Mortgage Securitization Discrimination
- Beverly Adkins et al. v Morgan Stanley
The National Consumer Law Center is co-counsel for African American plaintiffs in a prospective class action lawsuit brought against Morgan Stanley. The lawsuit claims that the Defendant violated federal civil rights laws, the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act as well as state laws by adopting mortgage securitization policies that caused predatory lending and adversely impacted African Americans in the Detroit, Michigan area. It is the first case where a prospective class of affected homeowners victimized by subprime lending abuses has directly sued an investment bank. It is also the first lawsuit to connect racial discrimination to the securitization of mortgage-backed securities.
Fair Credit Reporting
- White v. Experian/TransUnion/Equifax
The National Consumer Law Center is co-counsel for the plaintiffs in class action lawsuit against TransUnion LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and Equifax Information Services LLC ("Defendants"). The suit claims that the Defendants violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") and state laws when reporting debts that had been discharged in bankruptcy as not discharged, failed to conduct proper investigations of consumer disputes regarding such debts and caused damage to consumers as a result. A proposed settlement ("Settlement") has been reached which, if finally approved by the Court, will provide payments of damage awards from a $45 million settlement fund. Notices regarding the Settlement recently have been sent to the members of the Settlement class.
- Fritz v. Resurgent Capital Services and LVNV, Case No. 11–CV–3300 FB VVP in the Eastern District of New York. Memorandum & Order.
This case challenges the practice of debt buyer LVNV filing state court collection suits in the name of Resurent Capital, one of its unlicensed subsidiaries, in order to protect itself from liability. In a ruling on July 24, 2013, the court denied the defendants' Motion to Dismiss in all respects but one. He held that plaintiffs had stated a viable misrepresentation claim under the FDCPA. The court recognized that misrepresenting the owner of the debt was a material violation even though the true owner was a corporate parent because it could confuse and mislead the least sophisticated consumer. Another FDCPA violation that also passed muster was that defendants falsely reported the amount of the debt to CRAs by including state court costs even when they hadn't yet gotten a judgment in their collection action awarding such costs.
Affirmative defenses of collateral estoppel (due to state court collection judgments), abstention and Noerr Pennington were rejected too. The only claim that was dismissed related to an individual collection letter that also misrepresented ownership of the debt, but was filed beyond the 1 year statute of limitations for such a claim. The decision is reported at 2013 WL 3821479.
- Kulig v. Midland Funding, Case No. 13 CV 4715, US District Court (EDNY) - suit for systematically filing time-barred lawsuits against hundreds of New York consumers who fell behind on their credit card payments. The suit covers New York consumers whose credit card was issued by a Delaware bank. Under NY law, these collection suits must be filed within 3 years of default on the account, but Midland routinely sues long after that.
- Clawson, appellant v. Midland Funding et al - Opinion of Court of Appeals Decision, Feb. 26, 2013
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed approval of a nationwide settlement affecting 1.44 million victims of a debt buyer's "predatory practices" in using robosigned affidavits to obtain state court collection judgments. The Court found that the original settlement was unfair, unreasonable, and inadequate, that the district court abused its discretion in certifying the nationwide settlement class, and that the notice to prospective class members did not satisfy due process. This step allows all of the other robo-signing cases brought against Midland around the United States to proceed. NCLC represented one of the appellants in the case.
- Blake v. Riddle & Wood, Second Amended Class Action Complaint
- Tammaro v. Direct Federal Credit Union, First Amended Class Action Complaint
Foreclosure and Mortgage
This lawsuit challenged provisions in mortgages that allow reinstatement of a loan after default only if the homeowner brings all payments current and also pays the attorney's fees incurred by the lender attempting to foreclose. NCLC and our co-counsel argued that these provisions were contrary to Ohio's public policy that creditors cannot collect attorney's fees from borrowers in debt collection actions. The Ohio Supreme Court found that because the right to reinstate was contractual, not statutory, the requirement to pay attorney's fees was an enforceable part of the bargain. However, the Court distinguished reinstatement from other circumstances such as redemption or paying off a home equity line of credit, where the borrower pays the entire debt and no contractual relationship remains – in those circumstances, the lender cannot collect its attorney's fees. The Ohio Supreme Court remanded the remaining portion of the case which it distinguished for trial in the Court of Common Pleas, and that the matter remains pending there for those class members who did not have their debts reinstated.
Fraud in the Foreclosure Process
Mortgage Servicing Litigation
High Cost Small Loans
- In re: Chase Bank USA, N.A. “Check Loan” Contract Litigation, Master Class Action Complaint
- Yourke v. Bank of America, Complaint
(Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C-1 and C-2, Appendix D, Appendix E, Appendices F-G)
Subprime Mortgage Discrimination
National class action cases brought under the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act against certain subprime mortgage lenders: