An attorney who represents victims of foreclosures and mortgage fraud claims a senior partner with the law firm Bryan Cave LLP who represents Bank of America and Countrywide Mortgage is using underhanded tactics to try to put him out of business.
In the case filed in Orange County, Calif., Superior Court, attorney Gary Lane says the bank's lawyers have used intentional and malicious tactics to prevent him from representing underprivileged defendants.
Lane operates a non-profit legal clinic, the Consumer Protection Assistance Coalition, in Irvine.
Lane, who has been in practice for 39 years, says that over the last three years his clinic began to handle a large number of cases involving homeowners wrongfully threatened by banks and mortgage lenders and has filed a number of suits against Bank of America and Countrywide.
Stuart Price, a senior partner at Bryan Cave, is responsible for handling Bank of America's mortgage and foreclosure cases, the suit says and it alleges that in every case filed by Lane, Price files responses that include untrue and defamatory statements about Lane.
Lane's suit lists actions that he alleges were taken solely to undermine his reputation and damage his business, including:
failure to file a stipulation delaying a hearing, causing Lane to be sanctioned for not appearing;
directed a witness to perjure herself, causing Lane to be sanctioned by the court;
filed a motion asking that Lane be ordered to seek a judge's approval before filing any additional actions against Bank of America; and
filed a complaint with the State Bar taking issue with 78 lawsuits Lane had filed against Bank of America, causing Lane to be required to respond separately to each and every complaint;
Lane says that as a result of the law firm's tactics, he has been required to spend “countless hours” responding to the tactical roadblocks.
In the case of the 78 complaints, Lane notes that the State Bar normally allows an attorney one month to respond to a complaint, anticipating that it will take that long to assemble a proper response. But since Price filed 78 complaints in a single document, Lane is being given only one or two months to respond.
Lane cites provisions in California's civil procedure rules noting “a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of free speech,” and alleges that the purpose of Price's actions is to block Lane from bringing further lawsuits against Bank of America on behalf of troubled homeowners.
The suit seeks injunctive relief, legal fees and dismissal of the State Bar complaint.