September 18, 2015

Yesterday, a case was brought to our attention which was issued in 2004 but which applies to current litigation. A Federal appeals court upheld awards of compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, and a $6 million dollar punitive damage award against EMC Mortgage Corporation arising out of its actions in breaking into the homeowners’ residence without their consent and posting a sign in the window that the property was “secured” and not for sale or rent. This conduct occurred during foreclosure litigation, and at the time, EMC did not have any title to the property or judgment or any other rights of possession.

EMC also, with knowledge that the homeowners were represented by counsel, repeatedly directly contacted the homeowners, who then moved to amend their complaint to include claims alleging intentional wrongful actions against EMC and seeking punitive damages for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Even though the homeowners were living in an apartment when the wrongful conduct occurred, the arbitrator found that EMC’s conduct was “reprehensible and outrageous and in total disregard” of the homeowners’ legal rights, and awarded $6 million in punitive damages against EMC for violations of the FDCPA, 15 USC sec. 1692. The United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit affirmed all awards. Stark v. Sandberg and EMC et al., 381 F.3d 793 (8th Cir. 2004).

Mr. Barnes has applied this holding to a current case in North Florida where the foreclosing party not only broke into the homeowner’s property and changed the locks, but also stole certain items and destroyed others. A Motion to amend the Answer to add additional affirmative defenses and a Counterclaim for damages including punitive damages has been filed today.

We have been advised by homeowners that “banks” and servicers have wrongfully entered property (which is in the midst of foreclosure litigation or a challenge to the foreclosure) under the guise of “securing” it when the “bank” or servicer has no rights of possession to the property. The Stark opinion provides that significant damage claims can be asserted against those “banks” and servicers for this type of conduct.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com


September 16, 2015

Two homeowners have filed a Federal Civil Rights action against three officers of a Colorado Sheriff’s Office, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and attorney Lawrence Castle for damages arising out of a horrific eviction where the Sheriff’s office utilized over a dozen children to essentially rape the homeowners’ home and destroy their possessions and furniture. Attorney Lawrence Castle instituted the eviction. As those of you who follow news in the foreclosure arena know, Castle closed his foreclosure mill after being sued by not only his clients by the Colorado Attorney General for committing a massive multi-million dollar fraud upon his Firm’s clients (see Denver Post, July 15, 2014 “AG sues Colorado’s largest foreclosure law firms alleging massive fraud”).

The action also alleges that a representative of FNMA assisted in the effort to not only permit the destruction, but also to interfere with the work of the professional movers who were hired by the homeowners. The movers were and had been in the process of removing possessions from the home when the Sheriff’s office defendants on the scene directed the movers to cease their work and instructed the swarm of children to go into the home with black plastic garbage bags and throw all of the homeowners’ possessions into the bags.

The professional movers requested the on-scene law enforcement defendants to permit them to remove the heavy furniture and appliances. The law enforcement defendants refused to do so, and instructed the children to remove the furniture and appliances, which they destroyed in the process. The homeowners were told the following day that the children were routinely used for evictions and were paid with a bag of cash.

Jeff Barnes, Esq. represents the homeowners. A copy of the Verified Amended Complaint is available upon e-mail request.

The Verified Amended Complaint was finalized the day before Mr. Barnes was advised of a press release relating to the feature film 99 Homes, which opens in theaters on September 25. The film details the horrors of the eviction process, and the director credits Lynn Szymoniak as a “major force in my research” in addition to the fact that the massive fraudulent paperwork perpetrated the banks in foreclosures “is still happening now.”

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com