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Widow sues Chase, LPS for fraud and wrongful death

In a heartbreaking story, a widow talks about how her husband changed after being served a wrongful eviction notice.

chase bank sign

chase bank sign

Texas-sized lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase

According to the Courthouse News Service1, Harry Engel of Grand Prairie, Texas passed away in 2010, leaving wife of 57 years, Wendy Jo, and three adult children. The Christian minister is the inspiration for a new lawsuit filed in Dallas County alleging that JPMorgan Chase, along with EMC Mortgage, and LPS Field Services foreclosed on their home after 22 years of timely payments and an attempt to refinance that the family says led to the minister’s fatal heart attack.

This story is not new – the players are, indeed new names to this publication, but the following is a story that has repeated itself too many times over. In February 2010, the family was mailed an offer to refinance their home loan at a lower interest rate, and court documents state that an employee at the local Chase bank branch told them they must miss a payment before they can qualify for refinancing.

“Trusting [that employee’s] counsel as a Chase representative, the [plaintiffs] missed a single payment as instructed,” court documents state. “After skipping the payment as advised… the [homeowners] received a letter from Chase advising them that they were not eligible for a loan modification and that the mortgage had to be brought current immediately.”

Surprise foreclosure

Shortly thereafter, the couple was told they were at risk of foreclosure, and quickly, an eviction notice was sent, and “finally, a personal representative of Chase physically went to the… home, knocked on the [the plaintiffs’] door, and enforced the eviction notice.”

The lawsuit alleges that the couple made many attempts to meet with the original Chase employee that told them they needed to skip their payment for the first time in 22 years, with the adult daughter claiming she accompanied her parents to the bank multiple times to wait for the employee, and finally, one one occasion, the employee “eventually met with them and handed them a piece of paper with a figure on it. [He] said ‘just pay this amount,’” the lawsuit alleges.

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They paid that amount as instructed, but the foreclosure process continued, with an eviction notice being served. The widow alleges that after the notice, her husband “changed dramatically,” as he was “overcome with stress and fear, and was terrified at the thought of losing his and [his wife]’s home of more than 20 years. His once positive outlook was gone.” Shortly thereafter, he suffered a massive coronary and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Now a homeless widow

After the loss, the bank took possession of the home, changed the locks, and today, it sits vacant. The lawsuit reiterates that the couple did everything the bank told them to, and that “complying with a lender’s advice should be safe and should not put them at risk from the lender.”

“Chase made illegal, negligent and fraudulent representations… so that it could secure a loan modification entitling Chase to benefits and financial incentives that the government was providing lenders to make loan modifications,” alleges the minister’s family.

Charges against Chase, EMC, and LPS include wrongful death, wrongful foreclosure, trespassing, gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, fraudulent inducement, and deceptive trade.

1 Courthouse News report

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Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. J Philip Faranda

    July 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Utterly heartbreaking, and all too true. 

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