Arbitration award against one of the nation’s largest mortgage loan servicers includes compensatory and punitive damages as well as the homeowner’s attorney’s fees.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Consumer lawyers Nick Wooten, Rusty A. Payton and Adam J. Feuer have obtained a substantial verdict for their client in a consumer fraud case against PHH Mortgage Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ocwen Financial Corporation. Ocwen denied the consumer loss mitigation and refused to follow Freddie Mac guidelines to assist homeowners going through a divorce.
The award is significant because it demonstrates that Ocwen / PHH has harmed thousands of divorcing homeowners by refusing them loss mitigation during divorce as a matter of corporate policy. Policy which directly conflicts with Ocwen / PHH’s obligations under Federal law and Freddie Mac guidelines.
“Our client was abused for nearly five years because Ocwen simply refuses to follow the law. Ocwen’s conduct maintains a long time trend of abusing homeowners and ignoring legal obligations. Ocwen engaged in tactics that made it impossible for our client to get the relief she was entitled to, eventually suing her for foreclosure in early 2018,” said Rusty A. Payton. “Ocwen then dangled an offer of help, received payments intended for loss mitigation only to later snatch the offer away. Ocwen mistreats divorcing borrowers in need of a loan modification. Our client is relieved that this long nightmare appears to be drawing to an end.”
“PHH’s unvarnished illegality strips divorcing consumers of their rights under Federal law. Divorcing couples have a right to loss mitigation and loan modifications in the name of the borrower retaining the home. PHH ignores and tramples on those rights. We were glad to help our client in this case but who knows how many thousands of homeowners have lost their home due to Ocwen’s abuse of divorcing borrowers.” said Nick Wooten, the lead trial attorney and a consumer lawyer with more than 25 years of experience trying similar cases against the nation’s largest mortgage servicers, including Ocwen. “At Ocwen / PHH, abusing and ignoring consumers’ rights is business as usual.”
After filing suit, the consumer agreed with Ocwen to arbitrate the dispute during the COVID pandemic in a binding arbitration through the American Arbitration Association hoping to achieve a quicker and more cost-effective resolution. The culmination of that process was a six and a half day arbitration hearing conducted by a JAMS Arbitrator who is a retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge.
In her award, the Arbitrator noted: “Corporate actions and indifference, when practiced to the harm of a targeted group, can easily be described as malicious. For Claimant, the actions of the loan modification process in December 2018 through June 2019 may not have begun as intentionally malevolent, but clearly evolved into deceit. Claimant’s request for punitive damages is supported by the record.”
The Arbitration final award was issued on September 29, 2022. The consumer has moved the United States district court to confirm the award and enter an enforceable money judgment.
“Ocwen’s counsel has represented that they will contest entry of judgment, at least in part, on the grounds that the arbitrator was guilty of misconduct or misbehavior, an allegation that is both baseless and repugnant to her reputation and the professional manner in which she conducted the hearing,” adds Payton.
“Matrimonial attorneys, divorcing spouses, and consumer lawyers should all be on the lookout for mortgage servicers denying divorcing couples loss mitigation This misconduct seems rampant today,” said Adam J. Feuer. “Homeowners who are experiencing similar deceptive or abusive conduct from their mortgage servicer should know that there are powerful tools available to hold these companies to account, and we are here to help.”
Wooten recently became head of consumer litigation for Austin, Texas based DC Law advocating for consumers with a national reach. Payton is the principal of Payton Legal Group and Feuer is the principal of Chicagoland Consumer Advocates. The trial team can be reached by calling 773-945-9880.
The case is Albeck v. PHH Mortgage Corp., No. 20-cv-07727, United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. Ocwen was represented at the hearing by attorneys Simon Fleischmann and Ryan Sawyer of Chicago’s Locke Lord LLP office. The Arbitrator’s award may be found at: Albeck Final Award.