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The weekly Alabama Law Weekly Update this weeks reviews two submissions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In the first case, the admissibility of certain fees levied by a RESPA titling agent is concerned. In the second case, which is a first impression case in the Eleventh Circle, the extent of legal fees awarded for the incorrect submission of an application for forced liquidation is discussed.
The Eleventh Circle in this case examined whether certain credit handling fees infringed the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act ('RESPA'). Clements claimant had funded her first mortgage on a home loans and brought an action to contest certain fees billed to her by the lead broker who handled the loans, LSI Title Agency.
There are two reasons why the applicant contests the fees: 1. that the title agent has calculated fees that were unlawful under the laws of the State of Georgia, and 2. that the fee was calculated by the fee agent for any service that was not actually provided. County Supreme rejected the plaintiff's action for failing to bring an action.
At Clements, the Eleventh Circle confirmed this release. First of all, the CFI dismissed the claim that a charge is inadmissible per se under 2607(b) only because it may have been unlawful under national legislation. Quite the opposite, the Tribunal found that'the Georgian Act prohibited LSI from providing billing service does not mean that the services' were'not actually provided' for the purpose of RESPA, because even though such charges may be countervailable under State legislation, 'the fact [the charge] was not in vain.
Eleventh District also rejected the plaintiff's action regarding the "surcharge" registration fees. "In particular, this participation opposes Dikta from the statement of the Eleventh Circle in Sosa v. Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation, 348 F.3d 979, 981-83 (11 Cir. 2003). While acknowledging this opposition, the Tribunal explicitly stated that such a dikta could not be reconciled with the Supreme Court's ruling in Freeman v. Quicken Loans, Inc.
Accordingly, the Eleventh Circuit found that the Clements claimant had neglected to file a complaint under RESPA and confirmed the decision of the Circuit Court to dismiss their complaints. At Rosenberg, the Eleventh Circuit dealt with what fees to pay under 11 U.S.C. § 303(i)(1), which was a problem of first impressions in that circuit.
The case was brought about by an application for forced liquidation against Maury Rosenberg, the defendant on appeal. Rosberg had granted his company a guarantee for a credit from a number of related companies (the'DVI units') which were out of order at the date of the filing for insolvency and whose service functions had been taken over by Lyon Financial Services.
There was a legal battle before the Regional Tribunal about the delay with the credit and the scope of Rosenberg's liabilities. Kyon Financial, the body pursuing the State Court's claim, submitted a motion for forced insolvency under 11 U.S.C. § 303, but did so on behalf of the DVI units and not in its own name.
Lyon Financial, in its role as succeeding service provider and agency for the new bondholder, would be found by the insolvency tribunal to be in the interest of the actual debtor and to reject the forced application as not having been submitted in the interest of the actual debtor. According to 303(i) lawyers' fees may be granted if a successful rejection of an unvoluntary application is obtained by one of the parties.
In addition, compensation and penalty awards may be made where it is established that such an application was made with malicious intent. Rosenberg brought an action before the insolvency tribunal for attorneys' fees and compensation with malicious intent under this law. In the end, the malicious demand was assigned to the localgericht.
Before the 11th Congress, the main conclusions - that the lawyer's fees were eligible according to 303(i) and that the application was submitted in good faith must have been that the costs of the lawyer's fees were not eligible. Instead, the discreet questions before the Eleventh Circle were the yardstick for the legal fees that were eligible and who should be held accountable.
In particular, the complainant, Lyon Financial, charged her legal fees for two reasons: that the lawyer's fees inadmissibly contained fees for pursuing the good faith demand and fees for defence of a complaint against termination (in supplement to the fees for obtainment of rejection of the application for bankruptcy), and (2) that Lyon Financial was not the applicant and therefore should not be hold responsible for those fees.
Eleventh Circle confirmed the surcharge (although it partly abolished the surcharge for preterm birth). 303 (i) were not restricted to the lawyer's fees payable when the application was rejected and, consequently, both the appeal fees and the fees for the prosecution of the action in bad faith were duly eligible.
During the discussion of the collection of appeal fees, the Eleventh Circle found that its ruling was inconsistent with the only other appeal ruling dealing with the problem, namely the Ninth Circle in Higgins v. Vortex Fishing Systems, Incorporated, 379 F.3d 701 (Cir. 9, 2004). It overturned its ruling on the difference between the Statute on the Shift of Charges and the Criminal Code and found that 303(i)(1) was of the former type.
While the Eleventh District further stated that the attorneys' fees for the prosecution of the Bad Belief Entitlement were eligible, the Tribunal overruled and remitted the allocation of the attorneys' fees for the Good Belief Entitlement on the grounds that such fees could only be allocated after the reduction of the Good Belief Entitlement to a judgement, which had not yet taken place at the date of the first registration of the Good Belief Entitlement.
Lastly, the Tribunal found that Lyon Financial was the appropriate person to answer for the fees in issue. It appeared from the file that it was an official of Lyon Financial who had submitted the complaint on behalf of the units of the German People's Institute (DVI). Lyon Financial had also brought an action against Rosenberg before the Regional Courts.
The DVI units, on the other handed, were disbanded for administrative reasons at the date of filing for insolvency. On the basis of these observations, the CFI found that Lyon Financial had made itself the applicant lender, even though it had not acted in its own name, and accordingly confirmed the allocation of legal fees to Lyon Financial.