by Brian Mahany
Last week a gentlemen came into our office and said that although he never missed a mortgage payment, his house was in foreclosure. “No way,” I thought. Some banks like Bank of America are abysmal record keepers but surely if you showed that you paid your mortgage any lender would stop the foreclosure proceeding. Apparently not.
Thanks to our friend Charles Seavey for pointing us to an article by Reuters and to several other articles, we quickly learned that big banks make mistakes like this everyday. All of us are capable of making mistakes. Consider it one of the hazards of being human. But once confronted by our mistakes, rational humans admit their error and move on. Not some big banks.
The gentlemen I met with has been struggling for almost 3 years and has spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. When he showed his canceled checks to the bank, the judge dismissed the foreclosure. That didn’t stop the bank form coming right back and starting again.
That type of institutional arrogance reminds me of one of my first cases as a lawyer 28 years ago. Our client recovered a judgment against a large insurance company. The company refused to pay because it could not find it’s file. Thinking that someone in the insurance company made a mistake and misplaced the file, I sent them a copy of the judgment. Still no check.
Perplexed, I called the insurance company again. “Until we find our file, we won’t pay” was the response. No amount of logic would budge them from their position. Finally we sent in the sheriff and started removing desks, typrewriters (yes, I began practice that long ago) and anything that wasn’t bolted down. That got someone’s attention and in 1 hour my client had a check delivered by courier.
Apparently some lenders need to be hit over the head like that too.
In the Reuters story, a woman in Utah showed up to accountant’s office only to learn that she was in foreclosure. The only problem was that she had sold the house years ago and the mortgage was paid off. That didn’t stop Bank of America from ruining her credit rating over a house she didn’t even own. Lest you say this is an isolated incident, it’s not.
If you have a horror story to share please let us know. Although we sometimes represent individual homeowners, our practice primarily concentrates on false claims actions (whistleblower cases) and class actions. If we are able to assemble a successful class or file a false claims act case (sometimes called a qui tam action) on your behalf you may be entitled to a percentage of what we collect.