Week Adjourned: 3.26.10

Top Class ActionsWasn't TARP supposed to help? BOA WA customers want to know...

One Percent Solution? Wasn’t it about this time last year when the big bank bailouts were front page news? You know, billions of tax payers’ dollars forked over to some of the biggest lending institutions in the country to help stave off complete economic obliteration stemming from bad lending practices and resulting mortgage foreclosures? 

Well, sadly, and the cynic in me says predictably, it seems the bailout bucks may not be reaching their intended destination. Washington homeowners are suing Bank of America claiming the lending giant is intentionally withholding government funds intended to save homeowners from foreclosure.

The lawsuit claims that Bank of America systematically slows or thwarts Washington homeowners’ access to Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds by ignoring homeowners’ requests to make reasonable mortgage adjustments or other alternative solutions that would prevent homes from being foreclosed.

FYI—Bank of America accepted more than $25 billion in government bailout money financed by taxpayer dollars purposely to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. Apparently, one in eight mortgages in the United State is currently in foreclosure or default. 

The U.S. Treasury Department has found that Bank of America services more than 1 million mortgages that qualify for financial relief, but have granted only 12,761 of them permanent modification. That’s just a little over one percent of troubled homeowners. That in itself is worth investigation. 

This what High-Risk Pool Means? And then there’s health insurance. A class action lawsuit has been filed against WellPoint Inc, by residents in Illinois, alleging that WellPoint violated Illinois insurance laws when it forced them to pay 250 percent more for their coverage. 250 percent? Even the banks can’t get away with that. 

Apparently people started noticing the increases following the merger between WellPoint and RightCHOICE in 2002. The lawsuit reportedly states that the merger of WellPoint and RightCHOICE forced less profitable policyholders, such as those who were ill, into either paying a higher price for their health insurance, into receiving an inferior insurance policy, or to be forced out of obtaining insurance all together. Sound familiar? It should. Anthem Blue Cross pulled this same nonsense in California and as a result, is now under investigation.

The lawsuit consists of six complaints, and alleges that the defendants violated the Illinois HIPPA, breached their contract, were guilty of consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices and intended that the plaintiffs rely on their deception. Consumer fraud? Deceptive business practices? I would say that these institutions take the definition of white collar crime to a whole new level.

Top Settlements

Playing Doctor? This $33 million settlement struck a few chords this week—people being forced to undergo strip searches and in some cases gynecological exams in New York City jails after being arrested on misdemeanor drugs and weapons charges, jumping turnstiles, failing to pay child support, shoplifting and trespassing.

“Put your hands over your head?” I don’t think so.

The court ruled that the practice violated the prisoners’ constitutional rights. There are two female lead plaintiffs who will each receive $20,000 for injury and suffering. Apparently they both underwent gynecological exams. Maybe it’s in bad taste—but I have to ask—what on earth were the ‘authorities,’ and I use the term loosely, hoping to find?

That’s it for this week. See you at the bar! (Oh yes. That bar).

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