Archive for February 10th, 2011

Agreed Order GRANTING a Motion to Dismiss

One of my biggest frustrations as a foreclosure defense attorney is having meritorious motions to dismiss denied by judges who come out and admit the motion is well-taken but deny the motion anyway because “the foreclosure crisis necessitates that cases be moved along,” or words to that effect.  One of the biggest battles I’ve fought in recent years is to fight this dynamic, continuing to educated Florida judges about the legal arguments that necessitate dismissal of inadequate foreclosure complaints. 

In recent weeks, I’ve really felt like Stopa Law Firm (myself and my bright associate, Philip Healy) have been making headway, not just with the judges, but opposing counsel as well.  Today, for instance, one of the big foreclosure firms called to say they wanted to cancel the upcoming hearing on our Motion to Dismiss and agree to entry of an Order granting the motion.  This has happened a few times, actually, in recent weeks, and this is a great sign. 

Here’s the Agreed Order Granting Motion to Dismiss that we’ve submitted to the Court for execution.

Mark Stopa

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Fannie Mae Fires Another Foreclosure Mill

Want more proof that banks are engaged in repeated, ongoing, and systemic fraud on unsuspecting homeowners, the court system, and the public at large?  Fannie Mae has terminated Ben-Ezra & Katz, P.A. from representation in all foreclosure cases in Florida.  Although Ben-Ezra & Katz dismissed its misconduct as “technical paperwork problems,” Fannie Mae’s decision to fire the foreclosure mill is a pretty obvious indication there’s more to it than that.  In the words of Fannie Mae, Ben-Ezra & Katz was not acting “in strict compliance with proper procedures, ethical codes of conduct and legal requirements.”

Is it just me, or is it totally perverse that the misconduct is so egregious that Fannie Mae is forced to admit it yet nobody else (the courts, the judges, the Florida Attorney General, the Florida Bar, etc.) is concluding similarly or invoking any sanction for this admitted misconduct?    

Fannie Mae is admitting its own lawyers acted improperly in foreclosure cases, so much so they were terminated.  Where is the sanction? 

If I walked into a bank tomorrow and stole money, I’m pretty sure I’d get arrested.  Yet somehow big banks can steal from homeowners in a widespread, systemic basis and there is no penalty, no sanction, no nothing.  Am I the only one appalled here? 

By the way, I’ve litigated countless cases against Ben-Ezra & Katz and all the other foreclosure mills and I’ve seen basically no difference in how they all operate.  In my view, if Ben-Ezra is “in strict compliance with proper procedures, ethical codes of conduct and legal requirements,” then the other foreclosure mills aren’t, either.  If anyone thinks I’m wrong, I’d love to see documentation or other proof illustrating how Ben-Ezra is different from all the rest.  I don’t see it. 

Here’s the article, courtesy of Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post. 

Federal mortgage giant Fannie Mae has cut ties with a second South Florida law firm handling its foreclosure cases, requiring an immediate transfer of those files to other attorneys and likely causing more turmoil in the state’s foreclosure courts.  The termination of its relationship with the Fort Lauderdale firm of Ben-Ezra & Katz, P.A. was announced today in a notice to loan servicers. The notice says payments to the firm should be stopped immediately and gives servicers a Feb. 15 deadline to find new firms to handle the Ben-Ezra & Katz files.

“Fannie Mae has become aware of certain document execution issues at the Ben-Ezra law firm regarding its processing of foreclosure cases on our behalf,” said Fannie Mae spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus.  “It is our expectation that law firms will handle matters in strict compliance with proper procedures, ethical codes of conduct and legal requirements.”

Ben-Ezra & Katz has represented banks in 508 Palm Beach County foreclosure cases in the past two years where the homes were ordered to auction.  In a statement, Ben-Ezra & Katz said it was disappointed and surprised by Fannie Mae’s decision, and that the issues Fannie Mae is referring to were technical paperwork problems that the firm is correcting.

“When problems of foreclosure files surfaced last fall, we hired an outside law firm to conduct an audit of our processes and procedures,” the statement said. “It is ironic that in trying to make sure we were doing everything correctly, we reached this position with Fannie Mae.”  The move by Fannie Mae follows its November firing of David J. Stern’s Plantation-based law firm, which is one of four so-called “foreclosure mills” under investigation by the Florida attorney general’s office.  Ben-Ezra & Katz is not one of those firms, nor was it included in a more recent attorney general query of three additional firms regarding their foreclosure practices.

Mark Stopa

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