Congrats to Terry Scannell, the attorney who convinced a Washington County jury last Thursday, July 18, 2013, to rule in favor of his clients, Bela and Eva Lengyel, in one of the first – if not the first – wrongful foreclosures cases in Oregon. The fact that it is occurring only now, 5+ years after the credit and housing crash that gave us the Great Recession, speaks to the difficulty of these cases, and the perseverance of both attorney and clients.
Pivotal to their case was the Lengyels’ claim that Chase told them that if they wanted a loan modification, the needed to stop making their payments. Of course, after the Lengyels complied, a foreclosure was filed against them. This is the insidious bank practice known as “dual tracking.” According to the recent Oregonian online article on the case:
Attorneys for Chase, which serviced the loan owned by federally backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac, argued no such promise was made. They presented a form signed by Lengyel that said no modification agreements would be made verbally, only in writing. And the bank’s records didn’t show such a promise had been made. [Emphasis mine.]
Chase’s legal position is officially known in the backrooms of Foreclosure Mill Attorneys as the “Sgt. Schulz Defense,” – “I see nutting; I vas not here; I did not even get up this morning!” This self-imposed illusion of benign ignorance is the last refuge the Big Banks have for defending the indefensible.
Any sentient being knows this is not the case – Big Banks dual track all the time. For an explanation of why, see my recent posts here and here. Of course, the lenders’ higher-ups don’t engage in this Bait and Switch game, and they certainly don’t keep records proving it. No, they leave the dirty work to their “dedicated single points of contact” at the bottom of the organizational chart, most of whom have a job tenure measured in weeks or months. And then, Chase’s hapless defense attorney is left to argue to the jury that his client is as pure and the wind-driven snow, and that Mr. and Mrs. Lengyel are liars. Good luck with that argument.
Again, congratulations to Terry and his clients. Your perseverance paid off!