Chicago litigator Todd Rowden recently won summary judgment for firm client CitiMortgage, Inc., in a federal lawsuit involving real property in Buffalo Grove, Ill. Demonstrating the real risks that lenders continue to face in today’s consumer-friendly legal and regulatory climate, CitiMortgage found itself the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the purchasers in a foreclosure sale, who claimed trespass and thousands of dollars in damage.
CitiMortgage was the mortgagee/lender for the residential property in question in May 2009. A year later, the plaintiffs purchased the property at a judicial sale. In June 2010, CitiMortgage transferred the servicing of the loan to Saxon Mortgage Services Inc., a sale confirmed in an August 2010 court order. In September of that year, Safeguard Properties entered the property to secure it. The plaintiffs then claimed the “trespassers” caused more than $50,000 in damages.
As CitiMortgage made extensive efforts to resolve the dispute before the summary judgment motion, the plaintiffs continued to make settlement demands. Citi stood firm and pressed ahead with summary judgment.
In his Feb. 1 order, U.S. District Judge John Lee ruled that CitiMortgage was not liable for the trespass and granted summary judgment on behalf of Citi.
“The record contains no evidence that CitiMortgage had any control over Safeguard or that CitiMortgage aided, abetted, assisted or directed Safeguard to enter the Property,” Judge Lee wrote. “In fact, on July 6, 2010, more than two months before Safeguard allegedly trespassed onto the Property, CitiMortgage transferred the servicing of the Mortgage to Saxon, such that Saxon, not CitiMortgage, was servicing the Mortgage at the time of the alleged trespass.”