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Details on Florida Bar Complaint Against Howard Feinmel

The Florida Bar has sent me a copy of the complaint they recently filed against Florida attorney Howard Feinmel. I reported yesterday about the case.

But today there are more facts available after reading the filed complaint.

Right off the bat I found it intriguing the Florida Bar makes the statement, “Respondent has represented various persons and entities, including but not limited to, Edward Cherry, Eastwinds Partnership, and Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC.” It is almost as if they are identifying those people and entities as the most problematic.

However, just to be technical, Ed Cherry did change his name to Edward Steadman.

The primary issues the Bar addresses appear to center around Feinmel’s activities in the mortgage elimination business put forward by associates. The complaint says, “The various persons and entities represented by respondent would acquire title to various real properties that were subject to mortgage liens.

Respondent, with full knowledge of the existence of a recorded mortgage lien that was not satisfied, would file actions to quiet title, thereby seeking to extinguish the mortgage recorded against the related real property.

Pursuant to the representation, respondent filed numerous civil actions that were determined to be without merit, frivolous and in bad faith. These claims included, but were not limited to, actions for: Declaratory Judgment under Florida Statutes §48.23(1)(d); Declaratory Judgment under Florida Statute §695.01; Declaratory Judgment under Florida Statute §701.02; and to quiet title.

On or about October 20, 2011, respondent filed an action to quiet title in Eastwinds Partnership v. MERS, et. al, Case No. 502011CA016163XXXXMB, In the Circuit Court For Palm Beach County, Florida.”

The Bar says Feinmel was questioned about his activities by Judge Barkdull. “On or about December 22, 2011, Judge Barkdull held a hearing in the case wherein he questioned respondent as to what his legal basis and theory was for bringing the action. Judge Barkdull granted respondent’s request to allow ten days for the response to permit him time to review the file and ordered respondent to prepare a written explanation of his theory of the case.

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Respondent filed a Memorandum of Law in response to Judge Barkdull’s mandate. Essentially, respondent’s theory is that the failure to record an assignment of mortgage renders that mortgage extinguishable against a subsequent purchaser of the real property.

On or about January 5, 2012, Judge Barkdull conducted another hearing in the matter after reviewing respondent’s Memorandum of Law. At the hearing Judge Barkdull provided respondent with the case law, J.P. Morgan Chase v. New Millenial, LC, 6 So. 3d 681(Fla. 2d DCA 2009), that demonstrated respondent’s theory for bringing the action was without merit.”

The Judge is said to have told Feinmel to be careful, “Respondent was thereby placed on notice that his legal theories for quiet title and declaratory actions on behalf of a purchaser of the real property were frivolous and without merit.”

But, “Despite having such actual knowledge, respondent continued to file similar frivolous and meritless actions based on similar legal theory.”

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In the case The Fidelity Land Trust Company LLC v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), et al., Case No. 12-cv-01367, in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, the Court found, “Like the Magistrate Judge, this Court concludes that Plaintiff initiated and pursued this litigation in bad faith. The evidence of this is legion: a state judge has told Plaintiff that its legal theory is meritless; a federal judge has told Plaintiff its legal theory is frivolous; and the Florida Attorney General has obtained injunctive relief against Plaintiff to prevent it from asserting claims based on the legal theory advanced in this lawsuit. Yet even in its objection, Plaintiff clings to the notion that its claims have merit. They do not.

Plaintiff is aware that its claims have no merit. Its business model, however, does not rely on the ability to prevail on the merits. Rather, Plaintiff appears to be in the business of delaying lawful foreclosures. The courts are not to be used to delay, deny, or frustrate just claims, and they are not to be used as a cog in a litigant’s business model. Litigants who pursue meritless claims should be sanctioned, if only to ensure that the burden of their contemptuous behavior is borne by themselves alone.”

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And this wasn’t the only rebuke by the Court, the complaint lists more examples. You can read the Florida Bar complaint, here.

I’ve had interactions with Howard Feinmel over the phone. I found him to be articulate, intelligent, and generally a nice guy. So what perplexes me is why, in the face of staunch feedback from the court, would he continue to pursue this? It seems all that has come from those efforts is a record of action by the Bar and the facing of some disciplinary action which will follow him around for the rest of his career.

I wonder if he feels it was all worth it now?


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