Falsely claimed ‘mass joinder’ lawsuits would void mortgage or get consumers $75,000 cash
A federal court has found that Jeremy Foti and Charles Marshall, acting through Brookstone Law and Advantis Law, “made numerous false and/or misleading material statements to consumers” when selling legal services for purported mortgage relief.
The court found that Foti and Marshall controlled or participated in the scheme, knew they were deceiving consumers, and illegally took more than $18 million from them. The FTC has asked the court to impose monetary judgments on them and ban them from any debt relief activities in the future.
The court found that the defendants falsely told homeowners they could get “at least $75,000” or their homes “free and clear” through so-called mass joinder lawsuits against their mortgagors. These suits combined hundreds of consumers in the same matter; however, unlike class-action lawsuits, in the event of trial each plaintiff in a mass joinder suit would have to prove his or her case separately. The defendants had never prevailed in such a suit.
As a result of the court’s decision, litigation against all of the defendants in this matter has now been resolved. Earlier this year, Vito Torchia and R. Geoffrey Broderick stipulated to orders banning them from debt relief work in the future, including a judgment of almost $2 million against Broderick. Damian Kutzner and Jonathan Tarkowski also stipulated to orders, with Kutzner agreeing to a judgment of more than $18 million.
The Commission votes approving the stipulated final orders against Kutzner, Tarkowski, Torchia and Broderick were unanimous. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered orders against Kutzner on January 9, 2017, Tarkowski on January 9, 2017, Torchia on February 15, 2016, Broderick on April 14, 2017, Brookstone and Advantis on August 28, 2017, and Foti and Marshall on September 5, 2017.