Amid allegations of widespread falsifying of foreclosure documents, the Law Offices of David J. Stern is about to throw a wrench into the civil court system in South Florida.
Stern wrote a letter to a judge earlier this month saying that his firm will stop handling 100,000 cases statewide, many of which are filed here in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Stern's firm began to implode last year after the Florida Attorney General's Office began investigating them. The firm cut back its' 1200 person staff and lost tons of clients. Stern and his company face a federal lawsuit from employees alleging that were fired without proper notification --
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In fact, in the letter Stern wrote to a Palm Beach County Judge earlier this month, he writes that a lack of manpower is preventing his office from filing the necessary withdrawal motions.
"...we have been forced to drastically reduce our attorney and paralegal staff to the point where we no longer have the financial or personnel resources to continue to file the Motions to Withdraw in the tens of thousands of cases that we still remain as counsel of record," the letter reads in part.
Palm Beach County Chief Judge Peter Blanc was not pleased by Stern's action.
In a letter dated March 25, Blanc wrote Stern's actions are "neither a recognized nor an approved method of termination" of cases. The judge wrote that he strongly urged Stern to "reconsider your unilateral decision to cease representation."
Attorney George Castrataro said Stern's firm represented banks in tens of thousands of cases in South Florida. With Stern's troubles, Castrataro said, the foreclosure cases stalled giving some people facing eviction a false sense of security.
Castrataro said that will soon end.
"The warning is get ready," Castrataro told me. "Expect that to go away sometime soon."
Castrataro also expects chaos to once again ensue in the foreclosure wing of the Broward County Courthouse as the myriad of cases Stern handled will be scooped up by another firm.
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