WEST PALM BEACH (CN) – The Consumer Law Group, of Boca Raton, claims the Florida attorney general has no authority to investigate its business practices because “the practice of law does not constitute ‘trade or commerce’ as such term is defined by FDUTPA [Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act].” The law office says “at least ten (10) depositions have recently been conducted by the Attorney General regarding CLG’s practice of law,” and it wants to head off a lawsuit “that the Attorney General will soon file … under the guise of FDUPTA.”
Joining as plaintiffs are the law office’s managing attorney, Michael Metzner, and American Debt Negotiators and its president Ran Barnea and secretary Daniel Post.
The Consumer Law Group is a multistate law firm and, according to its website, specializes in debt management and debt settlements.
The law office says it hires American Debt Negotiators, also of Boca Raton, to provide “administrative services,” including “IT solutions for, among other things, CLG’s debt settlement programs pursuant to contract.”
In its complaint in Palm Beach County Court, the plaintiffs claim that the Florida Supreme Court, not the attorney general, has exclusive jurisdiction over the practice of law and lawyers.
The law office concedes that the attorney general has the power to enforce the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, but says that “such investigation and the threatened law suit, however, exceed the attorney general’s statutory authority, as the practice of law does not constitute ‘trade or commerce’ as such term is defined by FDUTPA.”
The Consumer Law Group claims that “the attorney general, who, as alleged above, does not have the statutory authority to pursue this investigation, also does not have the constitutional authority to travel under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act in order to investigate and or punish CLG, a multistate law firm, in its alleged malfeasance in the practice of law.”
The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment. They are represented by Richard Epstein with Greenspoon Marder of Fort Lauderdale.