Court Sanctions Bank Foreclosure Attorneys for Skipping Trial Three Times
Since the days when the foreclosure crisis first started, one thing has been consistent: Banks and their attorneys don’t want to provide or produce evidence to homeowners trying to defend their case, and they will make every argument—even frivolous ones—to avoid doing so.
It’s one thing to abuse court resources and everyone’s time making foolish objections to producing evidence, but it’s a completely different thing to completely fail to show up to a court proceeding. But that’s exactly what a bank did in a case being defended by a Sarasota foreclosure defense attorney.
Bank Skips Trials
Taking abuse of the court system to a higher level, the bank in one foreclosure case failed to show up for a 2014 trial three times. Each time the homeowner’s attorney had to travel from Sarasota to the courthouse in Key West–almost 400 miles–only to learn there was no trial because the bank’s attorneys weren’t there.
The court awarded sanctions to the homeowner’s attorney (including travel costs) and dismissed the bank’s case. Naturally, the bank did not show up to the hearing awarding the fees to the homeowner.
However, the bank, not prepared to say that being a no-show for trial three times was wrong, asked the court to overturn the fee award and when that request was denied, the bank actually appealed the sanctions award.
Multiple Firms Represented the Bank
The bank’s problem may have been that there were two law firms representing the bank during the case. When one withdrew as counsel, the other may not have been aware of the pending trial dates, or which firm was responsible for what part of the foreclosure case.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. Sometimes, banks bring in separate attorneys to try the foreclosure cases when the law firm that originally filed the foreclosure isn’t equipped to handle trials.
Other times, law firms closed, or just didn’t have the capacity to handle the volume of foreclosure cases they would file during the height of the crisis. Law firms often did not even know who was responsible for representing a foreclosing bank’s interests.
On other occasions, the sheer volume of cases, and keeping up with hearings and deadlines on all of them was too much for one law firm to handle.
Often, it was the homeowner stuck in the middle of the confusion, as banks did not show for court dates, and when they did show, the attorneys did not have enough information about their own client to speak on behalf of the foreclosing bank.
Appellate Court Upholds Sanction Award
Here, the homeowner got some justice: The appellate court allowed the fee award (and the dismissal) against the bank, to stand. The appellate court reiterated the longstanding rule that the failure to abide by court orders, including those that set trial, can certainly result in having to pay the other side’s fees and costs.
At Jacobs Legal in Miami, we fight banks in trial. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation if you have a foreclosure case filed against you.