WILLIAM M. ACKER, JR., District Judge.
This case illustrates the shortcomings, even the dangers, of the once mighty global secondary mortgage loan market, with its arcane methods of doing business, conceived by ambitious, super-sophisticated, big-brained, short-sighted financiers and their lawyers, who did not realize that they were creating a Frankenstein for everybody involved except the lawyers. Based on the number of somewhat similar cases pending in various federal and state courts, the roof has come crashing down, and its restoration remains in doubt.
In the complicated world of the high risk mortgage industry as it existed at all times here pertinent, the answer to a question as simple as “who is the owner of a mortgage?” is not always apparent from a review of the land records where the real property is located. In fact, the term “owner” may mean “a hundred owners” involved in a joint or divided undertaking or investment where the original homeowner-borrower is unaware of who the “real” “owners” are. This complexity is exacerbated when the “owner” or “owners” begin to split up and transfer the mortgage and note willy-nilly, often effectuating the transfer by simply endorsing the note in blank, affixing an allonge to it, and assuming that the mortgage security and right to foreclose will pass with the note by operation of law.
Duke v. Nationstar Mortg., L.L.C., 893 F.Supp.2d 1238, 2012 WL 3852121, N.D.Ala., August 30, 2012
This is a very real issue in Oregon, where employees are often persuaded to accept "independent contractor" status, unaware of all the serious ramifications for them down the road.
I have represented several workers whose employers have tried to take advantage of them in this way. Don't let your employer do it to you -- it costs you your social security down the road, your workers compensation, and your ability to obtain unemployment insurance, among other things.
A powerful retrospective report showing the real facts behind the notorious "McDonald's Hot Coffee" case -- the gruesome burns, the fact that she was in a parked car, not a moving one, the fact that McDonald's had hundreds of warnings that it was serving dangerously hot coffee, the fact that the plaintiff only asked for her medical bills to be paid (before McDonald's offered her a paltry $800 against medical bills of $10,000) -- on and on, the "outrageous" result turns out to have been more than justified, and the only real outrage is that McDonalds and the Chamber of Commerce have managed to fool most people into thinking that they were the victims in this case.
Watch this excellent New York Times report, and then if you really want to understand how corporate America tries to turn real people against each other (the better to fleece them, and keep them from standing up to big corporations), look for the great movie "Hot Coffee" too.
P.S. Click here to make a contribution -- one-time or monthly -- to help make another documentary that helps set the record straight about the civil justice system, the only part of government where real people get to stand toe-to-toe and fight back on level ground with corporations. That's why corporations hate it so much, and why they want to tell you lies, so you'll hate it too.
Oregon Allows Debt Collectors to Push Working Families into Poverty
Once upon a time, there was a country where the courts could tell the difference between business-to-business disputes and consumer-to-business disputes.
The law for the commercial disputes values efficiency above all other concerns, which makes a lot of sense for disputes involving businesses, which are often fictitious entities anyway (corporations), with no personal stake in the problems.
Further, being fictitious legal persons, entirely created under the law and having no natural rights of their own, the corporations involved in most business litigation could hardly claim to fall under the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial -- the companies only had the rights that the law gave them, and since they essentially all just wanted their disputes resolved in a predictable, roughly fair way, it was no problem that Congress said that they could bind each other to arbitration clauses, which sent their fights out of the court system and into private arbitration, where there are no juries, and there is no open court system that creates precedent with each decision.
The problem is that, as in the Terminator movies, the creatures we created to help us have turned on us and taken over: the corporations have seized control of the courts and have persuaded a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court justices that, not only are they actually entitled to full constitutional liberties, including full First Amendment rights to "speak," they also should be allowed to force real people into arbitration, meaning that when you sue one of these fictitious people, you find yourself in a topsy-turvy world that Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, could not have imagined on his most cynical day.
We've been heading towards this mess ever since the first decisions in the late 19th Century that perverted the 14th Amendment, turning it from an aid to freed slaves into a weapon for the just-forming multinational corporations. The recent "Citizens United" decision -- a fantastic act of historic judicial activism, with the Supreme Court majority going completely outside the bounds of the case before it to create a new superclass of corporate citizens (all the rights of people but none of the duties) is the best known of the long train of absurd decisions that, one by one, are turning real people into servants of the new superclass.
Which brings us to today's fantastic absurdity, where the federal 2nd Circuit, the appellate court for the Northeast, the second-highest court in all the land (and a leading court for commercial disputes), has held that a New York consumer -- that is, a flesh and blood person like you, one who might be under the vague impression that your Constitutional rights are at least as important as the "rights" of a legal fiction like a corporation -- must go to binding arbitration in Arizona to pursue the scoundrels who ripped off the consumer and essentially reduced the consumer to abject poverty (the company was one of the many (most?) bogus credit repair companies who promise to help you climb OUT of the hole with your credit cards).
There is no way to put it except to say that this is the kind of thing that terrifies people who study history, because this is the kind of thing that survivors study when they try to figure out "What was the spark that caused the explosion? How did what seemed to be a civilized place suddenly erupt in such fury?"
I would love to be wrong about this, but since the DNA of corporations requires that they grab all the power and money that they can, and that they do everything that they can get away with (to compete with all the others), expecting corporations to restrain themselves and not abuse consumers and real people is like expecting Donald Trump to take and keep a vow of silence and poverty. Thus, absent a miracle -- never the thing to bet on -- this isn't likely to get better. And that means we might well be getting close to finding out something awful, like what the 21st Century American equivalent is for 19th Century France's guillotine. Read on:
These scammers trying to pry your personal information out of you by making it appear that they're from the government.
On this one, note the barely readable small print disclosure that they're not, which is at the bottom and is about 1/20th as dark as the typeface that says "GOVERNMENT FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR FINAL EXPENSES" that appears at the top, next to the Pennsylvania Avenue address in Washington DC ( a nice touch, don't you think?)
Note the deceptive wording of the interior:
The government has made funds available for final expenses. Also available in your state, is a program designed to pay for what the government funds do not pay for your final expenses. If you qualify, this program can pay 100% of all funeral and final expenses for each person covered.
The comma after in your state is a nice touch for illiteracy.
Great story in an intriguing San Diego nonprofit news outlet called "Justice for Sale: Arbitration Purgatory."
The story is about what happens when you try holding a car dealer accountable. Thanks to the US Supreme Corp's love affair with arbitration -- the dispute resolution method intended for parties in parity with each other, and typically for those who need to keep dealing with each other -- consumers increasingly find that they have signed away their constitutional right to a civil trial. When you get ripped off by a big company these days, most often you will find that they have locked you into an arbitration agreement where they not only get to keep you from having the dispute heard by a jury of your peers, they also get to choose the forum. And since the big companies are the only repeat players in the game, guess who the arbitrators (who are themselves totally unaccountable to you) worry about pleasing? Hint: It's not you.
Part 2: Justice for Sale: Ignoring the Law
Part 3: Justice for Sale: The War on Consumer Class Actions