naccurate statements by banks in foreclosure documents may give borrowers who have lost their homes a legal basis to challenge the seizures, derailing resales and casting doubts on property titles. A Florida court sanctioned Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit for faulty affidavits in 2006, and the firm suspended evictions in 23 states this month after finding employees still signing affidavits without checking the data.
Titles in Doubt
JPMorgan spokesman Tom Kelly declined requests for comment.
Cottrell didn’t return phone calls to her office requesting comment. A lawyer representing her at the deposition, Joseph Mancilla of the Florida Default Law Group PL, didn’t return calls. Cottrell isn’t named as a defendant.
Cottrell signed the affidavit at issue in the case, dated June 2009, while at her previous employer, an outside servicing firm working for JPMorgan, according to court documents. When signing documents there for the JPMorgan unit, she used the title “assistant secretary and vice president” of Chase Home Finance, according to the transcript. She became a JPMorgan employee about three months after signing the affidavit.
Document signers sometimes endorse affidavits on behalf of other firms as a way to streamline the foreclosure process, said Dustin Zacks, an attorney at Ice’s firm.
JPMorgan was the third-largest U.S. servicer of home mortgages as of June 30, with $1.35 trillion or almost 13 percent of the market, according to industry newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance. Ally is the fifth-biggest mortgage servicer, with $349.1 billion. The other three in the top five are Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., and Citigroup Inc.
“I’m sure a lot of title insurance companies are concerned about the potential liability right now,” as borrowers challenge how banks made statements, he said. “The judges could absolutely hold the bank and attorneys in contempt.”
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