Read more about this foreclosure fraud case.
The foreclosure fraud case, Roman Pino v. The Bank of New York was the first significant foreclosure case, the high court in Florida heard. That is since the housing collapse. Odder still is that the hearing of the case occurred after Pino had already settled with the bank in a deal. The deal allowed him to keep his house. Pino's attorney had challenged a document created by the former Law Offices of David J. Stern and sought to question the firm's employees about its authenticity.
The night before scheduling those dispositions, the bank moved to dismiss the case. This effectively blocked Pino’s opportunity to argue for sanctions. Pino then settled and was able to keep his house. Furthermore, this case was to decide whether to uphold a law. A law that allows banks to use voluntary dismissals as a tactic to avoid being penalized; for filing fraudulent documents in foreclosure cases. The 4th District Court of Appeal had previously agreed with the circuit court ruling in Pino that a voluntary dismissal couldn't be reversed. But, said it wanted the high court to make a ruling. That is because "many, many mortgage foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents".
The Supreme Court ruling supporting the law and overturning the Appeals court decision came as a shock to Florida foreclosure defense lawyers. This is even more so because the new ruling was unanimous. Pino's attorney stated, "The Supreme Court has spoken loud and clear that it doesn't care about litigants that abuse the court system and that fraud is OK. There are no ramifications if you get caught defrauding the court, just take a voluntary dismissal and start over."
A voluntary dismissal grants the bank the right to refile at a later date. Michael Wolf, a University of Florida law professor said that although the justices supported current rules of civil procedure, they did address other penalties; those that could go through invocation; if filing of fraudulent documents happens. Some penalties include having the attorney referred to the Florida Bar. In addition to having the bank pay both court costs and attorney fees.
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