- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Supreme Court has upheld $426,000 in damages and attorney’s fees awarded to a couple who sued a loan servicing company alleging it violated federal and state laws in repeatedly trying to foreclose on their house.

The total award includes damages and attorney’s fees awarded because Bayview Loan Servicing LLC of Coral Gables, Florida - despite losing their case - notified Robin and Kathleen Jacobson that it was adding over $50,000 of its attorney’s fees to their mortgage.

“We do not find error with the District Court’s damage award because it is reasonable compensation for the substantial injury and financial detriment suffered by the Jacobsons,” state Supreme Court Justice Michael Wheat wrote in the 5-0 ruling Wednesday.

The decision sends the case back to District Court for determination of attorney’s fees incurred by the Jacobsons in defending the judgment before the state Supreme Court.

The justices suggested the District Court “take the opportunity” to assess any additional late charges or interest that accumulated on the debt from the November 2013 trial until the lower court issues its final order.

The Jacobsons’ problems with Bayview haven’t ended, the couple’s attorney, Ray Kuntz, said Thursday. They can’t determine from county records to whom they should be making their mortgage payments and on Tuesday, Bayview sent them another default notice, Kuntz said.

A spokesman for Bayview Asset Management did not immediately return a phone call or email from The Associated Press Thursday seeking comment.

The Jacobsons borrowed just over $390,000 from CitiMortgage to buy land and a house in Carbon County in 2007, court records said.

The 2008 financial crisis hurt Robin Jacobson’s business as a home builder and the couple missed a mortgage payment in December 2008. CitiMortgage agreed to defer the missed payment and interest to the end of the loan.

In March 2009, CitiMortgage transferred loan servicing to Bayview, which soon sent a default notice.

Over the next several years Bayview encouraged the Jacobsons not to make mortgage payments so they could qualify for a loan modification, made false promises to them about modifying their loan and then misinformed them about their rights, court documents said.

Bayview again moved to foreclose in 2010 and the couple sought a court order to cancel the sale. The Jacobsons sued, claiming Bayview’s actions violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Montana Consumer Protection Act.

Bayview argued it didn’t violate any laws because no foreclosure sale took place.

Jones ruled in favor of the Jacobsons in 2014 and ordered Bayview pay $172,600 in damages for the interest and late fees Bayview purported to add to the couple’s mortgage, along with $109,000 in attorney’s fees.

Jones awarded an additional $60,000 in damages and $31,000 in attorney’s fees for Bayview’s two post-trial attempts to collect their attorney’s fees.

After the first post-trial violation, Jones said he warned the company that any further violations will lead to additional sanctions, including the possible cancellation of the loan.

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