Jury Returns Verdict on All Counts Against Real Estate Appraiser

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A federal jury has returned a verdict in favor of a mortgage company, who was forced to indemnify Fannie Mae because of a defective appraisal, and against the appraiser who prepared the appraisal.

On October 24, 2012, a jury in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia returned a jury verdict in favor of Aurora Financial Group, Inc., mortgage company based in Marlton, NJ, against a real estate appraiser, Steven Phillips, and his appraisal firm, S.H. Phillips, Inc. on all counts and awarded Aurora Financial Group, Inc. $187,000 in damages.

According to the underlying complaint, in 2006 defendants prepared an appraisal for Aurora as part of Aurora's loan underwritting process for a proposed cash out refinance loan. Aurora closed the loan and sold the loan to Fannie Mae. A year later Fannie Mae notified Aurora that the appraisal that defendants performed was defective, had overstated the value of the appraised property, and was not performed according to Fannie Mae guidelines. Fannie Mae required Aurora to indemnify it any losses Fannie Mae sustained on the loan. In 2011, the loan went into default and Aurora was forced to indemnify Fannie Mae for the loss suffering damages of $187,000.

Aurora sought to recover those damages from defendants and brought claims for negligence, breach of contract, and negligent misrepresentation. After a three day trial, the eight person jury returned a verdict in favor of Aurora on all counts.

The jury verdict comes in the wake of the filing of over 140 similar lawsuits against appraisers by the FDIC.

The case was filed in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is captioned as Aurora Financial Group, Inc. v. S.H. Phillips, Inc., et. al, case number 2:11-cv-04441. Wally Zimolong of Sigman & Zimolong in Philadelphia represented the plaintiff, Aurora Financial Group, Inc.

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Wally Zimolong, Esquire

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