Student Pro Bono Group Helps Homebuyers File $3 Million in Claims Against National Homebuilder

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Charlotte School of Law Students Assist More Than 450 Victims of Fraudulent Practices Acknowledged by Beazer Homes

A pro bono student services organization at Charlotte School of Law has assisted more than 450 homebuyers file $3 million in claims against a multi-million dollar restitution fund supported by Beazer Homes U.S.A. The outreach is being offered to homebuyers who were victims of the fraudulent business practices acknowledged by Beazer in July 2009 as part of a deferred prosecution agreement reached with U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Docket No. 18 U.S.C. § 371.

Charlotte School of Law, the only law school in North Carolina’s most populous city, has held 12 free clinics to-date to help Beazer homebuyers determine eligibility for restitution. The average homebuyer claim is between $5,000 and $10,000, and some homebuyers have filed claims for more than $20,000 with the third-party administrator overseeing the process.

“The response has been nothing short of overwhelming, and this is a great opportunity for CharlotteLaw students to apply many of the principles we learn in the classroom to real-life practice while also providing a valuable service to the community,” said Ashley Haake, a third-year student and president of the Public Interest Law Society at Charlotte School of Law, a student-led group involved in community outreach.

“Anyone who closed on a Beazer home in North Carolina between Aug. 1, 2001, and Aug. 30, 2011, could be eligible for restitution, and we will continue to assist homebuyers file claims against the restitution fund through the 2014 filing deadline,” Haake said.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement reached with U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in 2009, Beazer accepted responsibility for several fraudulent mortgage origination and accounting practices. Beazer agreed to pay $10 million toward a national restitution fund, which could grow to as much as $50 million, and claims can be filed through 2014.

Homebuyers who received down payment assistance or discount points in connection with their Beazer Homes purchase may be eligible to receive a restitution payment. CharlotteLaw students review documents, including the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, and provide instructions to ensure claims are filed properly. The school’s Latino-American Law Society also is assisting Spanish-speaking homebuyers file claims.

Students at Charlotte School of Law have donated more than 30,000 hours of public service since 2006. CharlotteLaw has adopted mandatory pro bono and community service requirements, and all students must complete 20 hours of pro bono service and 10 hours of community service prior to graduation.

“Public service work is an integral part of the CharlotteLaw mission,” said Sean Lew, assistant professor of Pro Bono. “Through our work with a variety of projects, such as the Beazer restitution fund, our students gain valuable experience in working with clients in real-life situations.”

Stratford Kiger, who earned her J.D. from CharlotteLaw and helped launch the Beazer clinics, first became aware of the Beazer restitution fund while working with clients during an externship with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, which has worked closely with CharlotteLaw on the clinics.

“As I reviewed my client’s mortgage documentation it was easy to spot where she had been taken advantage of,” Kiger said. “We were able to obtain restitution for her, and we encourage others to look into the opportunity to obtain funds that are rightfully theirs.”

Additional clinics are planned at Charlotte School of Law in 2012. For more information, call (704) 971-8382 or email beazerclinic(at)charlottelaw(dot)edu.

About Charlotte School of Law
Charlotte School of Law, fully accredited by the American Bar Association, offers a student-centered orientation that focuses on the hands-on learning needed to equip graduates with leadership, management and interpersonal skills needed for career success. As the only law school in North Carolina’s most populous city, Charlotte School of Law offers full-time and part-time day programs as well as an evening part-time program for working professionals. On the Web at http://www.charlottelaw.edu.

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Sharon Reichard
Charlotte School of Law
704.971.8508
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