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Diversity Practices

Bilaal v. Abell

AARP Attorneys Represented Homeowners Settling Lending Lawsuit

After returning home, Bilaal realized the papers included several provisions that transferred tens of thousands of dollars of unexplained fees as well as "trust" accounts not adequately described or accounted for.  According to the lawsuit, Bilaal  called Baltimore who offered him a complicated and misleading explanation about the implications of the paperwork. Eager to avoid foreclosure, Bilaal accepted the explanations. It was not until later that he realized he had not absolved himself of any mortgage liability but instead agreed to maintain his mortgage debt to Fairbanks while transferring title to his property to Baltimore’s confederate Vincent Abell and agreeing to have Abell’s company, Modern Management, broker his mortgage payments. Moreover, Bilaal claimed that when he sought to ask Baltimore about the transaction, and find out where to send his payments, he was unable to find him. Bilaal alleged in the lawsuit that Modern Management told him Baltimore did not work there. Ultimately, Bilaal faced eviction by Modern Management and only narrowly avoided being thrown out on the streets.

The lawsuit Bilaal and other victims filed claimed violations of state and federal lending and consumer protection laws, as well as violation of tort and trust laws. The claims included: aggressive and misleading marketing, lack of federally required settlement statements and other paperwork, and missing notifications of borrowers' rights to rescind refinanced loans. The suit sought to stop defendants from conducting their business practices, to force them to return title to the homeowners' homes, to rescind the  contracts, and to recover punitive damages from defendants.

Without admitting liability, the defendants settled the case and agreed to return title to the homes and/or restoration of funds.

What’s at Stake

The ability to stay in the place where they have lived is extremely important to many older people. Moreover, a house is not only a home but often a family’s most significant financial asset, upon which they hinge their plans for financial stability as they grow older and income and earning potential become limited. Finally, home mortgages are usually a family’s largest debt and therefore particularly vulnerable to unexpected financial pressures (such as health care costs).  It is of critical importance that people’s rights to their homes be protected to the full extent of the law.

Case Status

Attorneys from AARP Foundation Litigation and AARP's Legal Counsel for the Elderly joined forces with attorneys from Hogan & Hartson LLP in representing Idriis Bilaal and other homeowners in Bilaal v. Abell, which was in D.C. Superior Court when it was settled in 2007.

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