BY SAMANTHA JOSEPH
This, defense attorneys say, is a new strategy by lenders and plaintiffs lawyers: sue to foreclose on government-guaranteed home loans under various defaults, then fast-track these suits by filing motions for orders to show cause. These motions shift the burden of proof to the borrower, requiring them to appear in court and explain why a judge shouldn’t grant final judgment against them.
“All of a sudden, we saw a spate of foreclosures [on reverse mortgages] where the mortgage companies alleged the seniors no longer lived in the home,” said Gladys Gerson, supervising attorney for Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida’s senior unit. “This has been happening around the state.”
Corona admits he didn’t expect a hard fight when he first reviewed El Hassan’s case, but court records show he was wrong. Over the last 10 months, the ongoing litigation yielded two hearings, 40 docket entries and attempts by both sides to collect attorney fees.
When he first met El Hassan, Corona expected the plaintiff would realize the error and dismiss the suit. Without charging her or entering a notice of appearance, he placed a phone call to plaintiffs lawyers at Robertson Anschutz & Schneid in Boca Raton to say El Hassan had never moved out of her home.
Robertson Anschutz & Schneid did not respond to requests for comment, but court records show they ratcheted up the litigation with a motion for an order to show cause weeks after Corona’s phone call.
“I looked at the document. I couldn’t believe it,” Corona said. “I was in shock (at) what the bank was trying to do.”