by Structured Settlement Watchdog
In the Middle District of Florida, it's already going "below the belt"
After promoting David Place as the guy "who wrote the book on lien resolution", Synergy Settlement Services is "throwing the book" at lawyer Dave Place for breach of
contract and seeks injunctive relief and to enforce restrictive covenants. Place named Synergy and its officers, individually, in counterclaims alleging a hostile work environment including salacious allegations concerning the CEO of Synergy Settlement Services.
Synergy Settlement Services, Inc., a Florida Corporation and
Jason D, Lazarus, an Individual,
Omar Quddus, an Individual,
Anthony Prieto , Jr., an Individual, jointly and severally,
and the Florida Bar Association
Venue: United States District Court Middle District of Florida Case 6:19-cv-1411. The matter was commenced by Synergy in the 9th Judicial District of Florida (Orange County) and removed o the Federal District Court Middle District of Florida at Orlando
Synergy Alleges in Its Complaint
From July 2012 to April 2019, Place was employed as Synergy's VP and Director of Lien Resolution. Place was responsible for managing Synergy's Lien Resolution Services and team in almost all states in the USA, including contacting and servicing Synergy's customers and expanding its services. Synergy alleges that for the most part Place satisfactorily perform his duties, but in 2017 Synergy claims that Place violated its policies and Synergy commenced progressive discipline against Place. On April 22, 2019 Synergy terminated Place's employment for cause effective immediately,
Synergy alleges that Place:
- Failed to comply with 2018 Personal Improvement Plan
- Faield to integrate the lien resolution team as directed by Synergy
- Violated Synergy's Pride policy and allege inconsistent, combative, insubordinate behavior
- Fraudulently used the corporate credit card for personal expenses and association dues not authorized by Synergy and made sexually inappropriate comments to female co-workers (see Place allegations below)
- On April 30, 2019 (8 days after his employment with Synergy was terminated), Place formed The Place Firm PLLC and began competing with Synergy
- Accuses Place of spoliation of evidence.
Synergy seeks a 2 year injunction, the imposition of a constructive trust and an award of liquidated damages.
Place alleged in his counter-claims (and sought millions in damages from Synergy, its CEO and other officers):
- Synergy is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law (response page 2)
- Synergy has a history of violating restrictive covenants in existing employment contracts, citing as an example his predecessor Tevra Francis, and another Synergy employee who were employed with knowledge of an existing non-compete with the Garretson Resolution Group, Inc. (response p 3). Further that Synergy did obtain client, pricing, marketing, sales and other internal information from Paul MacEvoy with the express purpose of using same to directly compete with the Garretson Resolution Group (Ibid p 8)
- Synergy, by and through its CEO, did create a hostile work environment. Place alleges Synergy's CEO regularly sent pornographic material via Synergy computer equipment to Place's work email, often during working hours. Places alleges that another Synergy officer informed Place on multiple occasions that these materials from the Synergy CEO were a result of his information in a central Florida trial lawyers listserv called "badger" (Ibid)
- Synergy promoted a sexualized work environment often interfering with Place's ability to perform as VP and Director of Lien Resolution Services. He alleges that the environment included adulterous affairs between Synergy owners and employees and the overt discussion of Synergy's female employee's sexual appeal. (Ibid)
- Synergy CEO would share his sexual exploits via social media application Tinder as "shooting fish in a barrel" (Ibid p 3-4)
- Synergy owners and executives engaged in overt discussion and encouragement of sexual activity generally, and demonstrated a dismissive attitude to serious complaints of aggressive sexual behavior by Synergy's agents. (Ibid p 4)
- Synergy's presentation of its corporate " dress code" policy was and is graphic, crude, and overtly sexualizes women. (Ibid p 4)
- Synergy through its agent Omar Quddus, created a hostile work environment by threatening to (be) "lined up and shot" the next Synergy employee who did not have a positive attitude. (Ibid p4)
- Fraud. That Synergy intentionally and negligently defrauded Place concerning the strategic plans for the sale of Synergy (Ibid pgs 4 and 25). That Synergy CEO defrauded Place of his intellectual property and as a result, place " ghost wrote" virtually all lien resolution correspondence, list serv posts, emails and presentations for the Synergy CEO who took sole credit. (Ibid p 29 )
- That Synergy did not comply with its own policies and procedures (Ibid pgs
- Defamation Per Se
Synergy advertised on its blog that "Synergy's Dave Place Wrote the book on Lien Resolution", saying Liens in Personal Injury Actions "was the only book of its kind in Virginia that is intended to help simplify the complexity that characterizes liens and to provide assistance to Virginia’s trial lawyers in securing the maximum net recovery for clients". The actual list of authors includes Dave Place among at least ten authors and contributors.
ISBN: 9780820580371. Download Synergy David Place wrote the book - Google Search 8-25-2019
Synergy's counsel Gary S. Salzman, Esq. of Orlando's Garganese, Weiss, D'Agresta & Salzman, P.A., pointed out in a letter dated August 27, 2019, that the Florida Circuit Court entered an order on July 23, 2019, which dismissed the counterclaim of Dave Place and The Place Law Firm , PLLC. In the dismissal it states that Place had until August 19, 2019 to amend. Subsequent to the dismissal, on July 29, 2019, Place, signed and he and The Place Law Firm, PLLC filed for removal to the Middle District of Florida where it was entered on August 2, 2019. The caption in the 4 page Document 1 on the Pacer record for the removal includes Place and The Place Law Firm as Third Party Plaintiffs and Synergy Settlement Services and the officers named above as Third Party Defendant. Download Pacer Doc 1 Synergy v Place Middle District of Florida. However none of the attachments filed by Place and associated with document 1 referred to the dismissal. It appears that Place's counter claims will be refiled.
The litigation against Place and The Place law Firm is one of a pair lawsuits against individuals formerly associated with its heralded lien resolution team. In the other lawsuit, filed April 2, 2019 in Orange county Circuit Court, is against William Nathan Parkey and Panoptic Insurance Group, LLC d/b/a Panoptic Settlement Solutionss and Zipliens, LLC, Synergy seeks injunctive relief, compensatory damages, exemplary damages, and attorney ’s fees under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. According to his website, Parkey is Managing Partner and Chief Compliance Officer for Panoptic Financial Group, a Registered Investment Advisor, offering financial planning and investment services. Nathan consults attorneys and their clients across the state of Kentucky and select areas outside of the state.
That's Not All Folks! There's another lawsuit pending
David L. Place v Synergy Settlement Services, Inc.,a Florida Corporation In the Culpeper General District Court Virgina
Case No. V19-891
Dave Place sued Synergy Settlement Services Inc. Culpeper County Virginia back in the Spring for breach of contract. According to the Bill of Particulars for the lawsuitagainst Synergy and filed exhibits:
- Synergy owed Dave Place the balance of his $116,504.64 2018 bonus, which the parties agreed would be paid in installments. An offer was alleged to be offered by Synergy and accepted by Place on March 11, 2019. This was covered in multiple emails to and from Synergy and Place as shown in Bill of Particulars Exhibit A to the complaint filed in Culpeper County General DistrictCourt.
- On April 5, 2019, Synergy's bookeeper, Troy Heinemann, confirmed per the contract the remaining balance due Place was $31,334.88 ( Bill of Particulars Exhibit A)
- Place alleges in the Bill of Partculars that he has not received the funds due per the March 11, 2019 contract (Bill of Particulars )
- On May 8, 2019 Place gave Synergy the opportunity to cure the breach of the March 11, 2019 contract by email (Bill of Particulars Exhibit C). The next day Jason Lazarus responded that "Synergy outside counsel was reviewing everything and one of us will respond to you by next week (Ibid). The alleged balance remains unresolved as does the lawsuit.
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