"The piece we are pursing is on behalf of homeowners, but everybody suffered along the way with respect to the shortcuts the banks took in terms of their revenue schemes," says Shevitz. "This is one aspect of the mortgage debacle," he adds, referring to the class action just filed. "We are also seeing regulatory actions being threatened by some of the attorney generals and we are seeing claims brought by investments against the banks."
Shevitz's clients, like thousands of others, were tossed from their home two years ago and now live with relatives. "They say it's been a nightmare," says Shevitz. "It's horrible."
The couple had applied for the mortgage modification program, but were denied. More than likely, their application was never properly reviewed—maybe never even read.
The suit, filed in Federal Court in Indiana, charges that his clients, and thousands of Countrywide and Bank of America clients, were victims of the so-called robo-signing fraud. "The 'robo-signing' crisis involves more than people not filling in forms correctly—it involves lenders submitting false affidavits to courts in support of foreclosure actions," says Shevitz.
"These are false, perjured affidavits where the bank officers contest that they personally reviewed files they have never seen and submit documentation in order to throw people out of their homes," says Shevitz, with a very clear grasp of the foreclosure crisis on both a macro- and micro-level.
The class action alleges the that his clients' foreclosure documents were signed by a woman already identified in other legal proceedings as a notorious "robo-signer."
"The woman who signed the affidavit in this case has been singled out as a 'milliner's delight' because she wore so many hats," says Shevitz. "Whatever lender was processing the foreclosure, this woman would say she was an officer of that lender's company, then sign the affidavit saying she had reviewed the file, which she hadn't, and that there was a valid lien against the property, which there often was not, and cause the homeowner to lose their homes too quickly."
"If the banks had followed the rules, they would accumulate the property much more slowly," says Shevitz, "if at all."
"We are fielding phone calls every day from people around the state and country—and the answer to the question 'how many people might this include?' " says Shevitz. "The answer is thousands and thousands —all these were processed in the same manner."
The case seeks damages on behalf of home owners who were thrown out of their homes without due process of law—and thrown out prematurely because the banks cut corners.
Richard Shevitz is a graduate of the Ohio State University College of Law. Prior to joining Cohen & Malad, Shevitz served as Deputy Attorney General in Indiana and also served as the Assistant Director of Legal Affairs with the Anti-Defamation League. He played an active role in the historic class action against Swiss banks on behalf of holocaust victims and survivors.