We’ve all heard by now of the unbelievably grizzly story out of Miami about Rudy Eugene, the man so off his gourd that he ate a man’s face off.
But I might argue that there is another man worthy of that title, and his crimes, while not as physically grotesque, are none the less revolting.
I am talking about David J. Stern. The actions of Stern and his firm are continuing to have an impact on my cases, and over a year after his firm closed, the lasting effects of its shady practices are still reverberating throughout Florida.
A revised class action lawsuit was filed last week against Stern, his former CFO and the law firm he founded by two hedge funds who are accusing Stern of ripping them off.
So not only do we have a story about zombies, but we have cannibals to boot! The people who once trusted Stern have turned on him, and once again we have the banks ‘eating’ their own!
The former head of one of largest foreclosure mills already had a less than sterling reputation, but after reading the latest allegations against Stern and his cohorts at DJSP Enterprises, Inc., I’d (playfully) argue he really is a zombie, because how he ripped off countless homeowners is TRULY disgusting and his actions continue to harm homeowners to this day.
In the lawsuit it’s noted that Stern was TWICE named Attorney of the Year by Fannie Mae. If he’s their poster boy for competent legal counsel, what does that say about them? As late as 2010, he was the go-to attorney for both Fannie and Freddie.
The first thing that struck me was the description of Stern’s offices. His firm has been called a foreclosure mill before, but who knew it was such a literal term?
Claude Walker, an attorney representing some of his victims, called the office a ‘big warehouse’ and referred to the ‘hordes of attorneys’ working for Stern as “hamsters in a cage.” In the lawsuit countless former employees called the firm “a sweat shop.”
In fact, it seems many of Stern’s younger attorneys were treated almost as badly as the homeowners he prayed upon. In fact they had a name for them — ‘bar licenses.’ Stern had as little regard for them too.
Another detail that made my skin crawl? A paralegal who worked for Stern for 3 years said there were unofficial contests to see who could “jam a case through the fastest.”
It is so nice to see foreclosing homes was turned into a game at Stern’s firm. Essentially a trumped-up version of kick the can, just substituting homeowners and the rule of law for cans.
But here is perhaps the most revolting notion revealed, especially since Memorial Day has just passed.
Some judges required searches to see if the homeowners in Stern’s cases were active duty military. But instead of doing their due diligence, if his attorneys did not have the homeowners social security number, they just would just pick out someone else’s out of a hat and plug it in instead, the lawsuit claims.
It’s beyond disrespectful.
And if you were a homeowner with a complaint? Well let’s just say the customer service was a little sub-par. Supervisors told the staff to hang up on them, even if they were in dire straits. (One such caller reported that she was being evicted the day she came home from the hospital with her newborn).
A supervisor’s response, “That’s their problem.”
Not only was Stern and his senior staff heartless, but lazy too.
Except, of course, when it came to going after $$$. The lawsuit alleges excessive fees were tacked on, even if homeowners were trying to get current. Fees for payments that were not due yet, fees on people who didn’t even EXIST.
I could go on and on, but just read the lawsuit for yourself. It’s one thing for robosigning to have taken place at the banks, but essentially the same tactics were commonplace at Stern’s law firm.
As a lawyer and office of the court, I really wonder how he was able to sleep at night. If any other attorney ever tried even a fraction of what Stern is accused of doing, they’d put his or her head on a pike.
I think even the “Miami Zombie” would have agreed with me.
In The Trenches,