Winning Cases Against the Mega Banks


 

by Neil Garfield

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Editor's  Comment: It is hard to interpret what people mean when they say they are winning cases. In the example below the case is oversimplified. Wells Fargo, as usual, wanted to foreclose on the home of an 80-year-old woman regardless of whether she was in default or not. Her main defense was simply that she was never in default. Wells Fargo took the position that the payments they accepted could be allocated towards expenses of the foreclosure, which never should've happened in the first place.

It was quite clear that the homeowner had made all of her payments. It was quite clear that Wells Fargo had not applied the payments properly. And after three years of litigation, during which most people would have folded, judgment was entered in favor of the borrower and against Wells Fargo.

No big surprise except for the persistence of the homeowner in fighting off a big bad bank despite dwindling resources and a gaggle of people who were treating her as a leper because she was a deadbeat who didn't pay her bills and was trying to get out of a legitimate debt.

Of course as it turns out, she was neither a deadbeat nor was she trying to get out of the debt even though it probably is not a legitimate debt and Wells Fargo is most probably not a legitimate creditor in relation to this homeowner.

I am happy that this woman got what she wanted. But some questions that linger on include why Wells Fargo failed to do the proper accounting to bring her loan account up-to-date? Why did Wells Fargo want that foreclosure regardless of whether she was in default or not? And what other payments received from third parties in the form of insurance or credit default swaps were not applied to the appropriate receivable account on the books of the real creditor?

My opinion is that in all probability there is still plenty of meat left on the bone. This homeowner  probably has several causes of action for slander of title, breach of contract, probably fraud, and abuse of process,  just to name a few.

And another thought comes to mind: would the result  or the timing have been different if the roles were  reversed? This particular case is so obvious as to whether or not money was actually paid and received that it is difficult to comprehend how it could possibly have stretched out to three years.

The only way I can think of is that the judge had a preconception of the relationship of the parties and assumed that the debt was real and was in default instead of forcing Wells Fargo to immediately prove lack of payment and their status as the real creditor. For those who complain that the courts are jammed up with foreclosure lawsuits, this case is instructive as to why that is happening.

If judges would simply take each case on its own merits and require each party to actually prove their position rather than rely on dubious and rebuttable presumptions, most of the foreclosures wouldn't be filed and those that ended up in litigation would be over in just a few months.

 The bottleneck in the court systems across the country is not caused by volume. It is caused by bias. Judges assume that a big-name bank with 150 year old reputation on the line would never make a claim they couldn't back up. If judges would stop making that assumption and require the backup at the beginning of the litigation the bottleneck would vanish.

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September 2017
 
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