Archive for June 22nd, 2012

The Essence of Foreclosure Defense

What is foreclosure defense all about?  Many have asked me that very question over the years, and I think I just found the perfect way to explain it … by showing what happened to me today.

I was at the Manatee County courthouse waiting for a trial to begin in a foreclosure case.  My client was very reasonable – he had offered to consent to foreclosure if the bank waived deficiency.  He was willing to walk away and move on with his life … he just didn’t want to owe additional money above and beyond losing the property.  But the bank refused, offering my client nothing and leaving us with no alternative but to go to trial.

As I was waiting for trial to begin, the following exchange took place:

Plaintiff’s counsel:  Do you want to consent to foreclosure judgment?

Me:  Why would I do that?  Are you giving a deficiency waiver?

Plaintiff’s counsel:  No.

Me:  Then no.

(A few minutes later…)

Me:  Will you voluntarily dismiss?  If you voluntarily dismiss then I won’t ask for fees.

Plaintiff’s counsel:  We aren’t dismissing.  Why should I be worried about your fees?

Me:  You’ll see.

(about 90 minutes later, after the case was tried…)

Judge:  I agree with Mr. Stopa.  I think the Plaintiff’s evidence is insufficient.  I will grant the motion for involuntary dismissal.

How does this show what foreclosure defense is all about?  Simple.  My client was very reasonable.  He was willing to walk away from this property – let the bank take it – if the bank waived its claim to deficiency.  He was willing to compromise, but the bank refused, so it left us with no alternative but to try the case.

Apparently, the bank and its lawyers arrogantly thought they didn’t need to compromise, as a foreclosure judgment was assured.  They were so arrogant they asked me to consent to judgment, even as they offered nothing in return.  But when the case got tried, they got kicked in the teeth – judgment for defendant, and now they’ll pay my fees, too.  Again.

So what is foreclosure defense, exactly?  Foreclosure defense is a bunch of lawyers, like myself, who fight for homeowners, trying to kick the banks in the teeth often enough that they finally get reasonable and offer fair settlements to homeowners facing foreclosure.

In other words, here’s how I summarize foreclosure defense …

How many times do I have to kick a bank in the face before it starts to make reasonable settlements with homeowners?

You want to offer my clients nothing and proceed to trial, banks?  Go ahead.  Just put your mouthpiece in first … or better yet, a helmet.

Mark Stopa

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