BILLINGS , Mont., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A Montana jury ordered Deutsche Bank to pay more than $2 million to a couple whose paid-off home was foreclosed on and sold by the bank.
Jason and Liz Norman bought the 120-year old farmhouse in Billings, Mont., for $50,000 in cash and spent $40,000 for renovations. When they sought a home equity loan three years ago they learned from the Montana Department of Revenue the house was foreclosed on and sold, the result of a mixup with another house in Billings undergoing foreclosure proceedings.
A legal battle between the Normans, a company called MOM Haven 6, which purchased the home, and funder Deutsche Bank began.
The Normans rejected a number of quitclaim deeds, in which MOM Haven 6 would relinquish ownership, because no party in the matter was taking blame for the error. The Normans' home equity loan was rejected, the house could not be listed for sale and their house was under threat of being seized by the new owner.
In court, the Normans' lawyer, John Heenan, argued the situation was not a series of clerical errors, but an intentional "disregard or indifference" which could be construed as malice toward the Normans. A 12-person jury in Yellowstone County, Mont., District Court agreed, awarding the family $450,000 in compensatory damages and $1.6 million in punitive damages from the bank.
Heenan expects the bank to appeal the decision.
"They haven't done anything voluntarily," he said, "so I'd be surprised if they paid the jury verdict voluntarily."