In a short written opinion Judge William J Zloch dealt a huge blow to bankers pretending to be lenders and servicers pretending to be bankers. For him the issue was simple.
His opinion contains irrefutable logic. Ocwen wanted to escape trial by jury because the mortgage documents contained a waiver. Wells Fargo also wanted to escape trial by jury, but they were being sued vicariously through the actions of Ocwen.
Judge Zloch said no to Ocwen and seems to be saying the same thing to Wells Fargo. His reasoning is simple and bulletproof — the borrower sued Ocwen stating that it had committed various wrongdoing.
Ocwen by all accounts is only a servicer and never has been a lender notwithstanding its prior assertions in court, which many judges have rubber stamped and now wish they didn’t.
This decision appears to be important for at least three reasons:
1. The Judge accepts the notion that Ocwen is a controlled entity of Wells Fargo.
2. The Judge rejects the idea that a party other than the owner of the mortgage can rely on the mortgage terms for any reason (except to show that they were servicing and processing in compliance with the terms of the note and potentially the mortgage). Thus the Judge underscores a central point— that the servicers, aggregators and broker dealers and trusts and trust beneficiaries are all independent entities and the servicers, among others, have inescapable conflicts of interests that results in action contrary to the expectations of both real parties in interest — i.e., the investors as lenders and the homeowners as borrowers.
3. Trial by jury is available as to all damage claims against any party who is not party to the mortgage contract; and for those banks that are using the servicers as a shield, they may be subject to claims that will be heard by a jury as well.
So in the end the judge says that the jury will render a verdict as to the claims against Ocwen and render an advisory verdict as to the claims against Wells Fargo. This is a potential nightmare for the banks.
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