Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bank Backs Down On Alleged Intimidation In Foreclosure Action; White Shoe Law Firm's Naming Of Fraud Expert's Son In Suit Viewed As Act Of Retaliation

The Huffington Post reports:
  • Deutsche Bank has dropped the son of high-profile foreclosure fraud investigator Lynn Szymoniak from the foreclosure case against her, according to new court documents. The bank had added Szymoniak's son, Mark Cullen, to the foreclosure suit this May, a move that many experts saw as an act of retaliation against Szymoniak, who has publicized banks' widespread use of forged signatures in the foreclosure process to improperly give borrowers the boot. On June 8, lawyers filed a "Notice of Dropping Party" with the Florida court dismissing its previous claims against Cullen.


  • When the bank refiled [a previously-thrown out foreclosure action against Szymoniak], her son, Mark Cullen, had been named a party to the lawsuit, creating a blight on his legal record and a major hassle for the family. Independent foreclosure attorneys accused the bank of attempting to intimidate Szymoniak's family and retaliating against Szymoniak for her public activism.


  • [Mortgage servicer] American Home declined to comment after the new court documents were filed, but a spokesperson told HuffPost earlier that the decision to include Szymoniak's son in the refiled lawsuit was not an act of retaliation. Instead, they said at the time they believed him to be a tenant who could have a secondary claim to the home. He was named in the foreclosure suit, American Home said, to make sure that he couldn't come back and press legal claims against American Home if his mother is later evicted.
  • But Szymoniak's son, Mark Cullen, has not lived there for seven years, Szymoniak said. He is a graduate student in poetry at the New School in New York, a fact that any cursory inquiry by American Home's lawyers could have detected.


  • When Szymoniak challenged the foreclosure, the bank brought in Florida corporate law behemoth Akerman Senterfit & Eidson. It wasn't the notoriously sloppy foreclosure mill adding Szymoniak's son to the case -- it was an expensive team of corporate law experts.
  • That fact reinforced the impression among Florida foreclosure attorneys that the decision to add Szymoniak's son to the mortgage was an act of intimidation. Akerman did not respond to phone calls for comment but conferred with American Home prior to the mortgage servicer's interactions with HuffPost.

For the story, see Bank Drops Legal Pressure On Foreclosure Fraud Expert's Family.