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Utah law firm sues to halt Bank of America foreclosures

Published July 7, 2011 7:44 am

Housing • Lawsuit says bank "intentionally not complying" with attorney general's orders.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Salt Lake City law firm has filed a proposed class-action suit against Bank of America and its subsidiary ReconTrust "for conducting thousands of unauthorized foreclosures in Utah."

Mumford West & Snow filed the suit in 3rd District Court last week. The action comes in the wake of the Utah Legislature creating civil penalties against what state authorities consider illegal foreclosures. It also comes more than one month after the Utah Attorney General's Office pledged that it would file suit against the banking giant if ReconTrust continued to file foreclosure proceedings in violation of state law.

Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton said her company had no comment about the lawsuit.

Lead counsel for the law firm, Marcus R. Mumford, said Wednesday he intends to seek a statewide restraining order and a preliminary injunction "prohibiting the named defendants from conducting any additional foreclosure sales within the state."

The lawsuit is being filed at a time that the attorney general continues to meet with Bank of America and ReconTrust representatives. The two sides have yet to come to an agreement acceptable to both sides.

"We are still negotiating with them to change their practices," said AG spokesman Paul Murphy.

Mumford said that Bank of America and ReconTrust "have demonstrated a long-standing pattern of illegal activity in taking thousands of homes from Utah homeowners in unauthorized foreclosures." He estimates there are tens of thousands homeowners who could be eligible to sign on to the lawsuit if it receives class-action status from the court.

"Bank of America and ReconTrust are intentionally not complying with Utah law," Mumford said, adding that the bank and its subsidiary are neglecting to meet with homeowners to try to come up with a plan before initiating foreclosure proceedings.

"The purpose of the Utah law was to give homeowners an opportunity to come in and to have a dialogue the person foreclosing on them," Mumford said. "They [Bank of America and ReconTrust] continue to kick people out of their homes, claiming that they are not required to follow Utah law. We intend to put a stop to that."

Calls to Bank of America for reaction to the suit were not immediately returned.