The Neil Garfield Radio Show LIVE at 6pm Eastern: Fighting the Trusts in Discovery with Patricia Rodriguez

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FIGHTING THE TRUSTS IN DISCOVERY

Title is often changed for the sole purpose of overcoming a disputed forced sale conducted under a nonjudicial state’s foreclosure statutes.   A homeowner, fighting a wrongful foreclosure, should make a request for production  regarding the details of the sale upon which the bank relies on in its filing of the instant action and it’s “response” to the homeowner’s (defendants) inquiry.  The ‘lender’, or servicer, will typically contend that the homeowner’s requests are beyond the scope of discovery, especially in a nonjudicial action.
The homeowner can file a motion to compel the production of documents upon which the Plaintiff relies on to assert that its forced sale was valid, proper, and legal.  A lender will typically reference a Power of Attorney as its authority to bring the action and as proof that the sale was valid, –i.e., that it was conducted by a duly authorized substitute trustee, appointed by a beneficiary, that meets the definition of a beneficiary under the mortgage or deed of trust.
The validity of the referenced power of attorney and its reality of its existence are crucial for the alleged ‘lender’ to even bring the instant non-judicial action and respond, as a party, to discovery. If it does not exist or is not a current source of power granted by the creditor, then the bank’s reliance upon it is misplaced. However, the lender typically refuses to produce it for inspection.
A homeowner may then file a request to produce that which is asked for, inter alia, (1) the power of attorney, and (2) the alleged trust instrument that might be evidence of the existence or nonexistence of the trust for which the Lender/Trustee claims to be acting.   If there is no completed trust instrument for an existing entity that had been funded, then there is no trust, and therefore, there can be no trustee or servicer deriving their “powers” from a trust that does not exist.
The servicer or plaintiff will typically refuse to produce the Power of Attorney claiming that the homeowner/defendant is not entitled to such documents.  In its response, the servicer’s strategy is to rely entirely upon “legal presumptions” that it asserts arise by virtue of the existence of a forced sale in the property records. This avoids the issue of whether the forced sale was void, voidable or conducted under presumptions of fact that are in conflict with actual fact.
The servicer’s position is that because the sale occurred, the homeowner/defendant has no right to inquire about any information that might lead to the discovery of admissible evidence that the sale was or could be declared void or subject to being vacated.
This is circular reasoning and contrary to due process. If the sale was conducted in favor of a party who claimed to be a beneficiary, but was not a beneficiary under the deed of trust, then the appointment of the substitute trustee was void, as was the notice of default and the notice of sale, thus leading to the clear conclusion that the sale was void or subject to being vacated. Without the validity of the forced sale, no action for unlawful detainer arises.
This article is not legal advice, but for discussion purposes only.
Patricia Rodriguez, Attorney
If you need immediate assistance and are located in California, please call 626-888-5206.
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The Rodriguez Law Firm is Located at:
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Pasadena, CA 91105

Banks Fighting Subpoenas From FHFA Over Access to Loan Files

Whilst researching something else I ran across the following article first published in 2010. Upon reading it, it bears repeating.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

WHAT IF THE LOANS WERE NOT ACTUALLY SECURITIZED?

In a nutshell this is it. The Banks are fighting the subpoenas because if there is actually an audit of the “content” of the pools, they are screwed across the board.

My analysis of dozens of pools has led me to several counter-intuitive but unavoidable factual conclusions. I am certain the following is correct as to all residential securitized loans with very few (2-4%) exceptions:

  1. Most of the pools no longer exist.
  2. The MBS sold to investors and insured by AIG and the purchase and sale of credit default swaps were all premised on a general description of the content of the pool rather than a detailed description with the individual loans attached on a list.
  3. Each Prospectus if it carried any spreadsheet listing loans, contained a caveat that the attached list was by example only and not the real loans.
  4. Each distribution report contained a caveat that the parties who created it and the parties who delivered it did not guarantee either authenticity or reliability of the report. They even had specific admonitions regarding the content of the distribution report.
  5. NO LOAN ACTUALLY MADE IT INTO ANY POOL. The evidence is clear: nothing was done to assign, indorse or deliver the note to the investors directly or indirectly until a case went into litigation AND a hearing was scheduled. By that time the cutoff date had been breached and the loan was non-performing by their own allegation and therefore was not acceptable into the pool.
  6. AT ALL TIMES LEGAL TITLE TO THE PROPERTY WAS MAINTAINED BY THE HOMEOWNER EVEN AFTER FORECLOSURE AND SALE. The actual creditor who submitted a credit bid was not the creditor. The sale is either void or voidable.
  7. AT ALL TIMES LEGAL TITLE TO THE LOAN WAS MAINTAINED BY THE ORIGINATING “LENDER”. Since there was no assignment, indorsement or delivery that could be recognized at law or in fact, the originating lender still owns the loan legally BUT….
  8. AT ALL TIMES THE OBLIGATION WAS BOTH CREATED AND EXTINGUISHED AT, OR CONTEMPORANEOUSLY WITH THE CLOSING OF THE LOAN. Since the originating lender was in fact not the source of funds, and did not book the transaction as a loan on their balance sheet (in most cases), the naming of the originating lender as the Lender and payee on the note, both created a LEGAL obligation from the borrower to the Lender and at the same time, the LEGAL obligation was extinguished because the LEGAL Lender of record was paid in full plus exorbitant fees for pretending to be an actual lender.
  9. Since the Legal obligation was both created and extinguished contemporaneously with each other, any remaining obligation to any OTHER party became unsecured since the security instrument (mortgage or deed of trust) refers only to the promissory note executed by the borrower.
  10. At the time of closing, the investor-lenders were the real parties in interest as lenders, but they were not disclosed nor were the fees of the various intermediaries who brought the investor-lender money and the borrower’s loan together.
  11. ALL INVESTOR-LENDERS RECEIVED THE EQUIVALENT OF A BOND — A PROMISE TO PAY ISSUED BY A PARTY OTHER THAN THE BORROWER, PREMISED UPON THE PAYMENT OR RECEIVABLES GENERATED FROM BORROWER PAYMENTS, CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS, CREDIT ENHANCEMENTS, AND THIRD PARTY INSURANCE.
  12. Nearly ALL investor-lenders have been paid sums of money to satisfy the promise to pay contained in the bond. These payments always exceeded the borrowers payments and in many cases paid the obligation in full WITHOUT SUBROGATION.
  13. NO LOAN IS IN ACTUAL DEFAULT OR DELINQUENCY. Since payments must first be applied to outstanding payments due, payments received by investor-lenders or their agents from third party sources are allocable to each individual loan and therefore cure the alleged default. A Borrower’s Non-payment is not a default since no payment is due.
  14. ALL NOTICES OF DEFAULT ARE DEFECTIVE: The amount stated, the creditor, and other material misstatements invalidate the effectiveness of such a notice.
  15. NO CREDIT BID AT AUCTION WAS MADE BY A CREDITOR. Hence the sale is void or voidable.
  16. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO DEDUCTIONS FOR THIRD PARTY PAYMENTS.
  17. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO AN EQUITABLE CLAIM FOR UNJUST ENRICHMENT THAT IS UNSECURED.
  18. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO AN EQUITABLE CLAIM FOR A LIEN TO REFLECT THE INTENTION OF THE INVESTOR-LENDER AND THE INTENTION OF THE BORROWER.  Both the investor-lender and the borrower intended to complete a loan transaction wherein the home was used to collateralize the amount due. The legal satisfaction of the originating lender is not a deduction from the equitable satisfaction of the investor-lender. THUS THE PARTIES SEEKING TO FORECLOSE ARE SUBJECT TO THE LEGAL DEFENSE OF PAYMENT AT CLOSING BUT THE INVESTOR-LENDERS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THAT DEFENSE.
  19. The investor-lenders ALSO have a claim for damages against the investment banks and the string of intermediaries that caused loans to be originated that did not meet the description contained in the prospectus.
  20. Any claim by investor-lenders may be subject to legal and equitable defenses, offsets and counterclaims from the borrower.
  21. The current modification context in which the securitization intermediaries are involved in settlement of outstanding mortgages is allowing those intermediaries to make even more money at the expense of the investor-lenders.
  22. The failure of courts to recognize that they must apply the rule of law results not only in the foreclosure of the property, but the foreclosure of the borrower’s ability to negotiate a settlement with an undisclosed equitable creditor, or with the legal owner of the loan in the property records.

Loan File Issue Brought to Forefront By FHFA Subpoena
Posted on July 14, 2010 by Foreclosureblues
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

foreclosureblues.wordpress.com

Editor’s Note….Even  U.S. Government Agencies have difficulty getting
discovery, lol…This is another excellent post from attorney Isaac
Gradman, who has the blog here…http://subprimeshakeout.blogspot.com.
He has a real perspective on the legal aspect of the big picture, and
is willing to post publicly about it.  Although one may wonder how
these matters may effect them individually, my point is that every day
that goes by is another day working in favor of those who stick it out
and fight for what is right.

Loan File Issue Brought to Forefront By FHFA Subpoena

The battle being waged by bondholders over access to the loan files
underlying their investments was brought into the national spotlight
earlier this week, when the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the
regulator in charge of overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, issued
64 subpoenas seeking documents related to the mortgage-backed
securities (MBS) in which Freddie and Fannie had invested.
The FHFA
has been in charge of overseeing Freddie and Fannie since they were
placed into conservatorship in 2008.

Freddie and Fannie are two of the largest investors in privately
issued bonds–those secured by subprime and Alt-A loans that were often
originated by the mortgage arms of Wall St. firms and then packaged
and sold by those same firms to investors–and held nearly $255 billion
of these securities as of the end of May. The FHFA said Monday that it
is seeking to determine whether issuers of these so-called “private
label” MBS misled Freddie and Fannie into making the investments,
which have performed abysmally so far, and are expected to result in
another $46 billion in unrealized losses to the Government Sponsored
Entities (GSE).

Though the FHFA has not disclosed the targets of its subpoenas, the
top issuers of private label MBS include familiar names such as
Countrywide and Merrill Lynch (now part of BofA), Bear Stearns and
Washington Mutual (now part of JP Morgan Chase), Deutsche Bank and
Morgan Stanley. David Reilly of the Wall Street Journal has written an
article urging banks to come forward and disclose whether they have
received subpoenas from the FHFA, but I’m not holding my breath.

The FHFA issued a press release on Monday regarding the subpoenas
(available here). The statement I found most interesting in the
release discusses that, before and after conservatorship, the GSEs had
been attempting to acquire loan files to assess their rights and
determine whether there were misrepresentations and/or breaches of
representations and warranties by the issuers of the private label
MBS, but that, “difficulty in obtaining the loan documents has
presented a challenge to the [GSEs’] efforts. FHFA has therefore
issued these subpoenas for various loan files and transaction
documents pertaining to loans securing the [private label MBS] to
trustees and servicers controlling or holding that documentation.”

The FHFA’s Acting Director, Edward DeMarco, is then quoted as saying
““FHFA is taking this action consistent with our responsibilities as
Conservator of each Enterprise. By obtaining these documents we can
assess whether contractual violations or other breaches have taken
place leading to losses for the Enterprises and thus taxpayers. If so,
we will then make decisions regarding appropriate actions.” Sounds
like these subpoenas are just the precursor to additional legal
action.

The fact that servicers and trustees have been stonewalling even these

powerful agencies on loan files should come as no surprise based on

the legal battles private investors have had to wage thus far to force

banks to produce these documents. And yet, I’m still amazed by the

bald intransigence displayed by these financial institutions. After

all, they generally have clear contractual obligations requiring them

to give investors access to the files (which describe the very assets

backing the securities), not to mention the implicit discovery rights

these private institutions would have should the dispute wind up in

court, as it has in MBIA v. Countrywide and scores of other investor

suits.

At this point, it should be clear to everyone–servicers and investors
alike–that the loan files will have to be produced eventually, so the
only purpose I can fathom for the banks’ obduracy is delay. The loan
files should, as I’ve said in the past, reveal the depths of mortgage
originator depravity, demonstrating convincingly that the loans never
should have been issued in the first place. This, in turn, will force
banks to immediately reserve for potential losses associated with
buying back these defective mortgages. Perhaps banks are hoping that
they can ward off this inevitability long enough to spread their
losses out over several years, thereby weathering the storm caused (in
part) by their irresponsible lending practices. But certainly the
FHFA’s announcement will make that more difficult, as the FHFA’s
inherent authority to subpoena these documents (stemming from the
Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008) should compel disclosure
without the need for litigation, and potentially provide sufficient
evidence of repurchase obligations to compel the banks to reserve
right away. For more on this issue, see the fascinating recent guest
post by Manal Mehta on The Subprime Shakeout regarding the SEC’s
investigation into banks’ processes for allocating loss reserves.

Meanwhile, the investor lawsuits continue to rain down on banks, with
suits by the Charles Schwab Corp. against Merrill Lynch and UBS, by
the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund against Countrywide, and by
Cambridge Place Investment Management against Goldman Sachs, Citigroup
and dozens of other banks and brokerages being announced this week. If
the congealing investor syndicate was looking for political cover
before staging a full frontal attack on banks, this should provide
ample protection. Much more to follow on these and other developments
in the coming days…
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Posted by Isaac Gradman at 3:46 PM

“Participants” in False Claims of Securitization

What do you think the average homeowner would have said if he was told “Look, the actual lender is someone else but we want you to name us as the lender.”

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

see http://bpinvestigativeagency.com/beware-the-lsf9-master-participation-trust-is-operating-as-a-secret-agent/

Bill Paatalo has uncovered another layer of onion skin revealing the emptiness of the claims of participants who say they were involved in either the lending of money to homeowners or involved in the transfer of the obligation to repay the alleged loan. As he points out, some refer to “participants” who are ill-defined and essentially unknown quantities. There are many such entities lurking behind the curtain. The one thing they have in common is that they are all making pornographic amounts of money that ultimately comes out of the pockets of investors who were deceived into buying, hedging or insuring bogus and worthless MBS.

The essential fact is that those mortgage backed securities are (a) not backed by anything (b) issued by an empty SPV (Trust) entity existing only on paper (c) completely unrelated to any actual transaction and (d) completely unrelated to the documentation that was fabricated and executed at the “loan” closing.

GASLIGHT: None of the “participants” are who they appear or claim. What is emerging is that in addition to playing musical chairs with actual entities, the banks have created musical terms to the multiple players who are in constant motion switching roles on paper. Several judges have either mused from the bench or confided their discomfort as to why the servicers keep changing and the ownership goes through so many iterations.

The good news is that this is leading to inconsistencies between their correspondence with the borrower, their pleading in court and their proof — often with last minute Powers of Attorney. It appears that all of them are sham conduits for the the ultimate sham entities — the underwriter (“Master Servicer”) of MBS issued by the empty trust and the Seller of those securities. Revealing those inconsistencies often leads to victory (successful defense) in court. And it often can lead to large cash awards for damages arising from violations of FDCPA, FCCPA, RESPA and common law doctrines like wrongful foreclosure — with aggravating circumstances permitting the award of punitive damages.

The reason for all of this chicanery is simple: the party who gave the homeowner money didn’t even know it was their money on the “closing” table. But the moral and legal view on this is that he who gave the money is owed the money in return (unless it is a gift). This is true regardless of what documents are drafted or even executed by homeowners whose signature was obtained by fraud in the inducement.

What do you think the average homeowner would have said if he was told “Look the actual lender is someone else but we want you to name us as the lender.” THAT is a cause of action for common law rescission and cancellation of the instrument — once the homeowner finds out that he made the “check” out to the wrong person. Since the designated “lender” gave no money of its own and assumed no risk of loss the homeowner cannot be required to give “back” what he or she never received from the fake lender.

Adam Levitin might be right in calling it “Securitization Fail” because the securitization never happened; but it assumes that the intent was to have securitization succeed. This is not the case. The entire business model of the banks, as confirmed by industry insiders, was to take the money out of the securitization chain that had been created on paper.  Actual securitization of debt in residential “transactions” was never intended to happen. It was always supposed to be an illusion to cover criminal and civil theft.

PRACTICE HINT: Assume none of the transactions that are represented, assumed or presumed ever happened. Aim your discovery, motions, trial objections and cross examination at that and you will have the best shot at hitting the bulls-eye. That is exactly how Patrick Giunta and I won our cases.

FASB on Sham Transactions

See AU Section 332 Auditing Derivative Instruments, hedging Activities and Investment in Securities.
 *
Every written instrument is by definition the memorialization of an event. Absent the event in the real world, the instrument is worthless at best and at worst fraudulent. This is derived from the my knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as enunciated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) supported by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
 *
In any audit of bookkeeping and/or accounting records written instruments are the starting point for inquiry as to whether the documents represents a true and fair representation of an actual transaction. While the auditor may be aware of certain legal presumptions concerning the validity of a facially valid instrument, the auditor is tasked with testing all transactions including those that appear to possess the attributes of facial validity.
 *
Specifically the audit process for alleged transactions relating to derivative securities (mortgage backed bonds, for example) goes further than standard auditing confirmation under the rules recognized as nationwide and binding. In large part because of the admissions or quasi admissions in settlements with government regulators, attorneys general and investors, it has become obvious that transactions that are related to activity in the derivative marketplace are subject to special scrutiny. Auditors are required to test the following, among other things:
 *
  1. Occurrence. Transactions and events that have been recorded have occurred and pertain to the entity.
  2. Completeness. All transactions and events that should have been recorded have been recorded.
*
In the definition of the confirmation process required by auditors, it is clearly stated that a plan of confirmation is to be used. Facially valid documents are not excluded from the confirmation process. And as seen above, transactions relating to alleged securitization are subject to specific testing. The courts are out of their element in assessing the risk of fraudulent representation because the Courts’ inquiry generally starts and ends with the written instrument.
 *
The Auditor wants to know if the transaction memorialized in that instrument actually took place and wants to see evidence to that effect — i.e., the money trail as represented by cash flow, balance sheet and income statements as well as the general ledger (and supporting documents, bank statements and receipts) of the entity that claims to have been a party to a transaction and now claims an asset as a result.
 *
These sections are the beginning point for discovery and the foundation for objections when “business records” are proffered at trial as exceptions to the hearsay rule.
 *
The big question is whether the transactions that are represented in court as loans or assignments or endorsement are actually reflected on the general ledger, bookkeeping records and accounting records of the party who was supposedly involved in any of those transactions is proffering false testimony or fabricated documents into evidence.
 *
The answer is simple: based upon reliable sources the facts are that the big banks have produced a convoluted set records of loosely connected entities. One fact is clear: the acquisition of loans is generally not found in their records nor supported by any entry reflecting a financial transaction. The little originators and banks are generally buried after having gone out of business, but the ones that are left will show that most originated “loans” did not result in the flow of cash from the originator to the alleged borrower.
 *
My recommendation is that foreclosure defense attorneys employ the use of CPA’s who have specific auditing experience and knowledge. The testimony of these experts might be invaluable to the discovery process and lead the opposing side to soften their approach.

Preservation Letter and Discovery

In order for the “business records” to be accepted as an exception to hearsay, foundation is required. Part of foundation is an inquiry into whether these records are the complete records. If they are not the complete records then there is daylight created for the argument that the “business records” are objectionable based upon the fact that they are incomplete.

see sample-preservation-letter

Among the many abuses we see in court is that only partial records are available — even in discovery. One of the steps that could provide the foundation for establishing that the business records” are not complete and have never been complete is through the use of a preservation letter and then follow that up with discovery.

The above link shows, in some detail, as this process unfolds.

Dan Edstrom, senior forensic analyst for Livinglies says —

They are concealing documents they are required to produce, and have an affirmative duty to produce pursuant to (among others):
  • National Mortgage Settlement (servicer will send the evidence supporting the validity of the assignment to the homeowner)

  • CA. HBOR – servicer will ensure they have competent evidence supporting the substantial documents used to foreclose

  • Rule 9011 – attorney or party signing documents filed in bankruptcy court certifies that the documents and factual contentions are not used for an unlawful purpose (to harass, delay, etc.); that the documents and factual contentions are supported by law; that the documents and factual contentions are supported by evidence; that the attorney or person signing has made a reasonable inquiry before submitted the documents or factual contentions.

  • Rule 3001 requires proof of claims to include the writings if a claim is based on a writing, and if the writing is not available provide an explanation.  The failure to provide either is an omission of a material fact …

Who is the Creditor? NY Appellate Decision Might Provide the Knife to Cut Through the Bogus Claim of Privilege

The crux of this fight is that if the foreclosing parties are forced to identify the creditors they will only have two options, in my opinion: (a) commit perjury or (b) admit that they have no knowledge or access to the identity of the creditor

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

see http://4closurefraud.org/2016/06/10/opinion-here-ny-court-says-bank-of-america-must-disclose-communications-with-countrywide-in-ambac-suit/

We have all seen it a million times — the “Trustees”, the “servicers” and their agents and attorneys all beg the question of identifying the names and contact information of the creditors in foreclosure actions. The reason is simple — in order to answer that question truthfully they would be required to admit that there is no party that could properly be defined as a creditor in relation to the homeowner.

They have successfully pushed the point beyond the point of return — they are alleging that the homeowner is a debtor but they refuse to identify a creditor; this means they are being allowed to treat the homeowner as a debtor while at the same time leaving the identity of the creditor unknown. The reason for this ambiguity is that the banks, from the beginning, were running a scheme that converted the money paid by investors for alleged “mortgage backed securities”; the conversion was simple — “let’s make their money our money.”

When inquiry is made to determine the identity of the creditor the only thing anyone gets is some gibberish about the documents PLUS the assertion that the information is private, proprietary and privileged.  The case in the above link is from an court of appeals in New York. But it could have profound persuasive effect on all foreclosure litigation.

Reciting the tension between liberal discovery and privilege, the court tackles the confusion in the lower courts. The court concludes that privilege is a very narrow shield in specific situations. It concludes that even the attorney-client privilege is a shield only between the client and the attorney and that adding a third party generally waives that privilege. The third party privilege is only extended in narrow circumstances where the parties are seeking a common goal. So in order to prevent the homeowner from getting the information on his alleged creditor, the foreclosing parties would need to show that there is a common goal between the creditor(s) and the debtor.

Their problem is that they can’t do that without showing, at least in camera, that the identity of the creditor is known and that somehow the beneficiaries of an empty trust have a common goal (hard to prove since the trust is empty contrary to the terms of the “investment”). Or, they might try to identify a creditor who is neither the trust nor the investors, which brings us back to perjury.

FDCPA Claims Upheld in 9th Circuit Class Action

The court held that the FDCPA unambiguously requires any debt collector – first or subsequent – to send a section 1692g(a) validation notice within five days of its first communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt.

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

—————-
If anyone remembers the Grishom book “The Firm”, also in movies, you know that in the end the crooks were brought down by something they were never thinking about — mail fraud — a federal law that has teeth, even if it sounds dull. Mail fraud might actually apply to the millions of foreclosures that have taken place — even if key documents are sent through private mail delivery services. The end of month statements and other correspondence are definitely sent through US Mail. And as we are seeing, virtually everything they were sending consisted of multiple layers of misrepresentations that led to the detriment of the receiving homeowner. That’s mail fraud.
Like Mail Fraud, claims based on the FDCPA seem boring. But as many lawyers throughout the country are finding out, those claims have teeth. And I have seen multiple cases where FDCPA claims resulted in the settlement of the case on terms very favorable to the homeowner — provided the claim is properly brought and there are some favorable rulings on the initial motions.
Normally the banks settle any claim that looks like it would be upheld. That is why you don’t see many verdicts or judgments announcing fraudulent conduct by banks, servicers and “trustees.”And you don’t see the settlement either because they are all under seal of confidentiality. So for the casual observer, you might see a ruling here and there that favors the borrower, but you don’t see any judgments normally. Here the banks thought they had this one in the bag — because it was a class action and normally class actions are difficult if not impossible to prosecute.
It turns out that FDCPA is both a good cause of action for damages and a great discovery tool — to force the banks, servicers or anyone else that is a debt collector to respond within 5 days giving the basic information about the loan — like who is the actual creditor. Discovery is also much easier in FDCPA actions because it is forthrightly tied to the complaint.
This decision is more important than it might first appear. It removes any benefit of playing musical chairs with servicers, and other debt collectors. This is a core of bank strategy — to layer over all defects. This Federal Court of Appeals holds that it doesn’t matter how many layers you add — all debt collectors in the chain had the duty to respond.
.

Justia Opinion Summary

Hernandez v Williams, Zinman and Parham, PC No 14-15672 (9th Cir, 2016)

Plaintiff filed a putative class action, alleging that WZP violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692(g)(a), by sending a debt collection letter that lacked the disclosures required by section 1692(g)(a) of the FDCPA. Applying well-established tools of statutory interpretation and construing the language in section 1692g(a) in light of the context and purpose of the FDCPA, the court held that the phrase “the initial communication” refers to the first communication sent by any debt collector, including collectors that contact the debtor after another collector already did. The court held that the FDCPA unambiguously requires any debt collector – first or subsequent – to send a section 1692g(a) validation notice within five days of its first communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt. In this case, the district court erred in concluding that, because WZP was not the first debt collector to communicate with plaintiff about her debt, it had no obligation to comply with the statutory validation notice requirement. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.

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