Spent most this week in Court. Last night, we got the jury verdict. But first a quick word about the case …
Howard Shmuckler was a purported attorney who owned an outfit in Tysons Corner called “The Shmuckler Group, LLC” which allegedly specialized in helping clients modify loans and avoid foreclosure. In 2008-2009, the height of the foreclosure crisis, the group (“TSG Saves Homes”) were doing over $2M in business from desperate clients looking for help.
Our client signed a contract with Shmuckler and TSG to help modify her loan which was an adjustable rate mortgage (or “ARM”). In return she was told to cut off contact with her creditors and stop paying the mortgage, even though she was current. Believing that Shmuckler was an attorney, she followed this advice. Of course, the loan went into default and her house was eventually foreclosed.
After foreclosure, the house was purchased by another entity controlled by Shmuckler, who promised he would help her. He then “rented” it to our client with the promise that she could “lease to purchase” and thereby preserve her ownership rights. But after collecting several of her checks, he then transferred the property to another Trust he controlled and listed it for sale. Once he had a purchaser, he moved to evict her. She eventually lost the house and suffered major damage to her credit. Meanwhile, he got the house in “the free and clear.”
The trial showed that these tactics were the pattern and practice of TSG and Shmuckler.
After four days of testimoney and four hours of deliberation, the Fairfax County jury returned with a verdict against Shmuckler and his various entities of $668,600, which included $350,000 in punitive damages.
Congrats to my associate Kristi Cahoon who brought this case to our office from Legal Services of Northern Virginia and did a great job of seeing it to a successful conclusion.