Legal Ethics

Fla. Judge Changes Mind, Won't Hold Ben-Ezra Firm in Contempt, But Imposes $13K in Sanctions

A Florida judge has changed her mind about a February contempt ruling in a mortgage foreclosure case that put Ben-Ezra & Katz in the headlines.

Although she initially said she would hold the law firm, managing partner Marc Ben-Ezra and former associate David Cornell in contempt, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maxine Cohen Lando explains in an agreed order (PDF) this afternoon that, after further briefing and hearings, she has reached a different conclusion.

“The court has determined that sanctions are warranted because of the sloppy handling of this case,” she writes, “but that it will not hold respondents in contempt because there was no fraudulent conduct by respondents.”

Nonetheless, the judge imposes sanctions—including an award of attorney’s fees of a little over $11,000 to defense counsel in the foreclosure case as well as costs of not quite $2,000.

She also sets a number of rules in the order as to the future handling of foreclosure cases by the firm. Among them, documents in a case must identify an individual attorney and phone number who is responsible for the matter at which he or she can be reached.

Related coverage: “Judge Axes Foreclosure, Bans Do-Over, Holds Lawyer in Contempt; Fannie Mae Pulls Files from Firm” “Ben-Ezra Law Firm Makes 146 More Layoffs, Is Exiting Foreclosure Arena, But Plans Boutique Practice”

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