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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on May 22, 2013

  • “Robo-litigation”: ethical issues of the mass-foreclosure mess [Dustin Zachs, SSRN, via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Roger Parloff on Chevron counterclaims against Patton Boggs [Fortune] “Judge Grudgingly Lets Donziger’s Lawyers Out Of Chevron Case” [Daniel Fisher; Reuters]
  • Should Australia dilute or abolish the “cab rank” rule? [John Flood via LEF]
  • “Ethical Limits on Civil Litigation Advocacy: A Historical Perspective” [Carol Andrews (Alabama), SSRN; Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “When Is a Demand Letter (Arguably) Extortion?” [John Steele, more, ABA Journal (Martin Singer demand letter threatening to expose target's sexual indiscretions]
  • Fifth Circuit denies Dickie Scruggs’s latest appeal [YallPolitics]
  • When crowdfunding meets litigation finance, watch out world [Richard Painter]
  • “Judge Orders Prenda Law Group Beamed Out Into Space” [Lowering the Bar, TechDirt]
  • “The Dodd-Frank Say-on-Pay Cases Are on the Brink of Death” [Kevin LaCroix]
  • Kevin Funnell of Bank Lawyers Blog interviewed [Crystal Gimesh via BLB]
  • How taxpayer lending props up business model of banks, fast-food franchisors [Dayton Daily News on SBA via Tad DeHaven]
  • Independent currency = money laundering? “How Bitcoin Dies” [Econ Policy Journal] Or death by trial lawyer? [Coyote, Andrew Sullivan]
  • Nose of the camel: Obama budget plans to limit IRAs to $3 million [Politico]
  • How Swiss bank secrecy protected freedom [Daniel Fisher]
  • Sure, what could go wrong? Obama push for more mortgage lending to borrowers with weaker credit [Gideon Kanner, Coyote] More: Arnold Kling testifies before Congress on housing finance, and feels a resulting “need to scream” [ASKBlog, more]
  • More: Per NYT’s expert, “Shareholders have been demanding” disclosure on corporate political spending. Well, 18% of shareholders anyway [Jim Copland]
  • After bank trespass, Occupy Philadelphia benefits from jury nullification and a cordial judge [Kevin Funnell]
  • Cato commentaries on Cyprus crisis [Steve Hanke and more, Dan Mitchell, Richard Rahn podcast]
  • “NY Court Reinstates Foreclosure, Chides Judge For `Robosigning’ Sanctions” [Daniel Fisher] “Impeding Foreclosure Hurts Homeowners As Well As Lenders” [Funnell]
  • SEC charging Illinois with pension misrepresentation? Call it a stunt [Prof. Bainbridge]
  • “Plaintiff Lawyers Seek Their Cut On Virtually All Big Mergers, Study Shows” [Fisher] As mergers draw suits, D&O underwriting scrutiny escalates [Funnell] “Courts beginning to reject M&A strike suits” [Ted Frank]
  • Will Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rules actually help folks in places like Congo? [Marcia Narine, Regent U. L. Rev. via Bainbridge, earlier here]
  • “Securities Lawyers Gave To Detroit Mayor’s Slush Fund”; city served as plaintiff for Bernstein Litowitz [Fisher]

John Carney, Daniel Fisher (more), Ira Stoll, David Henderson, and Jonathan Weil have some questions about it.

Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on January 14, 2013

  • But not before extracting $8.5 B: “Finding Little Evidence Of Foreclosure Fraud, Feds Give Up” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes; Kevin Funnell] Can Baltimore distinguish vindication from extortion? [Funnell]
  • Dear grandstanders in Congress and press: by law AIG’s board had to consider request to join bailout suit [Bainbridge, John Carney]
  • “Plaintiff Lawyers in Citigroup Case Seek Big Markup For Outside Attorneys” [Daniel Fisher, more, ABA Journal]
  • “Everyone knows” CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) lending was too small in volume to be a major factor in bubble. Is everyone right? [NBER paper, SSRN via Cowen, Tuccille]
  • Beware the CFPB’s Civil Investigative Demand (CID) power [Funnell, more]
  • “Investor class action system needs review – judge” [Nate Raymond, Reuters]
  • “Are the New Wave Say-on-Pay Lawsuits ‘Gaining Steam’?” [Kevin LaCroix]

Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on November 14, 2012

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Thanks to new federal banking and mortgage guidelines with $1-million-a-day penalties for noncompliance, banks are scrambling to fire any employee who has previously been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty. Among those tossed out: a bank employee with seven years’ service who used a slug in a washing machine in 1963, and a 58-year-old customer service representative with a shoplifting conviction forty years ago. A lawyer says thousands of employees have been fired under the new rules. [Des Moines Register/USA Today via ABA Journal]

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Financial roundup

by Walter Olson on August 21, 2012

  • New York plaintiff wanders the South looking for ATMs out of compliance with federal fee sticker regulation [Kevin Funnell, Bank Lawyers' Blog, earlier]
  • In the mail: Stephen Bainbridge, “Corporate Governance After the Financial Crisis” (Oxford, 2012), with blurb from NYT “Deal Professor” Steven Davidoff: “an important book for those seeking to understand the theoretical and practical implications of Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the federal government’s foray into corporate regulation.”
  • American lawprof understandably unpopular trying to defend FATCA to the Swiss [TaxProf, earlier here, etc.]
  • Bank is trustee for mortgage holders, says loan servicers are responsible: “LA Files Big-Bucks Suit Against ‘Slumlord’ US Bank, Blames Lender for Condition of Foreclosed Homes” [ABA Journal]
  • “Swiss Banks Face ‘Slow Death’ As Foreign Powers Chase Undeclared Assets” [Giles Broom, Bloomberg/Business Insider]
  • “A comprehensive list of hyperinflations in history” [Steve Hanke/Nicholas Krus, PDF, via Ian Vasquez, Cato]
  • Warning: regs could “wipe out community banking industry by end of this decade” [Cam Fine, ICBA via Iain Murray]

July 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 25, 2012

  • Town of Gold Bar, Wash. (pop. 2,100) brought to brink of bankruptcy by multiple lawsuits following political feuds; “We are going broke winning lawsuits,” says mayor [Monroe Monitor via ABA Journal]
  • “No one in Youngstown Ohio has a Swiss bank account…except maybe that big new Swiss employer in town?” [Matt Welch, earlier] William McGurn: FATCA and the IRS’s reach abroad [WSJ via TaxProf, earlier here, here] Politicians and lawyers demand “improvements” to IRS bounty-paid-informant program, but what if anything they improve may depend on your point of view [TaxProf, earlier]
  • A human rights professor endorses a new model of residential facility that comes with names like “Freedom Place.” But what’s that on the door — could it be a lock to prevent escape? [Maggie McNeill] Romney spokesman says he’ll smite smut, Gov. Gary Johnson takes a more libertarian view [Daily Caller]
  • New Mark Herrmann book on in-house lawyering [Victoria Pynchon, Scott Greenfield, Paul Karlsgodt]
  • Mortgage eminent-domain seizure plan raises serious constitutional concerns [Andrew Grossman, earlier here, here]
  • Central casting? Send over one “business basher,” please: Sidney Wolfe says $3 billion Glaxo settlement too lenient [CL&P, earlier]
  • Ted Frank pre-vets the possibilities for Romney VP [PoL] Romney’s law and legal policy team [Brian Baxter, AmLaw Daily]

July 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2012

  • Congress, HUD face off on “disparate impact” in housing and housing finance [WSJ edit, Clegg/NRO] Wells Fargo says it didn’t base loans on race but will pay $175 million to end federal probe [Reuters]
  • Maryland vs. Virginia: if only there were a government that was consistent about favoring liberty [John Walters, Maryland Public Policy Institute]
  • British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal levies $3000 against husband-and-wife owners of bed-and-breakfast who canceled reservation of gay couple based on religious objections [Religion Clause, The Province] UK: “‘Gay flatmate wanted’ ads break equality laws” [Telegraph] See our earlier coverage of the Ninth Circuit Roommate.com case here and here.
  • “Lifeguard fired for saving drowning person — outside his designated zone.” [NBC Miami via @commongood]
  • “Do you want to be informed about the constant, infuriating corporate welfare for professional sports owners? Follow FieldOfSchemes.com” [Matt Welch]
  • Negligent entrustment lawsuit against parents who let 33 year old daughter drive car yields $1.2 million in Tennessee [Knoxville News]
  • Pretrial and discovery: “New York state bar recommends federal litigation reforms” [Reuters]

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Prof. Bainbridge among others is blowing the whistle. For more, see Ira Stoll, Kevin Funnell, Steven Greenhut and related, Felix Salmon (role of Cornell lawprof Robert Hockett).

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June 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 25, 2012

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May 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 29, 2012

  • Congress again debates bad idea of race-based government for native Hawaiians [Ramesh Ponnuru, Ilya Shapiro/Cato; earlier here, etc.]
  • “I could have been killed for blogging.” [Patterico, Scott Greenfield] Latest blogger “swatting” (bogus police call) hits RedState’s Erick Erickson [same] Incivility is a hazard for bloggers, but fear for families’ physical safety shouldn’t be [Jonathan Adler, Amy Alkon] Dear authorities in Montgomery County, Md. and elsewhere: you should know it’s not every day Radley Balko calls for tougher law enforcement. Earlier here and here.
  • More dying from guns than from car crashes? Eugene Volokh skewers some misleading arguments from the Detroit Free Press;
  • Mississippi: Judge dismisses Dickie Scruggs’s motion to vacate bribery conviction [AP; Tom Freeland and more]
  • Washington Times kindly cites coverage in this space on Maryland “structuring” prosecutions [editorial]. Maryland delayed foreclosures and is now paying the price in slower housing recovery [Hayley Peterson, Examiner]
  • Andrew Pincus defends arbitration and SCOTUS decision in Concepcion [NYTimes "DealBook"; NLJ] Effort in Florida to ease use of arbitration in med-mal disputes [Miami Herald]
  • Michigan Supreme Court judge Diane Hathaway, elected via 2008′s most unfair attack ad, is now in a spot of ethical bother [Ted Frank]

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Kevin Funnell at Bank Lawyers Blog is a bit cynical about the Department of Justice’s headline-ready threats of enforcement action:

[The DOJ claims] appear to be based upon consumer advocates’ claims that the bank takes better care of foreclosed-upon real estate it owns in neighborhoods where white people live than it does in areas where minorities live. I suspect that the bank will assert that (a) any rational real estate owner is only going to invest money in a piece of real estate where the owner has a realistic chance of recouping that investment through a higher sales price, (b) that such recoupment decisions are made on a property-by-property basis based upon objective data like recent comparable sales prices and fair market valuations, (c) that the economic reality-driven facts of life are that many more such properties are located in majority-white neighborhoods than in minority neighborhoods, and (d) there has been no intent to discriminate, merely to minimize losses…. As we’ve previously noted, the DOJ is on a jihad against lenders based upon “disparate impact” theories that the DOJ knows, in its heart-of-hearts, are highly fragile when exposed to the light of logic, the kind of logic applied by the US Supreme Court. Justice will likely pursue Wells Fargo and try to squeeze some dough out of it before the highest court eventually shuts down this racket.

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A story about Bank of America suing itself in a foreclosure action got a bit of publicity recently, from sources like Credit Slips blogger and lawprof Alan White, but the snark was misplaced, says Kevin Funnell. Banks serve in various capacities in the real estate context and that makes such situations inevitable: “The bank is agent for the owner of the first lien loan and is also the owner, in its individual capacity, of the second lien loan. It has to name itself. This is ‘Foreclosure 101.’”

For instances of “auto-litigation” with a bit more to them, see this one from Illinois a few years back, as well as the ones collected at Lowering the Bar.

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April 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 20, 2012

  • Lawsuit claim: MERS mortgage system is just a racket to deprive court clerks of recording fees [Baton Rouge Advocate]
  • More reporting on hospital and community drug shortages [Washington Post; my post last summer]
  • Roger Pilon: How the “judicial activism” debate changed [Cato at Liberty]
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, spoken of as a future national political figure, has rather a lot of ties to trial lawyers [Political Desk]
  • Problems with DOJ e-book antitrust suit targeting Apple [Declan McCullagh]
  • One bogus campaign feeds into another: “ALEC Unfairly Demonized Over ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws” [Bader, CEI "Open Market"]
  • New Point of Law discussion on class actions with Ted Frank and Brian Fitzpatrick;
  • Today’s best spam comment? “With all the thistledown floating almost on the net, it is rare to look over a locate like yours instead.”

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April 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 18, 2012

  • “MPAA: you can infringe copyright just by embedding a video” [Timothy Lee, Ars Technica]
  • NYC: fee for court-appointed fire department race-bias monitor is rather steep [Reuters]
  • Larry Schonbron on VW class action [Washington Times] Watch out, world: “U.S. class action lawyers look abroad” [Reuters] Deborah LaFetra, “Non-injury class actions don’t belong in federal court” [PLF]
  • Will animal rights groups have to pay hefty legal bill after losing Ringling Bros. suit? [BLT]
  • You shouldn’t need a lobbyist to build a house [Mead, Yglesias]
  • “Astorino and Westchester Win Against Obama’s HUD” [Brennan, NRO] My two cents [City Journal] Why not abolish HUD? [Kaus]
  • “Community organized breaking and entering,” Chicago style [Kevin Funnell; earlier, NYC]

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A British Columbia court has allowed a suit to proceed arguing that a government lending program which included inspection of the property to be renovated could incur a duty to third persons who might later fall on a staircase whose faults allegedly would have been detected had inspection not been negligent. [Erik Magraken; Benoit v. Banfield]