Week Adjourned: 11.12.10

Fraudulent Foreclosures in Florida...Top Class Actions

More Foreclosure Fraud. It seems that between Chinese drywall and questionable foreclosures, Florida homeowners just can’t catch a break. A class action lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of tens of thousands of homeowners in the Sunshine State, who have allegedly been suffered as a result of GMAC’s use of fraudulent affidavits and other documents in foreclosure proceedings.

It seems that GMAC employees admitted in sworn testimony to signing whatever was put in front of them in foreclosure cases, regardless of the accuracy of those documents, without personal knowledge of the truth of what they are signing, without reviewing the underlying documents to determine whether the documents are accurate, and often not even in the presence of a notary.

Geoffrey Huber, one of the plaintiffs, said he discovered a “robo-signed” affidavit had been filed in foreclosure proceedings on the house he owns in Florida. “I don’t know how they thought they legally could get away with this.” Maybe because very few people ever check the fine print? Seems like a good time to start.

The Complaint alleges that the defects in virtually every foreclosure case filed in the last several years are not mere “technicalities,” nor just “sloppy paperwork.” Indeed, one of the lead plaintiffs in this case alleges that he was not actually in default at the time GMAC initiated foreclosure proceedings.

The lawsuit is seeking damages based on claims GMAC’s actions violated the homeowners’ constitutional right to due process, was an abuse of process, and was an unfair and deceptive practice. The suit also seeks a declaration that GMAC’s fraudulent conduct may be asserted as a defense to foreclosure and to preclude GMAC from obtaining a deficiency judgment, and a declaration that the fraudulent affidavits are legally void. That’s no small wish list. Let’s hope they get it. 

Top Settlements

Asbestos Victim Awarded Settlement. Here’s one for the guy on the street—James Johnson, a 75-year old New Jersey resident, was recently awarded a $3,333,500 settlement of his asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit.

Mr. Johnson worked as a carpenter, specializing in the installation of ceilings in commercial applications. After years of exposure to asbestos-containing products, products which he or other tradesmen in his immediate vicinity used during his work, he was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. So he sued the manufacturers and won.

It’s a lot of money, but it won’t buy back Mr. Johnson’s health. 

Wal-Mart Workers Win One. Wal-Mart is back on our list again this week—but this time with some good news. Final approval was granted in the settlement of a wages and hour class action in California, In re Wal-Mart Stores Wage and Hour Litigation, Case No. 02069SBA (Smith Case No. C-06-02069SBA and Ballard).

The settlement, which provides for a payment of between $43 million and $86 million (including claims, costs, and attorneys’ fees), ends more than four years of litigation concerning the payment of wages to California associates. My only question—can you really teach an old dog new tricks? 

Ok—that’s it for this week. The bar requires my presence…

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