Corrupt Attorneys

Courts

Judges Slam More and More Plaintiffs’ Attorneys for Corruption

March 13, 2014

Peasants in Leon, Nicaragua, march in 2007 to denounce the use of harmful pesticides at banana plantations

Photograph by Miguel Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-13/judges-slam-more-and-more-plaintiffs-attorneys-for-corruption#p1

Peasants in Leon, Nicaragua, march in 2007 to denounce the use of harmful pesticides at banana plantations

On March 7 a California appellate court upheld a trial judge’s finding that what had been billed as a watershed liability verdict against Dole Food over pesticide use in Nicaragua was actually the product of a conspiracy by corrupt plaintiffs’ lawyers. That decision came only three days after a federal judge in New York ruled that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment against Chevron (CVX) in 2011 was so tainted by bribery and coercion that it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a prominent class-action injury lawyer faces mounting woes because of allegations that he faked thousands of damage claims against BP (BP)related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. When you combine these cases with the criminal convictions several years ago of plaintiffs-bar titans Mel Weiss, Bill Lerach, and Dickie Scruggs—all of whom served time for corrupting the civil justice system—it’s hard to deny that there’s deep dysfunction within a powerful portion of the legal profession that claims to fight corporate abuse on behalf of the little guy.

A look at the Dole ruling illustrates the point. The California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles affirmed dismissal of one of a series of suits filed against Dole, alleging the company’s use of pesticides in Nicaragua left banana workers sterile in the late 1970s. In all, these suits resulted in billions of dollars in judgments against Dole.

The case at issue in the March 7 ruling, known as Tellez, went to trial in 2008 and produced a multimillion-dollar verdict for workers. That verdict was thrown out when Dole’s attorneys proved that many of the plaintiffs never worked for the company and weren’t, in fact, sterile. Witnesses and investigators were intimidated in Nicaragua, and plaintiffs were coached to concoct false stories. One supposed victim testified that he was instructed to memorize and repeat phony evidence “like a parrot.”

Plaintiffs’ lawyers and law firms are major political contributors, particularly to Democrats

The California appellate court said the trial judge correctly sent the Tellez plaintiffs packing. The ruling was a win for the Los Angeles firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which has engineered the negation of multiple pesticide verdicts against Dole. That accomplishment prompted Chevron to hire Gibson Dunn to fight back against a $19 billion oil-contamination judgment imposed by an Ecuadorean court in 2011. In the Chevron case, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of New York ruled on March 4 that plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger turned his Ecuadorean lawsuit against the oil company into a racketeering scheme, complete with extortion, bribery of judges, and fabrication of evidence. Donziger has denied wrongdoing and vowed to appeal.

Mass-tort and class-action securities-fraud suits reached their apogee in the 1990s, fueled in part by the energy and ingenuity of an elite fraternity of plaintiffs’ firms and individual lawyers, some of whom became phenomenally wealthy as a result of their success. There’s nothing necessarily wrong, of course, with plaintiffs’ attorneys doing well along the path to doing good, just as there’s nothing necessarily improper with corporate-defense lawyers getting richly paid.

But as the plaintiffs’ bar achieved lucrative triumphs in asbestos litigation and the tobacco cases, some of its leaders lost their bearings. Scruggs, who earned a fortune in both of those arenas, pleaded guilty in 2008 to crimes related to a judicial bribery scheme. Weiss and Lerach, impresarios of securities-fraud class actions, went to prison for paying kickbacks to shareholder plaintiffs-for-hire. Last year the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the disbarment of Stanley Chesley, a scourge of the pharmaceuticals and chemicals industries, among others. Chesley allegedly sought “unreasonable” fees in the settlement of a diet drug class action against Wyeth, now part of Pfizer (PFE).

Mikal Watts of San Antonio ranks among the nation’s most feared mass-injury lawyers. In the wake of the BP oil spill four years ago, his firm filed some 40,000 claims on behalf of deckhands and others alleging economic harm from the disaster that killed 11 rig workers and sullied the Gulf Coast. Last December, BP hit back, accusing Watts of seeking to shake down the company by filing claims for thousands of “phantom” clients who didn’t fit his description of them or didn’t exist at all. Then, in January, another well-known mass-tort attorney, Danny Becnel of Louisiana, filed a separate suit against Watts on behalf of Vietnamese American fishermen and business owners who say Watts used their names without authorization. Watts last year resigned from the plaintiffs’ steering committee helping to direct the litigation against BP after media reports that federal agents had searched his offices in connection with the phantom-claims scandal. The federal criminal probe is continuing. Watts, a major fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, has denied any wrongdoing—civil or criminal. His lawyers have said all his filings against BP were made in good faith.

Despite the egregiousness of the plaintiffs’ bar abuses, there’s little chance that Congress will enact tort reform anytime soon, says Victor Schwartz, a lobbyist for business on the issue and a partner in Washington with law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. Plaintiffs’ lawyers and law firms are major political contributors, particularly to Democrats, who have fought attempts to cap settlements in big corporate liability cases and class actions. Lawyers spent about $135 million in 2012 helping to elect Democrats, compared with $56 million for Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money. “There have been no major business civil justice victories [in Congress] for almost a decade,” Schwartz says. Likewise, President Obama has shown little interest in taking on attorneys who invested $28 million in his reelection effort in 2012, more than twice what they gave Mitt Romney, according to the center. And bar associations and state attorneys general rarely seek to prosecute litigation fraud, which is expensive to pursue and politically fraught. As a result, says Sherman Joyce, president of the corporate-funded American Tort Reform Association, “too many plaintiffs’ lawyers believe there’s not much risk in filing fraudulent suits.”

The bottom line: Dole and Chevron have won major court victories after federal judges ruled that plaintiffs’ lawyers engaged in fraud.

Barrett_190
Barrett is an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. His new book, Law of the Jungle, which tells the story of the Chevron oil pollution case in Ecuador, will be published by Crown in September 2014. His most recent book is GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun.
Advertisements

From Matt Weidner in Florida Foreclosure Hell

A COURT ACTUALLY MADE A BANK FOLLOW THE LAW AND ITS OWN RULES!

KABOOM! Non-Compliance With Pooling And Servicing Agreement (PSA) Voids Assignment of Mortgage….

Posted by: | on May 8, 2013

http://mattweidnerlaw.com/blog/2013/05/kaboom-non-compliance-with-pooling-and-servicing-agreement-psa-voids-assignment-of-mortgage/

Down here in Florida Foreclosure Courts, we are treated to a constant, steady, nearly impenetrable wall of,

“Fraud in Foreclosure Doesn’t Matter at All!”

and

“Banks Can Ignore All Laws, All Rules, All Foreclosure Processes And Still Take Your Home”

and a recent favorite

“Banks Can Spit In The Face of The Attorneys General And Ignore Their Absurd National Mortgage Settlement”

But up in New York, a court reached a stunning result…..

A COURT ACTUALLY MADE A BANK FOLLOW THE LAW AND ITS OWN RULES!

The assignment of the Defendant’s note and mortgage, having not been assigned fromthe Depositor to the Trust, is therefore void as in being in contravention of the PSA. The evidence submitted by Defendant that the note was acquired after the closing date and that assignment was not made by the Depositor, is sufficient to raise questions [*10]of fact as to Whether the Plaintiff owns the note and mortgage, and precludes granting Plaintiff summary judgment.

The assignment of the note and the mortgage which affected the transfer was dated July
16, 2008, however, pursuant to the terms of the PSA the trust closed on November 14, 2006.

Section 9.02 of the PSA specifically prohibits the acquisition of any asset for a REMIC
part of the fund after the closing date unless the party permitting the acquisition and the
NIMS (net interest margin securities) Insurer have received an Opinion letter from counsel, atthe party’s expense, that the acceptance of the asset will not affect the REMIC’s status. No such letter has been provided to show compliance with the requirements of the PSA.Plaintiff has provided no evidence that the trustee had authority to acquire the note and mortgage herein after the trust had closed.

Since the trustee acquired the subject note and mortgage after the closing date, the
trustee’s act in acquiring them exceeded its authority and violated the terms of the trust.The acquisition of a mortgage after 90 days is not a mere technicality but a material violation of
the trust’s terms, which jeopardizes the trust’s REMIC status.

Section 9.01(f) of the PSA provides that neither the Trustee, the Servicer or Holder of
the Certificates shall cause any REMIC formed under the PSA, by action or omission, to
endanger the status of the REMIC or cause any imposition of tax upon the REMIC.

Since the trust was organized as a REMIC, the investors received certain tax benefits on
the income that passed through the trust to them. Section 26 U.S.C.A. § 860D(a)(4) defines a REMIC as an entity that
as of the close of the 3rd month beginning after the startup day and at all times thereafter,
substantially all of the assets of which consist of qualified mortgages and permitted
investments.

From Living Lies Important Info On Banks!

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/new-york-getting-ready-to-prosecute-banks-for-violations-of-settlement/

 

New York Getting Ready to Prosecute Banks for Violations of Settlement

Posted on May 7, 2013 by Neil Garfield
At the end of the day everyone knows everything. If you start with the premise that the securitization of debt was a farce and that the necessary element of the false securitization of mortgage loans was the foreclosure of those loans, then you move one step closer to understanding the mortgage and foreclosure mess and a giant step forward to understanding and implementing a solution. All the actions, statements and myths promulgated by the Wall Street banks become clear, including their violation of every consent decree,order and settlement they ever made with respect to mortgage loans.
Attorney General Schneiderman of New York seems to understand this and he is taking the mega banks to task for violating a settlement that looks like pennies on the dollar. He doesn’t care why they violated the $26 Billion settlement but he is taking action for their consistent violation of the settlement. But I care about the reason and so should you. The reason is nothing less than the obvious: the mega banks expose themselves to liability that far exceeds the terms of the settlement.
In any normal circumstances when a big company enters into a settlement that amounts to pennies on the dollar, the company rushes to make the settlement final by paying the money and performing the actions required in the agreement. Thus they commit illegal acts and get away with it by entering into an agreement that looks big but doesn’t put them out of business. They are nothing but anxious to put the settlement behind them.
So why are the mega banks refusing to abide by a $26 billion settlement on a multi- trillion theft? The answer by pure logic and my sources is that if the banks actually performed on the material portions of the agreement they risk going out of business. Why?
The answer is arithmetic. The purpose of the settlement was to stop illegal foreclosure practices and compensate those who lost their homes in illegal Foreclosures (as opposed to simply reversing the Foreclosures and starting over again which is what any court of law would require if there was an admission that the documents and claims in foreclosure were false).
Arithmetic is the answer. Without Foreclosures, the banks cannot support their claim of failure of the mortgages. If the loans are reinstated then the “sales” of loans and mortgage bonds become immediately subject to an accounting and to payback to investors who bought empty bogus bonds issued by a trust that existed in name only. If the loans must be considered performing loans because of any of the reasons contained in those multistage settlements, consent decrees,orders and agency settlements, then the banks must reimburse the insurers, buyers and counter-parties on hedge products like credit default swaps.
Thus satisfactions the settlement agreement exposes the banks to a reduction in their tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 capital such that the reality and empty underbelly of the banksia displayed for all to see. Those banks and are not nearly as big as they say they are and must be resolved by the FDIC because they actually do not have the minimum capital requirements that all banks must have to continue operations. That is why the Brown bill in the U.S. Senate is dead on right.
If the Foreclosures were invalid there is only one way to correct them, just like any title problem. Correct the defect In Title by reversing the foreclosure or get an affidavit from the homeowner joining in some correction of the corrupted title resulting from fake Foreclosures.
With trillions in liability at stake of course the banks are violating the settlement agreements and consent decrees. All they can do is try to control state and federal action by providing photo opportunities and planted articles around the media to make people feel good. But neither the housing market nor the economy will get the stimulus necessary for a full recovery until the truth is addressed instead of pretending you can fix this mortgage and foreclosure mess with Tiny settlements and promises that nobody intends to keep.

Eric Schneiderman: Banks Have ‘Confidence’ That Law Enforcement Is Not Taking Violations ‘Seriously’
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/eric-schneiderman-banks_n_3226992.html

 

New York sues banks over foreclosures – Feb. 3, 2012

http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/03/news/economy/banks_sued/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

New York sues banks over foreclosures

  • By Jennifer Liberto@CNNMoneyFebruary 3, 2012: 3:15 PM ET

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued the big banks over their use of an electronic mortgage registry.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued the big banks over their use of a private electronic mortgage registry.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The New York attorney general sued some of the nation’s biggest banks on Friday, accusing them of unlawful and deceptive practices for relying on a private electronic registry that tracks mortgages.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Friday sued Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), as well as the Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. (MERS) in New York state court.

Schneiderman says that the banks created the electronic registry as an “end-run” around the public property recording system to help them more quickly buy and sell parts of mortgages. He said the system helped banks create “deceptive and fraudulent court submissions” and improperly foreclose on homeowners.

“Our action demonstrates that there is one set of rules for all — no matter how big or powerful the institution may be — and that those rules will be enforced vigorously,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a statement.

Foreclosure settlement could be coming

MERS runs a database created in the 1995 to digitize and centralize the paperwork surrounding the bundling and selling of the loans. MERS members include most of the large banks in the mortgage industry. More than 70 million loans are registered in the MERS system, including 30 million that are active, according to the New York attorney general’s office.

The New York suit alleges that the database was used by the big banks to transfer ownership of mortgage debt without paying government registration fees and properly recording the transactions. The system also concealed the identities of the holders of mortgage debt from borrowers, the suit claims.

“MERS’ conduct, as well as the servicers’ use of the MERS System, has resulted in the filing of improper New York foreclosure proceedings, undermined the integrity of the judicial process, created confusion and uncertainty concerning property ownership interests, and potentially clouded titles on properties throughout the State of New York,” according to a statement by the New York Attorney General.

MERSCORP, parent company for Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc., said the company refutes the attorney general’s claims, adding that federal and state courts nationwide have already upheld the MERS’ business model, according to a statement.

One Washington research analyst notes that the New York charges are similar to past cases brought against MERS, and that so far, “the industry has won most of those challenges,” said Jaret Seiberg, of Guggenheim’s Washington Research Group “The ones they lost tend to be on narrow issues.

In December the Massachusetts attorney general filed a lawsuit against the same banks, as well as Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and GMAC Mortgage, alleging similar complaints. That case is still pending.

Schneiderman is also leading a working group of federal and state officials that the president put together to investigate mortgage securities fraud.

At the same time, Schneiderman is also considering whether New York should sign on to a mortgage servicing settlement agreement that federal officials and state attorneys general have been negotiating for a year with the nation’s largest banks that service mortgages. To top of page

New York sues banks over foreclosures – Feb. 3, 2012