appeal

Doucet & Associates 10th District Win for Church Client

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.

 

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Don’t Bank on Loan Modifications, A Cautionary Tale

Don’t Bank on Loan Modifications, A Cautionary Tale

Tim Neff was a homeowner and corrections officer at the now closed Mohican Juvenile Correction Facility. While attempting to restrain an inmate in 2009, he suffered a serious back injury that put him on worker’s compensation and effectively ended his career. Around this time, he and his wife applied for a loan modification with their mortgage company, Flagstar Bank, in an attempt to make their mortgage more affordable under their new circumstances.

The Neffs claimed that Flagstar made repeated assurances to them that their request would be processed. The loan modification was necessary for the Neffs to keep their house now that Tim was on worker’s compensation and making a fraction of what he made while working as a corrections officer. Throughout the next two years, the Neffs would repeatedly call Flagstar inquiring about the status of their loan modification, to which their representatives allegedly responded by stating it was processing and requesting more documents. The Neffs readily provided Flagstar any documents that they asked for, and maintained that the bank led them to believe that the much needed loan modification was just around the corner.

In contrast to this, the Neffs alleged to receiving several notices from Flagstar and their attorneys stating that their mortgage was in default, and eventually foreclosure. They claim that when they asked Flagstar about this, the company responded by again requesting more documents and assuring the Neffs that the loan modification was still being processed. According to the lawsuit, Flagstar’s representatives even went as far as to describe the foreclosure as a “formality.” When the Neffs asked Flagstar whether or not they should hire an attorney to answer the complaint, Flagstar allegedly responded by telling them it was unnecessary and that they could do everything an attorney could.

In December of 2011, the Neffs learned through their local newspaper that their house was due to be sold. Their decision to put faith in Flagstar’s alleged assurances proved to be a fatal mistake. It became apparent to them that Flagstar had made the decision to proceed with the foreclosure process, despite the assurances the Neffs claimed to have received. According to claims made by Flagstar, the company decided to reject the Neffs’ application for a loan modification in December 2010 due to their failure to provide a singular tax document. However, the Neffs maintained that they were led to believe their loan modification was still being processed until they were made aware of the sale of their property.

The Neffs immediately sought counsel upon learning of this sale, but unfortunately it came too late to stop anything. Doucet & Associates fought hard for the Neffs, going as far as the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals twice, but we were ultimately unable to prevent the foreclosure or obtain monetary justice for their horrible ordeal. This should serve as a warning to anyone dealing with a mortgage company to not take anything at face value, especially if you are concerned about foreclosure. Flagstar likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees rather than working out a loan modification with the Neffs, which ultimately led to the Neffs losing their home.

Time is often a critical factor, especially when it comes to foreclosure defense. If you believe foreclosure may be imminent, seek legal advice. Feel free to call our Ask a Lawyer Hotline at (614) 221-9800 if you are concerned about your mortgage.

 

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Gym Fails to Cancel Membership; Loses Appeal

Gym Fails to Cancel Membership; Loses Appeal

That gym membership contract does not have as much muscle as you think, according to a recent decision by The Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second Appellate District. If the gym has not followed PECA (Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act) precisely, then the customer can cancel a predatory, overpriced membership and receive a refund of everything paid – plus damages and reasonable attorney fees.

In a recent case filed in Montgomery County, our client sued Everybody Fitness, LLC in Dayton, Ohio for charging a $100.00 enrollment fee (twice the legal limit), payable before he and his wife could use the facility. In addition, the gym charged the couple $48.10 per month, deducted from the plaintiff’s credit card before receiving services, and an annual fee of $41.73. The gym promised that Zumba classes would be available. When the gym failed to offer the classes, the couple decided to cancel their 36-month family membership and requested a refund of all money paid under the contract minus $10.00. Because the contract was a prepaid entertainment contract, cancellation and a refund of was an option.

As part of our client’s cancellation, he requested a copy of his contract, the return of any evidence of indebtedness, and notice of whether the gym would return or keep evidence of indebtedness. But, he did not receive any of these documents. Everybody Fitness failed to provide a Notice of Cancellation within the time frame necessary to comply with PECA requirements, did not provide an address to which our client could deliver the document, and illegally produced a notice with type smaller than 10 point. The trial court determined that the gym did knowingly perform these violations and found for our client on summary judgments.

Everybody Fitness appealed the decision and unsuccessfully argued at the court of appeals that our client’s requests were more than what PECA required. The court agreed with our client and the earlier court’s decision in part, but also reversed the earlier awarding of damages for mental anguish and stress.

Our client paid $911.33 in membership fees over the course of his contract with Everybody Fitness, which the court ordered refunded to him. He is also entitled to statutory double damages for a total award of $1,802.66. The court also awarded our law firm attorney’s fees, which will be determined at the conclusion of the case.

To schedule an appointment for help in membership cancellation, call the consumer protection lawyers at Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219.

 

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Racketeering Lawsuit over Robo-Signing Can Proceed

Racketeering Lawsuit over Robo-Signing Can Proceed

Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled that a RICO lawsuit against Bank of America, its law firm, a law firm employee, and MERS could proceed.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) lawsuit could proceed against Bank of America, NA (“BANA”), Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), the law firm of Lerner Sampson and Rothfuss, and one of the law firm’s paralegals, for illegal robo-signing in an earlier state court foreclosure action.

The homeowner sued the four entities alleging that the law firm submitted a robo-signed mortgage assignment in an earlier foreclosure knowing that document was fraudulent. The lawsuit alleges that the law firm acted for BANA when it used that mortgage assignment to establish BANA’s ability to foreclose on the homeowner’s home, despite knowing the document was false. The lawsuit included multiple examples of this particular paralegal signing mortgage assignments on behalf of defunct companies, in what has become known as “robo-signing.”

During the foreclosure case, judgment had been taken against the homeowner without him realizing the problematic documents. Only after the homeowner retained Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., who brought the robo-signing to the court’s attention, did BANA and LSR vacate the judgment and dismiss the foreclosure. Bank of America dismissed on the eve of the paralegal, Shellie Hill, having to appear and give testimony under oath about the mortgage assignment.

After the foreclosure lawsuit was dismissed, the homeowner filed a federal lawsuit alleging several causes of action against all four parties. The district court judge initially dismissed the lawsuit, but today’s landmark decision by the federal court of appeals reinstated the most serious of the allegations. The lawsuit against BANA, MERS, LSR, and Ms. Hill will now continue under the federal racketeering statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law initially designed to prosecute mob activity.

The case is Slorp v. Lerner, Sampson, and Rothfuss; Bank of America NA, Shellie Hill, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc, Case No. 13-3402, and is available here: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/14a0745n-06.pdf

Call Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. for more information or to help with your case at (614) 944-5219.

 

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Firm Wins Major Appellate Decision

Firm Wins Major Appellate Decision

Doucet & Associates is happy to announce it won a major case in the federal court of appeals yesterday, paving the way for consumers to be able to hold their mortgage companies accountable for failing to adequately respond to mortgage inquiries.

The firm’s client, Christine Marais, faced years of trouble trying to get her mortgage company to correctly apply her mortgage payments when she sent in more than the amount due.After trying repeatedly to get Chase Home Finance to correctly apply her overpayments, she retained Doucet & Associates in an attempt to hold it accountable.The law firm sent a formal written request to Chase pursuant to the federal law, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”), demanding that Chase provide certain account information and that it correct her mortgage account.

Rather than making any corrections to Ms. Marais’ account in response to the firm’s formal demand, Chase’s representative testified in a deposition that it used a form letter to respond to the inquiry, and that letter contained no indication that any substantive review was undertaken of her account.

Chase Home Finance filed a motion with the trial court to win the case based on its outrageous claim that Ms. Marais could not show she suffered damages.The federal appeals court disagreed with Chase, and found Ms. Marais had properly alleged damages, and that she stated a claim to recover for Chase’s failures.The case now goes back to the trial court for further litigation.

The decision, Marais v. Chase Home Finance, LLC was decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and was recommended for publication as binding law throughout the federal court system encompassing Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.To the firm’s knowledge, this would be the first appellate level published case on this particular RESPA issue, meaning it will be persuasive authority throughout the United States.

 

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