“The mirage of promised mortgage modification lured the plaintiff debtors into a kafkaesque nightmare of stay-violating foreclosure and unlawful detainer, tardy foreclosure rescission kept secret for months, home looted while the debtors were dispossessed, emotional distress, lost income, apparent heart attack, suicide attempt, and post-traumatic stress disorder, for all of which Bank of America disclaims responsibility.” All too familiar.
How much in punitive damages is enough to punish unlawful conduct and deter its repetition? $45 million was one bankruptcy court’s opinion, in the case of a wrongful home foreclosure and eviction in knowing violation of the automatic stay.
The court described the plaintiff-debtors’ treatment by defendant Bank of America as Kafkaesque, and found their deeply emotional testimony (one of them attempted suicide during the ordeal) completely credible, awarding more than $1 million in actual damages for the loss of housing and emotional distress. The court also noted that Bank of America had repeatedly settled cases with federal and state regulators for hundreds of millions, and even billions, of dollars, in recognition of serious and repeated compliance failures, including some related directly Continue reading →
As I learned when reviewing an earlier draft, Fraud is meticulously researched and completely fascinating, with plenty of careful attention to law and regulatory structures. The book’s other virtues are well encapsulated by Kirkus:
“Balleisen casts a gimlet eye on the passing parade of hucksters and charlatans, peppering a narrative long on theory with juicy asides that build toward a comprehensive catalog of ‘Old Swindles in New Jargon’. . . . Ranging among the disciplines of history, economics, and psychology, Balleisen constructs a sturdy narrative of the many ways in which we have fallen prey to the swindler, and continue to do so, as well as of how American society and its institutions have tried to build protections against the con. But these protections eventually run up against accusations of violating ‘longstanding principles of due process,’ since the bigger the con, the more lawyers arrayed behind it.“—KirkusContinue reading →
If you are asking yourself ‘why are judges ruling against homeowners when they know the banks scammed them?’ Then you need to understand a judge’s most basic insight into the human condition is that it is impossible to con an honest man.* It is larceny lurking in the soul of its victim that is preyed upon. What does that mean?
The mortgage deals were too good to be true – but the homeowners believed it to be the truth… because they wanted it to be and it all boils down to making “easy” M-O-N-E-Y. Continue reading →
I recently stumbled onthis excellent compendium of more than 300 books on the financial crisis. It also includes a list of 25 or so books that predicted the crisis, as well as a useful link to an annotated list of individuals who can be given credit for predicting various aspects of the crisis. [This is terrific reference material. Be sure to bookmark. DC Ed.] Continue reading →