A Yellowstone County, Mont. jury has awarded just over $2 million in damages to a Texas man after a loan servicing company negligently included the legal description of his Billings property in the foreclosure paperwork for a Butte property.
District Judge Ingrid Gustafson granted Jason Norman’s motion for a summary judgment on the title claim in May 2014. Jurors determined the damages against Deutsche Bank National Trust, Ocwen Loan Servicing and the company that bought the Butte house during a trial last week.
Norman said he purchased a run-down, foreclosed house in Billings from Deutsche Bank for $50,000 in 2010. Deutsche Bank also sold the Butte house, but the owners later defaulted on payments and the bank foreclosed in April 2012. The foreclosure filing included the address of the Butte house, but the legal description of the Billings house, leading the state to issue the title to Norman’s property to the bank that bought the Butte property.
Norman had nearly fully renovated the Billings house, and it had been appraised at $235,000. However, he could not sell it or use it as collateral in a home equity loan to purchase another property because of the title error, the lawsuit said.
The state Department of Revenue and Norman both contacted Deutsche Bank, but they received no response. Norman filed a title insurance claim in January 2013.
The buyers of the Butte house, MOM Haven 6, sent Norman a quit claim deed in April 2013, but he argued a mistake on the paperwork would cause further problems. MOM Haven 6 sent a corrected quit claim deed in October 2013, but Norman refused to sign it because it required him to acknowledge that he had not suffered any damages because of the error, his attorney said.
Norman’s attorney argued, and Gustafson agreed, that a jury needed to determine if the error, and the length of time it took to correct it, caused financial damages.
Jurors ruled Thursday that the defendants’ negligence caused Norman $350,000 in lost profits and $100,000 in emotional distress. On Friday, they awarded $1.6 million in punitive damages.
J. Richard Orizotti, the attorney for Deutsche Bank and the other defendants, did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment on whether they planned to appeal.
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