Precedent in Florida Foreclosure Defense

What do you do if you’re a Florida foreclosure defense lawyer and your clients tell you they’re being foreclosed against, even ‘though they paid for the house in cash? You go to court and win and obtain a court order that says that your attorney fees must be covered.

What if the bank doesn’t pay after a reasonable time? You can, under Florida law, turn around and collect the outstanding and unpaid judgment.

And this is just what happened last week in a widely covered incident that ended up locking the bank manager (and, one would assume, his employees and all customers) out of the branch for an hour.

At the end of this, the couple were paid. (This doesn’t mean they have received the monies as of yet.  According to a local blog, About Florida Law, the sheriff’s office must follow procedures.  “[I]t may take a couple of weeks to get the funds to the [couple].


([I]n other words, the Sheriff will make sure that check doesn’t bounce).”

So why are we telling you this in a forum about how to run a law firm successfully? There are similar incidents nation-wide where wrongful foreclosures have occurred. Whether you represent industry leaders or savvy real estate investors like the folks who sued Bank of America, you will want to know the ins-and-outs of this case—and perhaps apply it to your own efforts in the future. But most important, you’ll be relieved to know that “sweet justice”–as the couple’s lawyer referred to the outcome–can and does prevail.

In this case, as in perhaps other bungled foreclosures, a couple in Naples, Florida bought a home with cash, but in 2010, the bank tried to foreclose on them.   Two months of phone calls later, the problem hadn’t been resolved.  This is when the courts intervened. A judge ordered the bank to pay the couple $2,500 in attorney fees.

When months had passed and the bank still hadn’t cut the couple a check, the couple’s attorney pursued a levy. This past Friday, as per an NPR blog, “the showdown was on”.  The couple turned up at a local Bank of America with sheriff’s deputies, the media and a moving truck. “I’m either leaving the building with a whole bunch of furniture, or a check or cash or something,” the attorney, Todd Allen, vowed.

After it was all over, Allen called it “sweet justice” and explained that this was “a symptom of a larger problem.”  Late last year Bank of America—along with JPMorgan Chase and GMAC—had to freeze their foreclosures to evaluate if they’d made any errors along these and related lines.   To read more, go here:

http://bit.ly/m0NR9C  and here  http://bit.ly/jvuD4vand here http://n.pr/kyOeDz

To read Fox News’ take on it, which includes mention of an ongoing investigation against Bank of America’s’s local counsel–and where the problem may have originated– go here:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/06/06/bank-america-pays-florida-couple-in-mistaken-foreclosure-case/

-EM

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