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Pres Candidate Sued Mortgage Lender

Barack Obama filed class action against Citibank

February 23, 2007

WASHINGTON correspondent for MortgageDaily.com

A front-running presidential contender has previously filed a class action lawsuit against a mortgage lender that allegedly discriminated against African Americans.

While an attorney with a Chicago law firm, Democratic candidate Barack Obama took on a national bank accused by his client of mortgage discrimination and redlining. Attorneys on the other side of the case said it wasn't exactly a victory for the respected senator from Illinois.

The opposing law firm touted the litigation, Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank FSB, as a win for the firm.

The class action lawsuit was brought by several African-Americans whose loan applications were denied over a five-year period in the Chicago metropolitan area. The consumers claimed that the bank discriminated against them and their neighborhoods by consistently refusing loans to African-American applicants, especially those applicants who lived in primarily black neighborhoods.

According to one news report, some class members got cash payments and the bank agreed to put procedures into place that would make it easier for low- and moderate-income people to apply for mortgages.

On its Web site, Citi's law firm, Mayer, Brown Rowe & Maw, said the case was successfully defended on the bank's behalf.

"After full discovery, the case was settled on favorable terms and without having to pay damages to any class member," the firm wrote.

The case was filed in federal district court in Chicago in 1994. It was settled out of court in May 1998.

In recent times, Obama has used his status as a lawmaker to fight mortgage fraud.

He introduced anti-fraud mortgage legislation in February 2006 after the Chicago Tribune ran a series of articles highlighting the plight of consumers who had been victimized by fraudsters. That legislation was put on hold because of a short legislative session and because other issues such as immigration reform garnered Congress' attention. It has not been re-introduced.

Obama's office was unable to provide a comment or interview by press time. The attorneys involved in the case did not return calls for comment.

Lisa D. Burden is a legal analyst for MortgageDaily.com and holds a law degree from the University of Maryland. She is currently a freelance journalist who previously wrote for Institutional Investor publications and the Baltimore Daily Record.

e-mail Lisa at: [email protected]

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