Matthew Johnson, May 5th 2019.
LIT didn’t know you would need to winterize a property in the month of May and put a sign up sayin’ “Don’t turn on the water”. Neither did Johnson. But we checked the historical records for that month anyways, and as y’all can see on May 5, 2019 it was 49% at it’s lowest number overnight – winterization wasn’t necessary. Altisource broke down the door and claimed to winterize anyways.
The following lawsuit by Johnson against PHH and Altisource is currently active in federal court, per the complaint below. Creditor rights and foreclosure mill lawyers Hilary. H. Sommer and a colleague from Bryan Cave were initially representing PHH and Altisource but they’ve since passed the baton to a new set of lawyers.
SEPT 8, 2020 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: ARP 18, 2021
2849 Wyoming St., City of St. Louis, MO
Jackson woman endures nightmare of mistaken foreclosure
JULY 12, 2014 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: ARP 18, 2021
Dana Novelli, of Jackson Township, had her house cleaned out by Ocwen Mortgage Co. when she was at work one day in October. But it was the wrong house. They ransacked the place, winterized it, tore off fixtures, took jewelry. She has had no satisfaction in getting anything back or any answers since then and now has filed a lawsuit in hopes of getting back her possession and some answers.
One morning last October, Dana Novelli drove away from her home and headed to work, like she always does. She finished her day teaching at an Akron Public School, and drove back home, like she always does. Finally, she pulled into her driveway, like she always does.
That’s when this story takes a sharp turn.
Nothing she saw or experienced after that was familiar. She was greeted by a large note on the front door of the raised ranch house she has called home for 28 years. She said she noticed a lock box on the door handle. She read the note: The home had been winterized — pipes and hot water tank drained; locks changed; the automatic garage door opener disconnected.
“I was hysterical …. sick, physically ill,” Novelli recalled.
It had to be a dream, or at least a mistake, she thought.
She said she phoned her mortgage company, Ocwen. She said they told her it was a mistake, that there was no active foreclosure case, which she already knew. Novelli said they provided her the lockbox security code over the phone, so she could get back into her house. That, she said, is when it got even worse.
According to Novelli, and a civil lawsuit filed last month in Stark County Common Pleas Court, here’s what happened next:
Once inside her house, she found every closet door and drawer opened and the contents in disarray; her jewelry box had been rifled through and pieces were missing; prescription medicine was missing from her bedroom; other possessions were missing or scattered on floors; electrical outlets were damaged and the electricity was off; fixtures had been torn off bathroom walls.
“It’s really one of the most outrageous, over-the-top, unbelievable things I’ve seen,”
said Jeff Lookabaugh, one of Novelli’s four attorneys.
“Her computer was on. They even went through her underwear drawer.”
Stacie Roth and Sam Ferruccio, two more of her attorneys, said Novelli phoned Ocwen again.
They said she was advised to contact Altisource, the contractor Ocwen hired to clean out the “foreclosed” house.
By the end of the night, after many phone calls, Novelli said she believed the problem may be on its way to being resolved.
Then, she said, it got worse again.
According to her and the complaint, Altisource and Jackson Township police showed up the next morning, pounding on her window.
She had to get out, they told her. Altisource was back to finish emptying the house. “At this point, she’s standing on her porch crying,”
Novelli explained the situation to police. They checked the local court docket and found no active foreclosure case. They also spoke with Ocwen, according to a police report. At that point, police told Altisource to leave and not to return or they were the ones who’d face trespassing charges.
“The officer told me he’d never seen anything like this in 19 years. … He said he hoped I had a good attorney,” Novelli said.
In the past nine months, Novelli has been able to get nowhere with Ocwen or Altisource, said Roth.
None of her missing belongings were returned.
Novelli said her heart nearly stops every time she comes home to find a sales flier on her door, for fear of another mistaken foreclosure.
“She just got steamrolled by this company,” Lookabaugh said.
Roth said she’s not sure if others have had the same ordeal.
“But for the first time, Ocwen is going to answer to someone,” she said.
Ocwen Financial Corp. is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. According to its website, it is the nation’s largest independent mortgage service.
The site also notes:
“Ocwen is widely recognized in the national media and by consumer advocacy groups as the industry leader in responsible home retention through foreclosure prevention.”
Novelli’s lawsuit — filed by Lookabaugh, Roth, Ferruccio and Allen Schulman — seeks at least $25,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. They’re alleging, among other things, breach of contract, trespass, negligence, defamation and emotional distress upon Novelli.
According to court records, Ocwen and Altisource are represented by Cleveland attorney Benjamin Carnahan.
“While I can’t comment on ongoing litigation, the allegations are being taken seriously and are being given the attention they deserve,” Carnahan said. “We will investigate this matter thoroughly and respond to the complaint at the appropriate time through the court.”