Ben-Ezra & Katz escapes contempt of court, gets sanctions instead
Attorneys working for foreclosure default law firm Ben-Ezra & Katz escaped a contempt of court ruling this week, but still face sanctions for the "sloppy handling" of a Florida foreclosure case. Florida Circuit Court Judge Maxine Cohen Lando reversed a decision made in February when the judge told Ben Ezra's managing partner Marc Ben-Ezra and former associate David Cornell that they would be held in contempt of court after the judge complained the attorneys were not answering questions to her satisfaction. The judge ruled this week that after going through further briefings on the matter, the court determined that "sanctions are warranted because of the sloppy handling" of the case, but the respondents are not going to be held in contempt because "there was no fraudulent conduct by the respondents." The sanctions are arising out of a foreclosure case filed by Central Mortgage Co. against Eduardo Gonzalez Del Real. Ben Ezra agreed to pay the defense counsel $11,027.50 in attorneys' fees and nearly $2,000 in costs. So far, it's a tough year for Ben Ezra & Katz. After laying off hundreds of staff in February, the firm announced 154 additional layoffs last Friday as the firm winds down its foreclosure practice. Despite news reports suggesting the firm will shutter its doors entirely, a spokesman for Fort Lauderdale-based Ben-Ezra said the firm will operate as a boutique real estate law firm going forward. February was the start of a tumultuous three-month run for Ben-Ezra. In the early spring, Fannie Mae sent a notice to mortgage servicers advising them to move all Fannie Mae legal matters from Ben-Ezra to other foreclosure law firms. The result was a substantial cut to Ben-Ezra's business, and then a layoff that cut the firm's staff from 568 to 350 employees in February. Write to Kerri Panchuk.