Hard Times USA

Mortgage Company Tried to Take Home of 75-Year-Old Blind Woman Over $49 She Already Paid

The company now claims that was an error, and is now filing for a different reason.

A 75-year-old Texas woman with numerous health ailments is in danger of losing the home she’s owned for 45 years if a mortgage company wins a lawsuit. Aron Ezilla Ridge sued James B. Nutter & Co. for kicking her out of her home over $49 in property taxes that she said she already paid.

James B. Nutter & Co., which approved a reverse mortgage on Ridge’s home in 2007, last month filed to foreclose on the same home for unpaid property taxes amounting to $49. But Ridge’s attorney, Nan Hazel, who is working pro bono, says she has receipt proving her client paid in full. Ridge, who lives off a $649 monthly Social Security check, was devastated when she received notice of foreclosure on February 6 for “failure to pay property taxes.” “It’s my home. I worked very hard for many years, and I finished paying for it in 1995 despite my heart attacks and cancer and my diabetes,” she told the Austin American-Statesman.

But Ridge’s mortgage company claims its foreclosure suit had nothing to do with property taxes, and that its lawyers simply used the wrong wording. Nutter & Co. vice president James Madison says the company’s actual intention for seeking foreclosure rests on Ridge not insuring her home for several years. He says the company has footed the insurance bill for four to five years. “We are going to refile and list insurance as the reason,” Madson told the American-Statesman.

Hazel says the fact that the company screwed up its original foreclosure suit and now wants to file for different reason doesn’t excuse its actions. She says Nutter & Co., should’ve known better than to serve a partially blind woman with limited reading skills highly technical paperwork without a third party to help guide her. “Miss Ridge didn’t understand the paperwork she signed,” Hazel told the American-Statesman, “They knew that a woman of her education and bad eyesight would not be able to understand the details.”

Ridge approached Nutter & Co. in 2007 for a $39,000 reverse mortgage to make critical repairs to her roof, kitchen and bathroom. She says Nutter & Co. demands more than $66,700, twice the amount she paid in 2007. Madison says his company repeatedly notified Ridge of missed insurance payments, but Hazel says her client doesn’t any notices. A relative tells the American-Statesman Ridge can’t afford the insurance.

According to Courthouse News, the plaintiff “seeks actual and punitive damages, an injunction and declaratory relief for wrongful foreclosure, breach of contract, negligence, real estate fraud, unjust enrichment, attempted conversion and violations of the Unfair Debt Collection Act and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.”

[Courthouse News, The Austin American-Statesman]




Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.