A federal jury in Bakersfield, California awarded $39,642 in economic and statutory damages and $300,000 in emotional distress damages against Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (“OCWEN”) in favor of Frank and Dora Cornejo (Case No. 1:15-cv-00993-JLT, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Bakersfield Division).  After post-judgment briefing, Judge Jennifer Thurston has decided to void that judgment and require Mr. and Mrs. Cornejo to re-try their case.

The Cornejos claimed that Ocwen engaged in “dual tracking” in violation of California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights, Civil Code Section 2923.6. Generally speaking, “dual tracking” is an outlawed practice whereby a lender or mortgage servicer forecloses on a property while a borrower is actively working on a loan modification, short sale, or other form of loss mitigation.

OCWEN denied that any “dual tracking” had occurred, and blamed the foreclosure on the Cornejos’ delay in providing their loan modification application. The jury decided that OCWEN willfully and recklessly “dual tracked” the Cornejos by foreclosing on their home even though a complete loan modification application had been presented to OCWEN.

After trial, Mrs. Cornejo expressed appreciation that the jury held OCWEN accountable for its conduct. “We sent [OCWEN] all of the documents that they asked for, and they sold my home anyway. They even approved the application afterwards and told me the sale would be reversed. They gave me hope and lied to me. The jury saw that.”

The Cornejos were represented by Los Angeles based attorneys GianDominic Vitiello of Katchko, Vitiello & Karikomi, PC and Edward Angwin of The Angwin Law Firm, along with John Heenan of Bishop, Heenan & Davies Law Firm of Billings, Montana. Mr. Vitiello stated that OCWEN’s disregard of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights was shocking, and was glad the jury held OCWEN accountable. “Any loan servicer doing business in California has the obligation to observe protections afforded to borrowers in foreclosure, or pay the consequences. We believe this to be one of the first instances of emotional distress and mental suffering damages being presented through a bifurcated trial in a dual tracking case.”

Unfortunately for the Cornejos, the jury verdict will be disregarded as a result of Judge Thurston’s order.  A new jury will be summoned for re-trial.

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