A law firm based in Florida has agreed a penalty of $2 million which will be paid to the state for their alleged role in the mishandling of foreclosures. This is the first incidence of any kind of deal relating to the issue which began causing uproar last fall.
The Marshall C. Watson law firm is just one of several prominent offices that state authorities are investigating after money lenders including J.P. Morgan Chase and the Bank of America admitted some of their employees had “robo-signed” several documents of foreclosure cases without properly reading them first. Some documents were also found to have been improperly notarized.
Investigations by both state authorities and federal regulators are continuing, and we can expect to see many more penalties being dished out or negotiated.
Some people are not too happy about the provisions of this latest deal however, with the small size of the penalty a particular cause for concern. Moreover, the deal does not include any admission of any guilt by Marshal C. Watson.
The firm’s case saw several homeowners lodge complaints that forms had been robo-signed, while some also alleged that certain documents and notary issues had been forged as well. Furthermore, foreclosure notices were not properly served, so the Florida Attorney General’s office says. In several cases, relatives of the homeowners were served notices, instead of the correct parties. Homeowners were then billed to cover the costs of this.
While many aggrieved homeowners are miffed by the deal, Marshall C. Watson, the firm’s president, was reported to be pleased with the settlement. He issued a statement saying that his firm can now set higher standards in the mortgage law provider industry, thanks to its new, tighter controls which are now in place following the settlement. He added that “clients recognize and value” steps taken by the firm.