Many folks would think that if they lost their home to a foreclosure, then that would be the end of story. Not so fast. One of the ugly consequences of the Florida foreclosure crisis is the issue of deficiency judgments.
If your property is “under water”, meaning you owe more on your Mortgage than the property is worth, and you are foreclosed on, the Final Judgment of Foreclosure will typically provide the bank with an opportunity to come back to Court and seek a personal money judgment against you for the difference between what the property sold for at the foreclosure sale and what you owed on the Mortgage. If the bank succeeds in this, it is called a deficiency judgment. If the bank obtains a deficiency judgment against you, the bank could seek to garnish your wages (assuming no applicable exemptions apply) and try to take assets you may have, just as they can with any other personal money judgment against you. The bank could also sell off the judgment to a debt collector and then the debt collector will pursue you.
Recently, consumer lawyers such as myself have been seeing more and more deficiency lawsuits filed by a company called Dyck O’Neal. This company is allegedly being assigned the rights to pursue these deficiency judgments and they are filing separate lawsuits against homeowners for the deficiency. If you have been served with a lawsuit filed by Dyck O’Neal, definitely do not ignore it. If you do, you will lose your case by default and judgment will be entered against you for the full amount in addition to costs and attorney’s fees. As with other lawsuits, you have 20 days to respond from the date that you are served with the lawsuit.
You have defenses available to you. Issues can be raised regarding the validity of the assignments in these cases, you can contest the appraiser’s valuation (if it seems far too low), there are jurisdictional issues in these cases, as well as other defenses which I won’t get into here on this blog.
The point is, if you’ve been served with one of these cases, you have a lot at stake. You have rights and you should assert those rights and defend yourself.
If you’ve been served with one of these deficiency lawsuits, feel free to give our firm a call to discuss your legal options.
Ryan C. Torrens, Esq.