Class action lawsuit alleges mortgage companies defrauded elderly homeowners who had reverse mortgages

There is currently a class action lawsuit against reverse mortgage companies accused of conspiring to defraud borrowers.

Taking out a reverse mortgage on your home seems like a sensible way to pay for needed repairs and preserve the house for your heirs.

But a $5 million class-action lawsuit filed this month alleges that two mortgage companies conspired to defraud thousands of elderly clients by charging them for home inspections that were illegal. The charges were added to their loan amounts, resulting in less equity in the house.

Reverse mortgages, also known as home-equity conversions, allow older homeowners to tap into the equity in their homes while continuing to live in them. Only people 62 or older are eligible. No payments are owed to the lender as long as the homeowner lives in the house. The owner continues to pay taxes, insurance and maintenance costs and keeps the title to the home, but once he or she dies, moves out or sells it, the loan and interest must be paid before any remaining money goes to the estate.

If a borrower fails to keep up with taxes or insurance, he or she goes into default and the mortgage company can foreclose on the house. If a loan is in default, the company is allowed to conduct “drive-by” home inspections to assess the state of the property and verify that the owner is living there. The cost of the inspection is added to the amount of the loan.

While such inspections are generally limited by law to once every 30 days, the suit says, that Texas-based Champion Mortgage Co., used automated software to trigger “repeated, unreasonable, and unnecessary” inspections several times a week or even more than once a day and charged thousands of home owners for them.

Champion contracts with a Michigan-based company, Celink, to do the inspections. That company is also named in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

One of the lead plaintiffs in the case fell behind on her property taxes.  Champion sued to foreclose on her home. Legal Counsel for the Elderly, an affiliate of AARP, helped her negotiate a repayment plan, and the suit was dismissed in April.

During the process, a lawyer at LCE noticed extra charges in the homeowner’s statements. Four times between 2014 and 2015, she had been charged for two or three inspections in one month. The charges mirrored similar ones levied on other reverse-mortgage clients.

If you need additional info, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Eastern State Hospital settles patient death lawsuit for $360,000

Misael Rodriguez, 43, was referred for a mental health evaluation following arrest.

Rodriguez was on location observation, meaning staff had to check on him at least once every 15 minutes

Rodriguez was found unconscious in the bathroom with a cuts, bruises; he died 3 months later without ever regaining consciousness

Eastern State Hospital has paid $360,000 to settle a lawsuit over the 2013 death of a patient who family members said was assaulted by another patient.

The hospital reached a settlement with the family of Misael Rodriguez on March 30 after the family filed a $2.5 million wrongful death lawsuit in 2014.

Rodriguez, 43, was a patient in the hospital’s forensic ward, where he had been referred for a mental health evaluation following an arrest, the family’s attorney. He was found bleeding and unconscious in a hospital bathroom on Aug. 26, 2013, and died that November at a long-term care facility without ever regaining consciousness.

The family’s lawsuit alleged Rodriguez was attacked by another patient who was under extra observation by the staff at the time because he’d committed at least three unprovoked assaults on other patients in July 2013. Rodriguez was on location observation, meaning staff had to check on him at least once every 15 minutes because he was engaging in behavior making him “susceptible to assault by other patients.”

Video cameras from the hospital showed the other patient entering the bathroom shortly after Rodriguez. The lawsuit states that allowing the men to be together in a closed space with no observation violated hospital policies and safety procedures.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was called to the hospital around 9 p.m., about four hours after Rodriguez was found, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory said. By that point, Rodriguez had been taken to the hospital and the bathroom had been cleaned.

Rodriguez was found in the bathroom several minutes later with a cut above his eye and bruising. Blood was also found on multiple walls of the toilet. The lawsuit said an assault is the most likely explanation for the injuries found on both sides of Rodriguez’s head, but Eastern State Hospital and the Department of Social and Health Services, which runs the hospital, deny an assault took place.

“Law enforcement investigated the circumstances and found no evidence of criminal activity. The medical examiner determined the patient’s death was the result of natural causes,” the hospital said in a statement.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was called to the hospital around 9 p.m., about four hours after Rodriguez was found, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory said. By that point, Rodriguez had been taken to the hospital and the bathroom had been cleaned.

“Everything had been cleaned up so there was no crime scene,” Gregory said.

No autopsy was performed on Rodriguez, and the cause of death listed on his death certificate was pneumonia secondary to another illness or serious injury.

The family attorney had not been retained by the family when the autopsy decision was made and wasn’t sure why no autopsy was performed.

“It was unusual. Usually under these circumstances an autopsy would be performed,” he said.

If you have experienced a similar situation, do not wait as this family did. Please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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The Most Common Types of Injuries After an Auto Crash

Car accidents can cause personal injury.  There are some types of injuries that are more common than others. The person that is hurt will often experience not just physical trauma, but emotional and mental trauma. In some cases, these injuries can lead to permanent disability, or even death.

Because car accidents often result from fast moving vehicles coming to a rapid halt, many of the injuries seen after car accidents are similar. Below is a list of the most common forms of injury:

  • Brain and Head Trauma – The movement of the brain within the skull can cause very serious injuries. Concussions, internal bleeding, and brain damage can all occur without outward visible signs of damage.
  • Neck Trauma – The neck supports the head, which is rather heavy. When stopping suddenly or changing direction abruptly, the weight of the head can cause the neck to bend in unnatural ways, causing damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Back and Spinal Trauma – These injuries will not always appear immediately, and may require detection by a doctor. They can be quite painful and debilitating. Damaged spinal discs, fractured vertebrae, sprains, and strains can occur.
  • Face Trauma – The face can come in contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, air bags, or front or side glass. Bruises, cuts, and broken teeth or bones can occur, particularly if the person is not wearing a seat belt.
  • Internal Trauma – The internal organs of the human body do not do well in collisions. Even when seat belts are worn, the forces generated in a car crash can cause damage to the heart, lungs, intestines, kidneys, etc. When enough force is applied to injure internal organs, it’s likely that the ribs have been fractured.
  • Psychological Trauma – Psychological and emotional trauma are also experienced. Being disabled can cause feelings of stress, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the event that you are injured in a car accident, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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The Top Ten Reasons to Retain a Lawyer Immediately to Handle Your Personal Injury Claim – Don’t Do It Yourself

 

  1.  It costs you nothing up-front to hire a personal injury lawyer. Most personal injury lawyers represent their injury victims on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay anything up-front, and you do not incur any attorneys’ fees unless you are awarded compensation for your injuries or other damages.
  2. Personal injury claims can be very expensive to pursue. There are filing fees, fees for experts, investigators, and reconstructionists. Very few injury victims can afford to pay these fees and costs as they go. Your personal injury lawyer will front the expenses.
  3.  An attorney maintains perspective. As an injury victim, you are prone to put your sense of right and wrong above the legal technicalities. It doesn’t make you wrong in everyday life, but the law will not bend to your sense of fairness. Your case can be thrown out if you make a procedural error, no matter how much you deserve compensation.
  4. People who are severely injured typically underestimate the life-long costs of their injuries, and may ask for far too little in future economic damages. At the same time, you can easily ask for far too much in noneconomic damages. Your lawyer works with experts to make a realistic estimate of your future damages.
  5.  Attorneys have access to experts and other professionals. An established personal injury attorney works with experts and other professionals on a regular basis and knows how to find the best experts for your case. That can include medical experts, financial experts, investigators, etc..
  6.  Attorney have experience with insurance companies. Personal injury attorneys know the tricks that the insurance companies use to low ball injury victims. No amount of research beats experience.
  7.  Knowing when to settle and when to press on. You need to get paid and quickly. Your attorney will know if a settlement offer is fair and worth going for, or if you should hold out for a larger amount.
  8.  Higher settlement offers. If you represent yourself, the defendant’s attorneys will take advantage of you. On the other hand, if you are represented by an attorney, they know what they are up against and are likely to start with a much higher settlement offer which can lead to a speedier resolution and much higher payout.
  9.  Minimizing your risk. If you lose, you could be saddled with attorneys’ fees and other expenses incurred by the other side. Experienced personal injury lawyers will carefully review your case, and will only take it on if they believe they can win. The contingency fee means high risk for your lawyer.
  10.  You need to focus on yourself and getting well. Your energy should go into healing. Personal injury claims involve a lot of paperwork and deadlines. Your personal injury lawyer will let you focus on your health and well-being.

 

If you have had an accident, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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What to Do after a Motorcycle Accident

Your health after a motorcycle accident is your first concern.  However, the information you are able to gather at a motorcycle accident scene can have a positive impact on any future claim you may file. Here is what you should do when an accident occurs:

Stay at the Scene

If you have been in a motorcycle accident, remain at the scene unless you require immediate medical attention.  Check those involved in the accident for injuries. Call an ambulance and the police, if necessary.  Signal oncoming traffic to proceed with caution by placing flares.

Obtain Information from Driver(s)

Obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of individuals involved in the accident as well as their, vehicle license plate, driver’s license, and registration numbers.  Obtain their insurance information: company names and policy numbers.

Identify Witnesses

In addition to obtaining the personal information of the other drivers involved in the accident, write down the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses at the scene, and try to get their written statements detailing what each observed.

Making Comments and Statements

Do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police officer investigating the scene.  Do not admit that you were at fault, even to the officer.  In the case of an injury accident, reserve any statements for your attorney.

Ask the investigating officer for his or her business card and the incident number so that you can obtain a copy of the accident report.

If you are arrested and taken into custody, do not resist.  An arrest does not automatically mean civil liability.  Once again, refrain from making any statements until you contact a lawyer.

Notes and Pictures

Immediately write down the details of the accident, including where and how it occurred, road and weather conditions, and posted speed limits.  Take photographs of the accident scene to record skid marks, the location of the vehicles involved, and damage to any vehicles and motorcycles.

When to Leave a Motorcycle Accident Scene

Unless you are seriously injured and require immediate medical attention, remain at the motorcycle accident scene to assist others who may be injured.  Call an ambulance, if needed.  Contact the police.  Once you have cooperated with the police and collected the necessary personal information from other drivers and witnesses, you may leave the scene.  See your doctor immediately.  Even serious injuries may not be apparent until days after the accident.

Notify Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company of the accident.  Make sure you have proof of this notification.  Do not make any statements without first consulting your attorney.

Insurance Claims

Any insurance claims made against you should be referred to your insurance company.  Send all legal papers you receive to your insurance company. Never pay or promise to pay any claimant; never sign any documents prior to speaking with your attorney.

 

For further info call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle Accidents

A motorcycle accident is more dangerous than a car accident for obvious reasons. Because motorcycle drivers are unprotected from impact, they will suffer from injuries that are more serious than those seen in car accidents. Road rash is the most common injury associated with motorcycle accidents, followed by head and neck trauma which are the most devastating types of injury.

Whiplash Injury

After road rash, whiplash injury is the most common seen after a motorcycle accident.  Whiplash is the result of a person’s head being suddenly jolted forward and then backward by an impact. The movement causes the neck tendons, ligaments, and muscles to overextend.  The effects of whiplash will usually be felt in the days following the accident. A person can recover from minor cases of whiplash in a month, while a person suffering acute or chronic whiplash may need several months or years to recover.

A whiplash injury will occur when a bike is hit from behind even at low speed. In a high-speed impact, the neck is usually injured after the person is thrown off of the motorcycle and hits the ground.

Whiplash Injury Symptoms

Pain and neck stiffness are the primary symptoms of a whiplash injury.  Sometimes the pain will radiate to the shoulders, arms, and the lower back.  A whiplash victim may also experience headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and trouble swallowing.

For a motorcyclist who has severe or chronic whiplash, the symptoms can get worse.  Headaches can become persistent, and chronic fatigue along with vision and hearing problems can occur. Developing depression and anxiety is also common.

A chronic whiplash injury can develop into what is known as fibromyalgia. This is similar to arthritis where pain in the joints spreads to other parts of the body. There is no known cure for fibromyalgia.

Recovering from Whiplash

For motorcyclists suffering whiplash, the only course of treatment is time, as the swelling of the muscles and tendons in the neck subside. Supervised light exercise is recommended to help ease the stiffness. For chronic whiplash, the patient may be given medications that reduce swelling and ease pain. Physiotherapy may be prescribed along with light exercise. A physician monitors the progress to ensure that secondary symptoms are not leading to a chronic condition.

Claiming Compensation for a Whiplash Injury

No matter how minor the accident you should always seek immediate medical attention. The crash victim might feel fine, but the symptoms of whiplash can appear days after the crash. An  emergency room physician will know what to look for before the symptoms start and will put you on track towards recovery.

Although your first concern should be your health, immediate medical treatment is also crucial when it comes to being financially compensated for the crash.  A personal injury claim is based on the plaintiff being hurt physically or emotionally by the crash.  Without proof that the injury was a result of the crash, you might not be compensated.

With these types of personal injury cases, it is important that the motorcycle driver get an attorney. A neck injury can be caused by a low impact crash, but insurance adjustors, and lawyers for the defense will try and equate the extent of your injury to the extent of damage to the motorcycle. This is an inaccurate evaluation and your attorney can prove it. Your attorney will demand that the person who caused the injury pay for your expenses and your pain-and-suffering.

Call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation. My no win, no fee contingency policy can help you collect.

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Summary of California’s Foreclosure Laws

If you are facing foreclosure in California, it’s important to understand some of the basics.

There follows a summary of some of the important features of California foreclosure law.

Topic State Law
Most common type of foreclosure process Nonjudicial under power of sale in deed of trust
Notice of the foreclosure Foreclosing party must personally contact (or meet the requirements for attempting to contact) borrowers to explore options for avoiding foreclosure 30 days before recording the notice of default. The foreclosing party then records a three-month notice of default in the county recorder’s office and mails a copy to the borrowers within ten business days following recordation. After three months expires (or up to five days prior), the foreclosing party records a notice of sale and mails a copy to the borrowers at least 20 days before the sale date. The sale date cannot be earlier than three months and 20 days after the recording date of the notice of default. The notice of sale is also posted on the property, in a public place, and published in a newspaper.
Reinstatement of loan before sale Allowed up to five business days before date of sale
Redemption after sale Not available after a nonjudicial foreclosure
Special protections for foreclosures involving high-cost mortgages Cal. Fin. Code § 4973 makes a number of abusive loan practices unlawful. Section 4978 provides remedies that include authority for a judge to reform the loan to comply with the law. These provisions don’t apply to mortgages held by the secondary market (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) or to assignees who have no reason to know of the loan origination violations. Cal. Fin. Code § 4979.8
Special state protections for service members Protections similar to those under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act extended to members of the National Guard called or ordered into active state service by the governor or into active federal service by the President of the United States. Also applies to reservists who have been called to full-time active duty. Cal. Mil. & Vet. Code §§ 400 to 409.13
Deficiency judgments Not allowed after a nonjudicial foreclosure
Cash exempted in bankruptcy Up to about $25,340 under California exemption System 2
Notice after the house is sold New owner must give former homeowner three-day notice to quit (leave) and file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict.
Foreclosure statutes Cal. Civ. Code §§ 2923.5, 2924 to 2924l; Cal. Code of Civ. Pro. §§ 580a through 580d

The Homeowner Bill of Rights provides additional protections.

 

If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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What to do if your HOA has foreclosed on your property

If you owe dues or assessments to a homeowner’s association (HOA), the HOA can foreclose on your home. If you lose your home in an HOA foreclosure, some states give you the opportunity to repurchase your property following the foreclosure sale — this is called the right of redemption.

The Redemption Period Following an HOA Foreclosure

A redemption period is a specific time period given to homeowners following foreclosure during which they can buy back, or “redeem,” their home from the entity or person that purchased it at the foreclosure sale.

Some states give homeowners the right of redemption following a foreclosure by an HOA. In California, for example, if an HOA forecloses on a homeowner using a nonjudicial process, the foreclosure is subject to a 90-day right of redemption after the sale (Cal. Civ. Code § 1367.4). (Generally, there is no redemption period following the sale in a nonjudicial foreclosure of a deed of trust in California.) In Texas, there is a 180-day right of redemption from date the HOA mails written notice of the sale to the homeowner (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 209.011); a condominium has the right of redemption for 90-days. (Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 82.113.) During the redemption period, the purchaser of the property may not transfer ownership of the property. The highest bidder at the foreclosure sale (either the HOA or a third party) takes ownership of the property subject to the owner’s right of redemption.

How to Redeem a Property After an HOA Foreclosure Sale

In most cases, to redeem the property following the foreclosure sale, the homeowner must pay:

  • the total assessment lien amount
  • interest, and
  • attorneys’ fees and costs.

Additionally, in California, if a homeowner wishes to exercise the right of redemption, the redemption price will include any repair costs paid by the purchaser that were reasonably necessary for the preservation of the property (Barry v. OC Residential Properties, LLC, 194 Cal.App.4th 861 (2011)). The purchaser at the foreclosure sale may pay for maintenance and repair work if:

  • the property is in need of repair, and
  • the repairs made are necessary to prevent further damage to the property.

To find out if there is a redemption period in your state or for any other info, call Attorney Linda Fessler for a free consultation at 213-446-6766.

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Talcum Powder —-Cause of Ovarian Cancer?

Johnson & Johnson is appealing two recent jury verdicts awarding a total of $127 million to women who blame their ovarian cancer on talc in the company’s baby powder.

The monetary awards have raised the concern that women’s use of talcum powder may cause ovarian cancer.  Research has returned mixed results and those studies finding a link showed only a slightly higher risk of the cancer.

In one case, a jury in St. Louis awarded $55 million to a woman, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. In the same court in February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer.

For the company, the threats posed by the personal-injury lawsuits come as J&J is involved in government investigations into off-label prescription-drug marketing, liability litigation over faulty hip and knee parts, and a recall of children’s Tylenol.

These matters have cost J&J billions of dollars.

The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company says it faces over 1,000 lawsuits involving Johnson’s Baby Powder. The lawsuits allege that talc in the powder caused ovarian cancer, and that the company failed to warn of the risks.

Company documents dating to the 1970s show J&J was concerned about a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

If they had concerns Johnson & Johnson had an absolute moral obligation to warn people.

The American Cancer Society has said that research into a potential link between women’s use of talcum powder in the genital area and cancer of the ovary has been “mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase.”

If you need further info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

 

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HALT TO OCWEN FORECLOSURES

Ocwen Post-Settlement

Ocwen has provided roughly $2 billion in consumer relief to borrowers, according to the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight’s Joseph Smith Jr. But Ocwen has not resolved its failure in several areas.

“While Ocwen has made progress toward correcting a number of past fails, it has not resolved its issues that led to its failure of Metric 31,” Smith said. “Despite its progress, Ocwen continues to have work to do.”

Metric 31 measures whether the servicer has sent denial notifications to homeowners including the reason for denial, factual information used in making the decision and a timeframe during which the homeowner can provide evidence that the denial was made in error. Ocwen has failed this metric.

The company expects another analysis to resume in the second quarter of 2016. Until these borrowers receive the proper information and are given the opportunity to appeal the foreclosure process has been halted.

Meanwhile, Ocwen has other failures with regard to the monitoring of the settlement.

Joseph Smith, Jr. and Ocwen have agreed that the company failed seven other metrics because of issues related to the company’s letter dating. Corrective plans have been established. It remains to be seen if the “corrective measures” will stop Ocwen from misdating letters all to their own benefit and to the detriment of the homeowner.

 

If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

 

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