On October 1, 2010, five Maine residents represented by Andrea Bopp Stark of Molleur Law, Thomas Cox, the National Consumer Law Center and the Center for Responsible Lending, filed a complaint against GMAC Mortgage, LLC (GMAC) on behalf of themselves and a class of Maine homeowners, alleging that the company routinely and systematically files false certifications and affidavits when asking courts to enter foreclosure judgments.
The homeowners complained that GMAC files these false documents knowing that the courts in Maine will rely on them in deciding whether foreclosures can go forward and in allowing GMAC to sell their homes. Depositions of GMAC’s employee, Jeffrey Stephan revealed that he does not verify the truth of information necessary to give GMAC the right to foreclose when he signs over 8,000 of these court documents each month and that these improper practices have been in place since at least 2004.
Because of GMAC’s unfair and deceptive practices, hundreds or possibly thousands of Maine homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure based on judgments obtained through fraudulent affidavits, and have been improperly charged costs and attorneys fees. Most of them have had no attorney to protect them.
On February 16, 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court in Maine heard arguments on whether GMAC could protect itself against liability under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act by invoking a common law witness privilege. The Plaintiffs’ case was argued by Andrea Bopp Stark who stated that:
GMAC conducts itself as if it is above the law. It uses knowingly fraudulent documents in Maine Courts to trample the rights of Maine homeowners and take their homes. GMAC requires their employees to sign false documents in an assembly line fashion at the rate of 1 per minute to be used to take Mainers homes. This is the epitome of unfair and deceptive and is, as this Court has already found, reprehensible and ethically indefensible conduct. Clearly this conduct violates the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA). Yet GMAC has the temerity to claim immunity for its conduct. The Judicial Privilege does not shield GMAC from liability under UTPA.
If the Court agrees with the homeowner Plaintiffs, it could mean that corporations like GMAC cannot use the Court system to engage in unfair and deceptive conduct against Maine consumers.