Monday, September 10, 2007

mortgage insurance - Fair Credit Reporting Act - adverse action notice

Whitfield v. Radian Guaranty, Inc. - Third Circuit - August 30, 2007

Because of the poor credit history of Plaintiffs-borrowers, the Lender (Countrywide Home Mortgage) agreed to give them a mortgage for most of purchase price, on condition that they pay for mortgage insurance. The Lender arranged for mortgage insurance from defendant-insurer for $905/month (!), based on the loan-to-value and the consumers' credit score. Defendant conceded that the insurance premium would have been lower if the borrowers' credit score had been higher. Defendant-insurer did not send an adverse action notice to plaintiffs, according to their policy of not doing so when insurance is approved.

Plaintiffs sued, claiming that an adverse action notice was required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC sec.1681m(a)., since they paid more than the lowest insurance rate due to an adverse credit report. The FCRA requires that a user of information from a credit report takes any adverse action against an individual, that the user shall notice the individual of the adverse action, 15 USC 1681m(a).

Based in part on Safeco Insurance Co. b. Burr, 127 S.Ct. 2201 (2007), the court held that

a) an initial premium/first-time rate could be considered an increase in a charge for insurance for purpose of the adverse action notice requirement of the FCRA, and

b) privity of contract between the insurer and consumer-borrower is not a requirement of the FCRA

injunction - dissipation of assets

Ambrogi v. Reber - Superior Court - September 7, 2007

It was appropriate for the trial court to grant an injunction preventing defendants from dissipating their assets during the pendency of a lawsuit. The court ordered defendants to place the net proceeds of the sale of considerable real property in a supervised escrow account. There was a demonstrated need to prevent defendants from liquidating their assets and making themselves judgment proof.

The opinion contains a good review of that factors that are required to get a preliminary injunction.
- prevent immediate and irreparable harm
- greater injury from on-grant that grant
- maintenance of status quo
- the alleged wrong is manifest and the injunction of reasonably suited to abate it.
The movant doesn't have to show that he will prevail, only that there are substantial legal questions that the court has to resolve. On appeal, the court determines if the trial court had reasonable grounds for its order and will reverse only where no grounds for it exist or that the rule of law relied on was palpably erroneous or misapplied.

In this wrongful death action, defendants sold almost 40% of their real estate in less than 2 years from the date of a fatal fire at issue in the case. The trial court was troubled by the number of post-fire sales, the high value of the properties sold after the fire ($3 million), defendants' failure to purchase new real property with the proceeds, defendants' failure to disclose ownership of other properties, and very high potential damages.

The trial court simply directed that defendants must preserve their assets at a level reasonably calculated to satisfy a judgment that could be entered. Its order allowed defendants to petition for a change and release of funds to conduct their business.