume company recruiting customers to buy home loan support relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers through the online world, letters, and flyers 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 law offices in several 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 home was in fact “selected for the program that is special the national Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your property re payments present for 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 part in “drafting, giving, approving, or us[ing]” the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).

Customers whom taken care of immediately the ads had been known Lanier Law or perhaps the D.C. companies. Through the enrollment procedure, instance supervisors told clients that the company would get loan adjustments with significantly reduced re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed customers that the organizations had success that is extremely high in bringing down re payments—over 90 per cent. As soon as new business enrolled, Lanier Law additionally the D.C. businesses delivered them comparable documents. The customers had been needed to spend advance costs in excess of $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to avoid their mortgage payments also to pay Lanier Law or even the D.C. businesses rather.

When the customers began making re re payments, Lanier Law and also the D.C. businesses 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 plus the D.C. companies had never tried to make contact with lenders. Almost all of the customers reported that the businesses did not get any alterations for the kids. Others stated that while some customizations had been acquired, these were never as guaranteed and often required higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.

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