Disbarred attorney David J. Stern, trapped in a rearguard action from his cratered foreclosure law firm in Plantation, is preparing to mitigate the legal costs of a homeowner class action award entered against him.
Louis M. Silber of Silber & Davis in West Palm Beach began financial discovery in a pleading filed last week against Stern individually. The opposing parties are preparing for an April 2 evidentiary hearing before Palm Beach Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown on attorney fees and costs.
Silber represented Rory Hewitt, lead plaintiff in a class action of 1,107 homeowners who were wrongfully charged or overcharged fees on mortgages handled by the defunct Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation.
Silber filed the class action in 2009, and it was certified in 2011. Stern appealed class certification, but it was affirmed by the Fourth District Court of Appeal last year. On Jan. 24, Brown entered final judgment for $831,110 plus post-judgment interest at 4.75 percent.
The class consisted of all Floridians with mortgages from Countrywide Home Loans Inc. to whom Stern and his law firm sent reinstatement letters after Oct. 22, 2005. The disputed fees included service of process, title searches that were never performed and unreasonable charges for title work. Stern’s firm also charged attorney fees on a flat-fee basis “without support of justification that those charges were incurred,” Brown stated in the judgment.
The fees were found to be violations of the Florida Consumer Protection Practices Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Hewitt’s case was one of two class actions brought against Stern. He settled an employee class action in 2012.
Stern was once the largest foreclosure law firm in Florida, representing the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and servicers. His law firm and related back-office operation crumbled in the months after the state attorney general’s launched an investigation for alleged robo-signing practices.
Stern was disbarred Jan. 7 by the Florida Supreme Court.