MIAMI- Managing Partner, Lance A. Harke of the Miami Shores-based commercial litigation and consumer class action law firm of Harke Clasby & Bushman LLP (www.harkeclasby.com), was recognized as a 2013 Most Effective Lawyer by the Daily Business Review. He was recognized in the practice area of Business and Complex Litigation for his work as plaintiff’s counsel in a forced-placed insurance policy litigation involving Wells Fargo Bank and QBE Specialty Insurance Company, including the first forced-placed class action lawsuit certified in the country.
“We are thrilled to be honored for our efforts in this case,” said Lance A. Harke of Harke Clasby & Bushman LLP. “Mortgage servicers are not only running this scheme in Florida, but in other parts of the country, targeting vulnerable and disadvantaged homeowners. We hope this honor highlights the seriousness of these issues and serves as a model and benchmark for similar cases that follow,” said Harke.
The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleged that Wells Fargo Bank and other mortgage servicers engaged in forced-placed insurance practices, where the mortgage servicer charged an unreasonable and inflated premium, even if the homeowner later secured standard insurance and no claims were made during the lapsed period. As alleged by the plaintiffs in the case, Wells Fargo and QBE inflated these insurance premiums and profited from kickbacks and commissions from the forced-placed insurance scheme.
The suit against Wells Fargo and QBE included 24,000 Floridians who paid forced-placed premiums to Wells Fargo from April 2006 to February 2013. A settlement was reached in May and valued at over $19.3 million. A similar case against Chase and insurance partner Assurant settled in September for $291 million.
Attorneys Lance A. Harke of Harke Clasby & Bushman LLP, Adam Moskowitz of Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton in Coral Gables and Aaron Podhurst of Podhurst Orseck in Miami were appointed plaintiffs lead counsel.
In early November, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ordered the mortgage giants to stop reimbursing mortgage servicers for costs related to special insurance arrangements. This case has served as a model for subsequent cases, which include four similar cases pending against JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, HSBC Bank and Bank of America.
This year, in its eighth annual special report, the Daily Business Review’s Most Effective Lawyers recognized the best work delivered by private and public sector lawyers from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The attorneys were measured on one critical benchmark: results achieved for the client. More than 70 attorneys in 13 categories were recognized at an awards luncheon that took place on December 6, 2013 at the JW Marriot Miami.
Miami Shores-based Harke Clasby & Bushman LLP is an AV-rated litigation boutique founded by partner and trial attorney Lance A. Harke in 2000. The firm represents clients throughout the State of Florida and in courts across the country in a wide range of commercial law matters related to commercial litigation, business torts, consumer class actions, securities class actions, product liability, insurance litigation, general civil litigation, general commercial litigation, civil appeals, prescription drug issues, employment matters, bad faith issues, professional malpractice, medical malpractice and appellate practice.