A former Chicago resident whose home is in foreclosure has filed a lawsuit against Fisher and Shapiro LLC, the law firm that admitted to Cook County Circuit Court that some of the mortgage foreclosures it handled contained altered documents.
The suit, filed in federal court in Chicago Monday, seeks class-action status and comes three months after the court’s Chancery division temporarily halted more than 1,700 mortgage foreclosure cases as a result of the law firm’s admission. Upon further review by the court, the number of cases that was temporarily stayed grew to 2,127.
The Special Process Server in the Mortgage Foreclosure Action was
purportedly appointed pursuant to the Administrative Order. The purported
appointment took place before Defendant initiated the Mortgage Foreclosure
Action. The purported appointment violated Section 2O2 and was, therefore,
ineffective, unlawful and void.
Today the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago will file complaints against several defendants regarding some of the private-label mortgage-backed securities (MBS) they sold us between 2005 and 2007. We contend that the quality of the loans that comprise the pools of securities cited in today’s complaints was inconsistent with the description in the pre-purchase documents prepared by the underwriters and issuers of the securities.
Relying on the pre-purchase documents, we invested in these securities with the understanding that we were purchasing higher-quality instruments than turned out to be the case. After careful consideration, we have concluded that we have an obligation to you, our members, to do everything we can to recover the value lost from investing in these securities.
The lawsuits were filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois; the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles; and the Superior Court of Washington, King County. The complaints allege the defendants made material misstatements and omitted important information in connection with the sale of these securities. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis also filed similar complaints today. The Federal Home Loan Banks of Pittsburgh, Seattle, and San Francisco have previously filed similar lawsuits.
As we have discussed in prior member letters and SEC filings, and at the regional member meetings, the value of our private-label MBS portfolio has suffered dramatically. The securities listed in today’s complaints totaled more than $4.3 billion in face value and were all rated AAA when we purchased them. Since then, the same credit agencies that supplied the original ratings have downgraded substantially all of these securities to junk status. Proper accounting of our estimated credit losses on these securities has resulted in a total of $455 million in write-downs that have negatively impacted our income, our retained earnings, and our ability to restore a dividend.
In summary, we are only taking these actions out of the belief that it would be irresponsible not to explore every available option to recover the value lost to our members.
Matthew R. Feldman
President and CEO
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
(Originally published 7/22/10 at 5:20 p.m.) Chicagoan Rich Gregory figured it was only a matter of time before he’d hear from his bank after falling behind on his second mortgage. But when he was summonsed to foreclosure court in 2008, he realized his bank wasn’t interested in negotiating.
Gregory noticed something “goofy” about the summons. Attached to it was a copy of the server’s credentials, issued on the letterhead of former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Morgan Finley, a man convicted of extortion and ousted from office more than two decades earlier. “I thought, ‘This guy’s not licensed. He’s not authorized to do it,” Gregory said.
Turns out that Cook County Judge Dorothy Kinnaird, who oversees the Chancery Division, issued a court order in June 2007, allowing lenders and servicers to sidestep the Cook County Sheriff’s office and hire private agencies to deliver foreclosure summons. The idea was to free up a flood of new foreclosure cases. Lawmakers had toyed with the idea decades earlier. Ultimately, they decided that having a neutral party – primarily the Sheriff’s office – delivering court documents would avert the sort of conflict that’s brewing in the Cook County court system. Homeowners are now challenging the legitimacy of their summonses, and some are saying that they were never called to court to plead their case.
We hear that a lawsuit is coming down to challenge the court’s use of special process servers.
As far as Marty Stack, legal council to the Sheriff’s office is concerned, these questionable summonses could threaten the legitimacy of potentially thousands of local foreclosure cases. “Basically, all of these people could come back to vacate their case,” Stack said. “The judge has no right to take away their due process.”