A 62-year-old man died in a California court during a legal battle against Wells Fargo, which accidentally foreclosed his home due to a typo.
Larry Delassus, a U.S. Navy veteran, lived in a condo in Hermosa Beach. Two years ago, he lost his house after his assessor’s parcel number made it seem as if he were behind on his property taxes. It turned out, the number corresponded to his neighbor’s house.
Though he provided records indicating he was ahead of schedule on his mortgage payments and had paid property taxes, he still had to go to court on December 19, 2012. While at Torrance Courthouse, he suffered a massive heart attack, leading to his death.
Anthony Trujillo, his lawyer and friend, argued against a ruling issued by the judge who sided with Wells Fargo.
Trujillo was the one who discovered the bank’s mistake when he was going through Delassus’s accounts. He called the bank and told them of the error, and they quickly acknowledged it and fixed his credit history.
Despite acknowledging their mistake, they went forward with the foreclosure and sold his home at an auction.
Delassus, suffering from a rare blood-clot disorder called Budd-Chiari syndrome, was hospitalized often and had to move to a small apartment in an assisted-living home when his home was sold.
On the day he died, he and Wells Fargo were in court for a preliminary hearing. He was in a wheelchair in the back of the room preparing to testify.
He was fully expecting the judge to realize the bank’s mistake, and was shocked when Judge Laura Ellison said the case facts didn’t justify Delassus’ claim of fraud and negligence.
It took nearly an hour to go through bank documents, proving Wells Fargo’s error and Delassus’ innocence. It was around that time when he had the heart attack.
“He was sure that when a judge heard that he was never even late on a payment, that (the judge) would do something,” Debbie Popovich, a friend of Delassus’ said.
Wells Fargo released a statement about the death, saying it was “tragic” but that he should not have been in the courthouse.
Though the story came to a devastating end, friends and family remember his lawyer, Trujillo, always being there for him.
“He was a very good guy, a simple man. He loved animals,” neighbor Kelly Flynn said. “Anthony was his guardian angel. He was really good to Larry. Larry would definitely get frustrated [with the bank], but Anthony was his guy because it was overwhelming for Larry to handle the pressure.”
It all started when, in March of 2009, Delassus’ mortgage payment of $1,237 was not processed by the bank, though he had always paid his mortgage two months early since 2007.
World Savings Bank told Delassus that he was behind on payments, but since he was hospitalized at the time, he asked Trujillo to examine it.
Trujillo found that he had refinanced his mortgage four times since 2007 and did not know about the extra service charges applied to his regular payments.
The problem finally came to its climax in March 2009 when the bank wouldn’t accept his regular $1,297 payment because it was no longer enough, since the bank thought he owed much more in order to satisfy his “tax situation.”
“They basically defaulted him on their own entirely from their own paperwork screw-up,” Trujillo said.
Despite the bank knowing about the problem, World Savings Bank (now owned by Wells Fargo) did not accept that he was up-to-date on his payments.
So they went ahead and sold his home for $270,000.
A few months later, the home was sold again for $440,000.