I have a case pending in Federal District Court in Philadelphia against Bank of America (the servicing bank) and HSBC (HSBC controls the trust that holds my client’s mortgage). The basis of the lawsuit is that the banks lied to my client when they told him that he should let his loan go into default if he wanted a loan modification. As crazy as this may sound, this is a technique used by the banks over that last couple of years. Of course, this sets up a homeowner for a foreclosure lawsuit. This all happened before he retained me, and as luck would have it, my client did exactly what the bank told him to do—he went into default and the bank filed a foreclosure action against him in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

I filed a lawsuit for fraud and promissory estoppel (i.e., my client relied on the bank’s statement that he should go into default). The bank filed a motion to dismiss our lawsuit, claiming that it was not reasonable for my client to rely on such a promise.

At oral argument on February 14, 2013, it was clear that this was the first time that the Federal Court judge became aware that the bank engaged in tactics like this. Since most foreclosure-based lawsuits are filed in the state courts, this is not surprising. For a good part of the hearing, which lasted about an hour, I felt as if I was educating the Court about 1) the bank practices which led to the housing crisis and 2) the ridiculousness of the loan modification process. Instead of issuing an opinion, the judge ordered Bank of America to look into settling the entire matter, which would include withdrawing the foreclosure complaint and providing a loan modification.

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