Griffin v. Bierman

This case challenged the constitutionality of the minimalist notice afforded under the home mortgage foreclosure process in Maryland. Our client lost her house in a foreclosure sale because she did not receive notice until it was too late for her to save her home. Her case was a stunning example of how predatory subprime lenders, high-volume foreclosure mills, and a hands-off legal system can combine to wreak havoc on people’s lives. Griffin’s mortgage company, the now-defunct Ameriquest, tricked her into refinancing the home she owned, when, after her fiancé died, she was seeking to have his name taken off the mortgage. When she could no longer make the increased mortgage payments, a “foreclosure mill” law firm began foreclosure proceedings. After they made a barebones and unsuccessful effort to notify her of any pending action, Griffin lost her home, which was literally auctioned off on the courthouse steps. She did not learn that her home had been sold until the new owner tacked a note on her door.

Although the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected our challenge in its February 2008 opinion, the court acknowledged problems with the foreclosure process, which it characterized as matters of “public policy” for the state Legislature. Shortly after the decision, the Legislature responding by enacting reforms of the foreclosure process.