“The payoff figure from February when I was a ‘deadbeat’ who had no money, until May when I was a ‘whistleblower’ who had a lot of money, increased by $250k,” Szymoniak said.
Lynn Szymoniak’s Bank Can’t Tell Her How Much She Owes On Her Mortgage
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Lynn Szymoniak’s four-year foreclosure nightmare is finally over — but the high-profile activist and attorney said she couldn’t finalize her exit without one final problem.
Namely, her bank couldn’t tell her how much she owed on her Palm Beach County, Fla. home.
Szymoniak began fighting with her bank in June 2008, when she says it improperly sought to raise the interest rate on her loan, increasing her monthly payments by roughly $1,000. She refused to pay, and has been embroiled in legal drama ever since.
But while defending her own home, Szymoniak, a white-collar crime attorney, uncovered startling irregularities, with key bank paperwork appearing to have been fabricated and critical signatures forged. She began documenting her findings, which ultimately led to allegations of massive, systemic errors in the foreclosure process as banks cut corners to save money, at times appearing to foreclose on borrowers who had not even missed payments.
Rest from the Huffington Post here…
But first you must check out the transcript of the hearing below…
From the Transcript:
MR. CULLEN: We asked for a pay-off figure
19 under the service agreement. And under the federal
20 law, they’re supposed to give us the attorney’s
21 fees and the costs. February they did. The
22 attorney’s fees were something less than two
23 thousand, and the costs were something less than
24 two thousand as well.
25 Now that Ms. Szymoniak has the funds and
1 would like to pay it off, as of this point, we made
2 another request for a more current date, May 31st,
3 I believe. And the response we got back from the
4 servicer’s attorney is, Well, that’s going to be
5 resolved by negotiation or by the Court.
6 So we don’t have that information —
7 THE COURT: What is going to be resolved by
9 MR. CULLEN: The attorney’s fees and the
11 MR. BERMAN: They’re not liquidated.
12 MR. CULLEN: So all of a sudden, we can’t even
13 do the next step which we want to do, which is pay
14 the money to get this case resolved, because
15 they’re withholding because of attorney’s fees and
17 So it is relevant to this controversy,
18 Your Honor, and I would ask the Court to allow us
19 to have that information. Thank you.
20 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, if I may. The
21 discovery that is sought is irrelevant. It seeks
22 privileged and protective information and serves no
23 legitimate purpose. Those issues regarding
24 settlement are not germane to this proceeding right
25 now. The authority cited — and we did file an
1 opposition, Your Honor — this is a UMC hearing,
2 but we wanted to file an opposition. There is a
3 case, Your Honor, that’s attached. Mr. Cullen and
4 I submitted it with a packet that we believe is
5 right on point, and it talks about these very
6 circumstances, Your Honor.
7 And it holds — in that case, the
8 District Court of Appeal quashed an Order
9 Compelling Discovery under similar circumstances.
10 And the reasoning was, that discovery concerning
11 attorney’s fees should be deferred under normal
12 circumstances until the Court has determined
13 entitlement. And the rationale for that — and
14 this is a Ransburg decision, Your Honor; page 51 is
15 the pertinent cites. The rationale for that is
16 it’s a general rule that’s recognized by the
17 Florida Supreme Court in the Stockman versus Downs
18 case, that a claim for attorney’s fees must be
20 Just because you plead a claim for
21 attorney’s fees in a Complaint does not mean that
22 information regarding those attorney’s fees are
23 discoverable before it becomes relevant to the
24 case. And in the Ransburg case, the Court
25 concluded that discovery concerning the attorney’s
1 fees should be deferred. It also concluded that a
2 standard allegation requesting attorney’s fees in
3 the civil action — and we’re citing page 51, Your
4 Honor, that case — does not immediately establish
5 relevancy of issues relating to amount of awardable
6 attorney’s fees, so long as those issues can be
7 severed for subsequent resolution. And that’s the
8 case with a foreclosure like this, Your Honor.
9 This is a contested foreclosure action.
10 The issue of attorney’s fees — the amount of
11 attorney’s fees — is not relevant right now until
12 there is a prevailing party. So the cases that
13 Mr. Cullen cited to deal with post-judgment issues,
14 or one of the cases he cited, Your Honor, actually
15 is against him.
16 That case also in — the Olds —
17 THE COURT: Okay. Let me ask you this.
18 MR. BERMAN: Sure.
19 THE COURT: Let’s get to the bottom line.
20 Does your client want it paid off or not? That’s
21 the bottom line. Does Deutsche Bank want all their
22 money to pay it off?
23 MR. BERMAN: Subject to negotiation, Your
25 THE COURT: What do you mean, subject to
1 negotiations? I don’t understand that.
2 MR. BERMAN: Well, Your Honor —
3 THE COURT: You tell me — are you in the
4 position to be able to tell Lynn Szymoniak how much
5 the pay-off figure is and everybody goes home?
6 MR. BERMAN: Not right now, Your Honor, no.
7 THE COURT: Why not?
8 MR. BERMAN: Because there are fees that they
9 incur, may be incurred in the future, and there are
10 fees that —
11 THE COURT: How long is it going to take you
12 to find out what they’re willing to accept, to pay
13 it all off? How long is it going to take? A phone
15 MR. BERMAN: No. Longer than that, Your
16 Honor. I’d be happy to go through it. There are
17 certain things —
18 THE COURT: What do you mean, you have to go
19 through it? You got to call up somebody and say,
20 “Look, I want to pay off my mortgage. How much is
21 the pay-off figure?” You mean to tell me it takes
22 forever to do that?
23 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, he’s not just asking
24 for the totalities.
25 THE COURT: Yes, he is. He wants to know the
1 total thing. What are you willing to accept now?
2 MR. BERMAN: Well, Your Honor, if that’s all
3 that he’s asking —
4 THE COURT: That’s what he’s asking.
5 MR. BERMAN: No, Your Honor, the discovery —
6 THE COURT: Hey, look. That’s what he’s
7 asking for; all right. How long is it going to
8 take you to make a phone call to find out what,
9 Deutsche Bank, do you want?
10 MR. BERMAN: Well, if it’s just a figure, Your
11 Honor —
12 THE COURT: That’s what he’s asking.
3 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, in the discovery,
14 he’s asking for retainer agreements; he’s asking
15 for billing —
16 THE COURT: I know, I can read it. I’ve heard
17 it, okay?
18 MR. BERMAN: But —
19 THE COURT: Uh-uh.
20 MR. BERMAN: I’m sorry.
21 THE COURT: I’m going to deny the Motion, but
22 I’m going to order that you contact him within five
23 days as to a total figure as to attorney’s fees,
24 costs, and everything else so the poor man can say,
25 “Look, I’m going to write you a check and get out
1 of the case.”
2 MR. BERMAN: Okay.
3 THE COURT: That’s what he’s asking for. And
4 if it’s much more than two thousand — much more
5 than two thousand, because we already know he’s at
6 two thousand.
7 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, it’ll be more than
8 two thousand.
9 THE COURT: I said much more. We know the
10 bottom line is two thousand. So I am going to deny
11 that, but I’m also going to order, “Plaintiff shall
12 advise Defendant total pay-off figure, including
13 all fees and costs.”
14 That’s what you’re looking for.
15 MR. CULLEN: Yes.
16 THE COURT: I know. That’s what he wants. He
17 could care less what your timesheet was; he could
18 care less what your retainer agreement was.
19 And you’re absolutely right. At this
20 stage of the game those are privileged
21 communications. He just wants a total figure,
22 including all fees and costs, within seven days.
23 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, if I may just
24 clarify. Mr. Cullen mentioned something, subject
25 to confidentiality. This case, Your Honor, has
1 been in the media and —
2 MR. CULLEN: We’re not getting the retainer
3 agreement; we’re getting —
4 THE COURT: Oh, she’s the whistle blower.
5 MR. CULLEN: Yes, she is.
6 THE COURT: Yeah, she’s got millions.
7 MR. BERMAN: But, Your Honor, this calls for
9 MR. CULLEN: With regard to the —
10 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, can we have that the
11 figure be confidential? Just used for purposes of
12 the litigation or settlement.
13 THE COURT: Well, if it’s for settlement,
14 that’s confidential.
15 MR. BERMAN: Okay. Thank you, Your Honor.
16 MR. CULLEN: You’re going to give us a pay-off
17 figure, according to the federal law, which has
18 that information in it.
19 MR. BERMAN: Your Honor, that’s a different
20 issue than —
21 THE COURT: Okay. “Plaintiff shall advise
22 Defendant’s total pay-off figure, including all
23 fees and costs, within seven days.
24 MR. CULLEN: Thank you, Your Honor.
25 THE COURT: And that should do it, right?
1 MR. CULLEN: Thank you.
2 THE COURT: What do you mean? Everybody knows
3 she had $28 million dollars or whatever it was.
4 What’s so confidential about that. If it’s
5 confidential, you just heard me tell it.
6 MR. CULLEN: Thank you, judge.
7 THE COURT: Get it resolved, guys; get it over
8 and done with. You know what the attorney’s fees
9 hold-up was.
10 MR. BERMAN: Thank you, Your Honor.
11 MR. CULLEN: I agree.
Full transcript below…
And don’t forget to check out the article at the Huffington Post here…