From the Home Equity Theft Reporter
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
By Sadie Gurman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A Hampton woman is suing Bank of America, saying one of its contractors wrongly repossessed her home, padlocked the doors, shut off the utilities, damaged the furniture and confiscated a pet parrot, though her mortgage payments were on time.
Angela M. Iannelli, 46, suffered “severe emotional distress, embarrassment and ridicule” as a result of the company’s “de facto foreclosure process and seizure proceedings,” attorney Michael Rosenzweig wrote in the suit, filed Monday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
The suit accuses Bank of America and its contractor, Ebensburg-based Snyder Property Services, of trespass, unfair business practices, defamation, libel and other offenses during the October foreclosure of Ms. Iannelli’s home in the 5000 block of Fountainwood Drive. She is seeking an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.
Bank of America instructed Snyder Property Services to “enter, seize, padlock, ‘winterize’ and take possession” of Ms. Iannelli’s house, the lawsuit said, cutting water lines and electrical wiring, pouring anti-freeze down her drains and “stealing” her pet parrot, Luke.
She returned home to find her locks had been changed, her furniture and carpets had been damaged, her belongings had been scattered and the bird missing. A notice on her door told her to contact Bank of America, which “initially falsely denied responsibility or knowledge of the invasion and refused” to help her, the suit said. The bank also acknowledged they knew the parrot’s whereabouts, it said.
In further calls, Bank of America representatives told Ms. Iannelli they couldn’t help her, told her to stop calling, said they were “tired of hearing from her” and put her on hold, told her to call back later and hung up on her, the suit said.
About a week later, Bank of America told her it had “made a mistake” and told her where she could find her parrot, but said she would have to travel to Ebensburg to retrieve it.
She eventually drove to Ebensburg to get her parrot back.
Mr. Rosenzweig said that, with the exception of one payment, Ms. Iannelli’s mortgage payments had been on time. Bank of America had not sent her a notice of a 60-day deficiency nor given her 30 days to fix it, as state law requires, he said.
The suit says the company was knowingly deceptive and lacks a policy to check the validity of its foreclosures or stop wrongful ones from happening. A Bank of America spokeswoman declined to comment.
Only after she retained an attorney did Bank of America offer to repair the damage it had caused, the suit says, but they were inadequate.
Some of the home’s damage is irreparable, Mr. Rosenzweig said.
“The damage to her emotionally is irreparable, too,” he said. “She’s afraid to set foot in the house. She’s just ill over it.”
Also see WTAE-TV Channel 4: Bank Sued Over ‘Invasion’ Of Wrong House, Pet Theft, Damages