In this foreclosure action, after the Bank set, then failed to attend, a hearing on its Motion for Summary Judgement seven (7) times, the Court, sua sponte, issued an Order to Show Cause as to why the Bank’s counsel, Smith, Hiatt, and Diaz, should not be held in contempt of court. Following a hearing on the Order to Show Cause the Court found:
[Smith, Hiatt and Diaz] operates its procedures in the above styled case and in the representation of Plainitffs in mortgage foreclosures in deliberate and contumacious disregard for the authority of the Court, the efficient administration of justice, and in utter disregard for the consequences to other litigants. Their disobendience of Court Orders is constant and flagrant, and, therefore, justifies this Court’s imposition of sanctions for contempt.
While Smith, Hiatt, and Diaz argued that it had implemented procedures that would prevent future scheduling problems, the Court found that the law firm had failed to appear for another Summary Judgment hearing before the Court the morning of the Contempt hearing.
Accordingly, the Court entered sanctions against the law firm, awarding the homeowners lost wages incurred as a result of taking off work to attend the Summary Judgment hearings. My colleague, attorney Scott Petersen, represented the Homeowners Association, which was awarded attorneys’ fees for the time spent hearings after filing a Motion to Compel foreclosure.
Finally, the Court fined the law firm $49,000, constituting $7,000 for each hearing the firm scheduled but failed to appear at.
The case was covered by the Sarasota Herald Tribune.