Dramatic Victory Over Wells Fargo Bank



Within the last week, Consumer Litigation Law Center prevailed in court in dramatic fashion against corporate behemoth Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. by obtaining a judge’s order preventing the bank from proceeding with an unlawful foreclosure sale of our clients’ home.

Our clients, an elderly couple who were in desperation to stop the imminent sale of their home, sought our legal representation to stand in the way of Wells Fargo’s callous and unlawful march toward foreclosure with a mere few days remaining until the scheduled sale date. Despite the fact that our clients had been seeking reasonable alternatives to foreclosure by submitting to Wells Fargo a loan modification application which evidenced a significant change in their financial circumstances, Wells Fargo blatantly disregarded their good-faith application and refused to postpone or cancel the pending sale.

With a mere few days left before the sale, Consumer Litigation Law Center immediately filed a lawsuit against the bank and also filed an ex parte application for a Temporary Restraining Order to be heard in front of the judge on the very morning in which the sale was set to take place. After reviewing our motion and after hearing arguments, the judge granted our motion and ordered Wells Fargo to halt the foreclosure sale, saving our clients home with only an hour remaining before the scheduled sale.

Through motion and argument, we made the case that under the Homeowner Bill of Rights, California Civil Code section 2923.6(g) provides that the mortgage servicer cannot proceed with foreclosure while a borrower is in loan modification review with a complete loan modification application submitted. But, the loan servicer shall not be obligated to evaluate applications from borrowers who have already been evaluated or afforded a fair opportunity to be evaluated for a first lien loan modification unless there has been a material change in the borrower’s financial circumstances since the date of the borrower’s previous application and that change is documented by the borrower and submitted to the mortgage servicer. Given that our clients had already provided Wells Fargo with a loan modification application evidencing a material change in their financial circumstances, the judge agreed that Wells Fargo’s attempt to sell the property was unlawful and in direct violation of California statutory law.

While Consumer Litigation Law Center has achieved hundreds of similar successes against all major banking institutions, this victory was particularly dramatic given the blatant statutory violations by Wells Fargo and the literal ticking clock that we were up against.


Bank Negligence



Until very recently, borrowers had no way to hold banks accountable for their most common complaint - lost documents, missing documents, losing the same documents over and over, and failing to communicate with borrowers. This common fact pattern is called negligence and applies to a variety of situations in different areas of the law, but did not apply in the loan modification review context because lenders owed no duty of care to borrowers. A claim for negligence requires that the defendant (in this case a lender or loan servicer): (1) owe a duty of care to the plaintiff (here, the borrower), (2) that the lender did not act with the required amount of care, and (3) that the lender's failure to exercise due care caused the borrower harm.

Previously, borrowers could not state claims for negligence against their lenders for errors and mistakes in loan modification review because the banks owed no duty of care to the borrower. Essentially, the banks could lose documents, ask for the same documents over and over, fail to communicate with the borrower, and provide misinformation without any consequences.

But in a case called Alvarez v BAC Home Loans Servicing LP decided in August 2014, a California court first held that a bank did owe a duty to review loan modifications with at least some level of care. Consumer Litigation Law Center pioneered applying this new law of due care in federal court in California for the first time. In Segura v Wells Fargo Bank NA, CLLC's attorneys successfully argued that the bank was negligent in failing to review our client's loan modification application with any degree of due care. Wells Fargo attempted to argue that it owed our client no duty of care whatsoever in the loan modification review process but the federal court sided with CLLC and its client by allowing the negligence claim to move forward.

CLLC's successful advocacy has opened up a new forum for homeowners' rights in federal court. In the past, banks would try to get borrowers' lawsuits out of state court and into federal court, thinking that federal court would be more favorable. But now, thanks to CLLC's zealous advocacy, thorough research, and innovative arguments, homeowners can now state claims for negligence in the loan modification review process for the first time in federal courts in California.