William G. Young, a Massachusetts Federal Judge, is so dismayed with the litigation strategy of Seyfarth Shaw, the Chicago-based law firm representing Wells Fargo in Henning v. Wachovia Mortgage FSB aka Wells Fargo Bank, NA (11-11428-WGY), that he is requiring Wells Fargo's President and Board to ratify its actions.
Wells Fargo won its argument in Henning on a (some might say) subversive technical defense that fully defeated Henning's claims before he could even get to the substantive merits of the case. Judge Young considered this strategy at odds with Wells Fargo's "consumer-friendly" face, and issued a ruling requiring Wells Fargo's president and board to ratify its chosen defense:
And so, Wells Fargo wins on a technicality. The court never addresses the merits of this case and expresses no opinion thereon. Still, it is appropriate to point out that, were Henning to prove his case on the merits, the conduct of Wells Fargo would be shown to be nothing short of outrageous . . . .
Judges nationwide: take notes.
UPDATE: Wells Fargo's counsel-- a touch unsurprisingly-- have filed for a mandamus review of the order, where a superior court will review whether Judge Young's abused his discretion in requiring the corporate resolution. If successful, Wells Fargo will overturn the requirement and win without needing a signature from its board of directors. In other words, Wells Fargo wants its attorneys to win the case on a technicality and is pursuing every possible legal measure to avoid owning up to doing so. Behold, our lending institutions.
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