Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Price of Justice

Why do we do what we do?

Foreclosure defense is a challenging area of the law. We almost always find ourselves standing in opposition to large lenders with deep pockets who retain large law firms with deep pockets. Many of our clients, in turn, are individual homeowners of limited means. The task is often daunting; difficult.

So why do we do it?

We must make one thing perfectly clear. We are not on a crusade. This is not like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. We do what we do for one principal reason—we believe that the law should be evenly and fairly applied to all irrespective of size, wealth or status. We believe in justice, not “just-us.” Unfairness, inequity and unlawful conduct deserve redress. We give the little guy a chance, a voice, and a day in court.

Consider for a moment the recent settlement agreement reached by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against the country’s largest non-bank mortgage loan servicer, Ocwen Financial Corporation. Ocwen was found to have engaged in “significant and systemic” misconduct at every stage of the mortgage servicing process. Under the terms of the agreement, Ocwen must provide $2 billion in principal reduction to underwater borrowers. Ocwen must also refund $125 million to the nearly 185,000 borrowers serviced by Ocwen or its subsidiaries whose homes have already been foreclosed. Finally, Ocwen will be subject to greater regulatory scrutiny going forward.

Sounds great, right? Justice was served, right?

We’re not so sure.

Let’s recap for a moment.

Over the past 3 years, a number of banks including Citibank, Chase, and Bank of America were found to have engaged in a systemic pattern of mortgage servicing abuse which resulted in millions of homeowners being unfairly treated. During the financial crash that began in 2008, most of these banks were supported with economic stimulus funds through the TARP program. Even those who didn’t receive direct TARP funds were supported with easy credit from the federal reserve system.  The least they could do is work in good faith with struggling homeowners (the taxpayers) on reasonable loan modifications. But did the big banks do even that? In many cases, no. They took the money, regrouped financially and are now swimming in profits while many homeowners were left to twist in the wind waiting on loan modification programs.

So let’s move on to Chapter 2.  The same banks that agreed to a $25 Billion National Mortgage Settlement as a result of serial and systemic mortgage servicing abuses are now trying to pass the buck.  Recently we have observed several of the largest banks divesting themselves of much of their mortgage servicing portfolios to companies like Ocwen.  So what does Ocwen do? As explained in Part I of this entry, the same thing that the big banks were accused of doing!

Ocwen was found to have charged unauthorized fees, forced homeowners to buy unnecessary insurance policies; lied in response to borrower complaints about excessive and unauthorized fees; lied about loan modification services when borrowers requested them; misplaced documents, ignored loan modification applications and illegally denied eligible borrowers a loan modification.  Here’s the proof.

Pretty wicked stuff. And caught in the middle? The real victim? You. The consumer. And traditional notions of justice.

As a part of the Ocwen settlement, (which looks good on paper), Ocwen was not required to admit any wrongdoing—thereby insulating Ocwen and Ocwen executives from legal exposure. The settlement calls for payments of $125 Million as compensation for approximately 185,000 borrowers who were affected by the misconduct; some of whom have already lost their homes. How much is the loss of your home worth?

Far more than they are being asked to pay.

As young law students we are taught that justice is blind. No....we are not crusaders, but we do believe in the law. Laws have been broken. The aggrieved deserve their day in court.

That is why we do what we do.

Because it is the right thing to do.

But time is of the essence, and you should contact us immediately before your legal claims are barred by time.  The law that limits your right to bring a legal action is called the statute of limitations, and there are many different limitations statutes with different time limits.  The most common legal claims that we litigate in foreclosure and loan servicing problems are breach of contract, trespass, negligence, bad faith, fraud, and unfair trade practices.  Breach of contract and trespass actions have a 6 year statute of limitations.  Negligence, fraud, and bad faith have a 2 year statute of limitations, and unfair trade practices have a 1 year statute of limitations.

Determining when the statute of limitations begins ticking down on your claims is not easy to do, even for experienced attorneys, so do not delay.  Please call one of our attorneys at (503) 846-0707 for a consultation. The help you need, and deserve, is just a telephone call away.

No comments:

Post a Comment