Judge wipes out couple's mortgage after bank's 'repulsive' behaviour
A New York judge was so angry with a bank's "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive" behaviour towards a financially struggling couple that he wiped out their $525,000 (£316,000) mortgage.
By Tom Leonard in New York
26 Nov 2009
In an unusual legal decision that may cheer ordinary homeowners but dismay lenders, Judge Jeffrey Spinner took a tough line on a California-based bank that he considered had been determined to foreclose on the couple's home in Suffolk County, Long Island.
His ruling against OneWest and its IndyMac mortgage division has relieved Greg Horoski and his wife, Diane Yano-Horoski, of the $291,000 they owed on the original loan as well as $235,000 in interest.
OneWest took $814 million in federal bailout money but has a reputation for foreclosing quickly on property owners who falls into arrears.
The Horoskis bought their house 15 years ago but they refinanced in 2004, taking a sub-prime loan from Deutsche Bank.
The interest rate soared to more than 12 per cent and the bank sued the couple in 2005, when Mr Horoski and his wife began having trouble making payments because of his health problems.
A foreclosure on the 3,400 sq ft bungalow was approved but the couple applied successfully for it to be settled in court.
The judge attacked the bank for repeatedly refusing to work out a deal, for misleading him about the sums in the case and for its treatment of the couple.
He wrote that OneWest's conduct was "inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious", cancelling the debt to deter it from "imposing further mortifying abuse" against the couple.
OneWest, which is owned by a private equity group, said it expected to overturn the "unprecedented" ruling on appeal.
Mr Horoski, a porcelain doll seller, told the New York Post : "I think the judge felt it was almost a personal vendetta. It was like dealing with organised crime."