Quicken Loans received a judgment from the state Supreme Court of West Virginia that it must pay $3.5 million in punitive damages to Lourie Jefferson.

Jefferson filed a lawsuit against Quicken Loans under allegations that they had, “committed fraud and violated various provisions of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection act in a mortgage loan,” reports John O’Brien of The West Virginia Record.

Jefferson filed the lawsuit in 2007 after responding to a pop-up advertisement from Quicken Loans and was directed to speak to one of their mortgage bankers. After inquiring about her refinancing needs the company ordered and appraisal of the property to deduce an estimated value for refinancing. O’Brien states that Quicken estimated the value of the property to be $262,500 however, the trail court later found it to be valued only $46,000. Another appraiser valued the property at $181,700 and after deliberation Jefferson’s Quicken mortgage banker secured a loan at $144,800.

Jefferson initially received a written Good Faith Estimate that differed greatly from the much larger loan she agreed to with her mortgage banker that included very different terms and undisclosed balloon payments from the original estimate given. After finalizing the loan and making payments Jefferson contacted Quicken to, “begin the refinancing process” as she had understood in the terms of her contracted loan with them but Quicken refused.

Early in 2007, Jefferson was unable to work after undergoing multiple surgeries and was unable, “to workout a payment arrangement with Quicken”. She defaulted on her loan after Quicken failed to cure a statutory notice of a claim and Quicken began the foreclosure process.

Quicken Loans is the largest online retail mortgage lender and the third largest overall retailer lender in the United States. They have brought the case up for appeal and Jefferson’s award only seems to grow each time they return for review in higher courts. In November the Supreme Court sent the case to the Ohio County Circuit Court to adjust the award to $2.8 million dollars. On July 17th, Quicken appealed the case, citing the punitive damages to be “grossly excessive”, even stating that Jefferson’s evidence was, “weak, and that Quicken Loans was […] right in this matter and that therefore, a punitive damages award against it is not warranted,” noted Ohio Circuit Judge David J. Sims. Upon reviewing the case Sims replied to Quicken’s argument saying,

“It is apparent that Quicken Loans did not accurately evaluate the egregiousness of its conduct, its potential liability, and the potential for a large damages award against it.”

The State Supreme Court of West Virginia has ruled that Quicken pay $3.5 million in punitive damages for its actions. Quicken’s blatant disregard for the refinancing of this woman’s home demonstrates a greater problem in the loan industry and the possibility for the abuse of a system that is meant to assist consumers.

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