Wednesday August 24th 2011 ( litton loan servicing class action lawsuit- lieffCabraser.com)

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Litton Loan Servicing
Issue: Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act violations
Schaffer v. Litton Loan Servicing, LP
On October 26, 2005, customers of Litton Loan Servicing, LP ("Litton") filed a class action complaint charging the company with violations of federal and state law. The named Plaintiffs filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of a Nationwide Class and a California Subclass of Litton customers.

The Nationwide Class alleged claims based on violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA") relating to Litton's improper actions in imposing late fees or treating payments as late during the 60-day grace period following the effective date of loan transfer if a borrower sends a payment to his or her old servicer on time. The California Subclass alleged claims based on violations of California law relating to Litton's unfair business acts and practices with respect to the servicing of loans.

The case is currently pending before Judge Margaret M. Morrow of the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, California. Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and co-counsel represent Plaintiffs and the Nationwide Class.

Nationwide Class Certified
On July 30, 2007, Judge Morrow issued a 56-page order granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Certification of a Nationwide RESPA Class. Read a copy of the Court's Order. (Note: the Order is not a determination of the merits of case.) The Nationwide Class is defined as:

All persons (i) who presently own, or during the Class Period owned, property (including mobile homes) in the United States, (ii) who entered into a mortgage loan transaction which was then transferred or sold to Litton or for which the servicing rights were acquired by Litton Loan Servicing, LP or its predecessors, directly or indirectly, at any time between October 26, 2002, and the present, and (iii) who made timely payments to the transferor servicer and were charged late fees related to that payment within the first sixty (60) days of the loan transfer to Litton.

This was a great achievement for Plaintiffs, resulting from months of hard work and a long string of briefs that were filed. By separate order, the Court denied our motion for certification of a California Subclass. What this means is that the only class claims still pending are those involving late fees Litton charged within the first 60 days of loan transfer from the previous servicer where borrowers made payments to the previous servicer that Litton failed to credit.

On August 13, 2007, Litton filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, requesting permission to appeal Judge Morrow's order certifying the Nationwide Class. Plaintiffs filed a response with the Court of Appeals on August 27, 2007, opposing Litton's petition. The Court of Appeals denied Litton's petition on November 16, 2007.

On August 31, 2007, Litton filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asking the Court to find that the Plaintiffs' claims could not be sustained as a matter of law. Plaintiffs responded on September 24, 2007, and Litton's motion was heard before the Court on October 22, 2007. The Court issued an Order on July 31, 2008, denying Litton's motion and setting a trial date of November 18, 2008. Litton subsequently filed a motion to decertify the Class on October 13, 2008. Plaintiffs responded on October 21, 2008, and that motion is set to be heard on November 11, 2008. The Court took the November 18, 2008 trial date off of its calendar pending the resolution of Litton's motion.

Plaintiffs opposed Litton's Motion for Decertification, and the Court held arguments on the Motion on November 10, 2008. In ruling on Litton's Motion for Decertification, the Court found that the Class satisfied the ascertainability requirement of Rule 23(b)(3), but that Plaintiffs had not established the elements needed to determine predominance or superiority on their claim for actual damages. Accordingly, the Court ruled that those claims could not go forward on a classwide basis and the only claims that would be tried on a classwide basis were Class members' claims for statutory damages under RESPA, which are capped at $500,000 for the entire Class.

Settlement
After the Court's determination that statutory damages capped at $500,000 were the only available damages to the Plaintiffs and Class members at trial, the Plaintiffs and Litton reached a settlement. The parties filed a joint notice of settlement with the Court on February 17, 2009.

The parties have agreed that Litton will establish a settlement fund of $537,500 for the benefit of the Class. Certain notice costs, administration fees and expenses will be paid from this fund. After those costs are paid, the Class members will be entitled to make claims for compensation from the fund and will be entitled to receive up to $60 from the fund on a pro rata basis. Once those claims are paid, Class Counsel will be allowed to seek reimbursement of additional litigation costs, and then any remaining funds will be distributed to claimants on a pro rata basis until the settlement fund is depleted. Litton will not be entitled to a reversion of any money from the settlement fund.

The Court granted preliminary approval to the settlement on March 26, 2010. To read the Court’s order, click here. To view a copy of the Settlement Agreement, click here.

Next Steps
Pursuant to the Court's order, notice postcards were mailed to potential members of the Settlement Class on May 10, 2010. To download a copy of the Class Notice or Claim Form, please click on the link for the following website: www.latefeessettlement.com. This website was established pursuant to Court order and is maintained by the Court-approved Claims Administrator. The Claims Administrator can also be reached toll-free at 1-877-789-9492 to respond to inquiries from Notice Recipients who lack access to the internet, have questions about the documents posted on the dedicated website or procedural questions, or request that the Class Notice and Claim Form be mailed to them.

The Settlement Class is defined by the Court as all individuals who:

1.own or at any time on or after October 26, 2002, owned property in the United States;
2.entered into a mortgage loan transaction which was then transferred or sold to Litton Loan Servicing LP or for which the servicing rights were acquired by Litton at any time on or after October 26, 2002; and
3.made timely payments to the transferor servicer and were charged late fees relating to that payment within the first sixty days of the loan transfer to Litton.
Subject to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, and the Court's approval of the same, each Notice Recipient who submits a timely and valid Claim Form will receive a pro rata distribution of the Settlement Fund, of up to, but not to exceed sixty dollars ($60.00).

Important Dates
Deadline to File a Claim: September 7, 2010
Deadline to Request Exclusion: June 24, 2010
Deadline to Object to the
Settlement: June 24, 2010
Final Approval Hearing: October 18, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.

Frequently Asked Questions
What does all of this mean? The Class of borrowers included in the Settlement are defined as follows:

All persons (i) who presently own, or during the Class Period owned, property (including mobile homes) in the United States, (ii) who entered into a mortgage loan transaction which was then transferred or sold to Litton or for which the servicing rights were acquired by Litton Loan Servicing, LP or its predecessors, directly or indirectly, at any time between October 26, 2002, and the present, and (iii) who made timely payments to the transferor servicer and were charged late fees related to that payment within the first sixty (60) days of the loan transfer to Litton.

This means that only those borrowers who meet all of the requirements of this definition are covered by this class action and will be allowed to participate in the settlement. Even if you are a member of the Class, you do not have to participate in the Settlement, but will be given the opportunity to opt out and not participate.

How do I know if I am a class member? Litton has the burden of identifying those borrowers who fall within the Class definition (as described above). If you are a member of that Class, you will be notified in writing of what actions you will need to take to protect your rights. Until Litton identifies the Class members pursuant to the Court's order, we cannot confirm whether or not you are a member of the Nationwide RESPA Class.

What if I don't meet the requirements for the Nationwide RESPA Class, as defined above? If you do NOT fall within the class definition described above, you are NOT a Class member and your rights are NOT protected by this class action. We suggest that you contact another attorney promptly to protect your rights.
Can you give me a referral to an attorney? If you need a referral to another attorney for your individual claim(s), we suggest you contact your state bar association or the National Consumer Law Center at http://www.consumerlaw.org/.

Statute of Limitations and Trademark Notice
You should be aware that the Statute of Limitations (the deadline imposed by law within which you may bring a lawsuit) may severely limit the time remaining for you to file any potential claims you may have.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is not affiliated in any way with Litton Loan Servicing LP. Please read our disclaimer.
In the News7/30/2007

Court Certifies Nationwide Class of Mortgage Borrowers in Suit Against Litton Loan Servicing
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