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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, payday loans Independence Wisconsin no checking account d.b.a. Regulations Offices Of Michael W. Lanier, LIBERTY & TRUST LAW NUMBER OF FLORIDA, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation business, Defendants – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, independently 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 calls for us to take into account if the region court precisely awarded summary judgment to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated a few federal statutes and laws associated with the purchase of home loan support relief solutions. Lanier contends that the district court must not have given 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 of those arguments has merit and affirm the district court.

Factual Background

Through Lanier Law, LLC, their law practice, Michael Lanier, legal counsel located in Jacksonville, Florida, offered mortgage assistance 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 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, in addition to 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 fundamentally joined a conditional bad 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 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, offered customers with home loan help solutions. 2 These entities purported become law offices situated in the District of Columbia, nevertheless they were 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. businesses, 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 the office with respect to the D.C. companies. Also to gather re re payments, the D.C. organizations utilized the merchant processing portal that Lanier had useful for Lanier Law.

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

Together, Lanier Law while the D.C. businesses operated a amount company recruiting customers to buy home loan help relief solutions (“MARS”). The staffing agencies solicited customers over the internet, letters, and flyers 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 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 government document, informed customers that their home was indeed “selected for a unique system by the Government Insured Institutions,” that will “bring your home re 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 has been owned by Robles. Lanier denies any part in “drafting, delivering, approving, or us[ing]” the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).

Customers whom taken care of immediately the ads were described Lanier Law or the D.C. businesses. Throughout the enrollment procedure, instance supervisors told clients that the company would get loan alterations with considerably reduced re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed consumers that the companies had success that is extremely high in decreasing re payments—over 90 percent. When new business enrolled, Lanier Law while the D.C. organizations delivered them comparable documents. The customers had been expected to spend advance charges in excess of $2,000, often payable in installments. Some customers had been told to get rid of their mortgage repayments also to pay Lanier Law or perhaps the D.C. businesses rather.

When the consumers started making re re payments, Lanier Law while the D.C. organizations stopped interacting using them or transferred them to different instance supervisors whom guaranteed them that work had been done on their loan changes. Some consumers discovered from their lenders that Lanier Law and also the D.C. businesses had never tried to get hold of lenders. The majority of the customers reported that the companies neglected to get any adjustments with the person. Other people stated that even though some changes had been acquired, these were much less promised and often needed higher payments than customers had paid formerly.

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