Friday, October 21, 2005

HSBC Following Fairbanks Footsteps

Utilizing a similar legal stand as the Curry v. Fairbanks class action case, Rebecca Turner-Freely of Philadelphia has filed a class action case against HSBC, the Squaliforme that swallowed one of the most dangerous of all Squaliformes, Household Financial.

Typical of the schemes perpetrated in predatory mortgage servicing, Turner-Freely's suit claims: “Defendant has uniformly engaged in a scheme of illegal, unfair, unlawful and deceptive business practices that violate contract and state law in the servicing of home-secured loan transactions and in the provision of certain related services.”

Sounds like HSBC hasn’t been reading the Curry v. Faribanks playbook, er, settlement.

The key difference in this case is that while the mortgages involved allow the addition of attorney’s fees for foreclosure purposes, the language of the HSBC-serviced mortgages apparently doesn’t allow for “fee shifting” of legal expenses in dealing with borrower bankruptcies – something that HSBC has routinely tried to shove down the throats of bankruptcy filers - even after their discharge.

Of course, once any predatory servicer starts saying a borrower owes more than they actually do, the spiral down toward foreclosure is predictable. HSBC even attempted to charge the plaintiff for a Sheriff’s sale that never took place, nor was it ever even advertised.

Obviously, this isn’t an isolated incident, therefore the class could be large. The firm handling the case is McCullough & Eisenberg, P.C., of Warminster, PA. Stuart Eisenberg’s phone number is 215-957-6411.

The real question is, and will always be, will a win permanently change their behavior or the behavior of other servicers?

In this court, it would. Partly 'cause they'd be behind bars long enough.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Katz Cops a Plea Bargain - Dodges Real Punishment

Clever as ever, Howard Katz pulled a fast one by pleading "no contest" to the charges against him. Instead of going to trial and facing an almost certain guilty verdict, and instead of just pleading guilty, the maneuver will prevent the civil lawsuits against him from being able to point to a conviction as evidence of his scamming.

Not that he got off completely, but damn close to it compared to what he should have gotten which would have him in the hoosegow for most of the rest of his life.

On top of two years of not being able to practice law and six months of home confinement (boy, that's a drag), Katz is supposed to cough up about $100,000 in fines and costs plus almost $44,000 in restitution to some of his Lincoln Park victims.

Hopefully the Michigan Attorney General, Mike Cox, will do more than just put out some pretty PR piece about an investigation based on information from the Michigan court's own inquiry into Katz's practices.

But this Honorable Court questions why the firm he heads is still allowed to do business?

Special prosecutor John Gillooly originally talked tough prior to the trial, but he now says he's happy with the plea agreement. Well, he didn't have to actually go to trial so maybe that's good in his eyes. But then he tries to put lipstick on the pig: "When you and I are able to leave our residences freely and do what we want to do on weekends, Mr. Katz isn't going to be able to do that for several months."

Bailiff, break out the tissues - I can see the tears welling up from here.

Katz & Katz is nothing more than an on-going criminal enterprise with the resources to avoid having to actually pay for their crimes. And others who operate in the same deliberately abusive manner apparently have little to really fear in these cases if just one of the perpetrators pays a fine and gets a court-imposed vacation from work.

'Round here we have a slightly different view of where criminals should end up, and "no-contest" isn't one of the options.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean