Posted 1:45 PM 01/26/11
Lee County, Florida has become infamous for speeding foreclosure cases through its courts. The super-charged system — or “rocket docket” — can dispense with a foreclosure case in minutes, sometimes mere seconds. In the interests of speed, the courts have even refused requests for delay from foreclosing banks to get their papers in order and exempted banks from rules that apply to others.
Indeed, earlier this month Lee County Judge James Thompson denied a bank’s request to delay a foreclosure so it could try to complete a short sale under the government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program. A HAFA short sale was presumably in the bank’s interest, which is why it requested the delay, and it certainly was in the homeowner’s interest, as the program would protect the homeowner from having to pay the roughly $200,000 difference between the mortgage and the short sale price. Whose interests does Judge Thompson’s order serve?
Florida’s “rocket docket” has been suggested as a reason why so many banks are now voluntarily dismissing Florida banks just aren’t ready to go forward. Those voluntary dismissals have two negative consequences for the banks, so surely they wouldn’t undertake them lightly. The first is that the banks will have to pay new filing fees, some $2,000 per case. (The banks can recoup the costs from the proceeds of an eventual foreclosure sale.) The second is that banks can only do a voluntary dismissal once; if they file again and have to dismiss the case for some reason, it will be with prejudice.
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