Because of the sheer volume of foreclosure cases running through our courts in Illinois, the body of cases related to mortgage foreclosure defense changes every day. I receive a email alert from the Illinois State Bar Association letting me know each day what recent appellate cases have been decided and summarizing how they affect various areas of law. A new case relating to people defending their foreclosure comes down about twice a week–maybe 70 new decisions a year. To put this into perspective, only criminal law cases pop up in the ISBA email more often.
I can’t blog about every foreclosure defense case–there is just way too much to cover. But I do blog about the ones that make major changes to the laws or, in this case, that provide good examples of why you should hire an attorney to defend your foreclosure case. The First District (the appellate court in Chicago) rendered its opinion in Citimortgage v. Bukowski, 2015 IL App (1st) 140780. Read the first numbered paragraph for a little background and then skip down and read paragraphs 15 through 19.
Bukowski is incredible because the homeowners had a legitimate defense to their foreclosure case–the bank failed to mail a notice of acceleration (which is a letter that basically says “Because you missed your payments, we want the entire amount right now”) and therefore was not entitled to file its foreclosure suit. That’s big if true because the bank would have to go back and refile its case against you, potentially buying the homeowners another year or more in their house.
But, the homeowners messed up and failed to plead that defense with sufficient specificity to survive a summary judgment motion. They lost, not because their case lacked merit, but because they did not file the correct sheet of paper. That’s crazy and never should happen. Justice in courts should be based on the truth, not on whether you can fill out the correct forms properly.
This is the value of an attorney. Rather than having their rights vindicated and maybe staying in their home for additional time, the Bukowskis will soon be out on the street. Having a strong case is not enough, you also need a strong lawyer.