Friday, June 6, 2014

Firm Wins Another Brevard Foreclosure Trial

On Thursday, June 4, 2014, the Space Coast office of Shuster & Saben had five cases set on the Brevard County Foreclosure Trial Docket.  One case settled and one of our client’s filed bankruptcy leaving me to prepare three cases for trial.  I was up until 1:45 in the morning making sure every case was 100% ready.  Courtroom 2A was so packed with lawyers for the various banks and homeowners that Judge Maxwell had to ask his bailiff to call the court administrator to crank up the air. 

First the Court took consent judgments.  In a consent judgment the homeowner, or worse the homeowner’s lawyer, agrees to a judgment of foreclosure usually in exchange for a 90 or 120 day sale date.  Sometimes additional consideration is thrown in such as a wavier of deficiency or cash for keys.  Sometimes a consent judgment is in the client’s best interest but there are many lawyers who hold themselves out to the world as foreclosure defense lawyers who have never tried a foreclosure case or who have never tried a foreclosure case and won.   I felt a little nauseous watching so many lawyers surrender their cases to the banks.  Then came a case where the judge’s clerk announced that there was no note and mortgage in the file.  The bank’s lawyer then had to present evidence of a lost note.  Now I just felt sick.   How could that homeowner’s lawyer consent in a case where the note was lost.  What a great case to defend.  Apparently that lawyer would not bust a grape in a fruit fight.

After the judge took the consent cases, there were seven quick trials where the bank lawyer and witness were present but the homeowner (or their lawyer if they had one) did not show up.  Two hours after the morning docket started the court was ready for its first contested case.  When the Judge called our case my client joined me at the defense table and it was Game On.  Bank of America sued our client in 2009 and now nearly five years later, it was our day in Court.

I am not a fan of a shotgun defenses where a lawyer throws a bunch of junk at the other side hoping that something will stick.  If a lawyer is armed for battle with a knife, a squirt gun, and a shoe, if his attack on the other side’s case with the knife fails, by the time he starts throwing shoes the judge will know he is grasping for straws.  I told the Court “Judge this is a one issue case.”  The question before you is whether Bank of America’s Notice of Default complied with paragraph 22 of the mortgage. 

The notice of default that Bank of America-Countrywide sent our client in 2009 stated “Further you may have the right bring a court action to assert the non-existence of a default or any other defense you may have to acceleration and foreclosure.”  The mortgage required Bank of America to tell the homeowner that they could assert their defenses in the foreclosure action filed by the bank.  I argued that Bank of America misled the homeowners by telling them they had to file their own lawsuit to assert their defenses.  The Court agreed and after a half and hour of argument before a packed courtroom, the Court entered judgment in our favor.  To View Complete Judgment Click Here.  With this victory the firm’s Space Coast office record in 2014 contested foreclosure trials improved to 6 and 0 (Six wins, Zero losses).  

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