A jury has ordered Ameriquest Mortgage Co. to pay more than $1.5 million to an Arizona couple who lost their home to foreclosure by another lender because, they claim, Ameriquest didn't fund a loan that was already closed. But the borrower forgot to disclose outstanding judgments and unpaid child support on his application -- which were subsequently uncovered.
Thinking they had received the refinance and its funds had been used to pay off the old mortgage which was held by Bank of America, the couple turned over delinquency and foreclosures notices to an Ameriquest representative who had assured them that their loan had been approved and the notices had been sent in error, the plaintiff's attorney explained to MortgageDaily.com.
The Tucson couple, Ronaldo Rodriguez and his then-wife Jodi Aguirre-Rodriguez, apparently never contacted Bank of America.
"We're disappointed in the verdict," Ameriquest spokesman Chris Orlando told MortgageDaily.com. "We're considering our legal options, including filing an appeal."
He declined to comment further on the decision and the award which was rendered on July 23 by the Pima County Superior Court jury after nearly two full days of deliberations, following a two-week trial.
The $1.58 million award includes approximately $90,000 in compensation and $1.49 million in punitive damages, with those amounts to be divided between the couple, who were granted a divorce on July 27, 2006, two years and five months after they had married, according to court records and the attorney, who said the couple's marriage had been negatively impacted by the foreclosure.
The Rodriguez couple filed the suit on Nov. 1, 2004, seven months after Rodriguez signed the loan documents, five months after a notice of a pending foreclosure sale had been tacked to their door, and two months after their house was sold at auction, the attorney said.
Rodriguez had contacted Ameriquest in March 2004 about refinancing his current mortgage at a lower rate and signed the loan documents on March 31, the attorney explained. But because of an unpaid debt, the loan was not funded -- although Rodriguez was never notified.
Rodriguez was a defendant in a Pima County Superior Court suit filed by Aqua Finance Inc. in November 2003 and also was named in a Superior Court action taken by the State of Arizona over nonpayment of child support, according to court records reviewed by MortgageDaily.com. Ameriquest attorneys claimed that this negative credit information had not been reported by Rodriguez when he applied for the refinance loan.
Meanwhile, starting on July 9, under terms of a multi-state settlement involving Ameriquest and affiliated companies, ACC Capital Holdings Corp., Town and Country Credit Corp. and AMC Mortgage Services Inc., borrowers who are eligible for restitution payments began receiving notices detailing how much from the $295 million Ameriquest Settlement fund they may receive, according to the settlement’s Web site.
Under that January 2006 settlement, which involved the District of Columbia and every state, except Virginia, the District and the states will share in another $30 million to cover their costs, Orlando told MortgageDaily.com.
Under that settlement, he said, the four companies also agreed to strengthen their standards, policies and practices, taking a number of steps to better inform consumers and to eliminate potential conflicts of interest in the loan origination and funding processes.