Lawyer suspended after state bar alleges he creates 'massive waste of judicial resources'
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The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to the emergency suspension of a lawyer accused of wasting judicial resources, blowing deadlines and making dishonest statements.
The court suspended lawyer Scot Strems of the Strems Law Firm based in Coral Gables, Florida, in a June 9 order.
The Florida Bar had sought the suspension of Strems, who represents homeowners suing property owners. Strems “sits at the head of a vast campaign of unprofessional, unethical and fraudulent conduct,” the bar alleged.
The bar’s emergency petition says Strems’ firm has 20 lawyers in six offices, although the firm’s website says there are 14 lawyers in five offices.
The firm files multiple lawsuits against insurers for separate losses under the same policy, even though the losses occur on the same property at the same time, according to the bar’s suspension petition. The firm’s water mitigation company then files multiple lawsuits related to the same losses.
The firm has “a sprawling practice,” the petition says. A former litigation manager has testified that the firm handles as many as 10,000 files at once. As an associate, he had a caseload of 700 cases.
After a suit is filed, the law firm “engages in a ceaseless pattern of delay,” the bar alleges. “Deadlines for written discovery are ignored, as are duly noticed depositions. The matter invariably requires court intervention, which results in additional delay as issues are briefed and hearings are scheduled, canceled and rescheduled.”
A case “quickly devolves into a series of discovery and sanctions motions,” leading to dishonest statements to opposing counsel and the court, the bar says. “For example, dubious reasons might be given to excuse an absence from a hearing, or [the law firm] may conveniently forget to apprise the court of a client’s death.”
When sanctions are imposed, they can include dismissal of the entire action, the bar says. Even when sanctions fall short of that, the firm may cut its losses and voluntarily dismiss the matter.
“In either case, the end result is a massive waste of judicial resources and defense costs, and—of course—nothing for Mr. Strems’ clients,” the bar said.
Strems’ lawyers told Law.com that he denies the allegations.
Updated June 11 at 2:30 p.m. to add that Strems’ lawyers say he denies the allegations.