April 1, 2014
No April Fool: Florida courts are railroading foreclosure cases to trial on a “rocket docket”, apparently at the behest of the Supreme Court of Florida to clear the court dockets of foreclosures. This has lead, predictably, to myriad problems.
As we previously discussed on this website, homeowners in foreclosures are and have already been subjected to disparate treatment, separate and apart from other general civil litigants, by having their cases relegated to special “foreclosure dockets” and procedures. One Florida court has even enacted procedures which, by Court Order, automatically deny all motions directed to the pleadings, find that the case is ready for trial, and set the case for trial. Further, no motions, other than those requiring the presentation of evidence, are even set for hearing: the court rules on motions on the papers alone. As the only real “evidentiary” motions are those requesting summary judgment (which are usually filed by the “banks” or servicers), it is the banks and servicers which get the hearings; homeowner motions compelling discovery or to compel a deposition of the representative of the “bank” or servicer do not get a hearing.
In other parts of Florida, “docket calls”, with upwards of 90 cases on the morning calendar, are being scheduled, and 5-minute foreclosure trials are set unless any attorneys say they need more time. Homes are thus being foreclosed on at the trial rate of 12 or more homes per hour on “trial days”.
Meanwhile, the “banks” and servicers have let the cases sit for years, do not respond to discovery, and then try to ask for summary judgment when a trial order is issued. Of course, THEY get a hearing.
Another phenomenon that has been occurring recently is that the attorney for the bank or servicer is being replaced with another law Firm as soon as the trial order is issued. The problem this causes is that when a request is made to the “new” law Firm as to outstanding discovery which is overdue or to schedule the deposition of the bank/servicer’s representative, the response is “we will get back to you.” Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t; meanwhile, the trial date comes closer and closer.
We understand the frustration of the Supreme Court, but it is not the fault of the homeowners, who should not be treated like cattle to the slaughter and should be afforded the rights of all other civil litigants. Meanwhile, the daily disparate treatment continues…..
Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com