POSSIBLE ACTION ON REVERSE MORTGAGES

New York Governor Cuomo Proposes Reverse Mortgage, Other Senior Protections

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a series of safeguards against reverse mortgage problems and a watchdog role for banks where employees can help spot other financial abuses.

“These proposals will help seniors keep their finances and assets from being vulnerable to thieves and unscrupulous practices,” Cuomo said in a statement outlining the legislation.

Reverse mortgages are a growing phase of the home finance industry. It allows seniors age 62 and older to access the equity in their home by getting a monthly check from a lender.

They agree to repay the reverse mortgage when they die or move from the home.

Homeowners, though, are still responsible for expenses such as insurance and property taxes, which can lead to possibly foreclosures.

Under Cuomo’s plan, the same safeguards applicable to a regular mortgages would apply to reverse mortgages. Those include the need for settlement conferences to see if the problems can be resolved.

The governor is also planning an Elder Abuse Certification Program in which bank employees can be trained to spot signs of elder financial abuse. Banks would be able to display a certificate so consumers know such safeguards are available.

The plan would let banks place holds on suspicious transactions involving seniors. Banks would also have to notify state agencies if a hold is applied.

It remains to be seen if this legislation will pass into law or if other states will follow suit.

 

If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Walmart Same-Sex Benefits Discrimination Settlement

A $7.5 million class action settlement between Walmart and workers denied same-sex spouses’ benefits is on track for preliminary approval.

“We’re very pleased that Judge Young informed us that he plans to grant preliminary approval, and has set a fairness hearing date of May 11,” said attorney for the workers Peter Romer-Friedman of Outten & Golden LLP. “We look forward to working to finalize the settlement.”

The settlement involves a class action lawsuit filed in July 2015 by a former Walmart employee. It was alleged Walmart violated their employees’ civil rights, state employment laws, along with the Equal Pay Act, by not offering health insurance to same-sex spouses before Jan. 1, 2014.

The lawsuit followed the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide (Obergefell v. Hodges).

Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that Walmart violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it refused to extend employment-based health insurance benefits to a same sex spouse, even if legally married under Massachusetts law in 2004 and were otherwise eligible to receive coverage.

When the spouse of one of the Plaintiffs, who was uninsured, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, the couple incurred more than $150,000 in medical debt. In addition to damages, a permanent injunction was sought against Walmart that would prevent it from denying same-sex couples spousal health insurance benefits that are available to other employees.

Under the terms of the Walmart settlement, the $7.5 million will be divided among the few thousand workers who were denied coverage for their same-sex spouses from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013.

The payout will be divided among two classes. Long-form plaintiffs are employees who can show out-of-pocket medical expenses for their same-sex spouse during the class period, or that their same-sex spouse was insured by an alternative plan. These Class Members could be eligible to receive the amount they paid if it is less than $60,000, and two-and-a-half times the amount if they paid more than $60,000.

After the long-form plaintiffs are paid, other Walmart employees who cannot show exact expenses can submit short-form claims on pro rata basis.

This group will receive $5,000 per year of the three-year class period that they were employed by Walmart.

The Walmart Same-Sex Spouses’ Benefits Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit is Cote v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Case No. 1:15-cv-12945, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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DEADLINE FOR FILING HSBC CLAIM FORM APPROACHING

AnchorWelcome
This website provides information about the joint state-federal settlement with HSBC.
Announcements
August 2016:
Borrowers who are eligible to participate in the HSBC Settlement will be mailed a postcard followed by a Notice Letter and Claim Form in August 2016. Borrowers who believe they are eligible but have not received a Notice Letter by September 2016 may contact the administrator toll free by calling 1-888-538-5792, Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

Settlement Highlights:
• $370 Million in relief for borrowers who are still in their homes
• $58 Million in cash to foreclosed homeowners
• Modeled on National Mortgage Settlement

The Federal government together with state attorneys general in 49 states and the District of Columbia reached a settlement in 2016 requiring HSBC Mortgage, Inc., to provide $428 million in various forms of relief to certain borrowers. The agreement was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on February 5, 2016. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia entered the Consent Order on March 14, 2016. The agreement addresses HSBC’s alleged misconduct regarding its mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices. HSBC must create an approximately $58 million fund for the approximately 75,000 HSBC borrowers who were foreclosed upon between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2012. In addition, HSBC must adhere to significant homeowner protections. The agreement requires that HSBC follow the servicing standards set up by the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) with the five largest mortgage servicers. HSBC’s compliance with this settlement will be monitored by the same professional monitoring team in charge of enforcing the NMS, led by former North Carolina Banking Commissioner Joseph Smith.
Further information concerning the HSBC settlement is available here:
• To see a copy of the Consent order click here: Consent Order
• To see a copy of the Exhibits click here: (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E, Exhibit E-1, Exhibit H, Exhibit I)

Settlement Timeline
Notices to be Sent to Eligible Borrowers: August 2016
Primary Deadline to File a Payment Claim: November 15, 2016
Payments to be mailed to eligible borrowers who make claims: We anticipate checks will be mailed in the first quarter of 2017.

AnchorDisclaimer

This site is not operated by the Attorneys General, or federal government. Please contact the National HSBC Settlement Administrator with questions at 1-888-538-5792, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Central Time.
Este sitio no es operado por el Procurador General o el gobierno federal. Por favor contacte al Administrador del Acuerdo Nacional de HSBC con preguntas al número 1-888-538-5792, lunes a viernes, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. horario central.
View the Privacy Policy

If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Wells Fargo even mistreats service members

Just when you thought Wells Fargo could not sink lower:
The bank did not give service members the rights granted them under federal law.
Wells Fargo has been ordered in two separate actions to pay $24 million for violating the rights of armed forces members.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) assessed a $20 million civil penalty against the bank and ordered it to make restitution to service members who were harmed by the violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
In addition, Wells Fargo has agreed to pay over $4.1 million to resolve charges that it violated the SCRA by repossessing 413 cars owned by protected service members without a court order.
The penalties are in addition to the $185 million in fines to settle charges that bank employees opened accounts in customers’ names without the customers’ permission.
Wells Fargo also faces class action lawsuits, a Congressional investigation, and punitive action.
The OCC found that between approximately 2006 and 2016, Wells Fargo violated three separate provisions of the SCRA. The bank failed to: (i) provide the 6-percent interest rate limit to service member obligations or liabilities incurred before military service; (ii) accurately disclose service members’ active duty status to the court via affidavits prior to repossession; and (iii) obtain court orders prior to repossessing service members’ automobiles.
The penalty will be paid to the U.S. Treasury.
Car Repossessions
In the repossession case, the Justice Department launched an investigation after it received a complaint from the U.S. Army’s Legal Assistance Program alleging that Wells Fargo had repossessed the used car of a serviceman, while he was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan to fight in Operation Enduring Freedom.
After Wells Fargo repossessed the car, it sold it at a public auction and then tried to collect a deficiency balance of over $10,000 from the serviceman.
Wells Fargo never responded to a request for information by the U.S. Army’s Legal Assistance Program about the original loan and repossession.
“Wells Fargo Bank unlawfully repossessed hundreds of service members’ cars without the proper process, and the bank will now rightfully pay for its violations,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer.
“Auto lenders cannot repossess the cars of the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our freedom without providing them the required legal protections under the SCRA,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement should help ensure that servicemembers are not penalized financially for protecting our nation.”

The settlement covers repossessions that occurred between Jan. 1, 2008 and July 1, 2015.  The agreement requires Wells Fargo to pay $10,000 to each of the affected service members, plus any lost equity in the vehicle with interest.  Wells Fargo must also repair the credit of all affected service members. 

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

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California law now protects surviving spouse from foreclosure

California Governor Jerry Brown this week signed a law that will protect survivors from unnecessary foreclosures. The Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR) will stop lenders from foreclosing on widows, widowers, and other relatives of someone who has died and is not listed on the mortgage.

Prior to the law, foreclosures often occurred because the lenders refused to speak with survivors not on the mortgage.

Now mortgage servicers will be required to talk with surviving homeowners and provide clear information about their options and the process to assume the mortgage. The law goes into effect in January.

Kit Dillon Givas, a surviving homeowner from Sacramento:

“Instead of spending time to properly grieve, I’ve spent the last six months trying to get Ocwen, my mortgage servicer, to talk to me about how to keep our home of 28 years,” she said. “I’m glad other survivors like me won’t have to go through what I have.”

California is one of the few states that has a law protecting a surviving spouse.

If you are in this situation, you should make sure the mortgage is up to date. Then call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Fake law firm scammed troubled homeowners out of millions through telemarketing

Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group advertised nationwide on radio stations and the internet.

Consumers paid fees ranging from $3,500 upwards. They thought that the alleged Southern California law firm would help them avoid foreclosure. But the head of the firm, Bryan D’Antonio was a convicted felon who had previously been sentenced to four years in federal prison for a medical billing scam.

He also was subject to an injunction prohibiting him from any involvement with telemarketing.

D’Antonio plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He admitted that he started Rodis Law Group while he was on supervised release from his prior conviction.

Misrepresented services

RLG and ALG sold their services through a telemarketing operation and employees routinely misrepresented the services that would be provided.

D’Antonio admitted that, between October 2008 and June 2009, he participated in a scheme with Ronald Rodis, Charles Wayne Farris and others to induce homeowners to pay between $3,500 and up for the services of RLG and ALG.

RLG and ALG advertised on radio stations nationwide, stated that the companies consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.”

In fact, RLG and ALG were telemarketing operations that never had teams of experienced attorneys. Mostly, Ronald Rodis was the only attorney at RLG.

Telemarketers falsely stated that RLG and ALG routinely obtained positive results for homeowners, including lower monthly payments, reductions in principal balance and lower interest rates.  In fact, positive results were rarely achieved for the clients.

They did not disclose that the firms were owned and operated by Bryan D’Antonio, a convicted felon who was enjoined from engaging in telemarketing.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court, D’Antonio admitted that the RLG and ALG schemes fraudulently obtained approximately $9 million from his victims.

Charles Wayne Farris and Ronald Rodis, both previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

 

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

 

 

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12 Types of Accident Injuries and 11 Kinds of Damages

The following are some examples of the types of injury resulting from accidents:

  • Neck Injuries: There are many kinds of neck injuries, including whiplash, fractured vertebrae, soft tissue injuries such as tendon or ligament injuries, and others.
  • Back Injuries: These injuries can include broken vertebrae, herniated discs, torn or damaged soft tissue including muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons and other injuries.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Depending on the location and severity of the injury, the person may suffer partial or complete paralysis
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries: The person may have both physical and cognitive disabilities. Recovery may depend on surgery and rehabilitation treatment in an attempt to help the person restore the ability to walk, speak or regain basic functions.
  • Burn Injuries:  Many severe burns will require skin grafts to restore the appearance of the victim. Some burns leave permanent, disfiguring scars and hinder mobility.
  • Amputations: A sudden impact that crushes or severs a limb is a catastrophic injury. Various types of incidents can lead to the need for amputation, such as when a limb is crushed or partially severed. Prosthetics and other adaptive devices are usually very expensive
  • Fractures: Broken bones vary in severity, ranging from a cracked bone to the  cases in which bones break through the skin, increasing the chances of  infections, or cases in which the bone is shattered and will require surgery with the installation of screws and rods.
  • Shoulder Injuries: A painful shoulder can occur after a fall, or a motorcycle or car accident. These injuries also occur in the workplace.  There are resulting motion issues because of the joint and muscle structure.
  • Knee Injuries: A knee injury can leave the victim with a permanent impairment. The recovery from a severe knee injury can be lengthy.
  • Nerve Damage and Chronic Pain:  Resolving bruised, torn or crushed nerve tissue can be impossible. The victim may be left with diminished sensation.
  • Disfiguring Injuries: Severe lacerations, cuts, burns and abrasions often leave permanent scars. The location of the scar can take an emotional toll on the victim. Facial scarring or other visible scars must be compensated not only for the medical costs, but also for the emotional impact on the victim.
  • Pain & Suffering: An accident victim may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering that resulted from the injury.
  • Emotional Distress: Psychological injury may be compensable. Unlike pain and suffering, emotional distress may be compensable in the absence of a physical injury.

There are several types of damages that can be pursued depending on the case. Damages may include the following:

  • Costs of all medical care.
  • Hospital and doctor’s bills.
  • Rehabilitation costs.
  • Medication costs.
  • Transportation costs.
  • Lost wages, current and future.
  • Diminished earning capacity.
  • Property damage.
  • Compensation for pain and suffering.
  • Compensation for emotional distress.
  • Compensation for loss of quality of life.

If you have suffered an injury and need help, contact Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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4 Ways To Get Your Bills Paid After an Accident

 

When you get hurt in any kind of accident, you will need medical treatment. You will also have medical bills.

A lawyer can help. A lawyer will access all possible sources of insurance to get your medical bills paid. There are alternatives to paying medical bills yourself.

 

‘Med Pay’ in Premises Liability Cases

If you are injured at someone’s house, there may be insurance coverage through homeowner policies for medical bills. This insurance is called “med pay” coverage. It pays the medical bills of victims without regard to who is at fault.

There are different amounts available for different policies. Typically, med pay policies are available for $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. There are strict time limits within which the bills must be submitted to the property owner’s insurance policy.

 

Workers Compensation Coverage for Workplace Injuries

Workers compensation insurance covers injuries that happen at the workplace.  It does not require the payment of deductibles. In fact, it pays all medical bills associated with injuries you suffered at work.

Even if you are paid in cash and work “off the books,” you still may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

 

Other Options for Paying Medical Bills

Medicaid, Medicare or private health insurance may be available to pay your medical bills. Finally, many healthcare providers are willing to treat victims of personal injury accidents on a lien. This means payment will not be required at the time you receive care. The doctors will wait until your case is settled or tried. An agreement is reached wherein the medical bills will be paid directly from your settlement proceeds.

 

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

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Clamping Down on Lenders—Again

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just issued a new rule for mortgage servicers that provides greater protections to borrowers, surviving family, and persons in bankruptcy.
The changes also add protections for consumers when their mortgage is transferred to another servicer.
The new rule makes several big changes: mortgage servicers would have to offer loss mitigation to borrowers more than once over the life of the loan, but only if the borrower became current and ran into trouble again later.
In addition, the rule clarifies when a borrower becomes delinquent and how a servicer can prevent wrongful foreclosures and avoid dual-tracking. The rule also specifies several requirements for early intervention, loss mitigation, information requests, and prompt crediting of payments. Under the rule, if a borrower dies, servicers would be required to promptly communicate with surviving family or others who have a legal right to the home.
Following is a detailed list of the added requirements for servicers in the new rule:

  • Mortgage servicers would have to expand foreclosure protections more than once over the life of the loan. Servicers must create policies and procedures to promptly communicate with “successors in interest,” if the borrower dies. Those who have a legal interest in the home are given the same protections as the original borrower.
  • Servicers must provide borrowers in bankruptcy with periodic statements including specific information tailored for bankruptcy.
  • Servicers are required to notify borrowers promptly and in writing when a loss mitigation application is complete, so that borrowers know the status of the application.
  • When servicing is transferred the new servicer must comply with loss mitigation requirements within the same time frames that applied to the former servicer.

Most provisions in the final rule will take effect 12 months after its publication in the Federal Register, which is imminent. However, provisions on successor in interest and periodic statements for borrowers in bankruptcy will take effect 18 months after publication in the Federal Register.

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

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U.S Bank Settles Mortgage Class Action Over Forced Insurance

U.S. Bank Force-Placed Insurance Class Action Settlement

A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit alleging U.S. Bank NA received unauthorized benefits by imposing force-placed insurance policies on borrowers who lacked acceptable coverage.

If you were charged by U.S. Bank for lender-placed insurance you may be eligible for benefits from the class action settlement.

The U.S Bank class action lawsuit involves lender-placed insurance, which is insurance placed on a borrower’s property when the borrower fails to maintain an insurance policy that is acceptable to the mortgage lender or when the borrower’s insurance lapses.

According to the class action lawsuit, U.S. Bank placed the insurance and received “kickbacks” from the insurance companies.  This caused the cost and amount of coverage to be excessive.

The defendants deny the allegations and maintain that their conduct was not unlawful. However, they have agreed to settle.

Class Members of the U.S. Bank force-placed insurance settlement include all U.S. borrowers who, between April 8, 2009 and June 30, 2015, were charged by U.S. Bank under a hazard, flood, flood-gap or wind-only lender-placed insurance (LPI) policy for residential property, and who either paid to U.S. Bank the net premium for that LPI policy or who did not pay and still owe U.S. Bank the net premium for the LPI policy.

NOTE: If you were a Class Member in Stephen Ellsworth v. U.S. Bank NA, et al., Case No. 3:12-cv-02506-LB, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, you are not eligible to participate in this class action settlement.

What you can collect depends on various factors:

  • If you were charged for a hazard force-placed insurance policy on or before Nov. 30, 2011, you will receive 12.5 percent of the net premium.
  • If you were charged for a flood, flood-gap or wind force-placed insurance policy on or after Dec. 1, 2011, you will receive seven percent of the net premium.
  • If you were charged for a flood, flood-gap or wind force-placed insurance policy between Apr. 8, 2009 and June 30, 2015, you will receive seven percent of the net premium.

Class Members who submit timely and valid claims will receive either a cash payment or a reduction in the amount they currently owe U.S. Bank.

CLICK HERE TO FILE A CLAIM »

The Claim Form deadline will be 60 days after the settlement becomes final. According to the settlement website, the Claim Form deadline will be no earlier than Aug. 12, 2016. However this date MAY be extended.

Philip Jackson, et al. v. U.S. Bank NA, et al., Case No. 1:14-cv-21252, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Claims Administrator

Claims Administrator
c/o Rust Consulting
P.O. Box 2469
Faribault, MN 55021-9169
1-877-877-0460

Class Counsel

Adam M. Moskowitz
KOZYAK TROPIN & THROCKMORTON PA

Aaron S. Podhurst
PODHURST ORSECK PA

Lance A. Harke
HARKE CLASBY & BUSHMAN LLP

Defense Counsel

Counsel for U.S. Bank:
Skip Durocher
DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP

Counsel for Assurant Defendants:
Frank G. Burt
CARLTON FIELDS JORDEN BURT PA

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

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