Let's say you borrow money from a friend, and you lose your job and don't repay the loan. Your friend sues you.
And let's say the friend misfiled the promissory note. He searches his house for 15 minutes and can't find it. "Don't worry," his attorney tells him. "We'll just print out another promissory note and forge the borrower's signature. No one will notice."
When your former friend gives the fabricated document to the court, you do notice that it's forged. You complain to the judge. The plaintiff hastily dismisses the case, but keeps the right to refile the lawsuit later, after he finds the original paperwork.
Do you have a right to complain? Should your former friend be punished for filing fraudulent papers with the court?
It's true that you borrowed the money and didn't repay it. Does that make it OK for your legal opponent to fabricate a document and forge your signature and try to fool the judge?
The above scenario happened at least once, and probably thousands of times, in Florida during the period when robosigning was rampant in foreclosure cases. In Florida, the lenders have a right to dismiss foreclosure lawsuits and refile them later. And that's what lenders did, many times, when borrowers challenged the validity of legal documents that the lenders had filed.
As the Palm Beach Post reports, a trial court and an appeals court ruled that, once a foreclosure case is voluntarily dismissed by the lender, the borrower can't ask the judge to punish the plaintiff's attorneys for filing flawed or fraudulent documents. But the appeals court asked the state Supreme Court to review the case.
The Mortgage Bankers Association and Florida Bankers Association say that, if lenders and their attorneys can be punished for filing fabricated documents in foreclosure cases, there could be "potentially devastating" economic consequences.
What do you think? Should we allow banks to file fraudulent documents in court to keep our economy afloat?