The following is not a reality show; rather, it is a true story that highlights the worst of the financial crisis.
Erik and Renee Sundquist reached a settlement with Bank of America where the bank has agreed to pay them $6 million after eight grueling years of foreclosure. The Sundquist family endured a stress-induced heart attack and a suicide attempt, and a “long personal and legal nightmare that has impacted every facet of their and their sons’ lives,” according to court papers.
Being no stranger to fines, penalties, and settlements for wrongdoing, Bank of America has paid nearly $60 billion since the 2008 financial crisis for violations including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, and misconduct.
When It Rains, It Pours
Events began to unfold in 2008 when the couple took out a mortgage made by Countrywide Financial, which was later acquired by Bank of America. The family sought a modification, at which time a Bank of America representative told them that they needed to miss three payments and default before their mortgage could be modified.
Despite knowing that this would damage their credit score, the couple proceeded with bank’s advice and defaulted. However, the bank rejected more than 20 modification requests, claiming that the applications were “stale”, incomplete, insufficient, and even “lost”. Despite the Sundquists’ subsequent bankruptcy filing, Bank of America proceeded with the planned foreclosure auction, violating the automatic stay.
Realizing it was in violation of the automatic stay, Bank of America reinstated the family as title holders without notifying them. When the family moved back in, they discovered their home had been vandalized, and that there was a $20,000 fine from their HOA for failing to keep up with the landscaping.
The end of a “state of battle-fatigued demoralization”
This entire ordeal is cited as the cause of Renee Sundquist’s heart attack and Erik’s attempted suicide, leading to what the judge described as a “state of battle-fatigued demoralization”. The judge awarded the couple $6 million in damages, and also awarded several legal organizations that helped fight the financial abuse an astounding $40 million in punitive damages.
The Sundquists’ legal nightmare is over. Unfortunately, the Sundquists had to pay the price for reprehensible and unlawful conduct that no one should ever have to endure.
From the trenches,