Class action over mortgage modification denial error moves forward
On October 18, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington granted in part a national bank’s motion to dismiss, but allowed the plaintiffs’ claim under the Washington Consumer Protection Act (WCPA) to move forward. According to the opinion, in 2011, a national bank denied the plaintiffs’ mortgage modification, and in 2012, the plaintiffs’ home was foreclosed upon. In August 2018, the national bank disclosed that approximately 625 mortgage modification applications were improperly denied due to a calculation error in the bank’s software. The bank informed the plaintiffs of the error, provided a check for $15,000, and after mediation, paid the plaintiffs another $25,000. The plaintiffs filed a class action against the bank, asserting claims for violation of the WCPA and unjust enrichment. The bank moved to dismiss the action, arguing, among other things, that the WCPA claim was an “impermissible attempt to enforce the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which creates no private right of action.” The court disagreed with the bank, determining that while the mortgage modification application was filed pursuant to HAMP, the plaintiffs “do not seek to enforce HAMP.” Instead, the plaintiffs argue that the wrongful denial of their application and failure to disclose the calculation error for three years “constitutes unfair or deceptive conduct in violation of the [WCPA].” The court concluded that the WCPA claim “is not an improper attempt to enforce” HAMP, as HAMP is merely “a ‘component’ of the [WCPA] claim.” The court went on to grant the bank’s motion to dismiss as to the unjust enrichment claim, while granting the plaintiffs’ request to amend their complaint.