A Coral Springs-based attorney accused of misconduct while pursuing thousands of cases against Florida insurance companies should be found guilty and suspended from practice for two years, a referee recommended after an eight-day trial.
The state Supreme Court has final say for how Scot Strems will ultimately be punished. The Florida Bar, which petitioned for an emergency suspension that began on June 9, argued that Strems should be disbarred.
Property insurers saw the Strems suspension and trial as vindicating their often-voiced stance that misconduct by a dozen or so law firms, which they call “bad actors,” are abusing the court system by bombarding insurers with lawsuits that drive up insurance costs for consumers.
Strems Law Firm P.A., they say, is among a dozen or so firms operating as lawsuit mills that target insurers, often without the knowledge of property owners named as plaintiffs, to generate lucrative legal fees worth many times more than the home repairs in dispute.
Strems’ firm, which employed 20 attorneys in six offices across the state, filed 8,756 suits against property insurers before his emergency suspension. Of them, nearly 5,000 were filed in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
The Oct. 8 recommendation by the referee in the proceedings against Strems, Judge Dawn Denaro of the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami, followed a trial that lasted from Sept. 8 to 16.
Denaro found in September that the Bar had proven Strems and his firm violated 11 rules that govern attorneys’ behavior in the state. They include a rule barring attorneys from engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, or from knowingly filing evidence known to be false.
Strems also violated rules requiring attorneys to represent clients with reasonable diligence and promptness, Denaro found.
Between 2016 and 2018, Strems’ firm had about 700 cases “which was