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. Regulations Offices Of Michael W. Lanier, LIBERTY & TRUST LAW BAND OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation business, Defendants — countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, separately and also as an owner, officer, manager, and/or agent associated with 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 take into account perhaps 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 regarding the the purchase of home loan support relief solutions. Lanier contends that the region court must not have given 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 among these arguments has merit and affirm the region court.

Factual Background

Through Lanier Law, LLC, their law practice, Michael Lanier, legal counsel situated in Jacksonville, Florida, offered mortgage help relief solutions to individuals at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. 1 Lanier along with his affiliates promised homeowners that in return for an upfront cost, he’d negotiate less expensive month-to-month home loan repayments, reduced interest levels, and paid off major balances for the kids.

Lanier Law shared work place with Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated many 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, recommendations, as well as other services to Lanier Law.

In 2012, the Florida Bar filed a grievance against Lanier linked to their foreclosure relief services. Lanier fundamentally joined a conditional accountable plea, admitting he was suspended briefly from the practice of law that he had improperly solicited clients and failed to supervise non-lawyers, and.

Just before Lanier’s suspension system, he became associated with three newly produced 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 customers with home loan help solutions. 2 These entities purported become lawyers situated in the District of Columbia, however 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 into the D.C. companies, any mail delivered to D.C. ended up being 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 customers proceeded to focus with respect to the D.C. organizations. And also to collect re re payments, the D.C. businesses 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 solicitors were compensated a month-to-month retainer of around $300 every month; the task they performed ended up being generally speaking limited by reviewing retainer agreements for customer email address and also to ensure that the agreements had been finalized and dated.

Together, Lanier Law additionally the D.C. businesses operated a volume company consumers that are recruiting buy mortgage support relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers over the internet, letters, and leaflets providing home loan help. 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 a lot of other states.” 2013 Flyer at 56 (Doc. 246-5). One flyer, entitled the “Economic Stimulus Mortgage Notification” (the “Flyer”), which seemed to be a federal government document, informed customers that their home have been “selected for a program that is special the national Insured Institutions https://badcreditloanshelp.net/payday-loans-ga/fort-valley/,” that will “bring your home re 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 was 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 known Lanier Law or the D.C. companies. Through the enrollment procedure, instance managers told clients that the company would get loan customizations with considerably lower payments and interest levels. The representatives guaranteed consumers that the organizations had success that is extremely high in bringing down re re payments—over 90 per cent. When new customers enrolled, Lanier Law in addition to D.C. organizations delivered them similar paperwork. The consumers 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 also to pay Lanier Law or the D.C. organizations alternatively.

When the customers began making re re payments, Lanier Law while the D.C. businesses stopped interacting using them or transferred them to different instance supervisors who guaranteed them that really work had been done to their loan customizations. Some consumers discovered from their lenders that Lanier Law therefore the D.C. organizations had never attempted to make contact with the lenders. All the customers complained that the companies did not get any changes with the person. Other people stated that even though some alterations had been acquired, they certainly were not quite as guaranteed and often needed higher payments than customers had compensated formerly.