United states of america Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff – countertop Defendant – Appellee, v. LANIER LAW, LLC, a Florida restricted obligation company, 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 – countertop Claimants, MICHAEL W. LANIER, independently and also as an owner, officer, supervisor, and/or agent associated with 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 correctly awarded summary judgment to your Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its claims that defendant Michael Lanier violated several statutes that are federal laws associated with the purchase of home loan support relief services. 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 product reality, making findings that are factual the FTC’s benefit. We conclude that none of those arguments has merit and affirm the region court.
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 Rogelio Robles and Edward Rennick, two of Lanier’s co-defendants, whom operated various other entities Pinnacle that is including Legal, Fortress Legal Services, while the Department of Loss Mitigation and Forensics (вЂњDOLMFвЂќ) (collectively, the вЂњstaffing agenciesвЂќ). These entities supplied staffing, recommendations, along with other solutions to Lanier Law.
In 2012, the Florida Bar filed a grievance against Lanier associated with their foreclosure https://badcreditloans4all.com/payday-loans-va/chesterfield/ relief solutions. Lanier ultimately joined a conditional bad plea, admitting he had improperly solicited customers and neglected to supervise non-lawyers, in which he ended up being suspended shortly through the practice of legislation.
Ahead of Lanier’s suspension system, he became involved in three newly produced entities within the District of Columbia: Fortress Law Group, LLP; Redstone Law Group, LLP; and Surety Law Group, LLP (collectively, the вЂњD.C. firmsвЂќ), which, like Lanier Law, offered customers with home loan help solutions. 2 These entities purported become attorneys situated in the District of Columbia, however they had been in fact office[s that areвЂњvirtualвЂќ for Lanier’s operations in Florida. Rennick Dep. at 33 (Doc. 271). 3 Although Lanier вЂњtransferredвЂќ their foreclosure protection cases towards the D.C. businesses, any mail provided for 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 operate on behalf of the D.C. companies. And also to collect re payments, the D.C. companies utilized the vendor processing portal that Lanier had employed for Lanier Law.
To ensure that Lanier Law together with D.C. businesses could attract customers nationwide, they connected with вЂњof counselвЂќ attorneys across the nation. The counsel that isвЂњof lawyers had been 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 also to ensure that the agreements had been finalized and dated.
Together, Lanier Law in addition to D.C. companies operated an amount business recruiting customers to buy home loan support relief solutions (вЂњMARSвЂќ). The staffing agencies solicited customers through online, letters, and flyers mortgage assistance that is offering. The ads promoted the counsel that isвЂњof community, noting that the law practice вЂњhas working arrangements with skilled and competent solicitors and law offices in lots of other states.вЂќ 2013 Flyer at 56 (Doc. 246-5). One flyer, entitled the вЂњEconomic Stimulus Mortgage NotificationвЂќ (the вЂњFlyerвЂќ), which seemed to be a federal federal government document, informed customers that their house was in fact вЂњselected for the program that is special the national Insured Institutions,вЂќ that will вЂњbring your home re payments present at under you borrowed from or your major balance down.вЂќ 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 вЂњdrafting, giving, approving, or us[ing]вЂќ the Flyer. Lanier Aff. at 9 (Doc. 253).
Customers whom taken care of immediately the adverts had been described Lanier Law or perhaps the D.C. businesses. Through the enrollment process, situation supervisors told customers that the company would get loan changes with dramatically reduced re payments and rates of interest. The representatives guaranteed customers that the businesses had acutely high success prices in reducing re re paymentsвЂ”over 90 %. As soon as new business enrolled, Lanier Law therefore the D.C. businesses delivered them paperwork that is similar. The customers had been needed to spend advance costs in excess of $2,000, often payable in installments. Some consumers had been told to end their home loan repayments also to pay Lanier Law or the D.C. businesses rather.
After the customers started making re re payments, Lanier Law and also the D.C. organizations stopped interacting using them or transferred them to various instance supervisors whom guaranteed them that really work had been done on the loan improvements. Some consumers learned from their lenders that Lanier Law therefore the D.C. businesses had never tried to get hold of the loan providers. A lot of the customers reported that the companies did not get any improvements for the kids. Others stated that even though some customizations had been acquired, they certainly were not quite as guaranteed and often needed higher payments than consumers had paid formerly.