by Brian Mahany
Chase Home Finance, a subsidiary of JPMorgan, lost an important court battle this week as it struggles to respond to claims from homeowners across the United States regarding the improper denial of HAMP loan modifications. HAMP is an acronym for the Home Affordable Mortgage Program, a program sponsored by the U.S. Treasury Department. In early 2011, Chase signed a consent decree with the federal Comptroller of the Currency and agreed to follow Treasury guidelines regarding the HAMP program. As many lawyers and homeowners will tell you, their compliance with those guidelines and the consent decree has been less than stellar.
The purpose of HAMP is to help homeowners who are struggling to stay in their homes. Through interest rate reductions, longer payout periods and even reductions in the principal balance, banks and lenders have tools to help keep people in their homes. Many folks believe, however, that the big lenders have simply become to big to care. One of those folks is Chetra Krut.
Krut obtained a mortgage in 2005 from Chase. After the housing market crash, Krut ran into some financial hardships. Rather than simply walk away from his home (like many others in Long Beach, California), Krut approached the bank and asked for a HAMP modification. His request was initially approved and Krut began making the required trial payments.
What Krut claims happened next is a pattern we see over and over again with Chase, Bank of America and other big banks. Krut says that over the next 26 months he kept getting letters and calls from Chase claiming they were missing paperwork. Krut says he sent it in over and over again. While this was happening, Chase continued to threaten foreclosure and even tried to schedule a sale of the home on two occasions. Needless to say, the say, the mental duress and anxiety that Krut suffered over those 2+ years must have been unbearable.
Unlike so many other homeowners, Krut filed suit. His suit is currently pending in the Central District of California. Chase moved to dismiss the suit claiming the court has no jurisdiction. Chase evidently would rather face the Comptroller of the Currency than a jury of Krut’s peers. We think we understand Chase’ reasoning. The Washington banking regulatory bureaucracy is largely made up of former banking and Wall Street insiders. It’s a revolving door.
Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of Jeff Connaughton’s book, The Payoff, Why Wall Street Always Wins. It’s an eye opener and as a former lobbyist myself (albeit on a smaller scale), I know he is right.
HAMP cases have not fared well in California state courts, although that may be changing. A federal judge denied Chase’s motion to dismiss meaning the case could head to a jury. Our guess is that Chase will settle and not risk an award of punitive damages.
If you believe you are the victim of a predatory banking practice or feel you were improperly denied a loan modification, give us a call. Our firm specializes in lender liability cases and currently represents the whistleblower in the largest pending false claims act case in the country, HUD’s $2.4 billion case against Allied Home Mortgage. Large or small, we may be able to help.
For more information, contact attorney Anthony Dietz at or by telephone at (248) 789-5551. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege. (Please note that we are not a traditional mortgage foreclosure firm. If you are facing the immediate loss of your home and don’t have a lawyer, contact your local bar association for referral assistance. Our firm sues banks and mortgage companies for fraud and other misconduct.)
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine and Minneapolis, Minnesota. We handle cases in many jurisdictions.