DEFENSE ATTORNEY MARK STOPA FACES POTENTIAL DISBARMENT
Foreclosure Defense Attorney Mark Stopa has been a significant presence in Florida foreclosure litigation over the past many years. Virtually every Plaintiff’s attorney who has dealt with Mr. Stopa has been challenged by his unprofessional litigation tactics and his bombastic approach to defense litigation. SHD Legal Group P.A. has been involved in many cases with Mr. Stopa. One such case was Wells Fargo v. Patel. Two substantive issues came out of the Patel case. First was the issue of surrender out of the U.S. Middle District Bankruptcy Court as a companion in the In Re: Metzler case. Second was the judicial finding in the Patel foreclosure case that Mr. Stopa’s files “form” defensive pleadings which were not necessarily substantiated by his clients. This created a question regarding his requirement to follow the Florida Bar’s Canon of Ethics regarding communication with his clients.
The Florida Bar brought a six-count ethics complaint against Mr. Stopa, which complaint included his conduct in the Patel matter. SHD Partner Adam Diaz, Esq. was called to testify before the Florida Bar Referee on the last day of a weeklong grievance trial. On April 17, 2018, the Referee issued her Preliminary Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Although the Referee found the Patel borrowers were not credible witnesses against Mr. Stopa, the Referee agreed with the Foreclosure Judge that Stopa’s “form” defense practice was “not good practice”.
The remainder of the case included extensive findings of Florida Bar violations:
- “Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel” – Two instances of violating rules regarding Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel;
- “Misconduct”- Three instances of engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to administration of justice by acting in a disruptive, loud, agitated, misstating information and disrespectful manner;
- “Diligence” – Two instances of failing to act with Diligence and Promptness in representing his clients;
- “Objectives and Scope of Representation” – Two instances of failing to abide by client decisions;
- “Communication” – Three instances of failing to reasonably consult and abide by his clients’ decisions concerning objectives and representation;
- “Diligence” – Two instances of failure to promptly inform his clients of settlement offers;
- “Misconduct” – Three instances of conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
- “Respect for Rights of Third Persons” – A finding of inappropriately reacting to a third person in a loud aggressive manner in the presence of others intending to embarrass them;
A hearing on the recommended penalty concluded on April 24, 2018. The recommendation of the Florida Bar is that Mr. Stopa be disbarred from the practice of law. The Referee will now evaluate the matter in its entirety and will submit her recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court who will render a ruling, which should be handed down within sixty to ninety days.