Class Action Certification Denied To HAMP Plaintiffs

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The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts has denied class certification to a group of individual borrowers alleging that Bank of America mishandled their loan modification requests pursuant to the Home Affordable Modification Program.

The plaintiffs had requested class certification for the borrowers in In Re Bank of America Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) Contract Litigation, who alleged that they completed a “Trial Period Plan,” or TPP, pursuant to HAMP, but did not timely receive a permanent modification or written denial. The bank, however, argued that any alleged liability was dependent on individual factual determinations as to whether the individual class members met their own obligations under the TPP. The bank argued that in a purported breach of contract case, such as alleged by the borrowers, those individual inquiries predominated over any questions common to the class and made class certification inappropriate.

The District Court agreed, finding that the purported class did not satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23’s requirement that common questions predominate over individual questions. “In order to show that Bank of America is liable for a breach of contract, each plaintiff must show that a contract existed, that he performed as required by that contract, and that Bank of America breached the contract.” The court stated that determining whether each plaintiff entered into a contract and fulfilled his or her obligations would entail “a nearly endless series of individual questions.”

The court ultimately found that the purported class action would be unmanageable and unable to determine the individual questions present for each borrower. “It would either ignore them; denying parties a fair trial on the merits of each plaintiff’s claim; or it would attempt to resolve them all, and wind up hopelessly entangled in each plaintiff’s idiosyncratic facts.” Finding neither alternative acceptable, the court found that class certification would be inappropriate.

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