Do I have a contract with CitiMortgage?

This is something of a pop quiz, because I intend to assert I do have a contract in front of a real judge in a real courtroom tomorrow. But IANAL, IDdon’tHaveAL, and I know You’reNotMyL, but I’m curious to hear your opinions.

I have posted some other threads about a long term of unemployment and inability to pay bills, resulting in (among other things) a lawsuit filed against me for foreclosure by the Ultra Mega Uber CitiCorp.

The most relevant background facts:

  1. I don’t dispute the facts they allege in the suit about my delinquency.
  2. In the first court hearing, Citi’s attorney stated before the judge that they would prefer to make a repayment agreement with me than to take my property.
  3. Citi representatives refuse to discuss my mortgage with me over the phone, referring me to their local lawyer.
  4. Citi’s local lawyer, who has had multiple communications with me, tells me he has no power to negotiate a repayment scheme with me. He refers me to the Citi “Loan Modification” department, who are the very people who won’t talk to me and refer me back to him.

Yet, on Feb 19, I received a letter from someone (or possibly some computer) at CitiMortgage. The letter did not have the name of any specific individual Citi representative, nor did it have anyone’s signature. But it did spell out the general terms of a mortgage modification, and specified what I had to do to accept the agreement.

I had to either call a number specified in the letter, or write to an address specified in the letter, to accept the terms of the agreement. I also had to send them a check for a first “trial payment” by a certain date. The letter also said I could call the same number or write to the same address with questions about the terms of the agreement.

The letter had the following specific language:

I decided to call the number with some specific questions, and hopefully to accept the terms of the agreement if the answers were satisfactory. I called the same day I received the letter – February 19. But I learned that the people at the number specified in the letter ALSO refused to talk to me, even to record my acceptance of the agreement as the letter stated I could. And of course they also wouldn’t answer any questions about the terms of the agreement.

Since the agreement specified a payment due date of March 1, I had no confidence that I could write to them and have a meaningful exchange regarding my questions about the agreement. So I decided to write them a letter accepting the terms of the agreement, and including a check for the amount of the first trial payment. I know from a post office return receipt that they received the letter and the check on February 24. The check cleared my bank sometime last night, so they have cashed the check. On the photocopy of the check, someone correctly noted receiving it on 2/24.

Tomorrow I go into a court for the second hearing in the foreclosure process, so the judge can assess the “progress” made toward settling the case without a court judgment.

I am going to argue that we have in fact already reached a settlement, as defined by the terms in their letter. It contains a promise in very plain language to stop the foreclosure should I meet their terms.

I have complied with all the terms as laid out in the offer letter, But, the letter was unsigned – does it even meet a legal standard to be an offer? Is a corporation a person to the extent that it, and not a human being representing it, can make me such an offer? They have not acknowledged their own agreement to my acceptance by any means except cashing my check.

A further piece of info, Citi’s orders to its staff not to talk to me remain in force even as late as this afternoon. If we have a deal, they won’t tell me.

What do you folks think? Will the judge agree with me?

I have no idea, but I have read your other threads and know that you are really trying to do the right thing as well as wanting to keep your home. I wish you much luck.

Did you make the calls to the mortgage company on your cell? If so, it should be very easy to produce a record of those calls for court.

I do not have a cell phone. I have recorded the names and company ID numbers of most of the people I’ve talked with, not that it matters a whole lot, as all they say is, “Sorry, I can’t talk to you.”

I’m not especially sure if their ongoing refusal to talk to me is at all relevant to the question of whether Citi has made me an offer and I have accepted it.

I think so, based on my extensive watching of “Judge Judy.” I think you have a contract with CitiMortgage that you can prove in court, regardless of their unwillingness to communicate with you - you can prove what they said in court before, you can show the document stating the new terms, and you can prove that they cashed your cheque.

That said, what kind of incompetent assholes are working at CitiMortgage, that they won’t talk with you and make arrangements to get their money from you? Sheesh.

As I said last time- swear or affirm an affidavit exhibiting all of these communications in chronological order - at the least it will assist the court.

Otherwise it seems that all the elements of a contract are there- lack of signature on the letter shouldn’t matter. I suspect it would be up to the bank to plead mistake or lack of authority in relation to the ‘offer’.

Let us know how it turns out. I read your last thread with interest!

One of the scariest facts I’ve learned was that my experience is … normal and common … among people who have mortgage payment problems with the large national financial institutions. I had a rather long conversation with a man who runs a mediation program for the county court system. He has mediated hundreds of settlement over the last five years. He specifically mentioned Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and a couple of others who names I recognized but can’t recall at the moment.

For the first time in my life, I feel some sympathy for some people who snap and shoot up a workplace out of sheer frustration. For months I have felt utterly powerless and completely confused by my interactions with Citi. Different departments demanding different information and giving me conflicting instructions, not answering my questions and then not talking to me at all.

If I had a family or kids who I felt were facing homelessness in the face of such massive indifference and/or incompetence, I’d feel like smashing in some faces myself.

Fortunately for me, I don’t think any of it’s important enough to go off the deep end.

Also - have a look at implied authority and ostensible authority.

If it’s on their letterhead, I would assume that there was ostensible authority.

I think, on the facts, the letter was an offer (which it said that it was) and you accepted the offer on its terms (by writing in enclosing a cheque). Even if the letter was not an offer, Citi accepted YOUR offer by cashing the cheque, I would think.

Real talk, a judge would probably not quibble too much about formalities if you could show the letter with the offer and that you had made repayment. He could just as well make an order on the terms of the letter. Judges, in my experience, are reasonable people trying their best to come to a sensible conclusion.

Citi, though, are real dicks.

Make sure you have all records of who you called and when, and the original letter and proof that the cheque was cashed. I’m sure the judge would be interested.

Quoted for truth.

That’s a good idea - being able to produce who you talked to, when, and a synopsis of what was said always plays better than not really being able to say what happened and when.

As I said, the only thing that’s been said to me for months by any Citi employee is, “I can’t talk to you.” That’s excluding their outside counsel, who I have spoken with or exchanged emails with multiple times.

I am going to try making my case exclusively on the paper trail.

  1. I can produce the original Citi letter to me, specifying what I must do to accept their terms, and specifying that they will stop the foreclosure if I meet their terms.
  2. I can produce a copy of the letter I sent to them accepting their terms.
  3. I can produce a copy of a mortgage payment check I sent them.
  4. I can produce a postal tracking record that demonstrates it was delivered to Citi well in advance of the deadline they specified.
  5. I can produce a photocopy of the check I sent, stamped by Citi for deposit in their account.
  6. I can produce a record of my recent checking account activity, showing that same check and that same dollar amount has now been deducted from my account.

I am feeling almost dangerously overconfident. I almost want their attorney to object to my attempt to dismiss the case, just so I can kick his ass around the courtroom, which would be a giant ego and morale boost like I haven’t had for years. I think it is possible the lawyer will object, because from what scant evidence I have it seems Citi does not communicate with him much more than they do with me. And it is completely possible he will not know any details of the offer (if it was an offer) that Citi sent me, and not know that they have now accepted money from me.

I will be almost as happy if Citi’s attorney agrees with the motion to dismiss the case.

I will be a lot less happy if Citi’s attorney asks for a continuance for a consultation with his client and the judge agrees to it.

And truly, I think this last possibility, which really isn’t so bad for me, is the worst outcome I’m gonna get.

The dream outcome is if Citi’s attorney asks for a continuance or otherwise objects to the dismissal, then I produce my documentation, and the judge overrules the objections and dismisses against the lawyer’s wishes.

Yeah, don’t get too happy. In all likelihood, attorney will ask for time to take instructions, the judge isn’t going to decide anything tomorrow given that he hasn’t heard Citi yet (his lawyer might not know of the letter etc, and would not be in a position to comment).

If there was some more time between now and the appointment with the judge (it might just be a pre-trial conference or similar, I don’t know what kind of appointment this is), you might do well to contact the lawyer with your stuff and ask him to agree to drop the case, but since you’re due to see the judge already, just go on ahead.

Keep your head level and don’t get too excited about anything, you’ll be fine in all likelihood. Good luck!

This is kind of an interesting question – is it my problem if the client doesn’t tell his lawyer what is being said to me?

Also, if the client makes an offer directly to me outside of his own lawyer, and I accept the offer, does it matter what the lawyer knows or doesn’t know about it? In other words, if the judge finds they made an offer and I accepted, so what if the lawyer wasn’t in the loop?

Look at it from the point of view of the judge. The defendant is saying this and that, the judge doesn’t know if you faked the letter or the cheque was made out to the right party or anything, and Citi’s lawyer says “let me go back and check with my client”, you can’t just decide “whelp, dude must be telling the truth” and end it right there. All sides get to be heard, and Citi hasn’t been heard yet.

Is it your fault? No. But a 1 week delay hurts nobody, and the judge doesn’t want to get overturned on appeal or some nonsense.

EDIT: also, the lawyer is the representative of Citi after all. If the lawyer learns of a new development and needs to take instruction, the judge won’t say no. That’s why I mentioned bringing it to the attention of the lawyer - then, if he asked for an adjournment, you would say “your honor, I sent all this to Mr. Citi Lawyer 2 weeks ago” and the judge might well give a shorter adjournment or no adjournment. But as it stands, the lawyer can’t do anything without instructions.

I think you’ve done the right thing, but, note that the reason they won’t talk to you is that some lenders and loan-collection outfits are scum-sucking bottom feaders, and that has eventually burned back to hurt the lenders, so now they are being ultra-careful to not give you any leverage.

The same thing works in reverse, and your protection would be to never talk to them, and never give them anything they can exploit. Except of course that you actually want to resolve this.

In my experence (which was some time ago) any agreement you make with a lender is non-binding on them: They can still just change their mind at any time, and decide to go back to the original contract. All they are saying is, today we won’t hurt you if you make a small payment.

Also, by making a small payment, you reset the clock on the collection process: suddenly you become a person worth chasing again, because it worked the last time. And the debt-expiry laws get reset as well: when you make a payment, you go back to zero on debt-expiry time limits.

Still, once you get into these situations, you have to make a decision about what’s likely to be the least pain, and unless you get specific advice to the contrary from an expert, small payment agreements are good.

Just don’t expect it to last for ever: after a while, the companies I worked with always revisited old debts, to see if they could screw out any more money.

I’m a bit pissed today. I almost got exactly what I wanted, and I should have got exactly what I wanted because the other attorney actually agreed with me. He had a copy of the offer letter from Citi, and he verified that I had paid and Citi had cashed my check. He agreed with me that the judge should dismiss my case today.

The judge, however, disagreed with us both, and scheduled another hearing in May, after the date of my final scheduled “trial payment”. She made some comments about some past case with somebody else when she had dismissed the case at this point, and for some reason it ended up being reopened or refiled. I objected and hauled out the offer letter which said Citi would stop the proceeding after the first trial payment, not the last. But she brushed it aside, and said “It is stopped now.” I said that if there was going to be another hearing in two months, that didn’t seem like “stopped” to me.

Another issue I brought up was Citi’s continuing refusal to talk to me on the phone, and the judge said said these exchanges were better in writing anyway. I agreed but said I felt I had to accept the terms of the mortgage modification almost sight unseen, as I didn’t believe I would be able to have a useful exchange of information in writing in advance of the deadline. Her response was literally a shrug, and “It’s a bureaucracy. It is what it is.”

Then she suggested I send questions to Citi’s attorney. I answered that I had done that after the first hearing a month ago, and the attorney had never replied. The response was another shrug.

So no resolution there either. The judge is apparently ok with everyone on the other side refusing to discuss the terms of the agreement with me.

Still, the judge said at the end, “Mr. Boyo Jim, if you make your remaining payments on time, I expect to permanently dismiss this case at the next hearing.”

Well, I’ll give you a modified “Yay!” I agree that it sounds like the judge should have ended it then and there, but hopefully it’s just another two months, then you’ll be done with this whole crapfest altogether.

This actually used to be pretty common, evaluating a homeowner for a loan modification while simultaneously foreclosing on them. It’s called “dual-tracking.” The CFPB cracked down on it last year but didn’t prohibit it completely. They can actually still foreclose on you, despite the completion of a loan-modification application, if there are fewer than 37 days until your property’s foreclosure sale.

ETA: Not “you” specifically, just generally. I have no idea about your case.

As far as I know, there is not yet any date scheduled for a foreclosure sale on my condo. I would assume, though I may be wrong, that a judge would have to make some kind of finding in a foreclosure suit before a sale could actually be scheduled.

Yes, that’s true in your state and others that have a judicial foreclosure process. In states that permit nonjudicial foreclosures, servicers don’t go through the courts at all.