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Couple should have jury trial on legal claims

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A couple whose home is being foreclosed on is entitled to a jury trial on their legal claims against the mortgage holder and loan servicer, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Mary Beth and Perry Lucas v. U.S. Bank, N.A., et al., No. 28A01-0910-CV-482, Mary Beth and Perry Lucas filed an interlocutory appeal after their request for a jury trial on several counterclaims and third-party claims raised against U.S Bank and Litton Loan Servicing was denied. The Lucases had problems almost immediately after closing their mortgage. They claimed the loan rate and monthly payments were incorrect and there were disputes about the purchase of hazard insurance and escrow amount problems.

The Lucases filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection a little over a year after entering into the loan. The bankruptcy was discharged after four months, but there were issues about fees between the Lucases and Litton. The couple even sought assistance from Indiana Legal Services.

U.S. Bank filed a complaint to foreclose on the mortgage in early 2009; the Lucases alleged that Argent, the company they originally had the loan through, violated the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, that U.S. Bank committed conversion and deception under the Civil Damages Statute, and that U.S. Bank breached its contractual obligations and its duty of good faith and fair dealing. They also sued Litton for breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, and claimed Litton violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and RESPA. The couple also claims they are entitled to damages because Litton committed conversion.

Using Songer v. Civitas Bank, 771 N.E.2d 61, 63 (Ind. 2002), the appellate court analyzed the instant case and found the Lucases to be entitled to a jury trial on their legal claims. While a foreclosure action is essentially equitable and it’s well settled that equitable claims are tried to a court instead of a jury, the fact that a cause contains a foreclosure action doesn’t necessarily draw the entire cause into equity, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

The claims against the bank and loan servicer are grounded in federal and state statutory law, and state common law, all of which are legal causes of action. The majority of relief requested by the Lucases is money damages, a legal remedy, wrote the chief judge. In addition, the nature of many of their claims is different from the bank’s request to foreclose as they are grounded in consumer protection statutes.

“In light of the nature of the claims, the rights and interests involved, and the majority of the relief requested, we cannot say that the essential features of this cause are equitable,” he wrote.

The cause was remanded with instructions to grant the Lucases’ motion for a jury trial on their legal claims.
 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

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