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Owner Loses All in Bungled Foreclosure

Jan. 2, 2010 at 12:09 PM   |   Comments

A Las Vegas woman returned home from a snow boarding trip to Utah the week after Christmas only to discover her condo was mistakenly emptied in a bungled foreclosure action.

All that was left of her belongings were a curtain rod and a satellite dish. Everythign else in her three-bedroom, two-bathroom ground-floor unit, including a couch, bed, dining room set, computer, clothes, pots and pans had been hauled away to a dump. So, too, were her financial and medical documents, immigration papers from the Philippines, her father's military records and photographs of her family, said part-time photographer Nilly Mauck, a 31-year-old student at the College of Southern Nevada.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that a crew that clears out foreclosed properties had been sent into Mauck's condo by the Brenkus Team, a Henderson real estate group. Brenkus has accepted responsibility, saying it was just a mix-up. The foreclosure was a neighboring condo unit.

Brenkus initially offered Mauck $5,000 in compensation, which she viewed as adding insult to injury. Instead, she contacted Metro Police to file a report that her home had been broken into and everything she owned had been stolen.

It turns out it was actually Brenkus' second mistake. The first occurred earlier in December when the company entered her unit without permission and changed the locks. When Mauck called to complain, Brenkus gave her a new set of keys, she said.

It all appears to add up to a solid lawsuit for Mauck, and she has a law that took effect Oct. 1 that will work in her favor. Under a new state law, she can sue for triple damages for personal property. So Mauck could be awarded three times the value of what was removed from her condo.

The realty company's attorney said that what happened to Mauck was the result of an "honest mistake." He has recommended they avoid litigation by reaching a settlement through a court-appointed arbitrator.

"There is no question that Ms. Mauck is entitled to fair compensation," Marquis said. "But we think that her demand for $200,000 is greatly exaggerated."

Brenkus is offering her $20,000. The company maintains it has photos that show the condo had been largely cleared out before its crew went in. Marquis said the Brenkus photos show signs the condo had been abandoned. The electricity had even been turned off, Marquis said.

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