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Discovery in Foreclosure Actions

Posted by Neil Garfield | April 9, 2018

Discovery is more complex than lay people realize. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in court. Our paralegal, Connie Lasco, saw the problems and forwarded the request for service to me for comment.

Here is an example of my comments to one homeowner who is defending her home pro se. She is asking us to do a motion to compel — based upon her filing of a request for production.

We do provide those services. But there were certain prerequisites that were unknown to her. My response should assist lawyers and pro se litigants in considering the discovery demands and the the usual “answers” from the banks and servicers.

Hawaii is one of the many jurisdictions that require “meet and confer” before allowing a motion to compel to be heard. That means that the proponent of the discovery requests calls the opposing attorney and schedules a telephone conference in which the parties meet and confer regarding objections that were raised and answers that were insufficient.

I always recommend that a careful and complete Journal be started and maintained with respect to all contact with opposing counsel. You may need assistance from us in reviewing your demand for discovery, reviewing the response, and suggesting the specific questions you will ask of opposing counsel. You should also have an understanding as to why you are saying that response was inadequate or the objection was inappropriate. You should treat the “meet and confer” as having the same priority as a prospective hearing on a motion to compel.

The usual procedure in discovery is as follows:

  1. Initial discovery should basically track the pleadings. In a judicial state that means seeking discovery that allegedly supports the allegations in the foreclosure complaint and seeking discovery that supports the denials and affirmative defenses (and possibly counterclaim). In a nonjudicial (“Power of Sale”) state it means the same thing but in reverse — the complaint in those states is filed by the homeowner instead of the bank and it is the bank that serves answers and affirmative defenses to the claim of the homeowner, as alleged in the complaint.

  2. Initially a package of discovery is served upon the opposing party.

  3. This includes interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admission.

  4. You have only served a request for production

  5. Interrogatories and requests for admission generally ask for responses as to factual events and possibly legal “contention.”

  6. The request for production should generally track the interrogatories and requests for admission. In most foreclosure cases the responses on all three discovery tools are generally inconsistent with one another. This is a double-edged sword. Opposing counsel and the client seeking foreclosure will intentionally provide inconsistent answers in order to obfuscate the real answers. But the homeowner can use the inconsistent answers as the basis for a motion to compel.

  7. A motion to compel responses to a request for production without including interrogatories and requests for admission opens the door for arguments from opposing counsel that might otherwise be closed.

  8. It is extremely important and often overlooked that the homeowner and propounding discovery demands uses language that could be interpreted as an admission against interest. This is why I have repeatedly recommended that all discovery demands be carefully reviewed. As one example, homeowner should avoid assuming that any document, assertion or allegation from the foreclosing party is authentic, valid or true. It is better to say “transaction” then to refer to a “mortgage” or “loan” or “note.”

 

 

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"CFLA was founded by the Nation's Leading Foreclosure Defense Attorneys back in 2007 to serve the Foreclosure Defense Industry and fight pervasive Bank Fraud. Since opening our virtual doors, CFLA has rapidly expanded to become the premier online legal destination for small businesses and consumers. But as the company continues to grow, we're careful to hold true to our original vision. For us, putting the law within reach of millions of people is more than just a novel idea–it's the founding principle, just ask Andrew P. Lehman, J.D.. With convenient locations in Houston and Los Angeles, you can contact Our National Account Specialist and General Manager / Member Damion W. Emholtz at 888-758-CFLA (2352) for a free Mortgage Fraud Analysis or to obtain samples of work product, including cutting edge Bloomberg Securitization Audits, Litigation Support, Quiet Title Packages, and for more information about our Nationally Accredited and U.S. Department of Education Approved "Mortgage Securitization Analyst Training Certification" Classes (3 days) 24 hours for approved CLE & MCLE Credit (Now Available Online)".

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