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Racketeering Lawsuit over Robo-Signing Can Proceed

troydoucet.com | May 18, 2015

Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled that a RICO lawsuit against Bank of America, its law firm, a law firm employee, and MERS could proceed.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) lawsuit could proceed against Bank of America, NA (“BANA”), Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), the law firm of Lerner Sampson and Rothfuss, and one of the law firm’s paralegals, for illegal robo-signing in an earlier state court foreclosure action.

The homeowner sued the four entities alleging that the law firm submitted a robo-signed mortgage assignment in an earlier foreclosure knowing that document was fraudulent. The lawsuit alleges that the law firm acted for BANA when it used that mortgage assignment to establish BANA’s ability to foreclose on the homeowner’s home, despite knowing the document was false. The lawsuit included multiple examples of this particular paralegal signing mortgage assignments on behalf of defunct companies, in what has become known as “robo-signing.”

During the foreclosure case, judgment had been taken against the homeowner without him realizing the problematic documents. Only after the homeowner retained Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., who brought the robo-signing to the court’s attention, did BANA and LSR vacate the judgment and dismiss the foreclosure. Bank of America dismissed on the eve of the paralegal, Shellie Hill, having to appear and give testimony under oath about the mortgage assignment.

After the foreclosure lawsuit was dismissed, the homeowner filed a federal lawsuit alleging several causes of action against all four parties. The district court judge initially dismissed the lawsuit, but today’s landmark decision by the federal court of appeals reinstated the most serious of the allegations. The lawsuit against BANA, MERS, LSR, and Ms. Hill will now continue under the federal racketeering statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law initially designed to prosecute mob activity.

 

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