In 2009, retired police officer Warren Nyerges and his wife Maureen Collier paid $165,000 cash for their newly purchased home in Naples, Florida. They never took a mortgage out on their home, so imagine their surprise when Bank of America initiated foreclosure proceedings in February of last year. The Nyerges hired an attorney, Mr. Todd Allen, and Bank of America eventually dropped the foreclosure.
The Nyerges had racked up over $2,500 in attorney fees and had requested on multiple occasions that Bank of America pay it. They eventually had to take the matter to court, which ruled B o A had to reimburse the couple for the attorney fees. Five months later, after the couple and their attorney had been pursuing reimbursement by phone calls and writing letters, B o A still hadn’t paid up.
Todd Allen, the couple’s attorney, went to court and obtained a order of foreclosure against the bank. Allen then went to the bank’s local branch with the order of foreclosure and a few sheriff’s deputies. He told them to remove cash from the teller’s drawers, take the banks computers, furniture, and other property of value. One hour after he began this, the bank’s manager produced a check for $5,772.88 to cover Allen’s legal fees and additional costs the Nyerges had accrued.
Some might say all’s well that ends well in this scenario, seeing as the Nyerges got their home, Allen got his fees and the bank got it’s comeuppance. But there are deeper implications to every one of these foreclosure foul-up horror stories we read about, and even those we don’t. The finger-pointing to outside attorneys seems reminiscent of the banks’ excuse for the robo-signing scandal that broke last fall, and just as flimsy: the fact that a bank has lots of foreclosures to process and hires an overworked, underqualified or otherwise not-up-to-the-job professional to do it does not justify the nonchalance with which documents and properties of such gravitas were treated. The similarity didn’t escape Allen, who told CBS News, “this is a symptom of a larger problem.”
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