New York Times reports on Michigan soldier whose home was lost in illegal foreclosure
During the last week of January, the New York Times contained an article about Sgt. James Hurley's fight against Deutsche Bank Trust Company and a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley. Their agent illegally foreclosed on Hurley's home mortgage while he was called up for active duty with the National Guard.
Although the Bank was apprised of Hurley's call-up, his family could not provide the bank with his individual formal paperwork immediately, because it had not yet been issued by military authorities. Despite its actual knowledge of Hurley's call-up, the bank illegally foreclosed on his mortgage in violation of the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA), putting his wife and two young daughters on the street.The SCR Act limits the mortgage interest paid by a service member on active duty to six percent and also prevents foreclosure without a hearing with the service member in attendance. Several large banks have now acknowledged thousands of violations of this act over the past decade and there have now been re-payments of two million dollars in over-charged interest by JP Morgan Chase, alone.
In any event, Deutche Bank and Morgan Stanley have fought Sergeant Hurley's claim "tooth and nail" for more than five years. Their attorneys attested to the Court that Hurley was not on active duty, despite repeated notification by the family to the contrary. They foreclosed the property without a hearing and sold it to a Chicago investor for $70,000.00. [That soft-hearted individual has adamantly refused to re-sell it to the Hurleys.] Even after the foreclosure was deemed illegal and over-turned, the defendants persuaded Republican-appointee Judge Gordon J. Quist that Hurley could not maintain a private action against the bank for violation of the SCRA. That ruling was overturned on appeal when a retired Air Force lawyer from Louisiana, John S. Odom,volunteered to help Hurley and pointed out that Judge Quist had overlooked a significant case precedent allowing Hurley to sue.
In March of 2009, Quist reversed his own decision and reinstated the case, although in December of 2010, the judge reportedly held that Hurley is not entitled to collect punitive damages. The case is now set for trial in March of 2011 and the retired expert, Colonel Odom, has vowed to appeal the most recent punitive damage holding by Judge Quist.
The New York Times noted that Hurley has now been represented for more than four years in toe-to-toe battle with these wealthy banks (whom taxpayers most likely recently rescued from their own stupidity), in reliance on two attorneys who will be paid only if the Court orders payment of his legal fees by the banks. Based on Quist's rulings thus far, it appears the attorneys are waging a "labor of love" rather than making a business investment.