In this article the author, from a law firm that specializes in beating up state courts for what the author considers excessive punitive damages awards, ATTACKED the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for using procedural tricks to prevent the US Supreme Court from reviewing the award of $2.17 Million in punitive damages and $600K in attorney fees in the Brown v Quicken Loans case. The author considered the award excessive and violative of Quicken’s due process rights.
West Virginia Supreme Court Of Appeals’ Refusal To Review Punitive Award For Excessiveness Under Due Process Clause Warrants Summary Reversal, Says Chamber Of Commerce In Mayer Brown-Authored Amicus Brief
Bob Hurt responds with the following comments:
West Virginia Trial Court and Supreme Court of Appeals handling of the Brown v Quicken Loans and Quicken Loans v Brown cases do indeed raise the hackles of lenders who have cheated the holy hell out of borrowers. I feel inclined to render the following opinion about the huge punitive damages award the trial court (without a jury) made to Brown.
The courts duly haggled over the award through three trials and two appeals, and Quicken lawyers still don’t feel satisfied. They want to cheat borrowers with relative impunity.
I believe the Supreme Court has the final say on the meaning of the Constitution’s clauses like “Due Process” but not to the extent of undermining juries and judges who must act to punish the wicked to the extent they deem necessary to teach the wicked a lesson, and even, if necessary, to run them out of business altogether. The US Supreme Court sits altogether too remote from the little people and their abusers in the American hinterland to make appropriate rulings on whether a punishment abused due process rights of the abuser. Punishments by their very nature always abuse the perpetrator, and the perpetrator’s rights, as they should.
So I fully support the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals effort to keep the US Supreme Court out of such cases, by whatever clever means they must.
Quicken Loans has probably abused THOUSANDS of borrowers as badly as or worse than it abused Lourie Jefferson (Brown) in Wheeling WV, starting with encouraging the appraiser to value her $46,000 house at $144,000. She settled out of court with the appraiser and his insurer, but that did not punish Quicken for its underwriting of that horrific appraisal. BOTH the appraiser and Quicken’s loan officers and executives overseeing them belong in Federal Prison for that crime of bank fraud. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of crookedness in this case.
Laurie Jefferson was sick and broke and could not afford an attorney when Quicken foreclosed on her. Luckily, Jim Bordas, who knew her family, took her case on contingency, for 40%. He fought rabidly on their joint behalf. And he won. Now Quicken wants the US Supreme Court to undermine that win by reducing the damage award. In my opinion, the damage award should have gone much higher.
To get the proper perspective on my opinion, read the court opinions detailing the tale of horror of how Quicken’s agents and employees cheated Lourie Jefferson in every way they could, apparently. I archived them together here along with my overview:
I consider the Brown v Quicken case the POSTER CHILD for the methodology to which I refer as “Mortgage Attack.” See the details of the method at http://mortgageattack.com. The method contains these elements:
1. Find the injuries and related evidence
2. Hire a competent attorney
3. Artfully ATTACK the injurious.
Most foreclosure “victims” took loans they should not have. But they suffered some hardship that led to their breaching the note through non-payment. That injured the creditor who hired a lawyer and attacked the borrower through foreclosure. Typical foreclosure victims cannot afford competent counsel to find out how the lender team members (e.g., appraiser, broker, closer, lender) injured them and then attack the lender team members for those injuries.
In most loans, the injuries do not become immediately obvious as they did in the Brown case. And because it costs so much time and effort and talent to examine the loan related documents to find those injuries, most foreclosure victims cannot afford the cost. So they hire Pretense Defense attorneys to “keep them in the house as long as possible,” a scam in and of itself.
RARELY, therefore, can a plaintiff like Lourie Jefferson find competent counsel to help attack the lender team. Most attorneys cannot and will not take a case like Brown’s on contingency. As a consequence, most simply plod along to foreclosure and lose the house, enriching a foreclosure pretense defense attorney $15,000 to $30,000 in the process.
On behalf of all those tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of foreclosure victims who suffered monstrous cheating of the kind Quicken Loans perpetrated on Lourie Jefferson (Brown), the Trial Court in Wheeling WV delivered an effective blow in ensuring that Lourie and Monique Brown received a little over $4 million (if I calculated correctly) for their injuries, with 40% going to Bordas and Bordas law firm for the diligent work they did in bringing Quicken Loans to well-deserved justice.
So, let us keep that perspective while pondering just how much the US Supreme Court should have to say in the matter of punitive damages which should have numbered in the tens of millions of dollars in order really to punish Quicken Loans enough to keep them from cheating other hapless borrowers like the desperate, ill Lourie Jefferson.