Jury Slams Bankster w/ $2M Verdict On Behalf Of Illinois Homeowner For Violating RESPA, State Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Business Practices Act
From a press release issued by the law firm Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd.:
- Alena Hammer secured a jury verdict against Residential Credit Solutions, Inc. (RCS), a national mortgage loan servicer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, for its breach of contract, violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and violations of the unfairness and deception provisions of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. All of Hammer's claims dealt with RCS's misconduct in handling and servicing the mortgage loan on Hammer's home in DuPage County, Illinois, where Hammer has resided for the last 27 years.
Hammer's mortgage loan was serviced by AmTrust Bank (AmTrust) until AmTrust failed and was taken over by the FDIC in December 2009. In June 2010, Hammer entered into a loan modification agreement with the FDIC as receiver for AmTrust. Hammer's home mortgage loan was then transferred to RCS in August 2010. In September 2010, RCS began rejecting Hammer's monthly payments and refused to acknowledge the existence of the loan modification. RCS then proceeded to prosecute two separate foreclosure actions against Hammer, despite the fact that Hammer, still to this day, has tendered all of her monthly payments as required under the loan modification agreement. The first foreclosure case was dismissed in favor of Hammer and against RCS in March 2011.
However, RCS continued to reject Hammer's payments and continued to deny the existence of the loan modification agreement; RCS filed a second foreclosure action against Hammer in September 2011 and prosecuted that case through December 2013. Hammer had complained of improper fees and costs assessed to her loan account, the attorney's fees and costs she incurred to defend two improper foreclosure proceedings, damages for mental anguish and emotional distress, and other damages that were incurred during the nearly three and a half year ordeal.
The six (6) day federal trial concluded on April 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Court House. The jury, after deliberating for approximately two hours, determined that RCS breached the loan modification agreement, violated RESPA for failing to adequately respond to Hammer's Qualified Written Request, and committed both unfair and deceptive acts in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.
Alena Hammer was awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1,500,000 in punitive damages. Nicholas Heath Wooten, Esq., Ross Michael Zambon, Esq., and Mara Ann Baltabols, Esq. led the litigation team on behalf of Hammer. Each attorney is a student of the nationally renowned and esteemed North Carolina attorney, O. Max Gardner III, and each is a graduate of his highly acclaimed Consumer Bankruptcy and Litigation Boot Camps.(1)
The outcome of this trial should come as good news to all consumers who have struggled with aggressive mortgage servicing tactics throughout the ongoing financial crisis. The litigation team was meticulous and methodical in its litigation approach, and was able to obtain a punitive damages award for Hammer and against RCS – an award that is meant to punish and deter future misconduct – under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.
Thanks To Deontos for the heads-up on the jury verdict.
(1) See, generally, Bloomberg Business: Foreclosure Lawyers Go to Max’s Farm for Edge.