A federal judge in Tampa sent a clear message to Bank of America Thursday by ordering it to pay a local couple $1,051,000 for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
Plaintiffs Nelson and Joyce Coniglio of Tampa sued the nation’s second largest bank in July after enduring four years of multiple robocalls per day attempting to collect mortgage debt.
BoA failed to respond to the complaint and in October the court granted a default judgment, thus awarding the Coniglios the seven-figure sum. The bank then asked the court in November to vacate the default, but on Thursday U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A Kovachevich denied that motion.
The judgment amount is based on $1,500 per computer call. “If the court finds the calls were willfully and knowingly placed, it provides for trebling the damages,” saidDavid Mitchell, who represented the Coniglios along with Billy Howard. They are attorneys in the Consumer Protection Department in Morgan & Morgan’s Tampa office.
Mitchell said the seven-figure award was large for this type of case.
Requests for comment from the Coniglios are pending return.
WASHINGTON — Wall Street lobbyists are trying to secure taxpayer backing for many derivatives trades as part of budget talks to avert a government shutdown.
According to multiple Democratic sources, banks are pushing hard to include the controversial provision in funding legislation that would keep the government operating after Dec. 11. Top negotiators in the House are taking the derivatives provision seriously, and may include it in the final bill, the sources said.
The bank perks are not a traditional budget item. They would allow financial institutions to trade certain financial derivatives from subsidiaries that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for losses caused by the risky contracts. Big Wall Street banks had typically traded derivatives from these FDIC-backed units, but the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law required them to move many of the transactions to other subsidiaries that are not insured by taxpayers.
Taxpayer insurance helps banks secure higher credit ratings for their derivatives, since taxpayers assume some of the risk, which in turn makes the banks more profitable.
Approximately one million homeowners whose mortgage has already been modified under the Home Affordable Modification Program are now eligible for increased benefits as the government continues its push to aid struggling homeowners.
Under the modified HAMP guidelines, announced Thursday in a joint statement by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, all homeowners in the HAMP program will now be eligible to earn an additional $5,000 in the sixth year of their modification.
Prior to the change, homeowners in the HAMP program were eligible to earn up to $5,000 over the first five years of their modification, which is applied in repayment of their outstanding principal balance.
The newly established guidelines will provide an additional $5,000 to borrowers in the sixth year, which will allow borrowers to reduce their outstanding principal balance by as much as $10,000.