April 23, 2015
On April 20, 2015, a federal court jury in DuPage County, Illinois returned a $2 million verdict against Residential Credit Solutions, Inc. (RCS), a mortgage loan servicer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The jury found that homeowner Alena Hammer, who had lived in her home for 27 years, was injured by RCS’s breach of contract, violations of The Real Estate Settlement procedures Act (RESPA) and violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Alena Hammer v. Residential Credit Colutions, Case 1:13-cv-06397, USDC, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
AmTrust Bank serviced Hammer’s mortgage. AmTrust failed in 2009 and was taken over by the FDIC. Hammer entered into a loan modification agreement with the FDIC in June, 2010, and RCS took over servicing in August, 2010. RCS rejected Hammer’s monthly payments and refused to acknowledge the existence of the loan modification. RCS filed two foreclosure actions against Hammer, even though Hammer sent the payments as required under the loan modification agreement. The first foreclosure case was dismissed in favor of Hammer, but RCS continued to reject Hammer’s payments and continued to deny the existence of the loan modification agreement. The second foreclosure action was litigated from September 2011 through December 2013. Hammer alleged that RCS assessed improper fees and costs to her loan account. She also incurred attorney’s fees and costs defending the foreclosure actions, and suffered mental anguish and emotional distress.
A trial was held for six days at the Everett McKinley Dirksen federal court house in Chicago. After deliberating for approximately two hours, the jury awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1,500,000 in punitive damages to Alena Hammer.
Nicholas Heath Wooten, Ross Michael Zambon and Mara Ann Baltabols led the litigation team on behalf of Hammer. Nick Wooten is a consumer and trial lawyer and the managing partner of Nick Wooten, LLC in Auburn, Alabama, and is nationally known for his work in mortgage servicing and foreclosure defense litigation. Wooten is recognized nationally as a leader on issues of mortgage securitization, foreclosure defense and bankruptcy. He has fought against abuses by banks and mortgage servicers since the onset of the financial crisis. Wooten was one of the first lawyers to take critical depositions of executives from Lender Processing Services and MERS.
Ross Michael Zambon and Mara Ann Baltabols of Zambon Law, Ltd. are highly regarded for their litigation work on behalf of consumers.