A lawsuit has been lodged against JPMorgan Chase for allegedly giving a Texas man a heart attack after foreclosure notices were sent to him. Harry Engel’s fatal heart attack, which Chase denies responsibility for, makes him another casualty of foreclosure.
Texas man has heart attack after foreclosure
Harry Engel, a 79-year-old retired minister in Grand Prairie, Texas, suffered a fatal heart attack in July 2010, according to KHOU, a Houston CBS affiliate. His family members believe his heart attack was induced by foreclosure proceedings begun by the JPMorgan Chase after the family had lived in their home for 22 years.
The Engels lived on a fixed income and had heard of a refinancing program that would lower their rate. They talked to a banker at their local Chase branch, who told them in order to qualify for the refinancing program through the Department of the Treasury, ostensibly the Making Home Affordable Program, they had to first miss a payment, which they did.
The bank then allegedly started the program, but canceled their enrollment. Late fees and notices began arriving, followed by a notice that foreclosure was pending. He had his heart attack after foreclosure warnings arrived, along with a Chase attorney advising that eviction was pending.
His wife, Wando Jo Engel, is suing Chase, according to the Huffington Post, in a wrongful death suit. The Engels were among a number of people who had been given similar instructions. They were told to miss at least one payment to qualify for a troubled mortgage refinance, only to fall into foreclosure after the bank decided to not follow through. Chase hadn’t filed foreclosure proceedings yet, but were in the early stages.
According to the Washington Post, it’s called “servicer-led foreclosure,” which was the subject of Senate Banking Committee hearings in late 2010. They were also part of the $25 billion foreclosure settlement between the government and the five largest mortgage lenders in the country earlier this year, according to the Los Angeles Times, who were sued by the federal government for improper foreclosures through “robosigning” and other practices.
The Engels aren’t the only people to experience a servicer-led foreclosure that went awry this year. According to the Huffington Post, Bank of America similarly told Pamela Flores of Georgia the same, only for the modification to fall apart and for Flores to be foreclosed on.
Casualties of foreclosures
Aside from the financial toll that foreclosures impose, a number of people have crumbled from the mental anguish, leading to a number of “foreclosures suicides.” Some of the first instances were noticed in 2008, according to USA Today. During that year, suicide hotlines began noting an increased number of calls from distressed homeowners who were having problems with their loans. At least two have been recorded this year, according to the Huffington Post, one in May in California and a murder-suicide in Ohio in March.
Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/09/business/la-fi-mo-mortgage-settlement-announcement-20120209
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2008-05-14-mortgage-foreclosures-mental-health_N.htm