Bank of America seems to think they can bully a bankruptcy judge, like they did a California couple in a nightmare foreclosure, but the judge is not standing for it. For several months Bank of America attorneys have attempted to convince U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein to erase a 107-page ruling imposed a $45 million penalty (this is now their third time before the judge). Judge Klein is now getting upset with the bank and refuses to approve of a confidential settlement that would eliminate the penalty. The judge said it looked to him like the bank was “holding the Sundquists hostage” by making the settlement contingent on the ruling being dismissed.
Bank of America holds homeowners hostage
In his March opinion, Klein faulted Bank of America for “institutional obstinance and dishonesty” and said its actions smacked of “cynical disregard for the law.”
“In the calculus of reprehensibility, Bank of America’s intentional conduct adds up to reckless and callous disregard for the rights of others,” Klein wrote.
The judge also said the the size of the punitive damages award against Bank of America was meant to “not be laughed off in the boardroom.”
So, why is this going on?
History: The Sundquists’ sole reason for defaulting, which they did with considerable reluctance (their credit score had been above 800), was acquiescence in Bank of America’s demand that they default as a precondition for loan modification discussions with Bank of America. The bank failed to honor their promises which started the family on downward path the took over years to finally conclude.
Present: Bank of America offered the Sundquists undisclosed (secret) amount if they will have the judge withdraw his order. Hence, why the judge feels Bank of America is holding the Sundquists “hostage”. Evidently the amount will be “substantially” more than they would receive from the current award. Obviously, the Sundquists just want to put this nightmare behind them.
If the penalty stays as originally ordered several groups who represent injured parties, such as the Sunquists, would receive $40 million of the $45 million award. Their attorneys are pleading with the judge to not vacate the order so it can be used as precedent for other cases.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Whenever institutions fail to properly supervise staff there is an increasing chance of abuse of power (Wells Fargo continues to prove this again and again), especially if the employees financial benefit by their illegal acts.
There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of families who were abused by Bank of America and Wells Fargo (plus more yet to be uncovered). They lost their homes, their savings and their family security because a bank felt they could ignore the law.
I only hope we see many more rulings like Judge Klein’s. The problem is that many judges do not have the personal fortitude to follow Judge Klein’s path.
Diane is a well respected Arizona bankruptcy and foreclosure attorney. As a retired law professor, she believes in offering everyone, not just her clients, advice about bankruptcy and Arizona foreclosure laws. Diane is also a mentor to hundreds of Arizona attorneys.
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