The Florida law offices of Butler & Hosch, one of, if not the, largest foreclosure firms in the nation, shut down suddenly last week stating that it was unable to pay its creditors or employers. The law firm was turned over to a third-party fiduciary in an assignment for the benefit of the creditors – which is similar to a bankruptcy. At the time, the firm warned that it would not be able to pay salaries to its lawyers and associates. Two former employees have now filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“Warn”) which requires 60 days prior written notice of their intent to lay off the workers. It is assumed that the employees will seek class certification in the case. The employees are seeking back pay, expenses, commissions, bonuses, accrued vacation and holiday pay, pension and 401(k) contributions, and medical benefits for 60 days. The proposed class action would include all former employees of the firm.
Judge John Schlesinger of Miami-Dade Circuit Court has added to a jury award in a case in which an elderly woman was run over by a Segway on a sidewalk. The victim was initially awarded $294,000 for medical bills and $40,500 for past pain and suffering, and no money for future pain and suffering. The judge raised the jury award to a total of $500,000 for past and future pain and suffering calling the amount “more in keeping with awards in similar cases.” The judge added “However well-intentioned the jury might have been, the shocking result does not follow the law the jurors swore to follow.” The fact that the woman was 88 years old might have had major significance in the jury award. Alexander Perkins of Perkins Law Offices filed for an additur – asking the court to add to the jury awarded damages. Nonetheless, the parties are ngotiating a settlement agreement for less than the full award.
The Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act (CADRA) was signed into law in Florida effective October 1, 2015. Under CADRA, hackers who “knowingly and with intent to cause harm or loss: obtain information from a protected computer without authorization and, as a result, causes harm or loss; cause the transmission of a program, code or command to a protected computer without authorization and causes harm or loss or traffic in any technological access barrier through which access to a protected computer may be obtained without authorization.” Business owners who have been hacked as above can collect money for actual damages, economic damages, lost profits, the violator’s profits, if any, money to assess and define the access, and to remediate the damage, and interruption of service costs. Further, the prevailing party in the dispute is entitled to its attorney fees. CADRA is codified under Florida Statute 668.801.
One of the largest foreclosure law firms in the country has abruptly closed its doors. Butler & Hosch had 11 offices and 200 attorneys. Butler & Hosch represented the banks in foreclosing on properties in court. In Florida, Butler & Hosch had offices in Orlando, Miami and Tampa. The firm had approximately 60,000 active foreclosure lawsuits. The firm has filed an assignment for the benefit of creditors in Florida State Court (versus a federal Chapter 7 filing – presumably to ‘make things smoother’ for its clients and employees. Previously, Butler & Hosch had acquired the law firm Morris Schneider. It had also acquired assets of the now defunct Law Offices of David Stern, at the time one of the largest foreclosure prosecution law firms in the country. It is currently unclear what will happen to the employees of the firm, or what will happen to its active foreclosure matters. As yet, there is no clear indication of another law firm set to take over these foreclosure matters. With respect to the lawyer and employees of the firm, it was stated that the firm would not be able to make payroll. The question is, if lawyers are no longer being paid, will they continue to show up at hearings in the foreclosure cases?
What arose from a number two cases in which police pulled over motorists leaving a gas station and a bar were pulled over by police who eventually discovered weapons and drugs, the Fifth District Court of Appeals Ruled that When leaving such establishments, if when the exit to the street crosses over a sidewalk, vehicles must first stop before leaving. This is so even if there is no stop sign. According to the three-judge panel, it was clear that “drivers must stop before traversing a sidewalk or side walk area to enter an adjacent highway.”