Bankruptcy Of Mark Stopa’s Former Firm, Stay In My Home PA Creates Mess For Thousands Of Former Clients
Here’s the good news.
The bankruptcy judge has ordered a temporary halt to all court proceedings for Stopa’s former clients.
This includes all circuit court and appellate court actions that Stopa and his former firm are the counsel of record.
The bankruptcy court overseeing the bankruptcy of Stay In My Home PA issued the emergency order effective until November 6th. This could give hundreds of Florida homeowners a temporary respite from the threat of foreclosure.
Stay in My Home PA filed a petition for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation on October 2nd.
Bankruptcy Trustee Meininger filed the emergency motion. He stated it has been challenging to identify the cases because paper records are incomplete. In addition, Meininger is unable to access Stay In My Home PA’s electronic case management system. The vendor has suspended the account for non-payment.
Tampa lawyer Richard Mockler took over Stopa’s law firm and 4,000 active cases in July. The FDLE seized the firm’s computers in an August 21st raid by the FDLE. As a result, the firm’s bank accounts were frozen.
Bankruptcy Trustee Overseeing Stay In My Home PA Is Still Collecting Payments From Foreclosure Victims
Former client Tonya McKendree told the Tampa Bay Times that trustee Stephen Meininger cashed four checks totaling $1,250. This cost her more than $100 in overdraft fees.
Bankruptcy courts consider attorney fees awarded but not yet paid and money owing to the firm an asset. Stay In My Home PA typically charged a $2,500 annual retainer. The firm allowed clients to pay in installments with post-dated checks. Those post-dated checks are considered assets of the estate.
Meininger’s motion said third parties also have expressed interest in buying the firm’s large caseload. He stated this could generate significant value for the bankruptcy estate. But that value would quickly dissipate if cases move forward and clients hired other attorneys.
Judge Roberta Colton granted the motion. however, it does not apply to any foreclosure sales scheduled between October 11th and November 6th. Nor does it cover motions to withdraw as counsel during that period.
As trustee, Meininger’s duties include collecting as many of a debtor’s assets as possible in order to pay creditors.