Illegally Locked Out of Her Home for 94 days, Stalked and a Gun Pointed at their Person, this Homeowner was Brutally Treated as a result of “Over-Zealous Advocacy by Unethical Attorneys Who Lied in Court Filings for Financial Greed”
Ms. Dalia A. Harrison has been engaged in a years-long battle with Deltona over property in Chipley, Florida (“Chipley Property”) that she claims as her homestead. At some point Ms. Harrison stopped making payments to Deltona, so Deltona filed suit to foreclose on the Chipley Property on June 18, 2015. Ms. Harrison filed the petition commencing this case one day before the Chipley Property was scheduled to be sold at foreclosure by the Clerk of Court, Washington County, Florida pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure (“FJ”).
This is Ms. Harrison’s third bankruptcy case since October of 2016. Ms. Harrison filed two prior bankruptcy cases in the Northern District of Georgia; the first on October 21, 2016 and the second on July 26, 2017. Ms. Harrison’s first case (“First Georgia Case”) was dismissed on February 2, 2017 (more than twelve (12) months prior to the instant case), and her second case (“Second Georgia Case”) was dismissed on December 7, 2017. In both Georgia cases, Ms. Harrison filed Chapter 13 plans and made plan payments. Neither of Debtor’s Georgia cases was dismissed because Ms. Harrison failed to obey court orders or file required documents.
Ms. Harrison’s first two cases stayed hearings on Deltona’s motion for summary judgment in the foreclosure case. Deltona obtained its FJ after Ms. Harrison’s Second Georgia Case was dismissed. But for Deltona’s and its state and bankruptcy counsel’s actions, the petition commencing the current case should have stayed the foreclosure sale.
On the same day that she filed the petition commencing this case Ms. Harrison filed a motion to extend the automatic stay which the Court set for hearing on April 12, 2018.
Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel filed an objection to the motion to extend stay on April 10, 2018 and argued against the motion at the April 12 hearing. Based on Debtor’s testimony at that hearing the Court overruled Deltona’s objection and entered an order extending the stay for an additional sixty (60) days.
Debtor filed a Chapter 13 plan on April 20, 2018.16 From that date through June 14, 2018, when Debtor filed the Sanctions Motion, the record activity in this case was routine.
In response to the Sanctions Motion and OTSC, Deltona conceded that it violated the stay by continuing with the foreclosure sale. Its bankruptcy counsel argued that this stay violation was not willful and should not be sanctioned because Deltona’s state court attorney made a mistake of law.
Neither Deltona nor its bankruptcy counsel took any action at this time to vacate the foreclosure sale.
A. Deltona’s stay violations.
Immediately after filing this case Ms. Harrison drove from Tallahassee to Washington County, Florida, where she delivered copies of her Chapter 13 petition to Deltona’s state court counsel and the Washington County Clerk of Court, and advised them verbally and via email that she had filed this case and that the automatic stay was in place.
The foreclosure sale.
The next day, March 27, 2018, Ms. Harrison waited in the lobby of the Washington County Clerk’s office before the scheduled foreclosure sale where she tried, to no avail, to convince Deputy Clerk Donjuan to cancel the sale. Deputy Clerk Donjuan told Ms. Harrison that she had to bring the issue to the attention of the presiding judge, so Ms. Harrison went to the Circuit Judge’s chambers.
Meanwhile, Deltona’s state court counsel convinced the Washington County Clerk of Court to disregard Ms. Harrison’s urgings that the sale was stayed, so the Clerk conducted the sale in Ms. Harrison’s absence. Deltona was the “successful” and only bidder.
Ms. Harrison testified that when she returned to the Clerk’s office and was told the sale had taken place she sat there and cried because she believed she had done all she could to stop the sale.
Deltona called Deputy Clerk Donjuan to testify on its behalf at the Final Hearing. In describing her interactions with Ms. Harrison, Deputy Clerk Donjuan: did not deny, but could not recall, telling Ms. Harrison to go to the presiding judge’s chambers to try to stop the sale; conceded that Ms. Harrison was upset but did not recall Ms. Harrison crying; and admitted that after the foreclosure sale Ms. Harrison repeatedly declared that it was not right that the Clerk went through with foreclosure.
In an apparent attempt to discredit some of Ms. Harrison’s testimony, Deltona introduced into evidence and played a portion of the security camera video of the Washington County Clerk of Court’s lobby before, during, and after the foreclosure sale.
That video shows:
- Ms. Harrison enters the Clerk’s office lobby before the scheduled time for the foreclosure sale, walks over to Deputy Clerk Donjuan, and shows her some documents.
- After roughly one minute of conversation, Deputy Clerk Donjuan exits the room. During Deputy Clerk Donjuan’s absence, Ms. Harrison is shaking her head, pacing constantly, and peering out of the window.
- Ms. Harrison then exits the lobby. Approximately two minutes later Deputy Clerk Donjuan returns, then leaves the lobby again, and returns.
- The sale then occurs with Ms. Harrison not present.
- Ms. Harrison returns to the Clerk’s office lobby after the sale, and speaks with and shows documents to Deputy Clerk Donjuan. Deputy Clerk Donjuan then exits for the final time. At this point, Ms. Harrison is visibly upset: throwing her head back, shaking her head, walking in circles around the lobby, and appearing to try to speak to a Clerk’s Office employee seated in a bank teller style window.
Deltona’s continuous possession of, and actions to prevent Ms Harrison from accessing, the Chipley Property for approximately ninety-four (94) days post-petition.
Ten (10) days after the foreclosure sale the Washington County Clerk of Court issued a certificate of title to the Chipley Property to Deltona. On the same day, Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel filed their first Notice of Appearance in this case. Deltona then had its employee change the locks and put up “no trespassing” signs on the home. Meanwhile, Ms. Harrison continued contacting Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel, complaining about the sale in violation of the stay.
Ms. Harrison remained locked out of the Chipley Property from March 27 through June 29, 2018. This lockout ended the day after the initial OTSC Hearing at which Deltona and its bankruptcy counsel finally admitted in open court that Ms. Harrison had no access to the Chipley Property and agreed to give her a set of keys.
Damage to Ms. Harrison’s Chipley Property.
Deltona turned off the utilities after evicting a third-party tenant and left the Chipley Property vacant and without air conditioning for a considerable period. After Deltona admitted to the stay violations and gave Ms. Harrison access to the Chipley Property, Ms. Harrison traveled to the Chipley Property often, sleeping in her car or staying with a friend or relative. Upon assessing the damage, which she testified was extensive, Ms. Harrison began repairs including painting and replacing flooring.
Deltona called Mr. Worthington, denominated as its “man on the ground,” to testify on its behalf. After the foreclosure sale, Mr. Worthington went to the Chipley Property, drilled out the lock and deadbolt, and placed a new handle set on the front door. He testified that the front door to the house and the garage door were damaged.
Deltona’s harassment and stalking of Ms. Harrison.
Ms. Harrison testified that during her trips to the Chipley Property she saw Mr. Worthington drive by numerous times. On cross-examination Ms. Harrison asked Mr. Worthington if he had been “stalking” her.
Visibly displeased with that question, Mr. Worthington insisted that he had never “stalked” Ms. Harrison. But, on further questioning Mr. Worthington admitted that even after Deltona gave Ms. Harrison access to the Chipley Property in late June, at Deltona’s request he went by on numerous occasions to see if the house was being disturbed and to note if anyone was there.
This testimony is consistent with testimony given by Tracy Williams, Deltona’s Assistant Treasurer, at the OTSC Hearing:
[Mr. Worthington is] our on-site employee who does maintenance on our rentals and our inventory houses . . . I believe on almost a daily basis since May 1 [Mr. Worthington has driven by the house] . . . 72 times.
Ms. Williams calculated that of these seventy-two (72) trips, thirteen (13) took place after Deltona finally gave Ms. Harrison access to the Chipley property.
Ms. Harrison’s late-night confrontation with law enforcement at the Chipley Property.
Deltona called Deputy Sheriff Landon Fries to testify on its behalf at the Final Hearing. According to Deputy Fries, one evening in late June of 2018, his dispatcher sent him to the Chipley Property as a result of a report that a suspicious person was on the premises of a “foreclosed property.”
According to Deputy Fries, upon arrival at the Chipley Property he pulled into Ms. Harrison’s driveway at a “normal” rate of speed with his headlights, not his emergency lights, on.
Deputy Fries asked Ms. Harrison for identification and what business she had on the property; he denied that he drew his weapon. According to Deputy Fries, once he verified that Ms. Harrison’s driver’s license address matched that of the Chipley Property, he left.
Ms. Harrison recalled this incident differently.
According to Ms. Harrison she and her 62-year old mother were in the driveway unloading groceries after dark when a law enforcement officer pulled very quickly into the driveway with his “lights” on, and got out of his car with his flashlight in her face.
Ms. Harrison testified that the officer had his gun drawn, accused her and her mother of breaking and entering, required her to show proof of ownership of the property, and accused her of kicking down the front door to the home.
Ms. Harrison described Deputy Fries as confrontational and this incident as extremely distressing to both her and her mother. She testified that at the time she believed that she “could have been killed” at her own home.
Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel’s actions during this case.
The post-petition foreclosure sale by Deltona was bad enough; what Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel did after that shocks the conscience.
Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel ignored Debtor’s legitimate complaints that Deltona had violated the stay.
Within four (4) days of the foreclosure sale, Ms. Harrison called and spoke with one of Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel, H. Matthew Fuqua.
According to Ms. Harrison, Mr. Fuqua did not acknowledge that Deltona had violated the automatic stay nor did he offer to correct the situation.
Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel made misleading and false representations to this Court.
When Deltona opposed Ms. Harrison’s motion to extend the automatic stay, its bankruptcy counsel did not advise the Court, in writing or at the hearing, that the sale had already taken place or that Deltona had locked Ms. Harrison out of the Chipley Property. Instead, Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel wrote that Deltona sought to “proceed” with the foreclosure:
[I]t is the Debtor’s sole intention in filing bankruptcy to frustrate Deltona’s right to foreclose on Ms. Harrison’s property in Washington County, Florida and to delay and impede Deltona’s right to proceed with its State Court right to relief.
Ms. Harrison’s sole intention in filing for bankruptcy relief is to unfairly thwart Deltona’s efforts to proceed with its foreclosure case.
Rather than inform the Court of the highly relevant fact that Deltona had completed the sale post-petition, Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel argued: 1) that the stay should not be extended because Ms. Harrison filed this case in bad faith; and, 2) alternatively, that there was no stay. In support of this second argument, Deltona’s bankruptcy counsel wrote:
The Order granting Deltona relief from stay entered in the [Second Georgia Case] was granted pursuant to the provisions of 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(4) [sic] and the current proceedings [sic] were filed within 2 years after the date of entry of such order. As such, the automatic stay imposed by 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) [sic] upon the filing of the current proceedings [sic] was annulled and there is not currently an automatic stay in place that would prohibit Deltona from proceeding with its In Rem [sic] foreclosure action against the Debtor’s real property located in Washington County, Florida.
Every fact stated in the above paragraph is false.
…. read the Judges’ full order in the PDF link below…
UPDATE (Well, Kinda) : Sep 19, 2019 Proceeding Memo: Hearing Held (No Doc) – Update on Oct. 16, 2019 – NO MOVEMENT ON DOCKET AT ALL….Silence in the Court…
Ocwen Loan Servicing v Mason 5th Cir., Judge Graves on the Panel including Elrod and Duncan; IS WARNED, as a non-prisoner ; SANCTION WARNING ISSUED.” #CA5 #Ocwen #Prisoners #Sanctions #Civilians #Homeowners #Texas #Judges https://t.co/JXdUIkWkDj pic.twitter.com/B4AjNbF2gk
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) August 25, 2019
Attorneys train elected officials on ethics
Attorneys H. Matthew Fuqua, of Fuqua & Milton P.A., and Robert E. Larkin*, of Allen, Norton and Blue, presented an ethics training session for elected governmental officials on Thursday, July 14, in Marianna.
*LIT Disclaimer – Larkin is not involved in the foreclosure case and sanctions discussed herein, only the firm of Fuqua & Milton
Local government officials and constitutional officers are mandated by Florida Statute 112.3142 to receive four hours of ethics training every year. The seminar was sponsored by Carr, Riggs and Ingram, CPAs and was held at the Jackson County Ag complex on Penn Avenue.
This was the second year Fuqua and Larkin presented the seminar, which is offered as a public service to elected government officials. Covered topics included Public Records, Open Meetings, Voting Conflicts, Nepotism and Gifts.
Local government officials spanning the area from Holmes County to Gulf County were in attendance.
KAREN K. SPECIE
Chief U. S. Bankruptcy Judge
Sanctions these 2 lawyers $45,500 for illegally evicting homeowner who was without a residence for several months as a result.
High-Living Lawyers Fail to Pay $45,500 Sanctions within 7 Days
These 2 Rambo and Rogue Lawyers have been Ordered to attend court on Sept 10, 2019. We hope there’s a full gallery of journalists in attendance and citizens and members of the public go to support Ms. Harrison.