Monday, March 31, 2014

Firm Obtains $65,523.75 judgment against HSBC

Excerpt from 5 page Final Judgment for Attorney's Fees & Costs

Shuster & Saben has obtained what is believed to be the largest 2014 attorney fee judgment awarded in a Brevard County foreclosure action.  The award was entered in favor of our client, a Space Coast homeowner, whose foreclosure action the firm defended since the action was filed in early 2010.  The firm spent over 100 hours defending the case before ultimately defeating HSBC Mortgage Services and their counsel, Albertelli Law, P.A.  After we obtained judgment on the pleadings against HSBC, the bank appealed the case to the Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal dismissed HSBC’s appeal after the bank failed to pay an appellate filing fee after being ordered to do so by the Appellate Court. 

At the inception of the case, we asked HSBC to modify our client’s loan.  As a foreign bank  H.S.B.C. (stands for Hong Kong Shanghi Bank of China ) did not receive TARP bailout money so they had no obligation to the U.S. Treasury to make loan modifications under HAMP.  HSBC denied our request for loan modification and advised that our client’s income exceeded income thresholds for their internal loan modification program.  Once diplomacy failed it was time for firm to do everything in our power to keep the client in his home.  Our fight came to end nearly four years later after we defeated HSBC in the trial court and again on appeal.

Our client hired our firm under a partial contingency fee agreement in which the client paid for the first hour we worked on his case each month.  All of the rest of the hours the firm worked were on a pure contingency fee basis.  If we did not win this case our firm would have been paid for less than half of the hours we spent on the case.   True foreclosure defense meaning defending a case with a goal of winning the case at trial takes far more work than engaging in mere stall tactics that are commonly employed by some general practitioners who “handle” foreclosures from time to time.  By using a partial contingency fee agreement our firm can offer services that are affordable to the consumer but still get paid for the huge investment of time that goes into winning a foreclosure case. 

When our firm collects on this judgment our client will receive over $20,000.00 from the recovery and will get almost all of the money he paid our firm back.  Our client remains in his Palm Bay home.  Now that the time for HSBC to appeal the attorney fee judgment has expired our firm will levy on the judgment by having the Sheriff seize the bank's assets if the judgment in not paid within a reasonable time. To view a redacted copy of the judgment click here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Free Home Likely After Firm Defeats CitiMortgage

When our firm won this foreclosure case the bank had less than two weeks to refile.

When a Rockledge, Florida resident came to discuss his foreclosure case with me in 2009 he had already interviewed several attorneys.  At our first meeting the homeowner asked “How long can you stretch out my case.” What an odd question I thought.  “Why are you asking I replied.” 

The client explained, “one lawyer I spoke to told me he can keep me in the house for about a year.  The other lawyer told me he could keep me in the home for two years.”  I inquired, “did they tell you how they would do this?" No.  "Did they tell you why they felt delaying your case would be to your benefit?No. 

“I think they just assumed that it was their job to delay the case.” the prospective client explained.  Finally I asked “Did they tell you what their strategy would be to win the case?” “Win the case … what are you talking about” the puzzled prospect shot back.

For a lawyer to ask you to hire him with no plan, and no strategy is the same thing  as a doctor giving you medicine with no examination and no diagnosis.  What a lawyer is going to do to defend the case has to be based on the facts of the case and the client's objectives.  Would you go to a doctor who prescribed the same drugs to every patient.  Let’s take a look at your case together and see if the bank that sued you had any right to do so. 

When I reviewed the lawsuit against the homeowner I found that CitiMortgage the bank that sued the homeowner was not the original lender and the copy of the note attached to the complaint did not have an endorsement to CitiMortgage or a blank endorsement.    “CitiMortgage lacks standing to sue you,” I explained.  “But I am been sending them mortgage payments for years” the prospect countered.  “Does not matter, to sue you they need to be the owner or the holder of the note at the time the lawsuit was filed.   They were not.  You have a winnable case.”