A class action filed on behalf of California fire victims against Countrywide Home Loans was settled November 25, 2009 in Los Angeles Superior Court (Van Der Touw v Countrywide, BC392189).
Based on alleged violations of California‟s Civil Code Section 2954.8, and Business and Professions Code Section 17200, the class action suit claimed that the mortgage lender, Countrywide Home Loans, breached California laws by not paying homeowners the minimum 2% interest on insurance proceeds held by their lender. The code sections apply to state, not federally, chartered institutions.
The practice of withholding interest on monies held from insurance settlement proceeds or escrow account holders amounted to free funds at the expense of diligent homeowners who suffered damages from an insured peril. Individually, no case would have prevailed because any recovery would have been insignificant compared to the costs of litigation.
Countrywide Home Loans, a California corporation, ultimately agreed to fund a class settlement in recognition of past unpaid interest.
Mr. Brian Heffernan, the attorney representing homeowner plaintiffs, commented, “This was a case that reflects our troubled economic times. As most disaster victims already know, financial institutions will go to great lengths to hold [insurance settlement] money as long as possible. Fire victims constantly have to overcome the red tape and hassles to convince the „Loss Draft‟ department to eventually disburse the customers‟ own insurance proceeds necessary to rebuild their homes. This settlement should at least remove one obstacle along the way to rebuild their home.”
Homeowners who borrowed from or held escrow accounts with Countrywide during the period covered by the class action litigation, June 6, 2004 and June 30, 2008, are advised to check their mail for instructions regarding the class action settlement.
The blaze burned 250 square miles, two firefighters were killed
U.S. Forest Service retirees claim an internal investigation into last year’s deadly Angeles National Forest wildfire ignored critical errors.
The group wants a wider, independent probe into the handling of the blaze that burned about 250 square miles, killed two firefighters and destroyed 89 homes last summer.
Portions of the forest are reopening after last year's massive Station Fire.
Several areas of the Angeles National Forest closed since last year's massive Station Fire will reopen Wednesday for hiking, picnicking and camping.
The Magic Mountain Wilderness will be accessible once again, along with vast majorities of Pleasant View Wilderness, the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, Rincon Shortcut Road, Millard Campground, and the Chilao, Bandito, Horse Flats, Meadow Loop, Manzanita Loop and Coulter recreation areas.
Automated technology may help firefighters identify threats and get to the source of a blaze more quickly
In the wake of the Station Fire, a county commission is recommending new high-technology tools to better fight wildfires.
The commission released a report urging the Board of Supervisors to partner with federal agencies to test using satellite technology that can pinpoint fires. In addition, the commission hopes to develop new procedures to better manage the coordination of fire fighters and other city agencies.
The I.I.I. Offers a Home Buyers Insurance Checklist with Accompanying Video and Podcast
May 12, 2010
INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
NEW YORK, May 12, 2010 — With home prices continuing to be competitive and interest rates low, many people are dipping their toes into the real estate market. Regardless of whether you are a first time home buyer, considering the purchase of a second home or an empty nester looking for a cozy smaller property, it is important to factor in the potential insurance costs of the home you are considering when calculating the overall price of owning the house, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).