An article was recently posted on 1/16/14 in the Sacramento Business Journal after an interview by Ben van der Meer with Managing Partner, Stephen Foondos, about wrongful foreclosures.
You can find the original articleÂ here.
Though the days of peak foreclosures are long gone, a Roseville attorney who has in recent years specialized in helping foreclosed homeowners said he thinks thousands of such cases could be getting a new life, after a ruling last year in a Court of Appeal of California.
Stephen Foondos of the United Law Center said the case, Glaski v. Bank of America, suggests banks servicing home loans and trusts in which those loans were bundled erred in the timing of transferring a deed of trust connected to a home.
When the deed is filed is critical, he said, because itâ€™s connected to beginning a foreclosure action.
â€śThe banks kept the loans on the books to make their bottom lines look better,â€ť said Foondos, who began taking foreclosure cases pro bono after running into hassles when he tried to renegotiate his own mortgage. â€śAnd now the banks recognize the potential here for people to come back and sue for wrongful foreclosure.â€ť
In the Glaski case, Fresno County resident Thomas Glaski bought a home in Fresno for $812,000 in July 2005, including an adjustable-rate loan from Washington Mutual.
After an unsuccessful attempt to renegotiate the mortgage in 2008, according to court records, Glaski filed a civil suit and discovered the deed of trust for the home wasnâ€™t transferred until that year. Also in 2008, JPMorgan Chase was named as a receiver for Washington Mutual during the severe economic downturn in the second half of the year.
According to the ruling, the assignment of the deed of trust fell outside a 90-day window when it had to be assigned to a specific trust after the loan was created three years earlier.
The house ultimately was foreclosed on, and Bank of America was named in the suit because it ultimately came to own the home.
Foondos said based on the number of mortgages rolled into trusts during the housing boom of the last decade, he believes as many as 1.2 million of the 1.7 million subsequent foreclosures in the state could be affected.
Representatives for both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase said they had no comment on the case. Foondos said defendants havenâ€™t appealed in the Glaski case because theyâ€™re afraid of the ruling being upheld and drawing more attention to the case.
However, those familiar with the case noted other courts havenâ€™t agreed with it.
In Apostol v. Citimortgage Inc., a case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, a judge ruled despite the plaintiffâ€™s attempt to cite Glaski, it represents a minority view.
â€śEven assuming that the subsequent transfers of the note were invalid, the court nonetheless concluded that plaintiff is not the victim of such invalid transfers because her obligations under the note remained unchanged,â€ť U.S. District Judge William Orrick wrote in his ruling, over a foreclosure suit in Gilroy. â€śInstead, the true victim may be an entity or individual who believes it has a present beneficial interest in the promissory note and may suffer the unauthorized loss of their interest in the note.â€ť
Rulings from other federal cases similarly suggested the Glaski ruling was out of bounds, though Foondos said heâ€™s concentrated on cases in state courts and hopes to eventually get laws changed at both levels to give a homeowner more leverage.
Foondos, who said he continues to take new clients and often wins settlements, said he understands many clients would rather leave the foreclosure meltdown and its trying emotional nature behind them.
â€śThe fact is that people have an obligation as citizens, when a civil wrong is committed, to enforce the punishment of that wrong,â€ť he said. â€śI feel there was a civil wrong here. If we set a precedent, we can change that.â€ť