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Mortgage Lawsuits News | Mortgage Litigation Index
Mortgage industry lawsuit news and mortgage litigation coverage. Stories about legal settlements, judgments and mortgage class actions.

Mortgage Litigation Lets Up

First-Quarter 2012 Mortgage Litigation Index 216

Sept. 24, 2012

By Mortgage Daily

table by category | read white paper

Lawyers acting on behalf of mortgage industry stakeholders slowed their court activity during the first three months of the year -- a period that included an historic mortgage servicer settlement. But some categories of mortgage litigation -- including compliance, loan titles and whistleblower actions -- were busier. Most categories were significantly elevated versus a year earlier.

Mortgage Daily tracked 216 mortgage-related lawsuits that had activity during the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Litigation Index. Case activity eased from the fourth-quarter 2011, when the number tracked was 244 cases.

Despite the quarterly decline, mortgage litigation activity still remains elevated by historical standards, and caseload increased from the first-quarter 2011, when Mortgage Daily reported on just 151 cases related to home lending.

"Still, a decrease should be cause for some hope, shouldn't it," wrote Ballard Spahr LLP Partner Christopher Willis in an accompanying white paper. "Unfortunately, I believe it is not, because of the underlying factors that likely operated to reduce litigation in the first quarter, and the continued presence of very strong drivers for more mortgage litigation for the remainder of this year."

The first quarter included the $25 billion settlement between the nation's five-biggest servicers and multiple state attorneys general over questionable foreclosure practices.

The ranking of the busiest categories was unchanged from three months earlier, with foreclosure litigation topping the list at 89 first-quarter cases tracked. But a decline in the foreclosure litigation category was likely the result of practices put in place by U.S. mortgage servicers in connection with the multi-state settlement.

"Unfortunately, the existence of these measures probably will not significantly reduce the overall volume of litigation," the white paper states. "Foreclosure activity has continued at a high level, and even though the rate of new foreclosures has slowed down, the underlying number of loans that may go into foreclosure still remains high."

Like overall activity, litigation tied to foreclosures, servicing and criminal actions fell from the fourth-quarter 2011. Investor activity was unchanged at 62 cases.

The only top-five category to see an increase was litigation related to loan titles.

All major categories saw a substantial increase over the year-earlier period.

Category Q1 2012 Q4 2011 Q1 2011
Total 216 244 151
Foreclosure 89 99 46
Servicing 65 70 49
Investor 62 62 42
Criminal 56 57 27
Title 47 46 8

Whistleblower actions jumped to three from just one tracked in the prior quarter. Whistleblower activity was involved in the multi-state servicer settlement.

Another big gainer was the compliance category, with the number of cases growing to 11 from seven.

The first quarter had fewer cases tied to mortgage fees, with the number falling to 11 from 17 three months earlier.

A one-third decline from the fourth-quarter was recorded for the appraisal, license and suitability categories.

Litigation involving regulators dropped to 11 cases from 16 cases, while modification actions were down to 15 cases from 21. Mortgage fraud litigation involving mortgage company insiders or foreclosure rescue equity stripping was off to 18 cases from 23.

view full Q1 2012 Mortgage Litigation Index table by quarter and category.

read Q1 2012 Mortgage Litigation Index white paper.

First-Quarter 2012 Mortgage Litigation Index 216

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