‘People Should Be Going to Prison’: Ocwen to Pay $11M, but Florida Lawyers Say That’s Not Enough
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(L to R) Ashley Moody Florida attorney general, Bruce Jacobs, Jacobs Legal and Roy Oppenheim Oppenheim Law (Photos: J. Albert Diaz/ALM, Courtesy Photo)
Lawyers who litigated against the company in separate cases criticized the agreement as weak.
“While residential foreclosures are at a temporary lull due to federal moratoriums, these moratoriums, just like Florida’s, will come to a halt by this year’s end. Then we shall see a spike in new foreclosure filings starting by the second quarter of 2021. All I can say is with the lax enforcement as evidenced by the latest Florida Ocwen settlement one should not expect the bank’s to have learned anything from the last decade foreclosure crisis. In fact, besides being emboldened, the only thing the banks have learned is the Golden Rule: He who holds the gold, continues to rule and that the legal and judicial system will look the other way to expediently allow foreclosures to rip through the system regardless of improprieties and social economic ramifications.” – Roy Oppenheim
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Bridget Berry, a partner at Greenberg Traurig in West Palm Beach who represents Ocwen Financial in the case, did not respond to a request for comment.
Read the proposed final consent judgment:
Jacobs is litigating against Ocwen in a separate case, in which he was preparing a motion to strike objections, and for sanctions against Ocwen, when news of the proposed final consent judgment was released.
Jacob is preparing to cite to a 2019 Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruling, Carvelli v. Ocwen Fin. Corp., in which the court noted that Ocwen’s software was incapable of tracking borrowers’ accounts and payments, including interest and late fees, for up to “90% of the loans in the system.”
‘Add one or two zeros’
Another foreclosure defense lawyer is also unhappy with the news.
Roy Oppenheim, co-founder and senior partner of Oppenheim Law in Boca Raton, who has also had cases against Ocwen, said the proposed final consent judgment does not provide any evidentiary foundation for individual plaintiffs to take action.
“All the work the government did, lawyers can’t use for any kind of discovery,” Oppenheim said. “If they built a trough of information like against big tobacco, where you can go in and get that information and use it in a lawsuit, that’s great. But that’s not what happened.”
Oppenheim argued the millions of dollars in penalties paid by Ocwen were insufficient to compensate Floridians who were adversely affected by the type of alleged misconduct committed by the nonbank mortgage servicing company, including the vague information provided about debt forgiveness through loan modification agreements.
“You have to add one or two zeros to everything,” Oppenheim said. “If an average mortgage is $300,000, they’re going to give debt relief to three people in the state of Florida? Or are they going to knock off $30,000 from 100 peoples’ mortgages?”