Archive for November 16th, 2010

PNC reviewing its foreclosure procedures – so what?

At this point, we’ve all seen stories in the media about various banks halting or suspending its foreclosure procedures in the wake of news reports about foreclosure fraud, fraudulent affidavits, and robo-signers.  In my practice, these stories are just that – stories – and there is little if anything different on the “ground level” for foreclosure defense attorneys such as myself.  In other words, cases proceed forward, as normal, despite the purported “moratoriums” by banks such as BofA and GMAC.

Today, though, I received this Motion_for_Temporary_Stay in a case where PNC Bank is the Plaintiff.  It’s quite unique, as I can’t recall seeing a motion like it.  In the motion, PNC asks that the Court stay (i.e. halt or suspend) the foreclosure lawsuit through the end of November, 2010 “to allow time for the completion of a review of its mortgage servicing procedures,” a review that PNC notes was “commenced following nationwide reports of certain industry-wide deficiencies in the preparation of affidavits submitted in foreclosure proceedings.”  PNC goes on to say that it “intends to take all necessary steps to ensure that the documentation provided in connection with foreclosure proceedings, including this one, meets all applicable legal requirements.” 

So … what do I make of this motion?  Honestly, not much.   This motion has essentially no impact on this case (or any other).  Candidly, it seems silly to me that PNC would take the time to file a motion asking for a two-week stay.  Did PNC really think my client was going to try to aggressively litigate this case in the next two weeks?  Let’s put it this way – lots of lawsuits (in and out of the foreclosure arena) lie dormant for two weeks or more as a matter of routine.  Even aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys often have two-week periods with little activity in a particular file.  Hence, in my view, PNC could have gone about this “review” process without filing anything at all (and nobody, including me, would have known any different or been affected in the slightest way).  The question thus becomes – why is PNC filing these motions?  Why is PNC paying its lawyers to file motions alerting attorneys like me (not to mention the public) that it is reviewing its foreclosure procedures?  Is it just me, or does something smell here?

You may think I’m being overly harsh.  After all, I suppose it’s a good thing that PNC is reviewing its procedures and is (apparently) trying to prosecute foreclosure cases the right way.  That said, this feels to me like a public relations stunt.  I mean … how much of a review can PNC really do in two weeks?  And even if it finds something wrong, is it really going to admit as much (particularly on files where the foreclosures have already been concluded)? 

It’s nice that PNC says it’s reviewing its foreclosure proceedings.  But let me know when a bank takes the time to do a comprehensive review, makes widespread changes to the process, and/or actually admits it did something wrong – that’s when I’ll take notice.  Unfortunately, a motion like this seems like nothing more than a public relations stunt.

Mark Stopa

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