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Latest News
NY Times Gretchen Morgenson: $20 Billion Bank Settlement Deal Sends Bad Message to Big Bad Industry
Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Attorney General of N.Y. Is Said to Face Pressure on Bank Foreclosure Deal
Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices, according to people briefed on discussions about the deal. In recent weeks, Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and high-level Justice Department officials have been waging an intensifying campaign to try to persuade the attorney general to support the settlement, said the people briefed on the talks. “The attorney general remains concerned by any attempt at a global settlement that would shut down ongoing investigations of wrongdoing related to the mortgage crisis,” said Danny Kanner, the spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman.

Should not be an advocate for the industry
Tuesday, 23 August 2011

New York Fed Director Kathryn Wylde Provokes Accusations Of Conflict Of Interest
Kathryn Wylde, deputy chair of the New York Fed's board, challenged state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's opposition to a proposed $8.5 billion settlement between Bank of America and a group of investors -- leaping to the defense of the financial industry -- according to remarks quoted Monday in The New York Times..."I'm just appalled," said Whalen, who is managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics. "She is a public director of a Federal Reserve Bank, and she's not supposed to behave this way. She is not an advocate for the industry." "If she wants to be an advocate for the big banks," he continued, "then she ought to step down."

Miami Corruption in Building Inspections
Sunday, 24 July 2011

Former Miami Beach building official gets 18 months in corruption case
The third Miami Beach building department employee caught taking bribes from a scandal-tainted developer pleaded guilty Monday, agreeing to serve 18 months in jail.  Mohammed Partovi, 54, pleaded guilty to two counts of “unlawful compensation’’ for accepting a Rolex watch and cash from Michael Stern, a troubled Miami Beach developer who has repeatedly been accused of fraud and forgery in lawsuits relating to his real estate business.

Jury sides with Halliburton-KBR on Rape Case
Saturday, 09 July 2011

Well Street Journal: Jury Favors KBR in Iraq Rape Trial
A jury in federal court on Friday dispatched a high-profile lawsuit against KBR Inc. brought by a former employee, finding she wasn't sexually assaulted by a co-worker while working for the defense contractor in Iraq in 2005.Jamie Leigh Jones, 26 years old, had claimed she was drugged and subsequently raped by former KBR firefighter Charles Bortz just three days after arriving in Baghdad's Green Zone. She further alleged that KBR, a former unit of Halliburton Co., had defrauded her by concealing the risk of sexual assault at its camp in Iraq, and by including a mandatory arbitration clause in her contract for resolving work-related complaints. Her lawyers had sought $145 million in damages from both defendants.

Jury Says Rape is OK if Big Business Says So
Saturday, 09 July 2011

Jury rejects rape claims against KBR employees
In one of his first acts as a U.S. senator, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken championed the cause of Jamie Leigh Jones, a former KBR/Halliburton worker who claimed she had been drugged and gang-raped by colleagues in Baghdad's Green Zone. With the high-profile victim looking on in the Senate chamber in 2009, Franken won passage of a measure in her name ensuring that military contractors couldn't force victims of sexual assault into arbitration, as opposed to suing.Jones got her day in court, and on Friday, a federal jury deciding her civil suit in Houston decided she was not raped, vindicating a company that charged she had exaggerated or made up her story, in part for fame, publicity and a book deal.

Maryland AG takes action on behalf of consumers
Saturday, 02 July 2011

Consumer Protection Division orders more than $15,000 in refunds and penalties
(Maryland Attorney General) BALTIMORE, MD -— Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has announced  that the Consumer Protection Division has issued a final order requiring Bay Area Design & Build, Inc. and its principals to refund $10,000 collected from consumers to construct a home in Anne Arundel County and pay a penalty of $3,000.  The Division found the builder and its principals, Gregory Louis Haigis and Robert Scott Huff, violated Maryland’s Custom Home Protection Act by failing to place or maintain money in an escrow account, failing to have a surety bond to protect those deposits and payments and failing to construct the home.

Small firm, huge win in mortgage debacle
Thursday, 30 June 2011

Houston lawyer led investor charge in $8.5 billion Bank of America deal
A Houston lawyer with a small firm won an $8.5 billion settlement with Bank of America tied to the 2008 mortgage mess, a deal that could establish a road map for other banks in resolving the nation's stubborn housing crisis. "I think this is one of those rare opportunities for doing good for your client and doing good for the public," said Kathy Patrick, lead attorney for 22 big investors hit by losses from Bank of America and its Countrywide subsidiary. The settlement, announced Wednesday, not only would require Bank of America and/ or Countrywide to pay $8.5 billion to cover investor losses caused by problem mortgages, but it also would force a series of improvements in the way borrowers receive service when they need to reset terms or otherwise work out problems with individual loans — alleviating a source of friction and frustration.

Huge $5.8 Billion Bank of America Settlement
Thursday, 30 June 2011

BofA agrees to pay $8.5 billion in mortgage claims
The settlement will contribute to a second-quarter loss of $8.6 billion to $9.1 billion, or 88 cents to 93 cents a share, the bank said in a statement. Bank of America also said it's adding $5.5 billion to a liability reserve for future loan-repurchase demands and will record $6.4 billion in other charges including legal costs and a write-down of mortgage-unit goodwill... Investors, which also include Pacific Investment Management Co. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, demanded in October that Bank of America repurchase home loans that had been packaged into bonds by Countrywide Financial Corp., which it acquired in 2008. The settlement covers 530 mortgage trusts with an original loan balance of $424 billion, the bank said.

Bank of American Federal Investigation
Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bank Of America 'Significantly Hindered' Federal Investigation, U.S. Official Says
Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank by assets, "significantly hindered" a federal investigation into the firm's faulty foreclosure practices on potentially billions of dollars worth of taxpayer-backed loans, a federal auditor told an Arizona court. The bank withheld key documents and data, prevented investigators from interviewing bank employees... Federal investigators found one bank employee who signed more than 75,000 foreclosure documents over the two-year period. If the employee worked every day during those two years, that amounts to about 103 documents signed per day, or one every five minutes. Another Bank of America employee was found to have signed nearly 47,000 foreclosure documents over the examined period, which amounts to about 64 documents signed per day, or one every seven minutes.

New York Times: Hot Coffee Public Debate
Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Documentary Gives Hot Issue Caffeinated Jolt
“Everybody knows — or thinks they know — the McDonald’s case,” said Susan Saladoff, who put her legal practice aside to direct and produce the film. “But they really don’t know it at all. I didn’t do this to become a filmmaker. I made this movie because I had something to say that needed to be said, and nobody else was saying it, at least to regular folks, to the public.” That message may be getting across. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post, reviewing the film at the Sundance Festival, wrote that it provided “the kind of narrative that sends audiences out of the theater thinking in a brand-new way about something they thought they understood.” ... One of several strands in the film, Ms. Liebeck’s story shows how tort reformers deftly spun her case and others to nudge public opinion and argue for the need to shut down what industry advocates called “jackpot justice.” The film also lays out facts of the case that are rarely heard.  89 related articles

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

HBO Documentary Films: Summer Series - Hot Coffee (HBO)
HOT COFFEE examines the dangers of so-called “tort reform” and its threat to our civil justice system. Using the now-infamous legal battle over a spilled cup of McDonald’s coffee as a springboard, the film follows four families, including McDonald’s plaintiff Stella Liebeck and KBR/Halliburton plaintiff Jaime Leigh Jones, whose lives have been profoundly affected by their inability to access the courts, and examines the role of corporations and a complicit media in promoting “tort reform.” 89 related articles

All State Systems Fail to Protect Couple from Shoddy Homebuilding
Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Southborough couple have a $1 million money pit
Ever since they moved into the house at 22A Lovers Lane in 2005, Kathryn and Christian Culley say their long-awaited "dream home" has been nothing but a nightmare. The garage was too small to fit their car. Weeks later, water began flooding the basement. Over time, doors couldn't be shut, and floors started creaking. The Culleys didn't know it, but their house was shifting... During the course of the legal proceedings, builder Gary Cato lost his license, as did two engineers, John Greendale and Carlos Ferreira, who both admitted to stamping plans improperly. After a monthlong trial, a jury awarded the Culleys $1.1 million in damages, an amount that was to be tripled automatically because of the fraud and building code violations... A year later, though, the Culleys haven't seen a cent. They are still looking for resolution.  That's because Middlesex Superior Court Judge Thomas Murtagh threw out the jury's verdict, saying it went "against the weight of the evidence and was likely due to misapprehension, confusion or passion."

HOA pushes for green grass during drought
Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Texas HOA demands green grass in a drough
...this HOA, he said, that suggested it, after they found patches of dirt amongst the withered blades in his front yard...SAWS officials say they have yet to see any homeowner deed restrictions that demand homeowners keep their lawns green. And as a public water utility, SAWS has no jurisdiction over HOAs. But the utility is asking all associations to think of brown grass as the new green, at least for now in stage-2 restrictions.

Hot /Coffee:700 people reported burns from McDonald's coffee
Monday, 27 June 2011

'Hot Coffee:' Facts, Fiction, and Corporate Greed
...did you know that the coffee served to Stella Liebeck was 50 to 60 degrees hotter than what you brew in your coffeemaker at home? That Ms. Liebeck received third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body: the worst burns her treating physician had even seen? That over a ten-year period before Ms. Liebeck was horribly burned more than 700 people reported burns from McDonald's coffee? That McDonald's representatives admitted at trial that its coffee was so hot it was "not fit for consumption" when sold? That the judge who presided over the trial described McDonald's conduct as "callous" and "willful, wanton, and reckless"? Probably not.

Bad HOA Ex Board President is thorn in Ventura Community
Wednesday, 08 June 2011

Ousted HOA president demands millions
Former Ventura HOA president Lisa Pfeiffer is at it again. She's filed a multi-million dollar claim against the homeowners association after being ousted from office last year after a News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters investigation. Pfeiffer was forced to resign last November after I reported she had closed all board meetings, spent more than $100,000 to sue several homeowners and then rigged her own re-election.

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