By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A pair of the Brooklyn Bar Association’s own trustees gave a Continuing Legal Education lecture titled “New Developments in Foreclosure Practice” in Brooklyn Heights on Monday.
Jimmy Lathrop, of the Law Offices of Jaime Lathrop, P.C., represented the defense side of foreclosure law and Anthony Vaughn, Jr., of Parker, Ibrahim & Berg, L.L.C., represented the litigant’s side.
The pair discussed recent decisions of interest that have affected foreclosure law. They also discussed motion practice, discovery techniques, "bad faith" hearings, homeowner protections under the banking law, ex parte applications for injunctive relief and other legislative changes.
“I'm glad to have Anthony Vaughn with me on the plaintiff's side,” Lathrop said. “He's got some great decisions. [He’s] a wonderful trustee, a great guy to work with. Hopefully between his position and my position you can find the truth.”
From Lathrop’s perspective, a lot of the issues surrounding foreclosures have to do with “issue fatigue” as the mortgage crisis in New York City happened nearly 10 years ago now and many of the simple cases have already been settled.
“There was a lot of attention paid to this area of the law in 2009 and 2010,” Lathrop said. “Now in Brooklyn, we have some 2006-2007 vintage cases. Many people are aware that these loans have been in default for 10 years so the way they get treated is very different, and that's something to consider when your clients come in.
“A lot of these cases we’re dealing with are clients that come in and say, ‘they served me with a foreclosure notice in 2009 and nothing happened, but now I have a motion for summary judgement, what do I do?’”
To address a lot of the issues at hand, the state has proposed many changes to the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR). Vaughn spent a lot of time on some of the new changes including how the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act of 2016, which was signed by Governor Cuomo in an effort to combat vacant and abandoned properties that resulted from the mortgage crisis, will affect practitioners.
“Come Dec. 20th [the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, Section 1304] is going to change and it's going to require that banks do a constant monitoring to determine if a property is abandoned and to take steps to maintain it,” Vaughn said. “It is also going to change a lot of the language used in foreclosure letters. It used to say, ‘you could lose your home.’ Now it's, ‘you may be at risk of foreclosure because the governor is concerned that people are getting these notices and then are leaving.’”
As Vaughn discussed upcoming changes, Lathrop weighed in with his thoughts and the two sides debated on whether or not changes in the law could create new problems.
“I'm sure we all have war stories. I think at the end of the day what you see up here on the stage is two individuals who represent two different sides of the bar on these issues, but with a common purpose,” Vaughn said. “We can treat each other with respect and still push the goal of our clients.”