Doucet & Associates secured a free house for a client today as a result of a bank’s massive blunder. The bank apparently did not have their paperwork in order and failed to file a foreclosure against our client within the statute of limitations...
The Sixth Circuit ruled last week in Majestic Building Maintenance v. Huntington Bancshares Inc. (July 20,2018 App. No. 16-4342) that a bank cannot disclaim its duty of ordinary care and good faith in processing checks under UCC Article 4...
First-Knox National Bank applied our clients mortgage payments wrong after they were granted a loan modification with deferred interests and other charges. In this case, we learned that an employee must manually remove deferred interests from a loan when applying a mortgage payment...
Envision having human feces spread across your hair and body while trying on a shirt at a clothing store. Imagine the urge of vomiting and nausea overcoming your body as you smelled the disgusting odor and fear you would obtain from such a gross experience. That is exactly what happened to our client when she slipped a shirt over her head at a TJ Maxx clothing store.
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. filed a lawsuit against a car dealership for allegedly selling a car with a different engine to our client without telling him. The dealership allegedly lied about the warranty the car was under too.
Rick Slorp alleges that BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. and its attorneys at Lerner Sampson & Rothfuss LLP (LSR) created and submitted multiple fake versions of his promissory note to use as evidence against him in a foreclosure lawsuit.
Doucet & Associates 10th District Win for Church Client
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. attorney, Andrew Gerling, maintained a $62,000 jury verdict in the 10th District appellate court for a local church. The church first received the $62,000 in damages in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court for a breach of contract over a commercial property.
The Fathers House International, Inc. purchased the commercial property with intent to build a new church. The Pastors of the church met with the defendant and modified the contract to keep monthly payments from rising after the first year. The Pastors and defendant also agreed the property could be used for other projects.
Later the church joined with the YMCA, the City of Columbus, and the Community Shelter Board and developed plans to operate a homeless shelter on the property. The defendant wrote a letter of confirmation for the church to lease the property and verified accurate payments had been received.
Despite the modification and letter, the defendant later went back on the deal by demanding more money than he was entitled to under the new contract agreement. Attorney Andrew Gerling first successfully defended the Fathers House International, Inc. in a breach of contract lawsuit and upheld the verdict during the appeal.
If you have had a foreclosure lawsuit unlawfully filed against you contact Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. at (614)944-5219 for legal assistance.
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. Wins Lawsuit Against a Debt Collector
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. won a lawsuit against Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC for debt collection harassment and violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Our clients sought out our assistance after Portfolio continued to notify them about their debts after they had legal representation and failed to show proper verification.
In 2015, Student Legal Services, Inc. helped our clients by sending a letter asking for verification for some of the debts Portfolio notified them about. Under the FDCPA, a debt collector cannot contact a consumer without permission once they have a lawyer involved.
Portfolio responded by sending a letter directly to our clients verifying another debt, not the debts requested. Portfolio continued to contact our clients by mail and eventually phone about various debts. Portfolio violated the FDCPA by continuing to contact our client’s after they had legal representation.
Portfolio admitted liability through an offer of judgement and paid our clients $2,001 in statutory damages due to collection harassment and violations of the FDCPA. In Ohio, FDCPA lawsuits that create statutes are also violations for a Consumer Sales Practice Act (CSPA) lawsuit and both allow fee shifting. Therefore, Portfolio is required to pay Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. reasonable attorney fees, rather than our client.
A Mortgage Servicer Must Show Compliance with Housing and Urban Development Regulations Prior to Initiating Foreclosure Action
In Wells Fargo, N.A., vs. Awadallah, 41 N.E.3d 481 (2015), the Ninth District held that where a note and mortgage requires compliance with HUD regulations, such compliance is a condition precedent to bringing a foreclosure action. A condition precedent is something that must occur before something else will or can occur. Ms. Awadallah’s promissory note and mortgage were prepared on Federal Housing Administration forms and required that the bank, as a condition of receiving federal money, meet all HUD requirements prior to filing a foreclosure action. Under HUD, Wells Fargo was required to have a face-to-face interview with Ms. Awadallah, or make a reasonable effort to arrange such. At minimum, Wells Fargo was required to send a certified letter to Ms. Awadallah and make at least one trip to see her at the mortgaged property. It failed to do so.
Wells Fargo failed to present evidence to the Ninth District regarding their reasonable effort to make a visit to Ms. Awadallah’s home, which is expressly required under her note and mortgage and federal regulation. Wells Fargo argued that they didn’t need to meet that requirement because after the foreclosure action was filed, the parties attempted to settle the case in mediation. Wells Fargo argued that the purpose of the in-person meeting, as required under HUD, is to consider loss mitigation and that court-sponsored mediation serves the same purpose. The Ninth District disagreed, stating that mediation after the foreclosure action has been initiated does not show compliance with the federal regulation. Wells Fargo failed to strictly comply with standard regulations set forth to protect consumers. Thus, Wells Fargo did not satisfy the conditions precedent to filing a foreclosure action against Ms. Awadallah. Therefore, Wells Fargo was not entitled to succeed on its motion for summary judgment. The Ninth District reversed the judgment and sent the case back for further proceedings.
Craigslist Buyers Have Rights Under the CSPA
In 2012, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against a Cincinnati man for failing to deliver goods he offered for sale on Craigslist, charging him with violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (the “CSPA”). Kevin L. Hunter of Cincinnati was charged by the Ohio Attorney General for failing to deliver goods he offered for sale on Craigslist, primarily automobile tires and rims. State and federal databases indicated that victims lost more than $50,000 to Hunter over seven years.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit charged the man with multiple violations of Ohio’s CSPA, including failure to deliver, misrepresenting price advantages, and advertising and selling without possessing the goods to be sold. In the lawsuit, the Attorney General sought consumer restitution, injunctive relief, and civil penalties.
In a press statement, Attorney General DeWine stated, “It’s bad enough when a consumer ends up paying for shoddy workmanship or products that don’t perform as promised, but paying for something and getting nothing is outrageous.”
The scammer was found to have committed unfair and deceptive acts and practices in violation of the CSPA by: 1) accepting payments from consumers for goods and then failing to deliver the purchased goods and failing to return payments to consumers; 2) representing that specific price advantages existed, when they did not; 3) selling consumer goods without taking reasonable steps to acquire the goods necessary to complete the transactions; and 4) advertising and selling goods without having ownership or possession of the goods and failing to disclose that fact to buyers.
These acts constituted unconscionable acts and practices in violation of the CSPA where the scammer entered into consumer transactions while knowing of the inability of the consumers to receive substantial benefits from the subject of the consumer transactions. The Court found him liable for the scam and ordered him to pay $3,200 in consumer restitution and $50,000 in civil penalties.
The Craigslist scam has since been added to the Ohio Public Inspection File (“PIF”) database, located on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. The searchable Public Inspection File contains decisions from Ohio courts establishing those acts or practices deemed to violate Ohio’s consumer protection laws. While the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1345) prohibits unfair, deceptive or unconscionable acts by suppliers, the statute does not identify every prohibited practice. Such determinations are often left to the courts.
The CSPA allows for enhanced damages to be assessed against a supplier for a violation that has been previously addressed in an administrative rule or by any Ohio court if the Attorney General’s Office has that decision available in its Public Inspection File. In such a case, a consumer may recover three times the amount of actual damages or $200, whichever is greater.
If you have been the victim of this type of scam, or think you may have been involved in a consumer transaction that violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, call Doucet & Associates. We specialize in consumer defense and may be able to assist you in protecting and asserting your rights.
If a Consumer Pays a Deposit as Part of a Consumer Transaction, the Supplier Must Have an Articulated Refund Policy
William and Joan Layne, consumers as that term is defined in the Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. §1345.01, et seq., entered into a consumer transaction with Tru-Built Homes, Inc., to build a detached garage on their property. The contract price of $7,196.00 was to be paid in three installments, with the first as a down payment at the time the contract was signed. The contract went on to guarantee that the supplier would: “fix, replace, or repair any part that goes wrong, that is our fault, because of poor workmanship or faulty materials for one full year at absolutely no cost to the consumer.”
The concrete garage floor that was poured by the contractor did not conform to the contract’s specifications in that it did not align with the house. The parties negotiated for several weeks, trying to resolve the non-conformity, without reaching an acceptable solution. Finally, it was agreed that the contractor would remove and re-pour the pad. A subcontractor started the task, but did not complete it. Finally, the Laynes terminated the contract relationship, and filed litigation alleging breach of contract and violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. §1345.01 et seq.
A jury awarded damages of $6,277.00 on the breach of contract claim, but the trial court ruled against plaintiffs on the CSPA claim. On appeal, the 2nd District reversed, finding that there was sufficient evidence in the record to find that the defendant had engaged in deceptive and unconscionable practices by accepting a deposit without articulating a refund policy, engaging in a pattern of inefficiency and incompetency, and failing to honor an express warranty, all of which have been held to violate the CSPA.
R.C. §1345.09(B) states that when a supplier in a consumer transaction has engaged in a deceptive or unconscionable act, a consumer is entitled to three times actual damages or $200, whichever is greater. On remand, the lower court did not separate the breach of contract damages previously found by the jury from the CSPA violations damages, as the appellate court clearly contemplated, and simply trebled the jury’s finding of $6,277.00, totaling $18,831.00, as plaintiffs’ actual damages. Defendants appealed again, and the appellate court agreed that damages were due and owing for the several CSPA violations but disagreed with the trial court’s basis for its finding of actual damages, so the court remanded that matter a second time for the trial court to re-examine each CSPA violation to fashion an appropriate damages award.
The 2nd District left alone the trial court’s award of attorney fees under the CSPA, reasoning that the supplier had knowingly committed the violation, which is enough to justify awarding attorney fees under R.C. §1345.09(F). Quoting from the Supreme Court decision in Einhorn v. Ford Motor Co., (1990) 48 Ohio St. 3d, 27, 30, the appellate court stated that knowingly committing an act or practice “ ‘means that the supplier need only intentionally do the act…The supplier does not have to know that his conduct violates the [CSPA]. ’ ” Id., at p. 6. The trial court had held a separate hearing on attorney fees following the first remand, finding that $18,329.70 was a reasonable amount for plaintiffs’ attorney fees in the pursuit of their CSPA claims.
Layne v. McGowen, 2nd Dist. Case No. 16400, November 14, 1997
PIF #10001592: Decision under Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. §1345.01, et seq.
Watch Out for the Dotted Line!
This week, the Ohio Sixth District Appellate Court in Toledo dismissed a consumer’s appeal after he claimed he was convinced to sign a consent agreement with the property owner through fraud because he had entered into a contract that barred his case. The lesson to learn from the Sixth District is to be aware of what you sign and how it can affect you into the future.
Charles Hanson was living in a house when Flex Property Management purchased it at a sheriff’s sale. Flex Property gave notice to Mr. Hanson to leave the property, and was directed to vacate by the end of February 2015. Mr. Hanson, representing himself pro se, entered into settlement agreement with Flex Property outside the courtroom. In exchange for $1000 cash, receiving a pre-approval letter from the bank, and an appraisal on the home, Mr. Hanson was permitted to stay in the house and make an offer to purchase. Mr. Hanson signed a consent judgment in April 2015 that was sent along with a drafted purchase agreement for the property.
However, when the two sides returned to the court, Flex Property filed the consent judgment and, according to Mr. Hanson, this showed that Flex Property had no intention of allowing him to purchase the property. With the consent judgment duly filed, the court informed Mr. Hanson that he would be removed from the house on May 30, 2015. Mr. Hanson appealed the court’s order.
The Sixth District court dismissed Mr. Hanson’s appeal.
The key issue identified by the Appellate Court is that a consented judgment entry or settlement agreement is a binding contract between the parties. Generally, one cannot appeal a contract. Since Mr. Hanson did not expressly reserve the right to appeal in the terms of the consent agreement, he was barred from contesting the judgment in that fashion.
Since the fraud that Mr. Hanson alleged to Flex Property occurred outside the courts, there is no evidence of it on the record. As such, Mr. Hanson could not argue the fraudulent inducement claim in a direct appeal either. Instead, the Sixth District instructed that Mr. Hanson would have to petition the court to set aside the judgment under Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 60(B) and make that case to the trial court. This is a more difficult process than a direct appeal.
Realize that when you sign something, you are likely forming a contract with the other party. Mr. Hanson represented himself and entered into two contracts with Flex Property: the settlement agreement & the consent judgment. Without realizing it, he had given up some of his rights and limited his options for the future.
A contract does not need to be a formal document that reads “Contract” at the top, or have “Wherefores” and “Therefores” sprinkled throughout. If the essential legal elements of a contract (offer, acceptance, and consideration) are met, the court will likely deem an agreement a legally binding contract.
Before you sign anything, ensure that you understand the consequences of each term and element. If you are across from a bank or property management company, you know they have had their attorneys make sure their rights and options are well protected. The best option is to get an attorney on your side to review everything and protect your interests. Contact Doucet & Associates to help ensure that your rights are protected.
Read the decision [Capital Income & Growth Fund, L.L.C. v. Hanson, 2016-Ohio-2973]
Your Rights under the Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act
The Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act (PECA) provides protection to consumers who have entered into agreements for prepaid agreements for certain services. PECA covers a variety of contracts, ranging from Gym Memberships, Dance lessons, Martial Arts lessons, to online dating services.
In 2012, the Ohio Attorney General instituted an action against a Fitness Center for purported violations of PECA. The court in Ohio v. Riffle concluded that the Fitness Center violated PECA by, amongst other things, the following actions:
- Failing to provide consumers with proper notice of their right to cancel a prepaid entertainment contract as required by PECA
- Closing the fitness facilities and failing to provide refunds for the unused portions of the contract and failing to arrange for a substantially similar fitness facility located within 25 miles of the customers’ residences as required by PECA, which was also a violation of the Consumer Sales Protection Act (CSPA)
- Failing to honor cancellations made by consumers during PECA’s three-day mandatory cooling off window
- Failing to honor valid cancellations made due to a consumer’s disability that prevented the consumer’s enjoyment of the contract’s purpose as required by PECA
- Failing to honor cancellations made after consumers moved outside of a 25 mile radius of the facilities
- Failing to provide refunds to consumers within 10 days after valid cancellations of contracts as required by PECA
- Representing in the contract that certain services, such as childcare, would be available, and failing to provide such services
In Riffle, the Defendant was permanently enjoined from committing any unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable act or practice which violated the CSPA or PECA. The Defendant was further ordered to pay consumer damages and a civil penalty, as well as cease all pending collection actions against other consumers.
The Fair Housing Act: Conditions required prior to foreclosure
Doucet & Associates argued before the Fifth District that certain conditions must be met before foreclosing on a Fair Housing Act (FHA) loan. In Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Gerst, 5th Dist. Delaware No. 13CAE-05-0042, 2014 WL 108788 (Jan. 9, 2014), The Fifth District reversed the trial’s court’s finding that HUD’s face-to-face meeting requirement was an affirmative defense, and not a condition precedent to the plaintiff-appellee’s foreclosure action. The court stated: “Appellee has failed to establish it complied with the regulation that it have a face-to-face interview with Appellants, or made a reasonable effort to arrange the interview, before bringing the foreclosure action. Further, the letters sent to Appellants . . . cannot be used to demonstrate even minimal compliance with Section 203.604, Title 24 C.F.R., because subsection (d) of that rule prescribes a certified letter as the minimum requirement for a reasonable effort to arrange a face-to-face meeting.”
National City Mortgage Company v. Richards: A case study in condition precedent as a foreclosure defense
National City Mortgage Company v. Richards: A case study in condition precedent as a foreclosure defense
Before your mortgage company can initiate foreclosure proceedings and accelerate your debt they must meet any condition precedents required in the original agreement. Most often these condition precedents come in the form of required prior notice of default and/or acceleration outlined by a provision in your note or mortgage instrument. So what does this mean for you? Basically it means that your mortgage company cannot take action against you without properly informing you of their intent to do so. National City Mortgage Company v. Richards illustrates the scenario well. In that case, Richards argued that she never received notice of her default through first class mail as was required in her original agreement with the mortgage company. Because of this oversight on the part of the mortgage company, Richards never had a reasonable opportunity to cure the problem. The Tenth District sided with Richards and the Mortgage Company’s cause was dismissed. If you believe you might have an issue with condition precedent or any other mortgage issue please do not hesitate to contact Doucet & Associates.
 By: Justin Potter, Of Counsel, Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A.
 Nat’l City Mortgage Co. v. Richards, 2009-Ohio-2556, ¶ 1, 182 Ohio App. 3d 534
Right of Rescission
A borrower facing foreclosure has a number of defenses to losing his or her home. One such defense is the right of rescission. One can think of rescission as the ending of a contract or agreement. Under the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1635, a borrower has the right of rescission as to certain transactions including mortgage refinancing, a home equity line of credit, a home improvement plan, or any other non-purchase credit transaction secured by the borrower’s principal dwelling . However, TILA’s right of rescission does not apply to the purchase of a home.
TILA “requires creditors to provide borrowers with clear and accurate disclosures of terms dealing with things like finance charges, annual percentage rates of interest, and the borrower’s rights[.]” Barrett v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 445 F.3d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 2006). See also 12 C.F.R. § 226.1(b) (“The purpose of this regulation is to promote the informed use of consumer credit by requiring disclosures about its terms and cost.”).
Normally, a borrower is allowed until midnight of the third business day after the consummation of the transaction or delivery of the required TILA disclosures to the borrower, whichever is later, to rescind the transaction. But if the lender does not provide the required TILA forms and disclosures to the borrower, the borrower’s right of rescission may extend up to three years. In other words, a borrower has an “unconditional right to rescind for three days,” after which the borrower has three years to rescind if the lender fails to satisfy TILA’s disclosure requirements. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 790, 792 (2015).
If a lender does not meet its TILA disclosure obligations and the borrower wishes to rescind the transaction within the three year time period, the borrower may do so by giving notice to the lender in accordance certain Federal Reserve Board regulations. For a borrower, a rescission of a transaction means the borrower is refunded all payments, fees, and costs, essentially placing the borrower in a position as if the transaction never occurred.
Doucet Recovers Treble Damages in Auto Repair Lawsuit
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. recovered treble damages (three times the actual damages) plus attorney fees, in a civil breach of contract and Consumer Sales Protection Act lawsuit against Jacobs Proformance Engines LLC (JPE an Ohio Corporation entity 1709437 – Columbus Ohio). The consumer lawyers at our law firm handle many cases against dishonest car repair shops. Sometimes the claims our lawyers handle result in the sizable recovery of money damages.
In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof to establish all the elements necessary to sustain a claim, which includes the element of damages. With legal representation from a consumer lawyer with Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., in this civil lawsuit, the magistrate determined that all elements were met by default. The case was filed in Franklin County Court as a civil breach of contract claim lawsuit and the Consumer Sales Protection Act (CSPA).
Referred to a Magistrate for damages after the court issued a decision and entry granting plaintiff’s Motion for Default, the magistrate awarded damages based upon the default judgment.
The lawsuit was filed in Ohio after our client paid $28,400 for a high performance custom built racing engine “F2SBC Turnkey Engine”. Upon delivery of the finished motor from JPE, our client became suspicious that something was wrong with the engine. The client began disassembling the engine and noted wear and tear not normally associated with new products. Our client contacted Jacobs Proformance Engines LLC (JPE) and raised his concerns, but the defendant told him not to take the engine apart because it would “harm it.” Our client proceeded to take the engine apart and discovered his concerns were correct – the “new” engine was actually used.
After our client identified the breach of contract by JPE and contacted Doucet & Associates, our consumer lawyers filed a consumer protection lawsuit on his behalf. Our client not only recovered actual damages, but for the personal stress that lead to issues with his family, his sleep, and his general well being.
The court decided that our client would recover civil damages against Jacobs Performance Engines LLC (JPE) in the amount of $70,400 plus $500 for non-economic damages, plus attorney fees, plus interest, and plus court costs.
As a civil breach of contract lawsuit with elements covered by the Consumer Sales Protection Act, colloquially known as consumer protection, our client utilized our consumer lawyer services to obtain a favorable judgment in the breach of contract case against JPE. If you are an Ohio resident facing a similar issue with an auto repair, maintenance, upgrading shop, or another issue with this same company, you are invited to call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219 to discuss your legal options.
Doucet Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Chase Mortgage for Alleged Violations After Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Doucet & Associates filed a class action lawsuit against Chase Home Finance, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase Mortgage) alleging a systematic practice of violating borrower court ordered and approved Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plans. Our after-bankruptcy lawyers allege that the practice does not allow mortgage debtors to have the fresh start they deserve following the successful completion of the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy process. The option remaining for our after-bankruptcy lawyers is to sue, and our bankruptcy lawyers have filed this lawsuit specifically alleging that Chase Mortgage:
- Improperly applies and accounts for after-bankruptcy mortgage payments made as part of confirmed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans.
- Continues attempting to collect (and collecting) additional fees following successful completion of their Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans.
- Blatantly ignoring court orders discharging our client under Section 1328(a) of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
- Ignoring our clients multiple requests to update their account.
- Disregarding notices from our client’s previous bankruptcy lawyer explaining that Plaintiff’s Chapter 13 Bankruptcy had been completed and discharged.
The suit alleges that after bankruptcy Chase Mortgage continued to treat our client as if the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy had never been completed. The recourse here is for the lawyers with Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. to file a class action lawsuit and sue Chase Mortgage after its bankruptcy errors.
The complaint alleges that our client and those similarly situated, having followed the proper rules and made payments under their court approved Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan, are now left to pay hundreds to thousands of extra dollars in unknown and un-accounted fees after bankruptcy. Chase Mortgage is also alleged to have mishandled the bankruptcy credit reporting process leaving our client’s account as “in bankruptcy” and not properly accounting for the current status of the loan.
Our client followed the proper Chapter 13 Bankruptcy procedures, including making regular monthly payments to Chase Mortgage, until the plan was approved. She also submitted the proper monthly payments to the Trustee for submission to various creditors including Chase Mortgage during bankruptcy, and after bankruptcy, she made proper monthly payments again to Chase Mortgage.
Doucet & Associates believes that this is indicative of a broad pattern of incorrectly handling debtors’ mortgage loans for previously discharged debts, and has filed this class action lawsuit against Chase Home Finance, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. on behalf of our client and those similarly situated. We estimate this case could be representative of at least thousands of individuals and encourage anyone who has gone through a similar experience with Chase Home Finance, LLC and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. or any other mortgage loan servicer to call us immediately at (614) 944-5219 if they have been discharged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy.