Bank of America can't be sued by unified groups of homeowners in different states over its failure to modify mortgages, a federal judge in Boston ruled.

Home-mortgage borrowers in 26 states claimed in lawsuits that Bank of America mismanaged loan requests under the Home Affordable Modification Program and sought class-action status to pursue their cases. The suits were consolidated in Boston.

"Plaintiffs' claims may well be meritorious; but they rest on so many individual factual questions that they cannot sensibly be adjudicated on a classwide basis," U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel said in a decision dated yesterday.

Bank of America is one of many lenders participating in the U.S. government's mortgage-modification program, known as HAMP, designed to prevent foreclosures of homes. The homeowners who sued claimed they made all required trial payments under the plan to the bank and still didn't receive permanent loan modifications or written denials of eligibility by a certain date.

"We respect the court's decision," Jumana Bauwens, a spokeswoman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, said in an e-mailed statement. "We have successfully completed more HAMP modifications than any other servicer and will continue to improve delivery of this and other programs to support our customers in need of assistance."

The plaintiffs, 43 individuals and couples, sought to have 26 different classes certified for the suit, one for each state.

The judge said several of the plaintiffs entered the trial program with Wilshire Credit Corp., not with Bank of America, and that the alleged breach was committed by Wilshire "well before Bank of America began servicing the loan."

Steve Berman and Thomas Sobol, lawyers for the plaintiffs, didn't immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is In re Bank of America Home Affordable Modification Program Contract Litigation, 10-02193, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

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