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NY Times: From East and West, Foreclosure Horror Stories


THE authorities have fallen silent lately about a possible settlement over foreclosure abuses at big mortgage servicing companies.

The talks began in earnest last March, and people keep whispering that a deal is nigh. But last week, a spokesman for Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a lead negotiator, said that there was nothing new to report.

That’s probably not a terrible thing. After all, no deal is better than a bad deal. State and federal authorities jumped into these talks without conducting serious investigations into foreclosure shenanigans. Why strike a deal — one that would, say, shield banks from new litigation over toxic loans, flawed securitizations and the mess at MERS, the registry that has made such a jumble of land records — without knowing what happened?

So it’s nice to know some attorneys general are taking matters into their own hands. One is Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, whose lawsuits against big banks have unearthed important details about dubious mortgage practices.

Another is Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. She filed a case against Morgan Stanley that was settled last year, generating as much as $40 million in monetary relief for borrowers. She also participated in a suit against Wells Fargo that resulted in $45 million in principal forgiveness for Nevadans. And she has a case pending against Bank of America.