While we spend a lot of time on here discussing big picture issues, in many cases, our client’s arguments rest on violations of state law.
In Utah, for example, only attorneys and title companies may actually conduct a foreclosure sale. This is explicitly set forth in Utah’s Code, and has been on the books since 2001.
Silly little things like the law have not stopped ReconTrust, Bank of America’s foreclosure arm, from conducting thousands of foreclosures in the state over the past 10 years, however.
Unfortunately, there was no specific relief set forth in the Code for violations of the statute listed above. Naturally, this left homeowners who had just been foreclosed on and evicted from their homes to bear the burden of finding an attorney who even knew anything about foreclosure law, pay the money to hire said attorney to fight their case, and then try and win a lawsuit. Put simply, it did not happen.
Luckily, this year the Utah Legislature finally put some teeth in the law and provided for specific relief to Utah homeowners who had been illegally foreclosed upon. Now, Utah law provides for actual damages or $2000 (whichever is greater) and attorneys fees to any homeowner who can show the trustee was not allowed to conduct the sale.
Despite this, Bank of America has continued to thumb their nose at the homeowners, legislature and attorney general of Utah and continued to foreclose under their ReconTrust arm.
Good news out of the United States District Court for the District of Utah came last month when Judge Dee Benson denied Bank of America’s request to dismiss a lawsuit claiming violation of Utah law. He disagreed with Bank of America’s argument that they are exempt from Utah law because they are a National Bank, and allowed the matter to continue on. The case is Coleman v. ReconTrust, No. 2:10-cv-1099.
This is significant for Utah homeowners, and should embolden them to come forward and pursue claims against Bank of America, ReconTrust, and any other company breaking Utah law, knowing they may receive damages as well as attorneys fees as a result.