7th Circuit Affirms $582,000 Punitive Damages Against Ocwen

“We are not sure how many human errors a company like Ocwen gets before a jury can reasonably infer a conscious disregard of a person’s rights, but we are certain Ocwen passed it,” Circuit Judge Amy St. Eve wrote, joined by Circuit Judges William Bauer and Michael Brennan. [e.s.]

Editorial Note: Any lawyer who thinks these cases cannot be won and cannot be profitable for the lawyer and the client is simply not paying attention to the facts. While the size of the award was slashed to the amount of compensatory damages awarded by the jury, the larger point is that the assumption that punitive damages will not be granted is just plain wrong. A lawyer on full contingency in this case would have received over $400,000 in fees.

see Ocwen’s Attempt to Eliminate Punitive damages Rejected

From Westlaw:

The jury awarded Saccameno $500,000 in compensatory damages under the FDCPA and RESPA. It awarded another $82,000 in compensatory and $3 million in punitive damages under ICFA.
On appeal, Ocwen challenged only the punitive award, arguing that the 37:1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages under ICFA was so large that it constituted a deprivation of property without due process of law.
Saccameno said the true ratio was 5:1, based on the aggregate compensatory award. The 7th Circuit said that under either calculation, $3 million was too much.
The Supreme Court has warned that punitive awards generally should not exceed a “single-digit” multiple of compensatory damages, and if the compensatory award is “substantial,” a 1:1 ratio might be “the outermost limit.”
Reducing the punitive award to $582,000 provided a 1:1 ratio to the “considerable compensatory award” under Saccameno’s aggregate approach and a single-digit, 7:1 ratio under Ocwen’s “claim-by-claim” approach, the 7th Circuit concluded.
The case is Monette Saccameno v. U.S. Bank N.A., trustee and Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 19-1569.
For Saccameno: Nick Wooten and Mohammed Badwan of Sulaiman Law Group
For Ocwen: Anton Metlitsky and Ephraim McDowell of O’Melveny & Myers
Practice Note: Under the peculiar reasoning of the Supreme Court it might be tactically better to seek and obtain nominal damages then seek a high amount of punitive damages without the constraint of measurement against a “substantial” award of compensatory damages.
Also suits against the trustees and possibly the stockbrokers (“investment banks”) might also yield better results inasmuch as the truth about their behavior is more egregious, if you can prove it. At least Ocwen was pretending to do something real.
And remember what Eric Holder (former U.S. Attorney General) said: “Sue the individuals.”

5 Responses

  1. Bizarre indeed from Supreme Court as to limitations of punitive damages –

    According to SCOTUS punitive damages are influenced by whether – “the harm caused was physical as opposed to economic; the tortious conduct evinced an indifference to or a reckless disregard of the health or safety of others; the target of the conduct had financial vulnerability; the conduct involved repeated actions or was an isolated incident; and the harm was the result of intentional malice, trickery, or deceit, or mere accident.”

    Nothing by the “banks” is a “mere accident.”

    Also – a footnote says – “Although both U.S. Bank and Ocwen are named as defendants, Saccameno’s claims are based solely on Ocwen’s conduct. Her claims against U.S. Bank are based entirely on a theory of vicarious liability. See 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 7. For this reason, the court’s discussion refers to Ocwen in particular rather than to both defendants generically.”

    I know indemnification likely applies, but Ocwen acted as agent for WHO? Seems to be U.S. Bank trustee. Will Ocwen pay the money from the trust — authorized by the trustee? Unlikely. This was a bankruptcy case. Account was, most likely, charged off and liquidated from any trust — if it was ever there one to begin with.

    Good case. But disappointing to see punitive damages so greatly reduced. This does not help deter Ocwen from other actions. Also, there is nothing here, in this case, to identify the real party — which we know is likely not US Bank. This loan was likely sold to a debt buyer – who Ocwen continued to service for. Ocwen appeared to have not even been aware of Saccameno’s bankruptcy. I do not think a “coding” error – and neither did the court. Parties are involved that we do not know about. .

  2. Bauer got this one right. Maybe he’s found a higher calling, Lol

  3. I met Judge William Bauer’s long-time secretary now wife Patricia Spratt whom he pushed into a judicial seat after she miserably lost her 2014 election

    Spratt, who worked for Bauer from 1972, dropped from two (2) colleges – but was able to succeed in Loyola where William Bauer was a long-time Trustee. .

    Spratt paid over $25,000 to convicted in bribes Isaak Carothers (served in jail) for his AUNT’s Judicial seat to get “assigned” by Justice Mary Jane Theis whose son Jack clerked for Judge William Bauer. (it is all about corruption in Illinois Court system, no matter Circus or Fed)

    Worth to mention, Carothers operates illegal “consulting” company from his home, which is not registered anywhere, and apparently delivers bribes for judicial appointments.

    Crooked Spratt instantly denied my lawful Petition to Vacate Void order in the case orchestrated by Goldman Sachs who acted under shame conduits “Fremont”; “Deutsche Bank” and “Wells Fargo” as a Servicer and where JUDGE Robert Senechalle criminally concealed key evidence from my case records, so nobody ever seen these “originals” again – but all Judges ruled for “Deutsche Bank” and confiscated my property.

    Spratt invited THREE sheriffs who wrongfully detained me in her courtroom, without ANY reason, or any explanations; and held me a hostage for more than 30 minutes.

    According to one sheriff, they are looking for “something” to put me in jail – solely to scare and intimidate because I lawfully objected a void order.

    Now corrupt to his core Judge William J. Bauer is acting as a purveyor of Justice! Hilarious.

  4. Hats off to Wooten. He’s right, Ocwen-Us Bank are fake players. I too have this stuff and far more egregious. Another win for the “good guys”…we can do it to. Note: O’Melveney & Myers, were the reorganization attorneys for New Century bankruptcy. Specifically, Suzanne Uhland and Holly Etland,..passing around notes to anyone, just to move them. Might be noteworthy to anyone here, who had a New Century product around 2006-2008.

  5. It’s good to see that Nick Wooten is still giving the banks hell. Alabama is proud of a stand up guy like attorney Nick Wooten. He is all about what a “real” attorney should be!!!

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