An understandably flummoxed Florida man says he had his home taken from him by the Bank of America, even though he owned it outright and never had a mortgage on it. Jason Grodensky and his father bought the Fort Lauderdale bungalow on short sale last December, paying for it with cash. In July, Grodensky was shocked to learn that the house was in foreclosure and that the title had been transferred to a government-backed lender. The BoA has reportedly acknowledged the error and will correct it at their expense. But Grodensky nightmare is not that uncommon: Mark Wiedner, a Florida foreclosure defense attorney, says foreclosure mistakes "happen all the time." Here are five more wrongful repossession horror stories:
Wedding dress and all?
Last December, Nilly Mauck, 31, says she came home to find her décor brutally simplified. Mauck claims contractors assigned to repossess condo No. 1156 mistakenly carted off all the furnishing and possessions in No. 1157 — her Las Vegas apartment of two years — everything from immigration records to her wedding dress. Though she's demanded "$100,000 to $200,000" in compensation, the realtor has offered only $5,000. Mauck has said she's seeking legal advice and learning "to live with the clothes on her back."
Bye bye birdie
In 2009, Angela Iannelli, a Pittsburgh homeowner came home to find that Bank of America's contractors had foreclosed on her home, despite the fact that she was on time with her payments. She claims the bank's contractors ransacked her possessions, cut her power lines, padlocked her doors, and confiscated her pet parrot. Iannelli has filed suit against the bank, which later reportedly apologized for the little incident, claiming she suffered "severe emotional distress, embarrassment and ridicule" as a result of the wrongful foreclosure. Her beloved blue macaw, Luke, was returned to her, but she had to drive some 60 miles to retrieve him from a neighboring town. (Watch an ABC report about Angela Iannelli's foreclosed home.)
Dr. Alan Schroit claims he got a "putrid" surprise when he arrived at his Galveston, Texas, vacation home last October after Bank of America ("with which he has neither a relationship nor a mortgage") allegedly repossessed his home and turned off the utilities, leaving 75 pounds of frozen salmon and halibut to rot in the fridge. Schroit, who'd been planning to grill the fish for 30 guests the next night, is suing the bank. (For its part, BoA does "not believe the case will show merit.”)
In 2008, Kissimmee, Fla., resident Denroy Bell was living in London, England, when — he claims — a confused local bank attempted to foreclose on his home. The institution, Citi-Residential, allegedly changed the locks and drained the swimming pool. "It was like an army came up and took over the house," said Esther Goshop, Bell's neighbor. Unusually gracious, Bell has asked only that Citi-Residential refill his pool and restore his locks.
A jury punished Countrywide Home Loans in January 2009 for failing to notice that it was repossessing and selling the wrong Las Vegas condo back in 2003. Sgt. Gerald Thitchener and his wife, Katrina, absent at the time, were awarded $3.4 million in damages. "[Countrywide] never even said they were sorry," noted one juror. "[Though they did say] it would never happen again."
This story was originally published on March 19, 2010 and modified on September 24, 2010.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- This is how the U.S. thinks China could invade Taiwan
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Can we lead spiritually fulfilling lives without religion?
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- Surviving a plane crash
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Lauren Bacall's remarkably honest account of Humphrey Bogart's death
Subscribe to the Week