Homeowner wins $21M lawsuit against lender – ultimate David and Goliath tale

America’s 8th largest mortgage company, PHH Mortgage was just ordered to pay a single homeowner $21 million in damages after they falsely reported him as “seriously delinquent” to credit rating companies despite his never making a late payment.

The 29 year old US Army sergeant, David Brash and his wife bought a $160,000 home in Columbus, Georgia in 2007 and because he was on active duty at Fort Benning and sought to avoid any missed payments, he immediately set up a direct debit and proved to the court he never missed a payment.

Despite no missed payments, Brash began getting late notices in 2009 when PHH Mortgage failed to properly credit his account after two years without a problem. Brash diligently called PHH Mortgage but was continually sent to the customer service center. In India. No one could answer his questions.

The jury listened to Brash’s calls to PHH

The late notices continued, threatening to report him as “seriously delinquent” to credit agencies. Brash continued calling and was continually given no answer.

PHH recorded calls were subpoenaed and played for the jury who heard some of his frustrations including being put on hold for up to an hour with each customer service agent giving him a different response as to why he was getting late notices. Brash was told they would investigate and call back but days later, he would call and learn no investigation was ever noted on the account.

Brash feared damage to his military career

PHH began reporting his “delinquency” and Brash couldn’t get a credit card and feared this PHH error would interfere with his military career which is why Brash hired an attorney who wrote to PHH’s President who failed to respond within the 60 days legally required under RESPA.

The jury awarded Brash $21,350,575, including $20M in punitive damages. PHH says they will seek further judicial review.
We thought the homeowner who foreclosed on a Wells Fargo branch was the ultimate David/Goliath story of the year, but Brash’s $21M award may have just taken the cake.

SOURCE: The American Genius – 4/8/2011