Federal Appeals Court Holds Borrower Can Sue Servicer For Promised HAMP Modification

Posted on March 16th, 2012 in Courts, Mortgages By BuckleySandler

On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a mortgage borrower could proceed with a class action suit against the servicer of her loan for its failure to offer a permanent loan modification under the federal Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP). Wigod v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 11-1423, 2012 WL 727646 (7th Cir. Mar. 7, 2012). In Wigod, the loan servicer and borrower entered into a Trial Period Plan (TPP) under HAMP; the servicer stated in the TPP that if the borrower complied with the TPP for four months, the servicer would offer the borrower a permanent HAMP modification. The borrower alleged that she complied with the TPP, but the servicer denied her a permanent HAMP modification. The borrower filed a class action on behalf of all similarly situated borrowers of the servicer who had entered into and complied with a TPP but were nevertheless denied a permanent modification. The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the servicer’s motion for summary judgment, but the Seventh Circuit reversed on four of the seven counts. Judge Hamilton’s opinion for the Circuit Court held that—while the borrower may not have been able to state a cause of action for a breach of HAMP directly—the borrower properly pled claims for breach of contract and promissory estoppel based on the servicer’s promise to offer a permanent modification in the TPP. The Circuit Court also held that the borrower sufficiently stated claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Finally, the Circuit Court held that these state law claims were not preempted by federal law.