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Florida Woman Staves Off Foreclosure for 25 Years by Asking to See the Note

December 10, 2010

Our Rancho Cucamonga foreclosure defense attorneys have read a lot lately about people who are fighting foreclosures by asking a court to verify that the foreclosing bank actually has the right to foreclose. The Wall Street Journal put a special twist on that story Dec. 4 with an article about a Florida woman who has been in foreclosure since 1985. Patsy Campbell, 71, is a retired insurance saleswoman with a house in Okeechobee County, Fla. Thanks in part to the savings & loan scandal of the eighties, the ownership of the mortgage changed hands several times, confusing ownership and causing foreclosures to be dropped. Like people with more recent mortgage problems, she has been able to stop foreclosures by challenging ownership as well as legal mistakes by lenders.

Campbell inherited the home and its mortgage from her husband, who died in 1980. She stopped making mortgage payment in 1985, when an illness dropped her income. Around that time, banks started selling her note -- at least six times in all. Four different lenders attempted a judicial foreclosure, as is standard in Florida, but the case was dropped every time the note changed hands. It was eventually sold to the FDIC, which sold it to a private lender that tried to foreclose in 2000. That's when Campbell started fighting back with help from a local foreclosure attorney. Some of the defenses she raised were no good, but some were valid, including a demand that the lender prove ownership and complaints about previous lenders' failure to pay court and attorney costs. She also seized on procedural errors, such as a court clerk's mistake, when she found them. When the lender finally got a foreclosure court date this year, Campbell filed for bankruptcy, which is likely to delay things another four months.

The article cast Campbell's actions as clogging the court system with fruitless delays. But as Orange foreclosure defense lawyers, we are impressed, especially since she is now representing herself. Lenders may not like it when foreclosures are delayed, but when there are serious questions about the validity or fairness of the foreclosure, a delay is entirely appropriate. Campbell argues that ownership of her mortgage is now in doubt because it has been transferred so many times. If that argument sounds familiar, it might be because it's also being used by victims of robo-signing and by investors interested in putbacks of toxic mortgage-backed securities. That is, this is yet another instance of lenders failing to follow basic paperwork laws, then protesting when finally held responsible.

Campbell is lucky to be a resident of a judicial foreclosure state, where foreclosures are automatically reviewed by a judge. That's not the system here in California, which means borrowers must file lawsuits if they want a human being to make sure the foreclosure is correct and fair. Howard Law PC represents clients around California who are suing to stop unfair foreclosures. Our San Diego County foreclosure defense attorneys have practiced this type of law throughout the foreclosure crisis, so we understand lenders' typical tricks and misrepresentations in the time leading up to foreclosure. We fight this misbehavior by stopping foreclosures right away, then negotiating aggressively to make sure clients have a fair chance to hold on to their homes.

If you've been arguing with your mortgage servicer for months without getting closer to an agreement, Howard Law can help. To learn more or set up a free consultation, call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or send us a message online.