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Pasco County Judge Says Foreclosure Fees should not be Expensive

A Pasco County judge has warned lawyers in the area against overcharging on foreclosure-related legal fees. The judge said she would closely monitor legal fees imposed.

Pasco County Circuit Judge Susan Gardner has warned lawyers in Pasco County, Florida, against the common practice of inflating legal fees for foreclosure cases. The judge said she would be closely watching and would not tolerate unreasonable attorneys’ fees.

In November, Judge Gardner reviewed her foreclosure cases following testimonies from ex-employees of a major foreclosure company that their former employer overbills clients for legal services and forges legal documents. She said she discovered that lawyers usually charge about $800 to $1,800 for legal services that should only collect about $45 to several hundreds of dollars.

Judge Gardner plastered legal files with adhesive and small notes that detailed concerns over expensive fees for serving notices of foreclosure. She said she has been warning lawyers that there had to be good and practical reasons for the exorbitant fees.

Several lawyers who submitted their affidavits to court that assert their fees are ‘reasonable’ almost always indicating their names as well as bar numbers in eligible scribbles. Judge Gardner picked five lawyers and ordered them to explain or justify why their legal service fees could be considered reasonable. Unfortunately, none of the explanations pleased the judge. However, Judge Gardner said she has decided to make it a warning.

In one selected case, an invoice from a lawyer indicated that both defendants in the same case were served. The invoice also comprised of two charges for two other unknown spouses and two other unknown tenants. However, none of all four individuals were traced. After three days, an invoice showed that process server tried to serve main defendants as well as unknown spouses in Indiana.

The bill was at $1,633.50. Judge Gardner said the bill should have just been about $175. Observers note that similar charging loopholes have gotten quite normal, especially when involving foreclosure cases. Experts take note that expensive attorneys’ fees further worsen the financial woes being faced by troubled and defaulting homeowners.

Foreclosure cases have become quite rampant not just in Pasco County, but also in the entire state of Florida, even in the entire US. Homeowners who intend to face litigations over foreclosures opt to hire lawyers to represent them. Some borrowers, especially those involved in under water mortgages, tend to simply walk away and let the banks repossess their homes without their resistance.

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