Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shuster & Saben obtains $46,878 fee judgment against U.S. Bank

J.R. Ewing of TV drama Dallas was fond of saying “revenge is a dish best served cold.” In January of 2012, our firm obtained a judgment for attorney’s fees and costs against US Bank for in excess of $46,000.00. Our client’s revenge was served cold, approximately six months after a judge dismissed US Bank’s foreclosure case. In a foreclosure case when the bank loses the bank has to pay the prevailing homeowner’s attorney’s fees and costs. In this case, firm attorney Richard Shuster, spent 101 hours defending the case, and the Court, found that 95 of the hours were reasonable. The Court ordered U.S. Bank to pay the firm 95 hours at $450.00 per hour ($42.500.00) together with $3,562.50 of expert witness fees, $500.00 of interest, and $65.00 of costs.

This was the largest attorney fee judgment against a bank or loan servicer the firm has ever obtained and is one of the largest fee awards awarded in Brevard County in a foreclosure case. In this case U.S. Bank went to the mat. At mediation the lender offered our client a token interest rate reduction of less than 1% that would have cut the clients mortgage by less than $50.00 a month. Our client, a county employee, had lost most of his overtime compensation in the wake of government cutbacks that were widespread in the Space Coast, after the housing bubble burst causing property tax revenues to fall off a cliff. Our client owed nearly double what his home was worth. At mediation, we tried to convince U.S. Bank that their case was not a slam dunk but the attorney for U.S. Bank was a “coverage” attorney brought in just for mediation because he had an office in Melbourne. The banks coverage attorney saw the file for the first time the day of mediation. For more than two hours, attorney Shuster pointed out to bank several of the serious obstacles they would face if they proceeded and some of the wholes in their case. US Bank was cocky and complacent. Their position was that they would win and that the homeowner’s choice was to either take the banks crappy offer or lose their house. Our client made another choice. He choose to stay the course and fight.

Prior to the mediation, the client was on hand when Richard Shuster won the first motion to dismiss in the case. The Court’s first order of dismissal was made upon a finding that the documents filed with the complaint ( the note and the mortgage) were inconsistent with the allegations in the complaint. The first dismissal was made with leave to amend within twenty days. Before the twenty days expired U.S. Bank served an amended complaint with a different version of the note and resumed the prosecution of the case. When the firm asked U.S. Bank to admit that the copy of the promissory note attached to the complaint was a true and correct copy of the note their lawyers, Douglas Zahm, P.A.  objected. Shuster & Saben then moved to compel. When U.S. Bank refused to respond to interrogatories ( written questions under oath ) the firm served a motion for sanctions. Then U.S. Bank served a response that was full of objections and our firm filed a motion to compel better answers. At every turn U.S. Bank and their lawyers, Douglas Zahm P.A. fought our discovery efforts but we would not back down against the billion dollar bank and their army of lawyers. This was personal.

Both U.S. Bank’s lawyers and Shuster & Saben filed motions for summary judgment. Prior to the hearings on both sides’ motions for summary judgment U.S. Bank’s lawyers filed their time sheet under the presumption that for them it was a foregone conclusion that they would win the hearing. U.S. Banks lawyers were complacent. At the hearing on both sides motions for summary judgment and the homeowners second motion to dismiss the Court dismissed the US Bank’s case over improper verification. The court did not grant leave to amend and with this dismissal U.S. Banks case was over. When our firm sought attorney’s fees U.S. Bank kept fighting and denied that the prevailing homeowner was entitled to attorney’s fees. U.S. Bank lost again on the entitlement issue in October of 2011. This January the Court adjudicated the amount of the firm’s fees. If the judgment is not paid the firm will foreclosure (levy) on U.S. Bank’s assets. Once payment is received from U.S. Bank a substantial portion of the recovery will be used to reimburse our client’ legal expenses.

To view the three page judgment with our client's personal information redacted please click the link below:

About Shuster & Saben: Shuster & Saben aspires to provide the best foreclosure defense services available in each of the markets we serve. We want to level the playing field to allow individual homeowners to hire lawyers that are more experienced, better trained, and better prepared than the bank’s lawyers at a price that is fair, predictable, affordable, and an outstanding value. We seek justice for homeowners.

1 comment:

  1. Unreal what a great story! Currently I am a client of the firm and they are a great group of profesionals. Congrats on this victory!