Victory for Consumer Debtors in Kentucky: Ocwen Bullied Debtors Into Forbearance Agreements

From the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Centerblog:

  • In a victory for consumer debtors, the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky disallowed Ocwen’s proof of claim for late fees and charges, and awarded judgment, including punitive damages in the amount of $25,000.00, in favor of the debtor due to Ocwen’s “gross reckless[ness]” in accounting and servicing her mortgage.In re Tolliver, No. 09-21742, Adv. Proc. No. 09-2076 (Bankr. E.D. Ky. July 19, 2012).

    In reaching its decision, the court held Ocwen’s feet to the fire demanding adequate explanation of Ocwen’sconvoluted and contradictory accounting records. After finding Ocwen’s explanations just as slippery and unreliable as the records themselves, the court turned to the expert testimony of Margot Saunders from the National Consumer Rights Center.

    She sifted through the dust heap and offered the only reliable evidence as to the history of the loan, revealing a litany of mismanagement including collecting “unsubstantiated interest arrearage balance,” and “systematically assessing late charges, fees and costs in complete disregard of the terms of the [loan documents.]”

    Ocwen’s attempt to justify the charges with evidence of forbearance agreements was roundly rejected. The court found the debtor had been “bullied” into signing those agreements by repeated false representations that the debtor was in default and that foreclosure was imminent even though she had completely paid off the underlying loan.

    Ocwen’s outrageous conduct was found to violate state common laws including breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fraud.

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