A Tampa Bay, Fla. couple, harassed by Bank of America over their delinquent mortgage payments, recently won a $1 million default judgment in a collection lawsuit.
Joyce and Nelson Coniglio had purchased a second home in their neighborhood for $180,000 as an investment. While they could afford the purchase at the time, problems began after the failure of Countrywide Financial, the lender that initially advanced mortgage funds to the Coniglios. Bank of America picked up the mortgage, then decided in a force-placed insurance move to impose a more expensive insurance policy on the house, effectively doubling the payments for the Coniglios to $2,800 per month, according to a report published in the Tampa Bay Times.
When the recession began in 2008, the Coniglios had trouble making the payments. According to the lawsuit, both live and robocalls added up to an estimated 700 calls. Verbal and written requests to stop the calls were ignored and Jason Coniglio, the couple's son, asked the bank to redirect all calls concerning the matter to him. He said those requests also were ignored.
The award in the collection lawsuit is $1,051,000 or roughly, according to the report, about $1,500 for each of the 700 calls made to the Coniglios' cell phones. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a collector is required to cease harassing calls once a verbal or written request to stop the calls has been issued. Calls made after the receipt of a cease-and-desist order are interpreted as a willful violation of the law. It is not known if Bank of America will appeal the ruling.
In August, Bank of America settled with the US government over allegedly shoddy mortgage practices. That agreement cost Bank of America $16 billion.