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$2 Million Unanimous Jury Verdict

June 10, 2015

$2 million jury verdict obtained by Alena Hammer, a resident of DuPage County Illinois, and against Residential Credit Solutions, Inc. (RCS), a national mortgage loan servicer.

Apr 22, 2015, 08:40 ET from Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd.

OAK BROOK, Ill., April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Alena Hammer secured a jury verdict against Residential Credit Solutions, Inc. (RCS), a national mortgage loan servicer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, for its breach of contract, violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and violations of the unfairness and deception provisions of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. All of Hammer’s claims dealt with RCS’s misconduct in handling and servicing the mortgage loan on Hammer’s home in DuPage County, Illinois, where Hammer has resided for the last 27 years.

Hammer’s mortgage loan was serviced by AmTrust Bank (AmTrust) until AmTrust failed and was taken over by the FDIC in December 2009. In June 2010, Hammer entered into a loan modification agreement with the FDIC as receiver for AmTrust. Hammer’s home mortgage loan was then transferred to RCS inAugust 2010. In September 2010, RCS began rejecting Hammer’s monthly payments and refused to acknowledge the existence of the loan modification. RCS then proceeded to prosecute two separate foreclosure actions against Hammer, despite the fact that Hammer, still to this day, has tendered all of her monthly payments as required under the loan modification agreement. The first foreclosure case was dismissed in favor of Hammer and against RCS in March 2011. However, RCS continued to reject Hammer’s payments and continued to deny the existence of the loan modification agreement; RCS filed a second foreclosure action against Hammer in September 2011 and prosecuted that case throughDecember 2013. Hammer had complained of improper fees and costs assessed to her loan account, the attorney’s fees and costs she incurred to defend two improper foreclosure proceedings, damages for mental anguish and emotional distress, and other damages that were incurred during the nearly three and a half year ordeal.

The six (6) day federal trial concluded on April 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Court House. The jury, after deliberating for approximately two hours, determined that RCS breached the loan modification agreement, violated RESPA for failing to adequately respond to Hammer’s Qualified Written Request, and committed both unfair and deceptive acts in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Alena Hammer was awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1,500,000 in punitive damages. Nicholas Heath Wooten, Esq., Ross Michael Zambon, Esq., and Mara Ann Baltabols, Esq. led the litigation team on behalf of Hammer. Each attorney is a student of the nationally renowned and esteemed North Carolina attorney, O. Max Gardner III, and each is a graduate of his highly acclaimed Consumer Bankruptcy and Litigation Boot Camps.

The outcome of this trial should come as good news to all consumers who have struggled with aggressive mortgage servicing tactics throughout the ongoing financial crisis.  The litigation team was meticulous and methodical in its litigation approach, and was able to obtain a punitive damages award for Hammer and against RCS – an award that is meant to punish and deter future misconduct – under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

Leading Attorneys in Consumer Law:

Ahmad Sulaiman, Esq. is the managing partner of Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd. and is also a highly regarded graduate of Gardner’s Consumer Litigation and Bankruptcy Boot Camps. Ahmad is recognized as a thought leader in foreclosure defense, consumer and commercial bankruptcy, and consumer law by his peers. He was designated as a Super Lawyer Rising Star from 2010 through 2015.

Nicholas Heath Wooten, Esq. is the managing partner of Nick Wooten, LLC and is nationally known for his work in mortgage servicing and foreclosure defense litigation. Nick’s courtroom work and writings led to his recognition as a national thought leader on issues of securitization with respect to foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Ross Michael Zambon is the managing partner of Zambon Law, Ltd. and is highly regarded by his peers and adversaries for his litigation work on behalf of consumers. He has been designated as a Super Lawyer Rising Star from 2010 through 2015.

Mara Ann Baltabols, Esq. of Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd. is well known for her work in foreclosure defense and consumer law.  She has been designated as a Super Lawyer Rising Star by her peers.

About Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd.

Founded in 2005, Sulaiman Law Group Ltd. is a consumer litigation firm in Oak Brook, Illinois that focuses on foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, FDCPA, TCPA, FCRA, and other consumer fraud cases. (http://www.sulaimanlaw.com)

SOURCE Sulaiman Law Group, Ltd.

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Watt Announces One-Year Extensions Ford HARP and HAMP

May 11, 2015

May 8, 2015

The government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and Home Affordable Modification

Program (HAMP) will be extended until the end of 2016, according to an announcement from FHFA

Director Mel Watt on Friday.

Speaking at the Greenlining Institute 22nd Annual Economic Summit, Watt announced a one-year

extension of the government’s two affordable housing programs, which began in 2009 in response to the

housing crisis. Both programs were set to expire at the end of 2015.

“Since HAMP and HARP were first launched in 2009, these programs have provided critically important

relief for many borrowers by allowing them to lower their monthly payments and, as a result, have

prevented many foreclosures,” Watt said. “HAMP provides modifications that allow borrowers significant

payment reductions that are tied to their income. This gives borrowers a more stable, affordable monthly

payment and improves performance rates.  The HARP program allows borrowers, including those who are

underwater on their mortgage and who are regularly making their mortgage payments, to refinance their

loans to take advantage of historically low interest rates.”

HARP is a program intended to help save money by lowering monthly payments for borrowers who are

underwater but are regularly making mortgage payments, while HAMP is targeted toward borrowers who

are delinquent and possibly facing foreclosure by providing them a modification with significantly reduced

monthly payments tied to their income.

The participation rates for both programs have on the decline, partly because many borrowers are

already participating in one program or the other, and partly because of recovering house prices, Watt

said, but lenders and sevicers continue to approve modifications through HAMP and refinances through


“Extending HAMP and HARP through the end of 2016 will provide real relief for borrowers who continue

to face challenges either paying their mortgage or refinancing their loan,” Watt said.

Watt said that this will be the final extension for FHFA’s participation in HAMP and he anticipates that this

will be the final extension for HARP, adding that neither program was intended to be permanent.

source: http://dsnews.com/news/05-08-2015/watt-announces-one-year-extensions-for-harp-and-hamp

Saxon Settles HAMP Class Action for $4.5 Million… A win for homeowners, LOL

April 15, 2015

A class action law suit filed against Saxon Mortgage Services/Morgan Stanley alleged that the servicer improperly denied thousands of California homeowners loan modifications through the federal Home Affordable Modification Plan (HAMP), and as a result, some lost their homes to foreclosure unnecessarily. 

No kidding?  Well, now there’s a story I haven’t heard more than a few thousand times… this month. 

A servicer improperly denied homeowners when they applied for loan modifications?  Let me guess, did the servicer lose paperwork submitted by the homeowners multiple times?  Did they tell people they failed the NPV test without providing any reason as to why they failed the test?  Did they tell some homeowners they made too much money and then later that they didn’t make enough?  Or, did they just keep asking the homeowner for additional documents over and over again until the homeowners ran screaming from their homes?

Shocking, positively shocking… or it would be, if I were writing this back in 2009.  

It’s 2015, however, and reading a story about a servicer denying loan modifications and foreclosing when they shouldn’t have is like taking a walk down memory lane.  Is Treasury threatening to withhold payments under HAMP until the servicer gets their act together and learns how to deny loan modifications for more opaque reasons? 

Did the homeowners discover that their homes had been sold when they came home one day to find investors standing on their porches trying to peer into their windows?  Did they foreclose on any homes that they turned out not to own in the first place?  How many of the homeowners were foreclosed on while they were making trial payments?

Is anyone even paying attention to this sort of story anymore?  Does anyone even care?  I mean, it’s only happened a few million times over the last so many years, so what’s the big deal?  So, the bank takes back a house after telling the homeowner that he or she has been approved for a loan modification… that sort of thing barely made headlines in 2010… today, it’s like hearing the weatherman report the weather in San Diego.  It’s sunny and 75 today… yawn.

The class was defined as “California borrowers who entered into Homeowners Affordable Modification Program TPPs with Saxon through Oct. 1, 2009, and made at least three trial period payments but did not receive HAMP loan modifications.”

Nice, so these folks were actually granted trial modifications, celebrated, then made their required three payments as agreed… and then got the proverbial rug pulled out from under them with no recourse… sorry about that, but it’s only a home… it’s not like we’re talking about something life-changing or that cost a lot.

According to a story on Law 360.com“the settlement would pay the 1,365 class members who lost their homes after Saxon denied them permanent loan modifications roughly 30 percent of the trial payments they had made.”

However, the story then reported that “Saxon would pay approximately 2,705 class members an average of $1,663 each, before accounting for attorneys’ fees and other costs,” and that the settlement represented about 15 percent of the roughly $30 million in total trial payments made by the class. 

And then it said, “All plaintiffs would receive a base award of about $184, with tiered payments going to those who lost their homes in foreclosures or short sales without being offered loan modifications.”

Now, I would normally stop and try to figure out what the heck was being said in the three paragraphs above, but honestly, I don’t actually care what the details were, or for that matter whether someone receives $1,663 or $184 for having their home taken away from them while making the payments as requested by the servicer.  If it were me, and I got a check for $184 after losing my home while making payments, I think I’d be tempted to check the Internet to see how much small pox virus or Anthrax I could purchase with my winnings. 

What’s truly incredible though is that no one will do anything to seek revenge… in fact, no one will even complain out loud.

Think about this story for a moment… a thousand homeowners, give or take, were going through the loan modification process, when they were told “Congratulations, you’ve been approved for a trial modification.”  And then they all started making their payments and just when they were starting to sleep a little better than they had in many months, Saxon sold their homes anyway.

And some are getting $184… or $1,663… or whatever. 

Well, okay then… that should take care of it, I would think.  I mean, I bought our home in 1990 for $340,000… so it’s been about 25 years, during which time we’ve probably put a couple hundred grand into it for one reason or another.  So, if someone takes it back when they shouldn’t have, I really don’t think I need more than dinner for four at an Outback Steak House to call it even… well, minus legal fees and other costs, of course.

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