Bill Proposes Prevention of Foreclosure Errors

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A proposed 1-sentence law change,
approved Wednesday by a key Assembly panel, would help homeowners who face errors by mortgage companies of the sort that cost a LasVegas family irreplacable personal possessions.

AB132, approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, was backed
by Nevada Justice Association attorney Bill Bradley who said it
stems from a lawsuit against Countrywide Home Loans Inc. filed by
Gerald and Katrina Thitchener after an improper foreclosure on
their condominium.

After a long legal fight, the Thitcheners won a $3.1 million
judgment against Countrywide but saw it reduced to about $2.2
million by the state Supreme Court. The high court wouldn't allow a
tripling of part of the award which had been granted by a lower
court for loss of personal property.

AB132, introduced by Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas,
would make clear that Nevada allows for the treble damages in cases
where "forcible or unlawful entry" into someone's home results in
loss of personal property.

For the Thitcheners, the losses weren't just items that could be
replaced, such as furniture and clothing, when their condo was
"trashed out" by mistake in 2002. Among other things, they lost
Katrina's wedding band and dress, a video taken they day they were
married, Gerald's Gulf War service medals and a photo of his Air
Force unit's meeting with then-President George H.W. Bush.

State lawmakers should act "when we see a case of injustice,"
Conklin said in urging approval of AB132, which would help anyone
in future cases such as the one the Thitcheners went through. The
law change couldn't be backdated for the Thitcheners, however.

Bradley told Assembly Judiciary members how the Thitcheners fell
behind on three mortgage payments on their Las Vegas condo after
Gerald was transferred to Tucson, Ariz. Countrywide sent a
representative to check on the condo, an initial step in
foreclosure proceedings, but the Thitcheners then caught up on
their payments.

But that representative erred when another condo in the same
complex went through foreclosure, and thought he was dealing with
the Thitcheners again. As a result, their condo was stripped bare
while they were in Tucson and their personal property was sold.

Bradley said that when the Thitcheners learned what had
happened, their calls to Countrywide weren't returned. After losing
at the Clark County District Court level, attorneys for Countrywide
appealed to the Supreme Court and managed to get the initial award
to the Thitcheners reduced.

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