June 6, 2011; Source: NPR | A Florida couple that paid cash for a bank-owned house back in 2009 sued that same bank the following year to recover $2,500 in legal fees they incurred while defending themselves against a wrongful foreclosure, and won a judgment in December 2010. When the bank failed to pay court-ordered fees after five months passed, the couple went one step further. They initiated foreclosure proceedings on the bank, and they finally got justice in Collier County Court.
The couple received a “writ of execution,” which is permission to seize assets to satisfy a debt. Last week, the aggrieved Maureen Nyerges pulled up to her Bank of America branch bank in Naples, Florida. She was accompanied by the sheriff and a moving van, prepared to take possession office equipment, furniture and till cash of sufficient value to settle the debt. After a tense hour, the bank cut a check for more than double the amount owed to stave off the moving crew.
It’s unfortunate that the bank involved here is Bank of America, which has been a particularly innovative community development partner through its Community Reinvestment Act activity. At the same time, wrongful foreclosure is a huge industry-wide scandal. There’s no excuse for any bank being unable to keep its financial records straight, nor to treat customers so poorly. If bank partners or customers need to use a heavy hand to enforce their rights to accurate financial services, more power to them. Turnabout is fair play.—Kathi Jaworski