Housing Wire Again Runs PR Masquerading as News on Behalf of Its Big Client, Lender Processing Services

The very fact that this item “,” was treated as a news story by Housing Wire is further proof that Housing Wire is above all committed to promoting client and mortgage industry interests and only incidentally engages in random acts of journalism.

LPS is desperate to create a shred of positive-looking noise in the face of pending fines under a Federal consent decree, mounting private litigation, and loss of client business under the continued barrage of bad press. Housing Wire, who has LPS as one of its top advertisers, is clearly more than willing to treat a virtual non-event as newsworthy to help an important meal ticket.

If you know anything about litigation, particularly when small fry square off against large companies, it’s standard for the well funded party to engage in a war of attrition against the underdog. One overused device is to threaten or file for sanctions. Even when they are weak or groundless, they still waste opposing counsel’s time and energy.

In this case, anyone with even a smidge of familiarity with the matters at hand would know the charges by LPS against attorney Nick Wooten, who has launched a series of cases charging LPS with impermissible fee sharing and other violations of bankrutpcy court rules, is a sign of weakness, not strength.

The background is pretty simple. Wooten filed a case against LPS in which he included a series of LPS contracts as exhibits. LPS settled the case and had Wooten sign a confidentiality agreement. Now LPS is trying to claim that the confidentiality agreement extends to the exhibits filed in the earlier case.

This is pathetic. You can’t contract to make public information confidential. If you get me to sign an agreement that the fact that water boils at 212 degrees Farenheit at sea level is confidential, and then you sue me because I mention that later in a public setting, you’d be laughed out of court if you tried to enforce that provision. The same idea applies here.

So this part of the article, which sound logical unless you understand the rules of the road, is nonsensical:

Wooten and LPS entered into a confidentiality agreement in the Wood case in May 2010, according to the court filing. That agreement stated that any material in the case deemed proprietary, private or commercially sensitive by either party would be kept secret.

This confidentiality provision was not imposed by the judge (as in “sealing the records” which would have been the normal route to try to protect sensitive LPS material), but entered into later pursuant to settlement discussions.

When Wooten filed the case, he made the contracts public. He was under no obligation to keep LPS material confidential at that juncture. The party for LPS to have pursued legally was whoever violated their confidentiality agreement with LPS by providing those contracts to Wooten. LPS can’t use the later confidentiality agreement to turn the clock back. Wooten makes an argument based on this logic in regards to a deposition LPS arguing Wooten has to exclude from his current case:

Wooten claims that the Newland deposition was distributed to over 2,000 lawyers a year before anyone asked for confidentiality, noting that it was taken in June 2009. “They knew and have known that deposition has been all over the country. It’s got more frequent flier miles than Delta airlines and every passenger they have booked,” he said.

Consider the idiocy of the LPS position. Let’s say they manage to push Wooten out of the picture. Any Joe admitted to the bar in any state where he has filed the litigation can refile the same case. word for word, exhibit for exhibit (once they locate and sign up the client). And the next guy might well have deeper pockets. If LPS thinks they are going to make this litigation go away by huffing and puffing, they are smoking something very strong.

It’s rather ironic that LPS accuses Wooten of disparagement, when its blowhard lawsuit looks to be a long form effort to use litigation as an excuse to dump every bit of information it can spin to put Wooten in a bad light and make it look more meaningful by including it in a court filing.

The Housing Wire story also suffers from a want of fact gathering. The article makes hay out of a Wooten loss in the US v. Congress case, which Adam Levitin and this site dismissed as narrow and of no precedential value. It fails to mention that Congress is being appealed (by Wooten’s co-counsel) and that Wooten subsequently won a case that is far more significant as a precedent.

Another sign of bias in the reporting is the amusing internal contradiction of LPS asserting that its agreements with lawyers are a state secret, as contrasted with an analyst at Stevens asserting that it’s impossible that 200 attorneys are “in cahoots” with LPS on fee splitting. He’s basically arguing that the arrangement set forth in the contracts that LPS is belatedly trying to call confidential couldn’t possibly be secret. Wooten could have a lot of fun calling this guy as an expert witness.

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17 comments

  1. Tao Jonesing

    My biggest issue of the best finance blogs (and this is the best, in my opinion) is that being topical and current requires being myopic on the now. I’ve started referring to this phenomenon (at least to myself, when I’m speaking to me) as “nowopia” as a noun, or “nowopic” as an adjective.

    This post is a nowopic one, and I find that it distracts from the broader arc of discussion that you’ve opened. People like Russ (attempter) and DownSouth do their best to draw us back to the historically persistent, but that’s hard to do when we keep being focused on the now, which is typically not all that much different from the now minus one.

    Personally, I don’t need any more proof of the corruption that is plain to see. It doesn’t make me feel any better to know that I’ve been right for years now. What I hope to see are real solutions. I understand there’s no reward for solving the world’s problems because we’ll just find new ones. I’d just like to see more people like Russ, who are trying to pull back from our societal nowopia to identify persistent problems worthy of solving.

    1. psychohistorian

      I would suggest you start your own blog with attempter and let Yves get on with her alternative “news” reporting or whatever the correct characterization is that she does masterfully.

      I believe we are seeing Yves make a difference is a very screwed up world and your criticism seems a bit misguided here, IMO.

    2. MIWill

      I enjoy it when Yves calls b.s. on something, nowopic or not.

      I also like to read attempter.

    3. DownSouth

      Tao Jonesing,

      The reason I don’t get into the nuts and bolts of banking and finance is because 1) I don’t know anything about it and 2) I don’t have the resources or s to do any actual reporting. To delve into the nuts and bolts of banking and finance would require some experience, which I don’t have.

      Lacking that experience and the ability to do reporting, I’m limited to theorizing, philosophizing and theologizing, which are thinking exercises that do not require any leg work.

      But I believe that theorizing, philosophizing, theologizing are of value too. For instance, imagine a criminal investigator trying to give meaning to all the evidentiary facts without putting them into a theoretical framework. This is what happens in the conclusion to any crime detective show where the crime is finally “solved,” where the detective explains how each of the bits of evidence he has gathered fits within and is consistent with his theory of how the crime occurred. His theory must explain all the facts. But also imagine trying to do this without having the evidence. It would be impossible.

      In Evolution for Everyone David Sloan Wilson gives a great example of the intimate relationship between fact and theory:

      I end my talk with the following passage from Darwin’s autobiography about a field trip that he took as a young man with his professor Adam Segdwick to a valley in Wales:

      “We spent many hours in Cwm Idwal, examing all of the rocks with extreme care, as Sedgwick was anxious to find fossils in them; but neither of us saw a trace of the wonderful glacial phenomena all around us; we did not notice the plainly scored rocks, the perched boulders, the lateral and terminal moraines. Yet these phenomena are so conspicuous that…a house burnt down by fire did not tell its story more plainly than did this valley. If it had still been filled by a glacier, the phenomena would have been less distinct than they now are.”

      This passage wonderfully illustrates the need for a theory to see what is in front of our faces. Darwin and Sedgwick could not see the evidence for glaciers because the theory of glaciations had not yet been proposed. With the theory in mind, the confirming evidence became so obvious that the glaciers might as well have still been present.

      1. Siggy

        Interesting rejoinder. Not very helpful in the sense of: What needs to be done to cause the AGs to bring a prosecution?

        This Great Recession we are enjoying is not the construct of some great philosophical experiement. It is God Damm Blatant Financial Fraud!!!!!

        Worse yet, one need not be a CPA, Financial Pundit, nor Mathematician to understand what has transpired and what is continuing to occur.

        See what is, LPS produced curious documents to facilitate foreclosures. Doesn’t matter that the foreclosures may well have been justified, it matters that due process was not followed.

        It matters that Housing Wire is functioning as the provider of an apologia for LPS’s conduct. Why would they champion the cause of LPS? Where’s the money?

        1. Not very helpful in the sense of: What needs to be done to cause the AGs to bring a prosecution?

          The answer I’m trying to figure out is to the question, What needs to be done to get people to understand that if they want prosecutions, they’ll never get them by waiting for inherently corrupt AGs to do it.

          1. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty - Foe of Tyranny

            After speaking with several levels of alleged law enforcement personnel in my state I am quite clear the heavy lifting is being left to us lesser beings.

            The first battle I need to fight and win is to save my own cookies. When I’m done with that I’ll turn my attention to 1) trying to force the hand of law enforcement to get their butts and do what we’re paying them to do, or 2) trying to force them out of office altogether.

        2. DownSouth

          The thing is that I agree with everything you say. But not everybody does. They either lack the facts, or they don’t share our theoretical, including moral, framework.

          There was a crime committed, perhaps the greatest theft in the history of the world. And Yves is serving as both investigator and prosecutor.

          And as such she has to present the evidence and then make her closing arguments. I hope to be of assistance in tweaking her closing arguments. That’s all.

          Yves is trying to convince the jury, not the jury you and I want of course, but the jury in the courtroom of public opinion. But I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of the verdict coming out of that courtroom. Yves is trying to win the war, not just a battle. And what she is doing is the only way that I know of to do that.

  2. Anonymous Comment

    Re: …”LPS asserting that its agreements with lawyers are a state secret.”

    Now you see the double-bind?

  3. marilyn lane

    Why would Thomas P Malone an attorney for Fidelity National Title, in a forged deed case (FNT & LPS both being from the same parent company) send debt collector attorneys Mullooly, Jeffrey, Rooney & Flynn a copy of a decision rendered by Judge Jonathan Lippman of the NY Court of Appeals that states:
    Motion for leave to appeal dismissed upon the ground that the order sought to be appealed from does not finally determine the action within the meaning of the Constitution.
    when Mullooly, Jeffrey Rooney & Flynn had not been the banks attorneys for over seven years.

    There is a connection between Fidelity National Title and Mullooly Jeffrey Rooney & Flynn. Could it be anything like a Network Agreement that LPS has with law firms?

  4. Jim A

    Since LPS’s business model seems to involve traveling back in time to create signed contracts ex post facto, is it really any surprise that they would expect others to similarly be bound in the past by agreements in the future?

    1. marilyn lane

      Therer are times when even Fidelity National Title cannot use a LPS DOCX document to change the dates on a Forged Deed, like in my case since the two void ab initio NY STATE
      Foreclosure Judgments of June 30 1997 was a date when the case was under FEDERAL jurisdiction (May 8 1997 thru July 29 1997).

      I wrote a simple letter to William PFoley CEO of Fidelity National Title and former chair of LPS DOCX (till March 2009 )”What went wrong that your NY attorney Thomas P Malone finds himself fighting for a Forged Deed?” Fidelity’s answer to me was “…it is proper..” I knew I was dealing with a bunch of crooks.

      The void judgments ab initio of June 30 1997 , the authority that they state their forged deeds issued from, had already been advertised in the newspaper between the straw buyers and the racketeers using the June 30, 1997 date.

      So what was “plan B” when they are stuck?

      The title attorneys Thomas P Malone of Fidelity and David K Fiveson of Coronet Title told Judge Alice Schlesinger “‘WE HAVE EQUITY’ and the only equity they were speaking of was money under the table for Judge Alice Schlesinger (NYSC) and she ruled against the US Supreme Court case of Elliot v. Piersol.

      How come the FEDS are not investigating Wm P Foley Ceo of Fidelity National Title, FIS, LPS Docx just look at his bio and all the corruption under him. He makes Madoff look like a choirboy.

      Mr. Wooten if there is anything I can help you with I have lots of documentation of their frauds, I have even written a little book, yours for the asking. I can’t wait to see William Foley locked up for all the misery and crimes he has committed. Eat alot of icecream it keeps you going. My best wishes.

  5. leapfrog

    I really hope LPS goes down in flames SOON and takes MERS along with it. Nick Wooten, if you are reading this, please keep up the good fight!

    I read on John Galt’s blog at title source that MERS has “partnered” with Genpact in India. What does this mean? What will they do with MERS in India? My interpretation: Burger king robo-signers here weren’t doing a good enough job & got caught, so now they will ship the robo-signing to India & some how think they will have better “quality control”?

  6. westcoastreporter

    This problems LPS and other companies goes far beyond attorney networks.
    There are closing networks across the country, who are paying “alleged” marketing/referral/kickback fees (however you want to label it) in exchange for REO business.
    In some cases, closing fees have been increased to cover the per file closing fee paid, resulting in higher costs to the consumer. As usual, the American Taxpayer continues to pay for this mess, in ways they aren’t even aware.
    Some of the regulatory agencies are aware of this business practice, but nothing has been done to stop it.
    Ocwen already shipped many of their servicing jobs to India, where the REO (bank owned real estate) inventory is being managed from afar.
    The stories of corruption, fraud and illegal business practices in REO remains one of the biggest stories of our time; however, mainstream media is not reporting.

    1. westcoastreporter

      I apologize for the typo on previous post – Correction:
      The problem with LPS and other REO companies reaches far beyond attorney networks.

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