A Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army went up against a terrifying enemy — the mortgage industry, in the form of PHH Mortgage Corporation — in court and came away victorious after a jury awarded him $21 million for his troubles.
The soldier bought a home in Columbus, GA, in 2007 and for two years PHH, which services around 1 million mortgages nationwide, direct-debited mortgage payments from his bank account without problem. Then in 2009, he began receiving late payment notices.
He attempted, to no avail, to resolve the problem via the company’s customer service department. The late-payment notices continued and his credit report took a hit.
That’s when he decided to sue, alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act and Georgia state law, including negligent loan servicing and breach of contract, and for attorney fees and punitive damages.
Says his lawyer:
This soldier was never behind on his payments. They were taking his money and not crediting it properly. I think the jury and everybody has had this experience before with the call center and they’re fed up with it. They started to make his credit delinquent. They wrote him letters saying he was behind on his mortgage and it affected his credit. And by affecting his credit, he got turned down for credit cards and was worried he’d get in trouble with the Army. It was a very disheartening process for him to go through.
The lawyer told WTVM in Georgia that the company blamed the staff sergeant for not properly filling out paperwork.
After the verdict, a rep for PHH said the company was going to fight the decision:
PHH Mortgage is recognized as one of the nation’s leading mortgage servicers, and we take our responsibilities to borrowers seriously. Although we respect the judicial process, we believe this verdict is not supported by the facts of the case or by applicable law, and that the award is grossly disproportionate to any damages Sgt. Brash may have sustained. We intend to seek further judicial review of the case.
Thanks to Jake for the tip!