By: William H. Meyer, Partner
Bill Meyer’s career is defined by determination and hard work. He began his practice as an officer in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. As an admiral’s staff attorney, he worked on high-profile matters that were nationally relevant and highly confidential. Today, Meyer’s practice at Martin Leigh PC focuses on general civil and complex litigation, representing lenders, businesses, title insurers and sureties in commercial litigation matters.
In April 2016 we published an update about a recent Missouri Court of Appeals opinion for a case styled Holm v. Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac, Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District No. 78666. That case addressed a wrongful residential foreclosure lawsuit that resulted in a judgment against Wells Fargo for $2,959,123 in punitive damages and $200,000 in emotional stress damages. Those damages were affirmed on appeal. In addition to imposing these significant penalties, the trial court denied Wells Fargo the right to defend itself at the trial and it denied Wells Fargo of its right to a jury trial.
However, a recent development suggests that the case is not over. In August 2016 the Missouri Supreme Court ordered the case transferred to it for further review. (Missouri Supreme Court Case No. 95755). This is a significant development because the Holm case, as it currently stands, permits a trial court to: (1) deny a party the right to a jury trial as a sanction for not complying with discovery orders; (2) find a foreclosure “wrongful” despite the fact that the borrowers had failed to make loan payments on time and were more $10,000 in arears when the foreclosure was initiated; (3) deny a party the right to defend itself against punitive damages claims as a discovery sanction; and (4) award emotional distress damages on a record that was not supported by expert testimony.
We will continue to follow the Holm case before the Missouri Supreme Court. Please contact us if you have any questions about this case or any other aspects of Missouri, Kansas or Illinois law. Through offices in Kansas City and St. Louis, Martin Leigh PC keeps current on recent legal developments in banking, real estate and business. As a part of its smaller, faster and smarter law practice, Martin Leigh PC publishes updates like this one to keep industry leaders informed of the current legal environment.