ORLANDO – The now-closed Orlando law firm Butler & Hosch is being sued by two former business partners. Mark and Gerard Wittstadt filed the suit June 21 in Baltimore federal district court.
In the suit, the Wittstadts, who are asking for $12 million, allege that senior partner Robert Hosch did not do anything when the law firm took on too many cases and misrepresented the firm’s financial condition.
Butler & Hosch is now closed, but once employed about 700 people at its offices in Orlando, Tampa and Miami. The firm dealt with foreclosure cases and when it closed, nearly 60,000 foreclosure cases were left without being settled. Butler & Hosch was one of the largest foreclosure law firms in the nation at the time of its closure.
The suit filed last month against Hosch alleges that Hosch’s negligent actions cost the Wittstadts a book of business worth millions of dollars. It also states that the firm grew too quickly and did not have the financial reserves to fund that growth.
Mike Tessitore, an attorney with Moran Kidd in Orlando, represents Hosch and said the Wittstadts were involved with the company for a short period of time. He said they were working with the company for around five months.
“We don’t think the lawsuit has any merit,” Tessitore told the Florida Record.
Tessitore said there were “multiple factors” that led to the closing of Butler & Hosch, including a “sudden cut-off of the firm’s financing.”
The Wittstads' former firm, Morris Schneider Wittstadt, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2015. It was alleged at that time that a partner at that firm used its business accounts for their own personal use. The amount in question there was $20 million.
Morris Schneider Wittstadt had once employed 150 attorneys and 700 staff in offices in 13 states.
After that, the Wittstadts joined Butler and Hosch, signing compensation agreements with Hosch. However, after that firm left, the Wittstads were left unpaid and several of their banking clients left the firm.
Butler and Hosch is in the midst of a Florida court bankruptcy proceeding.
Hosch surrendered his law license this past February and is not working in the field.
“He is not currently practicing law,” Tessitore said. “He’s pursuing other business opportunities,” he said.
Tessitore said there is currently no hearing date set for the case since the paperwork for the suit was recently filed.
“Working things out and settling things outside of court is always preferable,” Tessitore said, but in this case it is headed to Baltimore federal district court.
“We’re going to defend it vigorously,” Tessitore said of the law suit. “Mr. Hosch looks forward to presenting his defense.”