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Resident fights bank’s eviction effort

Defendant says company bungled 
foreclosure proceedings

A Brush Creek resident is entering his 15th month of fighting a bank’s effort to evict him from the home he’s owned for 17 years, contending the company has violated consumer-protection laws and stands to make a windfall on the resale of the residence.
A legal filing by defendant James Anthony St. Ville says the Northern Trust Co., an international financial services conglomerate with $106 billion in assets, has “consistently failed to comply with the most basic protections afforded by state and federal foreclosure laws enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.”
Those protections, as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and by Colorado law, include providing the steps a consumer can take to avoid foreclosure. Such steps, known as loss mitigation, can include utilizing a third-party lender to help pay down the debt.
St. Ville’s attorney, Gregory Gordon of Aspen, filed a response Tuesday opposing Northern Trust’s motion for judgment, and included a brief in support of having a jury decide whether the bank acted properly in the foreclosure proceeding.
Northern Trust Co. first tried to foreclose on the defendant’s Brush Creek Village home on Dec. 30, 2014 — “on the eve of more rigorous consumer-protection laws taking effect in Colorado on Jan. 1, 2015,” Gordon wrote.
But even with the more lax consumer-protection regulations in place before 2015, the bank still failed to follow loss-mitigation requirements, ruled Judge Denise Lynch of the 9th Judicial District in June.
Gordon wrote that Northern Trust Co. failed to provide the direct phone number for its loss-mitigation representative or department, and the judge denied the bank’s motion to authorize the sale of the home.
Northern Trust Co. succeeded in foreclosing on the property in January, with Judge John Neiley of the 9th authorizing the sale because St. Ville missed payments on the $1.6 million deed for the home. The bank bought it at auction in November for just under $1.5 million.
But St. Ville refused to move out, and Northern Trust Co. filed an eviction lawsuit against him earlier this month. The bank says it is a straight-forward case because of Judge Neiley’s ruling and that St. Ville is now trespassing in the home that he had owned since 1999.
Gordon, in his filing Tuesday, disputed that, writing that Judge Neiley found that the bank violated a Colorado statute that mandates foreclosure entities provide a loss-mitigation application. But that deficiency was found to be outside the limited scope of a foreclosure hearing, and the sale was allowed to go forward.
Foreclosure hearings generally tackle whether a bank has given proper notice to a debtor. In an interview Tuesday, Gordon said the failure to provide an application was not within the law’s notice provisions.
“It was not something [the judge] could consider within this context,” he said.
Northern Trust Co., in its second foreclosure effort, provided the name and number of a loss-mitigation specialist. But at the onset of that proceeding, the person had been transferred to another department and “apparently refused to take defendant’s calls entirely (including … calls from several third-party lenders who might have been able to provide financing to defendant),” Gordon wrote. “While these issues may be beyond the scope of a [foreclosure] hearing, they are recognized and valid claims and defenses in this action.”
The bank stands to make a windfall profit because it can sell the home for much more than it paid at auction, Gordon said.
Judge Chris Seldin of the 9th, the latest to oversee the case, has yet to rule on whether St. Ville is in the home illegally, or if a jury will decide if Northern Trust Co. violated Dodd-Frank and Colorado law.
But in a ruling issued Monday, Judge Seldin ruled in the bank’s favor in finding that it had properly served St. Ville with the eviction summons and complaint by mailing the documents and personally giving them to him.

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