The law blog of Aurora attorney Mike Huseman, featuring practice updates authored by Northern Illinois University College of Law alumni, as well as guest contributions from non-NIU lawyers and law students.
The Chicago Tribune reports that certain companies are now offering forensic loan reviews to homeowners facing foreclosure to determine if their lenders made any mistakes during the loan process that the homeowners could now use to get out of their loans.
These companies will scour loan documents looking for errors in, among other things, the truth in-lending (TIL) statement the lender or the lender's annual-percentage-rate (APR) calculations. If the TIL statement doesn't match up with the HUD-1 closing-cost sheet, a borrower might have cause for legal action against the lender.
Typically, forensic loan audits are ordered by mortgage investors to determine what kind of legal liability confronts them in the pools of loans they already own or are considering buying. As a so-called "business-to-business service," they are not generally available to individual borrowers.
Fees for this service could be as high as $3,000, depending on how much is owed on the mortgage. But if an error is found, it could provide great leverage when trying to negotiate with the banks.
One particular company says that well over 80 percent of the recent audits performed by their company have revealed major truth-in-lending violations, errors in the good-faith estimates required under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, illegal predatory lending practices or even fraud.
My question: Do these companies employ lawyers? If not, is this the unauthorized practice of law?
The circuit court clerk's office now has the ability to electronically send noncertified copies of documents from scanned images, pursuant to a court administrative order, Circuit Clerk Pamela McGuire announced.
"Our office believes this service is another way we serve the public's best interest. For those who utilize the courts, this ability can save a trip to the courthouse, fuel and parking," McGuire said. "The fees for the electronic documents are consistent with our normal paper copy fees pursuant to statute. In the very near future we hope to be able to process certified copy requests as well."
Requests can be submitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the convenience of one's office or home. Upon confirmation of payment, the documents will be electronically sent in a portable document format. Payments can be made by credit or debit card on the site. All document requests will be processed during normal business hours.
"The office of the Will County circuit clerk continues to look for convenient ways through technology to serve the public and utilize the clerk's office," McGuire said. "We hope you find this new service useful and cost effective."
Click here to read a very informative article written by David Davis, a trial consultant in Boston. His article titled "Some Juror Rules for Determining Damages" summarizes research conducted by economists at several universities relating to how jurors perceive damages at trial.
The most interesting portion of the article is that specific numbers seem lower than round numbers. For instance, $325,425 seems lower than $325,000 at first glance to most people. The author recommends asking for specific sums from juries for all types of damages, including punitives. Even if you are just making the number up, do not make it end in zeros.