A California appeals court ruled that a former homeowner’s lawsuit against U.S. Bank for fraud may continue after the bank allegedly reneged on a promise to negotiate a mortgage modification, opening the door for claims from potentially thousands of similarly situated troubled borrowers in the Golden State.
While the court ruled that a case for fraud–which includes claims for damages–could proceed, it also ruled that the homeowner, Claudia Jacqueline Aceves, lacked sufficient cause to get her home back after the foreclosure sale.
What could become a landmark foreclosure ruling appears to be both a win and a loss, for mortgage servicers and foreclosure defense attorneys alike. Mortgage servicers prevailed on issues of alleged defects in the foreclosure process, with the court ruling that none of the Aceves allegations of irregularities “would permit the trial court to void the deed of sale or otherwise invalidate the foreclosure.” Aceves had claimed, for example, that the notice of default was defective and therefore void, a claim the court rejected outright. “Absent prejudice, the error does not warrant relief,” according to the ruling.
The court spent most of its 15-page ruling, however, discussing how U.S. Bank had purportedly promised to negotiate a potential loan modification if the homeowner agreed to allow the bank to lift a bankruptcy stay, which had protected the home from seizure. Yet, when the homeowner agreed and attempted to begin negotiation on a loan modification, the bank allegedly opted to foreclose without negotiating.
For homeowners, the case affirms their ability to go after banks and mortgage lenders for monetary damages when lenders promise to negotiate mortgage modifications but fail to do so in good faith.
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