How dare Warren and Maureen Nyerges foreclose on their bank branch?
You've probably read or seen the story by now: The Nyergeses paid cash in 2009 for a foreclosed house in Naples, Fla. They owned it free and clear. Four months after they bought the house, they received a foreclosure notice. Just a mistake by some well-meaning people in a cubicle farm somewhere.
Sure, it was upsetting to receive an erroneous foreclosure notice on a house without a loan on it. And, yes, the Nyergeses endured a Kafkaesque 18 months of phone calls and court hearings. But the bottom line is that the system worked. After countless hours, and only $2,500 in attorney costs, they finally convinced a court that they owned the home and that the foreclosure was invalid. A judge ordered Bank of America to reimburse them their attorney costs.
Instead of being satisfied with that judgment, the Nyergeses became even more litigious, contributing to the overloaded dockets of America's beleaguered court system. They expected the bank to obey the judge and pay the attorney fees, and they were willing to use the overburdened court system to exert their will.
In other words, it wasn't the principal of the thing. It was about the money. They naively believed that the rules apply to big banks and not just to borrowers.
The homeowners' attorney, Todd Allen, sweet-talked the judge into issuing a foreclosure order against a local B of A branch for failure to pay his fees. Allen called the local news media to accompany him and some sheriff's deputies to the branch. The deputies got ready to seize the desks and furniture of the poor bank employees who had done nothing wrong. Those branch employees hadn't messed up the paperwork; they hadn't gone to court unprepared. Yet they were expected to the bear the brunt of others' mistakes. Just like the Nyergeses had been expected to bear the brunt of others' mistakes.
Well, two wrongs don't make a right.
According to the Associated Press, the branch's manager gave the Nyergeses a check on the spot for $5,772.88 to cover the attorney fees, plus late charges. Don't you think $3,200 in late fees is excessive?
The next time you hear someone complaining about frivolous lawsuits, tell them that they're talking about cases like this.