CFPB

Finally, 33 AG’s Act on this Disgraceful Ocwen/PHH Class Action Settlement Agreement in Florida. Notable Exception – Indicted AG Paxton of Texas.

A coalition of 33 state attorneys general filed a motion against PHH Mortgage and its predecessor Ocwen Loan Servicing for allegedly charging unlawful servicing fees to nearly 1 million borrowers.

33 states go after Ocwen/PHH Mortgage over servicing fees

Brief alleges servicer charged illegal fees to 1 million homeowners

FEB 2, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: FEB 3, 2021

A coalition of 33 state attorneys general filed a motion against PHH Mortgage and its predecessor Ocwen Loan Servicing for allegedly charging unlawful servicing fees to nearly 1 million borrowers.

The attorneys general, co-led by New York’s Letitia James and Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, are opposing a proposed class action settlement that would permit PHH to profit from mortgage payment processing fees made by phone or online and would allow PHH to increase the fees for the remaining life of the loan.

The motion states the proposed settlement was carried out too quickly, under the pandemic’s extenuating circumstances and estimates PHH charged the 1 million homeowners somewhere between $7.50 to $17.50 in each monthly statement. If allowed, PHH could raise this fee to $19.50 per month.

In a Friday brief, the coalition alleged the charges by PHH are “illegal” and “improper” because the authorization of these fees cannot be found in the mortgage contracts. With that scrutiny, PHH would be violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) were the CFPB to conclude that PHH is essentially a “debt collector.”

“PHH’s sole purpose is to collect and process homeowners’ payments, which it already makes millions of dollars from each year. In the 21st century, when most Americans pay their bills online or by phone, to charge fees on top of what they are already being paid is not only unethical, but unlawful,” James said in a statement.

Both Ocwen and PHH have come under legal fire in recent years, after a 2017 cease-and-desist order prohibited the acquisition of new mortgage servicing rights and the origination of mortgage loans by subsidiary Ocwen Loan Servicing until the company was “able to prove it can appropriately manage its consumer mortgage escrow accounts.”

Attorney General James Leads Bipartisan Coalition Fighting to Protect Nearly One Million Homeowners from Unlawful Fees

Mortgage Servicing Class Action Settlement Violates Most States’ Laws and
Provides Windfall for Mortgage Servicer Instead of Homeowners

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today co-led a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general in opposing a proposed class action settlement that would permit a mortgage servicer to profit from illegal payment processing fees charged to homeowners making normal mortgage payments online or by phone.

Attorney General James co-leads the coalition in filing a motion for leave to file an amicus brief, opposing the proposed settlement in Morris et al. v. PHH Mortgage Corporationet al., where mortgage servicer PHH Mortgage Corporation and its predecessor corporation, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (collectively PHH), would be able to continue to profit from illegal processing fees the company has been charging to nearly one million homeowners nationwide, including more than 74,000 homeowners residing in New York state alone.

“When Americans utilize online or phone payments to pay off their monthly mortgages, PHH benefits, but instead of passing those savings on to homeowners PHH charged illegal fees and increased costs for nearly one million Americans,” said Attorney General James.

“PHH’s sole purpose is to collect and process homeowners’ payments, which it already makes millions of dollars from each year. In the 21st century, when most Americans pay their bills online or by phone, to charge fees on top of what they are already being paid is not only unethical, but unlawful. A bipartisan coalition is standing up and fighting back against this backwards settlement because we will always fight to protect the wallets of our states’ residents.”

For years, PHH charged nearly one million homeowners an illegal fee — ranging from $7.50 to $17.50 — each time a homeowner made a monthly mortgage payment online or by phone, despite most Americans paying their mortgages one of these two ways.

Nowhere in these homeowners’ mortgage contracts is there authorization for such fees and PHH does not charge “processing” fees for any other customers, including those who pay by check or those who set up automatic debit payments.

Charging fees not mentioned in the mortgage contract is illegal and, under New York’s mortgage servicing regulations, explicitly forbidden.

Under the terms of PHH’s proposed settlement — which was hastily entered into only five months after the complaint was filed — PHH will not only be permitted to continue to charge these illegal fees, but will be able to actually increase fees — up to $19.50 per month — for the remaining life of the loan, which, for many homeowners, could be another 20 to 30 years.

In exchange, homeowners will receive a paltry, and for some, illusory, one-time monetary payment. Further, the proposed settlement seeks to authorize these unlawful fees through an unwritten, mass amendment of the mortgages — a violation of most states’ statutes of frauds, a centuries old legal doctrine that requires contracts related to property to be in writing and signed by the parties.

This unwritten, mass amendment also means PHH will evade many states’ recording requirements for modified mortgages, resulting in confusion and enabling PHH to avoid state and local recording fees.

Additionally, Attorney General James leads the coalition in objecting to the inadequacy of the monetary relief, as the proposed settlement is designed to ensure that a portion of the monetary relief intended for homeowners will actually end up in PHH’s hands.

Homeowners whose loans are still serviced by PHH will not receive any direct monetary payments for prior unlawful payments received by PHH. Instead, these homeowners will only receive a credit to their account that will only be applied to the unpaid principal balance of the mortgage after any late fees are first paid — costing homeowners more in the end.

Moreover, any settlement funds not distributed to the class member homeowners will be returned to PHH, ensuring the settlement further benefits PHH and not impacted class members.

Joining Attorney General James in co-leading today’s filing is Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Joining Attorneys General James and Ellison in filing today’s amicus request is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth M. Lynch, under the supervision of Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine, as well as Deputy Solicitor General Steven C. Wu of the Division for Appeals and Opinions. The Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

LIT Lights Up New PHH, Ocwen and Altisource Class Action Lawsuit

LIT has previously highlighted this attorney and law firm. Now they are going bold and stepping up the challenge to PHH Predatory Lending.

CFPB Respond to PHH Ocwen’s Claims

Ocwens’ Consent Judgment had two sets of obligations: complying with federal and state law, and complying with the fencing-in provisions.

Ocwen Respond to CFPB’s Arguments at the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Even under a traditional res judicata approach, Marra appropriately considered the terms of the Consent Judgment. CFPB’s claims are barred.

U.S. District Court
Southern District of Florida (Ft Lauderdale)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 0:20-cv-60633-RS

Morris v. PHH Mortgage Corporation
Assigned to: Judge Rodney Smith
Cause: 28:1332 Diversity-Contract Dispute
Date Filed: 03/25/2020
Jury Demand: Plaintiff
Nature of Suit: 190 Contract: Other
Jurisdiction: Diversity
Plaintiff
Vincent J. Morris
on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated
represented by Barbara Cabrera Lewis
The Moskowitz Law Firm
2 Alhambra Plaza
#601
Miami, FL 33134
305-740-1423
Fax: 786-298-5737
Email: barbara@moskowitz-law.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDHoward Mitchell Bushman
The Moskowitz Law Firm, PLLC
2 Alhambra Plaza, Suite 601
Coral Gables, FL 33134
3057401423
Email: howard@moskowitz-law.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJoseph M. Kaye
The Moskowitz Law Firm, PLLC
2 Alhambra Plaza, Suite 601
Miami, FL 33134
(305) 740-1423
Email: joseph@moskowitz-law.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJoshua Adam Migdal
Mark, Migdal & Hayden
80 SW 8th Street
Suite 1999
Miami, FL 33130
305-374-0440
Email: josh@markmigdal.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Yaniv Adar
Mark Migdal & Hayden
Brickell City Tower
80 SW 8th Street
Suite 1999
Miami, FL 33130
(305)374-0440
Email: yaniv@markmigdal.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Adam M. Moskowitz
The Moskowitz Law Firm, PLLC
2 Alhambra Plaza, Suite 601
Coral Gables, FL 33134-6036
305 740-1423
Email: adam@moskowitz-law.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Plaintiff
Steven Simmons
on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated
represented by Joseph M. Kaye
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDAdam M. Moskowitz
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Plaintiff
Yolanda Upton
on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated
represented by Joseph M. Kaye
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDAdam M. Moskowitz
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Plaintiff
Michael Luzzi
on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated
represented by Joseph M. Kaye
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDAdam M. Moskowitz
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
V.
Intervenor Plaintiff
Lisa Bardak represented by Michael Jerome Higer
Berger Singerman, LLP
1450 Brickell Avenue
Suite 1000
Miami, FL 33131
305-755-9500
Fax: 305-714-4343
Email: mhiger@bergersingerman.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
Carney Bates & Pulliam, PLLC
519 W. 7th St.
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 312-8500
Email: llowther@cbplaw.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , Jr.
Carney Bates & Pulliam, PLLC,
519 W. 7th Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 312-8500
Email: llowther@cbplaw.com
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
Bailey & Glasser, LLP
1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
Suite 540
Washington, DC 20007
202-463-2101
Fax: 202-463-2103
Email: jkauffman@baileyglasser.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Randall K. Pulliam
Carney, Bates & Pulliam, PLLC
519 W. 7th Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
501-312-8500
Email: rpulliam@cbplaw.com
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Intervenor Plaintiff
Lawrence Torliatt represented by Michael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , Jr.
(See above for address)
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Randall K. Pulliam
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Intervenor Plaintiff
Ursula Williams represented by Michael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , Jr.
(See above for address)
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Randall K. Pulliam
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Intervenor Plaintiff
Poff Melbourne represented by Michael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , Jr.
(See above for address)
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Randall K. Pulliam
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Intervenor Plaintiff
Barbara Poff represented by Michael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , Jr.
(See above for address)
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Randall K. Pulliam
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Intervenor Plaintiff
Melbourne Poff represented by Michael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , Jr.
(See above for address)
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Randall K. Pulliam
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Intervenor Plaintiff
Stephanie Hendricks represented by Edwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDMichael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Intervenor Plaintiff
Anita Barrow represented by Edwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDMichael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Intervenor Plaintiff
Tammie Woolbright represented by Edwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDMichael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
V.
Defendant
PHH Mortgage Corporation
on its own behalf and as successor by merger to OCWEN LOAN SERVICING, LLC, a New Jersey Corporation
doing business as
PHH MORTGAGE SERVICES
represented by Michael R. Pennington
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
1819 5th Avenue North
One Federal Place
Birmingham, AL 35203-2119
205-521-8391
Email: mpennington@bradley.com
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDTimothy Allen Andreu
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
100 North Tampa Street
Suite 2200
Tampa, FL 33602
813-559-5500
Fax: 813-229-5946
Email: tandreu@bradley.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Defendant
OCWEN Loan Servicing, LLC
a Florida Limited Liability Company
represented by Timothy Allen Andreu
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Amicus
National Association of Consumer Advocates represented by Nandan M. Joshi
Public Interest Litigation Group
Email: njoshi@citizen.org
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDPaul Dewey Turner
Perlman, Bajandas, Yevoli & Albright, P.L.
Museum Plaza
200 South Andrews Avenue
Suite 600
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
954-566-7117
Fax: 954-566-7115
Email: eserviceftl@pbyalaw.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Amicus
National Consumer Law Center represented by Christopher M. Sutter
Office of the Attorney General
110 S.E. 6th Street, 10th Floor (Civil)
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954) 712-4733
Email: christopher.sutter@myfloridalegal.com
TERMINATED: 12/15/2020
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDNandan M. Joshi
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDPaul Dewey Turner
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Amicus
Public Citizen represented by Nandan M. Joshi
(See above for address)
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDPaul Dewey Turner
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Amicus
State of New York represented by Christopher M. Sutter
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDElizabeth M. Lynch
New York Attorney Generals Office
Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection
28 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10005
(212) 416-6314
Email: ElizabethM.Lynch@ag.ny.gov
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Amicus
State of Minnesota represented by Christopher M. Sutter
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDMawerdi Hamid
Minnesota Attorney Generals Office
445 Minnesota Street
Suite 1400
Saint Paul, MN 55101-2127
(651) 728-7096
Email: mawerdi.hamid@ag.state.mn.us
PRO HAC VICE
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Amicus
American Legal & Financial Network represented by Raoul G. Cantero , III
White & Case LLP
Southeast Financial Center
200 South Biscayne Boulevard
Suite 4900
Miami, FL 33131-2352
305-995-5290
Fax: 305-358-5744
Email: rcantero@whitecase.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
V.
Intervenor
Matthew Thompson
c/o Newhart Legal, P.A.
14611 Southern Blvd.
Suite 1351
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
561-331-1806
represented by Darren R. Newhart
Newhart Legal, P.A.
Florida
14611 Southern Blvd.
Suite 1351
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
561-331-1806
Email: darren@newhartlegal.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDEdwin Lee Lowther , III
(See above for address)
TERMINATED: 09/14/2020
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJames Lawrence Kauffman
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDMichael Jerome Higer
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Intervenor
The United States of America
Department of Justice, Civil Division
Consumer Protection Branch
P.O. Box 386
Washington, DC 20044
202-449-8070
represented by David H. Hixson
U.S. Department of Justice
Consumer Protection Brancy
PO Box 386
Washington, DC 20044
202-449-8070
Email: david.h.hixson@usdoj.gov
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
04/30/2021 149 Joint REPLY to 143 Response in Opposition to Motion, 142 Response in Opposition to Motion, 140 Joint MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFICATION OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS 144 Response in Opposition to Motion, JOINT REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AND CERTIFICATION OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS by Michael Luzzi, Vincent J. Morris, Steven Simmons, Yolanda Upton. (Moskowitz, Adam) (Entered: 04/30/2021)
Finally, 33 AG’s Act on this Disgraceful Ocwen/PHH Class Action Settlement Agreement in Florida. Notable Exception – Indicted AG Paxton of Texas.
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