Borrowers propose to settle class action against Dean Morris law firm

Steve Korris Dec. 3, 2010, 3:17am


Borrowers who sued Dean Morris law firm of Monroe and lenders it represented in foreclosures propose to settle their class action claims.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval called off two hearings on Nov. 17, as all sides nailed down terms borrowers offered at a conference in October.

He delayed a hearing on a motion to strike class claims and allegations until March, and he continued a hearing on summary judgment motions without a date.

He pushed the parties toward settlement on Oct. 18, by denying a motion from plaintiffs to convert claims under state law to claims under federal law.

Gary Gambel of New Orleans filed the suit in Orleans Parish against the Dean Morris firm and lawyers John Morris, George Dean, Candice Courteau and Charles Heck.

He also sued Dean Morris clients Chase Home Finance, Washington Mutual Bank, Countrywide Home Loans, and Aurora Loan Services.

The suit claimed Dean Morris lawyers helped lenders collect
excessive fees.

Defendants removed it to federal court three times and Duval remanded it three times.

The third time, Fifth Circuit appeals judges in New Orleans reversed him and directed him to preside over the case.

They held that intervention of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver for Washington Mutual turned it into a federal case.

Gambel petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision, and the Supreme Court denied the petition in July.

When the case returned to Duval, Dean Morris counsel Stephen Herman moved for summary judgment and claimed plaintiffs showed no damage.

Two reaped windfalls in settling foreclosures, he claimed.

"Dean Morris only billed its clients in reasonable amounts," he

Shannon Holtzmann of New Orleans filed similar motions for Chase
Home Finance.

Duval set hearings in September but postponed them at a conference in August.

Countrywide Home Loans, unwilling to wait for settlement, moved for separate final judgment in its favor in September.

Duval granted the motion in October.

Gambel sought to adjust to federal jurisdiction by amending the complaint to assert federal claims his original suit disavowed.

Duval ruled he couldn't do that after remanding it to state court twice for the very reason that it disavowed federal claims.

He declared Gambel's amendments futile.

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