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Soldiers seek foreclosures class action

July 14, 2011 at 3:16 PM

SEWICKLEY, Pa., July 14 (UPI) -- Lawyers said they hope to get class action certification in New York for an increasing number of active-duty U.S. soldiers fighting mortgage foreclosures.

A federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in New York alleges CitiMortgage should have done a quick Internet check before foreclosing on the home of Army Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez of Del Valle, Texas, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday.

In 2003, Rodriguez purchased a home with a mortgage eventually sold to CitiMortgage. He was deployed in 2006, and while he was in training at Fort Hood, Texas, the mortgage company sold his home in a foreclosure sale, the newspaper said.

Rodriguez was sent to Iraq and was on active duty until August 2007.

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act prohibits the foreclosure sale of an active-duty soldier's home without a highly detailed court order. Lenders can access a certain Web site to learn whether a soldier is on active duty, the newspaper said.

"It's just an issue that we have seen percolating throughout the country," said Gary Lynch of Sewickley, Pa., an attorney for the plaintiffs. "Major lenders operated on perhaps what might be a fundamental misunderstanding of the requirements of the statute."

The complaint indicates CitiMortgage may have "initiated thousands of foreclosure proceedings ... without adequate safeguards to ensure that service members on active duty were not targeted."

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