Homeowners Foreclose on Bank

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It's sad, even if sometimes necessary, when the sheriff's deputy and moving trucks show up to seize assets because of an unpaid debt.

Actually, though, I guess it's not that sad when it's the bank that's getting foreclosed on.

According to this report from Collier County, Florida, Bank of America brought proceedings against Warren and Maureen Nyerges, seeking to foreclose on their home for failing to pay the mortgage. This was a shocking development for the homeowners, especially since they had paid cash for the house and never had a mortgage at all. Apparently unable to convice the bank that it had made a mistake, the homeowners had to endure a year and a half of legal proceedings in order to get the matter resolved. A judge ruled that the bank had to pay the couple's legal fees, but five months later the bank still hadn't paid.

Then the trucks showed up at the local Bank of America branch.

"I instructed the deputy to go in and take desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets [and] cash in the drawers," said the homeowner's attorney, Todd Allen, who is shown in the video clip smirking like he's probably never smirked before, and for good reason. Allen said he had seen too many cases where banks had been careless. So "[a]s a foreclosure defense attorney," he said, "this is sweet justice."

One can feel at least mildly sorry for the branch manager on duty, who was probably not personally responsible for the mistake but who was confronted with sheriff's deputies saying they were there to take his stuff. "He was visibly shaken," said Allen, who was visibly happy. "Having two sheriff's deputies sitting across your desk, and a lawyer standing behind them, demanding whatever assets are in the bank, can be intimidating. But so is having your home foreclosed on when it wasn't right."

Bank of America later apologized for the delay, although it also blamed that delay on an unidentified "outside attorney" who is no longer practicing law. Whatever the reason for the delay, once the trucks showed up the homeowners had a check within about an hour.

The report doesn't say anything about a counterclaim, so it may be that the homeowners can only recover their fees and costs. The claim that comes to mind is negligent infliction of emotional distress, but it looks like Florida generally only allows such claims if there has also been a physical injury or at least some physical contact. Obviously, though, Mr. Allen is fairly creative. If he comes up with something, and wins, the bank should probably go ahead and pay up.