Federal judge rules Bank of America hurt Jacksonville couple, must pay $204,000
This is a jacksonville.com article.
A Jacksonville federal judge has issued a sharp critique of Bank of America in a case involving a Jacksonville couple where the bank mishandled court filings and began a years-long process of trying to collect a non-existent debt and falsely filing for foreclosure.
Bank of America ruined their retirement, Deborah and Ronald Goodin testified, and it may have ruined their marriage, too.
The Goodins, like many American families, made a bad business decision just as the Great Recession began. By 2009, they filed for bankruptcy. They never missed a payment into a bankruptcy trust that was supposed to take care of their mortgage.
But then a year after taxpayers gave Bank of America a $45 billion bailout, that bank took over the mortgage from another lender in August 2009, and Bank of America, which handles trillions of dollars of deposits, failed to file a routine legal motion that would give it access to the bankruptcy trust.
Instead, the Goodins kept paying some $1,200 every month to the bankruptcy court. They finished their bankruptcy plan by December. The money Bank of America wanted was sitting in a trust that the bank could access if only it filed a routine document.
By October 2010, the bank told the Goodins they were in default.
The Goodins went to a branch office, and the bank wouldn’t accept a payment.
They sent a certified letter to the bank CEO and never received a response.
They called, and they called again.
Thirteen times they tried to tell the bank what happened.
In December 2011, the bank told the Goodins to pay $15,900 or face foreclosure. The next day, the bank increased the amount.
It refused to accept six checks the Goodins had offered and it gave the wrong amount owed 15 times.
Anxiety sickened Deborah Goodin, she testified in court. She felt like she couldn’t breathe, she said. She couldn’t hold down food. She resorted to baby food, she said.
They couldn’t afford insurance, she said, so she couldn’t go to a doctor.
“I was really, really, really scared,” she told the bank’s attorney.
“It’s been a pure living hell,” Ronald Goodin testified.
A bank representative testified that he knew of no procedure to fix or investigate complaints from customers.
“The bank knew,” Judge Timothy Corrigan wrote, “it was seeking to enforce a debt greater than that actually owed.”
The judge ruled the problems may have occurred because the bank is too big.
Now, Corrigan ruled, the bank must pay the Goodins $204,000,.
“The tumult of receiving repeated erroneous communications from the Bank, their inability to get anybody at the bank to listen to them, their feelings of loss of control and the very real fear of losing their home combined to create a very stressful situation,” Corrigan wrote. “The Bank employees were inattentive, unconcerned and haphazard in their repeated and prolonged mishandling of the Goodins’ loan. … With their home at stake, the Goodins might as well have been talking to a brick wall.”
Andrew Pantazi: (904) 359-4310
Piggybankblog Courtroom Bailiff: “All rise! .The Honorable Judge John Wright has left the Courtroom of Public Opinion!”