Vail Valley appraiser sues Wells Fargo
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” A Vail Valley, Colorado real estate appraiser claims Wells Fargo Bank blacklisted him for refusing to provide inflated home appraisals. He’s suing the company in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
Tim Savage, of Avon, and Don Pearsall, of Puyallup, Wash., filed the suit Tuesday, through their law firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which has offices in Seattle and San Francisco.
Savage said he’d been advised by his attorney, Steve Berman, not to comment on the case, and would only confirm that he’d filed suit.
But Berman said Savage and Pearsall ” who don’t know each other ” found his law firm because it had earlier filed a class action suit against Countrywide Home Mortgage for “blacklisting.”
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro has also sued Wells Fargo in Arizona, alleging the company had paid appraisers much less than homeowners were charged when they refinanced, and put the rest into the accounts of Rels Valuation, an appraisal management company. The suit filed by Savage and Pearsall also names Rels as a defendant.
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According to Savage’s suit, Wells Fargo and Rels started in 2004 to punish appraisers who refused to inflate home appraisals. That punishment was denying future work to those appraisers.
A call to a Wells Fargo public relations person Friday wasn’t returned, but Wells Fargo spokeswoman Lara Underhill Tuesday told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “We look forward to vigorously defending ourselves in court against these unfounded allegations. We are confident our established appraisal process is fair, accurate, and compliant with all governing standards and laws.”
Berman said the most recent suit against Wells Fargo is seeking a couple of things.
First, the attorneys are asking a judge to make this a class action suit, in which other appraisers can take part.
The suit against Countrywide ” which Countrywide has asked to be dismissed ” was declared a class action suit and could be joined by “tens of thousands” of appraisers across the country, Berman said. He added that if the Wells Fargo suit is also declared a class action, there could be similar numbers of people involved.
The suit also seeks a court order to stop Wells Fargo and Rels from punishing appraisers in the future.
“This is a serious matter for appraisers,” Berman said. “It’s serious to homeowners, too. One reason the recession, or depression, or whatever you want to call it, happened, is improper valuation. These practices corrupted the honesty of lending.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.