Digital Altitude settlement negotiations at a standstill
A Joint Status Report filed by the FTC on July 20th, has revealed settlement negotiations between Digital Altitude, Michael Force, Mary Dee and the FTC have broken down.
The revelation is not entirely unexpected, given the news last week that Force and Dee’s relationship with their attorneys had also broken down.
In a separately filed opposition response to Force and Dees’ requested $100,000 legal fees carveout, the FTC argue the pair have failed to provide the court with requested details of
- their assets
- their efforts to find gainful employment or otherwise obtain funds to cover living expenses and
- when Mary Dee is expected to start earning money from a newly launched enterprise
Defendant Dee’s declaration states that in March and April 2018, she “began to work on a new business venture,” but she failed to submit evidence as to when her new enterprise will generate revenue or how much income it will provide, which this Court required.
Defendant Force’s declaration is even less specific regarding his efforts to obtain funds to cover living expenses and legal fees, stating only that Digital Altitude was his “primary” source of income prior to the filing of this matter, and that his income has “dropped” since then.
Defendant Force’s declaration implies that he had other sources of income prior to the filing of this matter, and that he has continued to earn income since then.
This appears to be inconsistent with his financial disclosure form submitted to the FTC, which lists no other source of
income besides Digital Altitude.
As the regulator points out;
The roughly $2 million that is frozen is but a tiny fraction of the $54 million that consumers lost due to the Defendants’ lies and deception.
That disparity is “reason enough” to deny the motion for attorneys’ fees.
I suspect a major reason behind the breakdown in attorney relationship and settlement discussions, is the misguided belief by Force and/or Dee that they’ll be able to ultimately keep fraudulently obtained assets they haven’t declared.
Supporting this theory is a July 20th motion filed by the FTC.
The regulator has asked the court to compel
Digital Altitude LLC, Thermography for Life, LLC, Michael Force, and Mary Dee to respond in full to the interrogatories and requests for production of documents served by the FTC upon them.
The FTC alleges that in response to their discovery requests, Digital Altitude, Force and Dee have submitted “baseless objections”.
An attached memorandum reveals the requested discovery was initially due on May 30th.
The FTC agreed to multiple extensions of the due date for Defendants’ responses, ultimately extending the deadline to June 18, 2018.
That date came and went, and Defendants did not serve any response to the Interrogatories or the Requests for Production.
Since then, the FTC has repeatedly asked Defendants to comply with their obligation to respond to the FTC’s discovery requests.
On a June 26th telephone conference, Force and Dee’s lawyers informed the FTC ‘they had “no legal reason” for failing to provide responses to the … interrogatories and document requests‘.
Continued attempts to conceal fraudulently obtained assets would explain Force and Dee’s non-compliance.
Defendants had over two and a half months to respond to the FTC’s discovery requests.
They have not done so. Defendants have not even asked for a
further extension of the deadline to provide discovery responses past June 18, 2018.
If the FTC’s motion to compel is granted (and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be), Digital Altitude, Force and Dee will have ten days from the order to comply.