federal

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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