Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, December 5, 2019

District Court sides with mortgage company in legal fee battle

By David Hutton | Apr 12, 2017

Law money 10

BENTON — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois has granted Nationwide Advantage Mortgage Co.’s request tor attorney’s fees and court costs in a case against MidCountry Bank.

According to court records, the action involved a correspondent lender purchase agreement (CLPA) between NAMC and MidCountry.

NAMC charged that MidCountry breached the CLPA by failing to indemnify NAMC for losses stemming from an over-valued mortgage loan.

District Judge Staci M. Yandle granted granted summary judgment on NAMC’s behalf and found that under the terms of the CLPA, NAMC is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Court records indicated that the CLPA further provides that it is “governed by the laws of the state of Iowa, determined without reference to its conflict of law provisions.”  

As a result, the court applied Iowa law in its assessment of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

NAMC also provided the court with information detailing the legal fees and costs incurred during the litigation process.

According to the affidavits, NAMC had attorney’s fees in the amount of $62,509.00 and costs in the amount of $5,170.74.

In its defense, MidCountry maintained that NAMC was not entitled to any attorney’s fees or costs because enforcement of the agreement was barred by the statute of limitations.

However, the court rejected MidCountry’s statute of limitations defense in its initial order granting summary judgment and did so in its latest ruling.

MidCountry also maintained that NAMC’s legal fees and costs were not reasonable because it also was seeking fees for a failed motion for leave to file a reply. It claimed the company was trying to “double recover for time spent on summary judgment.”

Representatives for MidCountry maintained that because the issues raised in its motion for summary judgment were also present in NAMC’s motion, they should not recover for “both categories of time.”

Moreover, they argued the court should reduce the fees sought by NAMC by 20 percent. Citing Eighth Circuit law, the company’s attorneys said the fees should be found to be inappropriate.

The court rejected this defense, noting that the Eighth Circuit cases cited do not apply to Iowa law.

Citing Hart v. Cusick, the court noted that under Iowa state law, attorney’s fees and costs are recoverable when the parties agree to such.  

Basing its decision on documentation submitted and arguments presented, the court found the fees and costs to be reasonable and appropriate. It granted NAMC attorney’s fees of $62,509.00 and $5,170.74 in costs.

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois