Oregon Jury Verdict Favors Homeowner/Couple Victimized In Another Bankster-Perpetrated Loan Modification Jerk Around That Ended In Foreclosure
In Washington County, Oregon, The Oregonian reports:
- A Washington County jury on Thursday rebuked JPMorgan Chase's handling of a foreclosure case, ruling the nation's second largest bank likely had broken promises it made to borrowers Bela and Eva Lengyel, resulting in the seizure of their home.
The case is believed to be the first wrongful foreclosure suit to go before a jury in Oregon since the beginning of the housing crash, though many cases have gone before judges in the state. It offers a glimpse into how juries may deal with fallout from the mortgage crisis and the way the nation's leading banks reacted.
"If I were a transnational bank, I would be very concerned about facing juries in this state," said attorney Terry Scannell, who represented the couple.
Bela Lengyel said he contacted the bank in November 2008 seeking to lower the monthly mortgage payments he and his wife, Eva, were making on the home where they also operate an adult foster care business. The bank told him it would help, but he had to first default on his payments, he said.
By January 2009 he had done just that, setting him on the road to an August 2010 foreclosure even though he contends he had the money to pay even the original, higher payments. Shortly thereafter, the Lengyels sued.
Attorneys for Chase, which serviced the loan owned by federally backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac, argued no such promise was made. They presented a form signed by Lengyel that said no modification agreements would be made verbally, only in writing. And the bank's records didn't show such a promise had been made.
Still, 10 jurors found that the bank had agreed to modify the loan after the Lengyels went into default and that they qualified for such a modification. (One juror was undecided on each point, and one fell ill and missed the final day's testimony.)
The jury awarded $10,850 in damages, and presiding Judge Don Letourneau will rule later on whether the Lengyels may remain in the home.