Justice Derailed: Judge Eliminates CA Punitive Damages from $16.2 Million Award for Wrongful Foreclosure

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As was widely reported recently a jury In California awarded $16.2 million mostly in punitive damages. The Judge entered an order for PHH reducing the award to under $200,000. see http://www.kcra.com/news/jury-awards-yuba-co-homeowner-16m-in-mortgage-suit/27041910 This appears to be a case of the Judge substituting his own verdict for that of the jury. First the Judge had to evaluate the case to decide whether to allow the claim for punitive damages. Second, the Judge gave instructions to the jury regarding the award of punitive damages. Then the jury came in with the verdict finding that the behavior of the foreclosure players was so outrageous that they needed to be stopped. They awarded $16.2 million most of which was punitive damages.

The Judge, upon motion from the other side, decided that the verdict from the jury was not just excessive but also unfounded — going against his own prior rulings. Apologists for the banks are trumpeting this “triumph of justice” to stall any other lawyers who are looking for a big payday for themselves and their clients. This will most certainly go on to appeal and from what I know, the appellate court should vacate the judge’s order and allow the jury’s verdict to stand.

The award is only excessive or unfounded from the perspective of (a) assuming that the loan was valid and enforceable by the foreclosing party and (b) a windfall for the homeowner out of proportion to his investment in his home. As to the latter, the law is pretty well settled that the effect of the award on the Plaintiff is not good grounds for remitting the jury verdict. Since it was the left to the jury to decide if the facts supported punitive damages, the Judge had no business reeling it back in unless the verdict was such that it not only punished PHH but also put it out of business. From my understanding of this case the Judge was operating out of political bias and not in accordance with law and I believe that the appellate court will agree that the Judge stepped outside the bounds of his discretionary authority and reinstate the punitive damage award. Unfortunately for all of us the likelihood is that the case will be settled before the case is heard on appeal and a decision is rendered.

We keep hearing about Zombie foreclosures, fabricated documents, backdating, forging and various other activities that would put the average person in jail. A quick perusal of the newspapers reporting on finance shows that the banks are back doing the same things they were doing before — because they were not caught for what they did and/or they were not prosecuted for their behavior. The absence of prosecution means that the last opportunity for justice is in the courts. The continued behavior of the banks in the sale of derivatives, the selling of loan products so complex that the federal Reserve Chairman declared that he didn’t understand them, shows that now that the banks have proven their concept with tremendous inflows of cash illegally obtained, they are free to repeat the behavior with impunity.

see http://www.marketwatch.com/story/zombie-foreclosures-rise-in-16-states-and-60-metro-areas-2014-10-30

see http://www.occupy.com/article/government-beat-its-own-game-detroit-foreclosure-auction

If fines in the tens of billions of dollars are not enough to stop them then the ante must go up, not down. The $16.2 Million award might seem high for a $200,000 case, but it only represents a tiny fraction of 1/10th of a percent of the money that was siphoned out of the U.S. economy. Any sane analyst would agree that the rise of Zombie foreclosures are just the tip of the iceberg of a pattern of fraud covered up by the persistent push toward foreclosure. In all other settings, most of the loans would be modified and worked out as they have been for hundreds of years. Instead, the banks misrepresenting the investors, drove the value of the investment down to zero, foreclosed on the property and then abandoned tens of thousands of homes — many of which have been bull-dozed because the banks wouldn’t pay for taxes, insurance and maintenance.

So my opinion, for what it is worth, is that the $16.2 Million award was not too high. It might have been too low. And if our rule of law means anything, once put in the hands of a jury properly instructed, the verdict stands.

20 Responses

  1. Rock it is not to late to become a whistleblower.
    NEVER AGAIN

  2. @ DwightNJ ,

    YES , make sure to build an APPEALABLE case ,, that is where we are winning ,, the trial judges are mostly all bought by the banks.

    What I meant by take the fight to them is to attack on multiple fronts , I will be attacking the closing/title firm shortly, I already have a winning case just in the closing docs file ,, I will be getting discovery from the “originator” ,, I will be getting things in the record on multiple fronts that THEY DO NOT CONTROL,, their game is based on lies ,, if it is single threaded they can win ,, if it becomes a web they must navigate they lose.

    As to the interrogs.. I can assure you that their responses to yours will be curt , snide and short ,, giving you nothing and ignoring the obvious. I would generally say to give them the bare minimum ,, or nothing at all if that is allowed, they will likely “misinterpret” your questions and give you answers to things that are unimportant, it’s part of their game to keep things simple for themselves,, you can utilize the same tactic by taking their questions VERY literally and you can always object to their questions. IANAL ,, you would be best served to pay for assistance or get a better answer here.

  3. The madness goes on. Five people cannot claim to be “Rock” and expect me to personally acknowledge them.

    Bloggers on this site are really insane.

    https://livinglies.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/what-difference-does-it-make-where-the-money-came-from/

  4. To Rock

    Write me at cbrightlife@aol.com I attacked in fed court on contract and breach of statutes, lost, appealed and won a judgment. Persona non grata on this site which doesn’t like serious winners and caters to whiners.

  5. neidermeyer … Thank you. I am just sitting and doing nothing as my discovery deadline of Dec. 22 slowly draws closer. I already sent off my interogs to WF .. they sent me pages of questions basically asking me how I plan on proving my case against them and what evidence I have of any wrongdoing or anything that might support my theory that no valid loan ever took place at origination, etc. .. I have not even sat down and attempted to figure out how I will answer those questions. I am extremely overwhelmed and stressed out .. but I do have total faith in God , that he will provide me with the words to speak and the plan for how to present my argument in court. I’m basically using this site and message board to tailor most of my strategy. But I have no idea of how to “go on the attack” .. I assume you mean I should file a complaint to quiet title against them? or a motion to dismiss? I can’t believe I am lucky enough to be at the discovery phase, but I’m now nervously second-guessing myself , the questions have been sent to them (Oct. 22 deadline for sending discovery interogs) and now 60 days to respond (Dec. 22 deadline for responding to interogs) .. and then some mention of requests for depositions .. eventually meeting back in court on Jan 22 for a trial readiness conference .. Bottomline: I know they are guilty of everything we talk about here … I just don’t know what to do about it , how to prove it, etc, etc. .. I have denied everything in the complaint .. my argument is that I don’t know these plaintiffs, I had no business agreement or contract with them, the alleged loan that they refer to may have been an invalid, incomplete business dealing between myself and some other entity, but was never completed (no consideration-money trail- table funded and undisclosed with other unknown and un-named third parties which violated the deal and made it invalid) and is invalid. I am trying to play the hand that puts the burden of proof back on them .. to prove their case .. prove that a valid loan exists between the originator and myself.

    Any input by anyone is appreciated. I am open to all suggestions. Charles has given me great advice on arguing the note and the lack of proof of purchase. I’m hoping by denying the complaint in my answer, it will place the burden on Wells Fargo to prove the validity of the original loan. In my interogs I have asked for all info regarding the sales and transfers of the alleged debt .. any GSE involvement Fannie Mae is the “investor” who Wells Fargo says owns my loan .. but I have never been told that my note ended up in a trust .. last known owner of my note was Washington Mutual .. WF back engineered docs after the foreclosure complaint .. LPS fabricated Assignment of Mortgage to show that MERS assigned the mortgage to Wells Fargo.. recorded it in the local land records office on Oct of 2008 .. a year after the complaint was filed and days after Washington Mutual went out of business.

    The Note shown in their complaint had no stamp or endorsement from WaMu … and was included as an exhibit in their certification.
    When I raised the issue of no stamp or endorsement on the note and the fact that WaMu was now out of business (broken chain) they asked the judge for an adjournment … 3 months later in 2011 they showed up in court with a different note , different than the note in their exhibit .. now this one had the stamp and endorsement in blank from WaMu .. but it was now 2011 .. 3 years after WaMu went out of business. I objected and demanded the court inquire how this magical act could happen .. how we could have two notes that contradicted each other. The bank eventually dismissed the case. But now they are back, with the same documents .. in front of the same judge .. and he wiped out most of my defenses due to their motion to strike .. we are off to a bad start. I know this judge wants my ass , it burned his ass last time when I prevailed .. I know he’s going to fight me every step of the way. I really need to understand my ultimate strategy .. and this is where I’m confused .. I need to be careful to build an appealable case on the record … because this judge sucks and I don’t trust him or what he is up to .. I feel like I’m being set up by him to take the fall. I just need to know how to stay three steps ahead of him and the banks lawyers, and this is hard enough, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to appeal as a Pro Se .. but I do believe I have a pretty decent case , I just need to be clear on exactly how I should fight this fight.

  6. @neidermeyer, sounds like a plan. I filed my notice of appeal and, at least have my breach of contract cause of action. Should put a nice little wrench into the works.

  7. @DwightNJ ,

    Agree 100% with your analysis … That’s why you have to take the fight to them ASAP… don’t let them play those games.

  8. @ Louise ,

    Twice? I say 10 times as high … we just have to keep putting one foot in front of another and never stop…

    In my case the first replacement servicer was a debt collector that bought the note for $0.22 on the dollar after AIG had already paid it in full …. There is no doubt that the debt was obliterated and I owe nothing (along with thousands of others) … This is Wilbur Ross and his AHMSI … he began the action against me … and it was transferred to OCWEN , another criminal bad debt collector when OCWEN bought AHMSI’s assets … no different than discharged/charged off credit card debt … all parties knew they were acting criminally.

    But first I’m going after the title/closing company ,, get the easy big cash E&O insurance payout so I’m more of a threat to OCWEN.

  9. Consumers Rights Defenders .. Having a bank dismiss the foreclosure complaint is not really a victory for the homeowner. It’s nothing more than a delaying tactic employed by the bank for its own agenda, usually to run out the statute of limitations regarding certain defenses.

    Furthermore, they continue to go back and reverse-engineer the docs and chain of title through fraudulent fabrications of documents and business records. They will craft together the case and re-file it and will come back with even more criminality than the first time, they will more than likely produce people who have personal knowledge and who can attest to the lies with sworn affidavits and/or sworn testimony.

    So not to rain on your parade, but many of us have been there, done that .. and we are still fighting the criminal thugs inside our corrupt courts .. fighting against the banks lawyers and the banks judges .

    When are we going to start addressing the real problems? Like the judges who are biased against homeowners?

    The law means nothing to these judges.
    Jury awards mean nothing to these judges.
    Families having their homes stolen mean nothing to these judges.
    The dismissal in your case means nothing because the judge will make sure the bank prevails the next time your client steps foot in his kangaroo court.

    We have nothing to celebrate as long as these judges are running amok and abusing their positions .. the court rooms have become a travesty in and of themselves.

    There is no justice in these foreclosure courts until we as a people force the situation and demand that this bias be addressed .. all foreclosure cases should hereby be halted and suspended until the judicial branch address the travesty of the biased judges forcing their own personal feelings into these decisions .. they are disregarding the rule of law .. bending and twisting and moving the goal posts away in the middle of the contest .. it is un-American and un-acceptable.

    A dismissed complaint means nothing to these lowlife scum, they’ll fabricate, lie, cheat and steal their way to victory as long as we have these cowards and greedy crooked little men in black robes hiding behind their benches destroying our country. They are complicit and are now active partners in the Ponzi Scheme.

  10. I agree. The punitive damages should have been twice as high. Maybe then, we can put some of these servicers out of business.

  11. Reason I’m on my little trail blaze today is I’ve just noticed state court of my notice of appeal – denied and denied, by state court judge. my claim for relief was under non service, wrong court, wrong judge, wrong address, wrong amount of debt cited by wrong party with a contradictory stance by a purported trustee with that same trustees stance in a fed court action which is also subject to appeal in the 9th circuit and STILL pending over 2 years. The thing is the material facts I presented to void/ set aside the state court judgement ( forcible detainer and with regards to right to possession , not title- different but definitely material facts that impact my cases overall) are material to the 9th circuit case in completing the record because for justice to be served ALL the facts must be heard that are material to the TRUTH of the matter, with, supporting case law. ( Lora” material” here today sorry) I remain in shock !

  12. Remember Stalins gulags, that’s what comes to mind when I compare where some of these sua sponte rulings are going, it disempowers the financially disadvantaged, dangerous territory, I mean when are they going to draw the line in the sand how bad does it have to get before we reach a point of no return. These times are indeed the judges and attorneys highest calling, of that much I’m convinced.

  13. Gene
    I believe all they need to show us the ” appearance” of bias
    Being that we must maintain the integrity of our courts and equal treatment of all and the same opportunities to be given to plaintiff or defendant. The court also had a duty in the interest if public policy we must drum this out there because what we are messing with is sacred justice for all, if it’s justice only for some special interests then we can throw in the towel.

  14. Deborah,

    What you mention about biases with the judge is going to be a significant part of the appeal. The judge cited things which show the bias and can be used to have his position overturned.

    The attorneys are already working on the appeal

  15. From Consumer Rights Defenders re Reversal of Punitive Damages.

    Thanks Neil for this information. Here is our spin.

    Trial courts have discretion to strike certain portions of an action upon motion by a party defendant. Here is looks like the court somehow between the verdict and the motion, found punitives may be unwarranted, but this is unusual. Generally such is done at the appellate level or in a ruling on a motion for a new trial, not sua sponte [on the judge’s own initiative] prior to these post trial motions/appeals.

    Note that in our Sonoma County case no. SCV 251043 that we assisted with, our client forced BONY Mellon’s hand and after nearly 2 years of litigation BONYM, DISMISSED the foreclosure lawsuit on Oct. 27, 2014. The defense firm in San Francisco was beaten by this tenacious humble housewife. Praise to Steve and Sara at CRD for their hard work and our client who was a superstar in litigating this case forward.

    CRD can be reached at 818.453.3585 for inquiries and new client consultations.

  16. Gene
    One thing I have learned is that sometimes rulings will speak the unspoken- read between the lines and of course the whole case then you get inside the judges mind any bias is blatantly obvious and people – judges being people too give themselves away because I think they do have a conscience and there is no escaping that fact.

  17. My take as a healthcare professional is that judges making decision like this are writing prescriptions without a license and without any concern or consideration for the side effects and interactions with other medications – this through my eyes as how I see such decisions. In my profession that is considered dangerous practice, minimum.

  18. The people who followed the Linza case carefully, including the attorneys for Linza, did not expect the $16.2m award to survive. They knew that it would be cut back severely though not to this level.

    That said, there are issues with the judge’s ruling that will allow for appeal of the reduction of the punitive damages. The attorneys expect that they can get some satisfaction on appeal.

    Linza is not going to go away and settle. He is in for the long haul.

    It is important to follow the cases carefully, and not just read the excerpts or the rulings only.

  19. How can you blame the Banksters, if they are allowed to get away with it?

    NEVER AGAIN

  20. So they gave the pharmacy keys to the heroine addict and all the privileges that also affords him. It’s the best metaphor I can come up with today. This is a bad bad way home.

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