DOJ sues company over servicemember foreclosures

by Francis Monfort14 Nov 2017
The Department of Justice has sued a trustee company that provides foreclosure services to mortgage lenders over allegations of improper foreclosures on homes owned by servicemembers.

The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, claims that Northwest Trustee Services foreclosed at least 28 servicemember homes without obtaining court orders as required. The DOJ alleges that this constitutes a violation by Northwest of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

Under the SCRA, it is prohibited to foreclose on the home of a servicemember during active military service and one year thereafter unless a court order is obtained in cases where the servicemember took out the mortgage before the period of military service.

The lawsuit stems from a DOJ investigation into the company after a veteran submitted a complaint to the department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative in May 2016. In its investigation, the DOJ found that Northwest had foreclosed on other SCRA-protected homes since 2010.

According to the complainant by Marine veteran Jacob McGreevey, his home was foreclosed on by Northwest in August 2010, less than two months after he was released from active duty. Although McGreevey sued his mortgage servicer, PHH Mortgage, and Northwest in 2016, his case was dismissed after the US District Court Judge found that he had waited too long to file his case.

The lawsuit seeks reliefs provided in the SCRA of civil monetary penalties of up to $60,788 for the first offense and $121,577 for each subsequent offense, in addition to monetary damages. The DOJ is also seeking injunctive relief against future foreclosures in violation of the SCRA.

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