Florida Gets Case of First Impression: 2 Years After Foreclosure and Resale, Owner Wants Home Back
Last year, Bank of America sold a pretty house on a corner lot in Dunedin to a nice couple, who moved into their new home believing everything was just dandy and that they bought their home free and clear. It remains to be seen what this couple will do now, because Bank of America has now been sued by the property's former homeowner, Michael Carlson, who claims that Bank of America foreclosed and re-sold his real estate without his knowledge.
Foreclosure Lawsuit Based Upon No Notice
Carlson's circumstances are interesting. He was not living in this Dunedin home: in March 2007, he had moved his family to California and was leasing the Florida residence to a tenant. So who received the legally required notice of foreclosure proceedings from BofA?
- the teenaged son (17 years old) of the tenant at the Dunedin property itself; and
- "Jane Doe" at an apartment in Alameda, California, who was served by a process server in "substituted service" for Michael Carlson, property owner.
Problem is that Michael Carlson claims that he wasn't in Alameda, but instead living in Sacramento and he's thinking that someone along the way got him mixed up with his estranged brother, who was living at this Alameda address. (And who had his own foreclosure action going on with Bank of America, a separate suit entirely.) According to Michael, the brothers weren't talking so he didn't learn about the Dunedin foreclosure from his brother or "Jane Doe," and that the tenant's teenager never made him the wiser, either.
Throw into this mix the fact that the entire foreclosure proceeding on the property took all of sixty days, and things get really interesting.
- Will the process server be sued?
- Will the innocent third party purchasers sue?
- Where's the title company here, have they been sued or will they be?
- What about the tenants and their leasehold - were they harmed here?
- Will Michael's case hold up under scrutiny? Can we believe that a tenant doesn't call the landlord if a foreclosure notice on the property arrives? Does an estranged brother fail to at least forward by mail a legal notice?
- What about clean hands? Michael Carlson wants his home back, but there does not appear to be a dispute that he was in arrears. Where does not paying the mortgage come into play -- because that's where all these ForeclosureGate complexities arise: home owners aren't making their mortgage payments.
Meanwhile, across the country there's already a group of lawyers seeing opportunity arising out of the crisis of ForeclosureGate, and they are forming what the media is calling a "niche market." Which means lots of lawyers all over the place are monitoring Florida's Dunedin House Case.
Prediction: we're going to see a lot more Michael Carlson type of lawsuits, perhaps with arguments other than notice as their basis, because lots of angry homeowners are going to try and get those homes back.