Accredited Sues, Then Withdraws Suit Against Illinois Sheriff
(Update 1: reflects Accredited's withdrawing from lawsuit) San Diego-based lender and servicer Accredited Home Lenders sued Cook County, Illinois sheriff Tom Dart last over his refusal to process eviction orders, HousingWire learned Friday evening, but then chose to dismiss the suit according to a company representative. Dart earlier this week made headlines by refusing to process eviction orders in the Illinois county, saying that too many orders were affecting innocent renters and putting them on the street without notice. "Sheriff Dart may have concerns about the orders that he is charged with enforcing, but he simply cannot refuse to carry them out. The orders of the court must be enforced," the attorneys representing Accredited told wire service UPI on Friday. "This lawsuit is necessary to ensure that." An Accredited spokesperson told HW late Friday evening, however, that the lender had voluntarily withdrawn its lawsuit "after a review of the facts in the case." Dart has alleged that lenders are throwing out innocent tenants without proper notice, a claim hotly contested by many of HW's industry sources. “These mortgage companies … don’t care who’s in the building,” Dart said Wednesday in a CNN television interview. “They simply want their money and don’t care who gets hurt along the way. “On top of it all, they want taxpayers to fund their investigative work for them. We’re not going to do their jobs for them anymore. We’re just not going to evict innocent tenants. It stops today.” Numerous lender's counsel that spoke with HW on condition on anonymity took strong issue with Dart's characterization of the eviction process. "He seemingly is not aware that we already send out investigators in order to try to ascertain the identity of the persons living in each unit," said one attorney in the state. "Then we get affidavits from our investigators of their efforts to ascertain occupancy status which we later tender to the court at the time we obtain entry of an order for possession. It seems that the Sheriff does not know that we presently do that." Sources told HW late Friday that the sheriff was meeting with the presiding Judge of the Cook County Chancery Division regarding his refusal to perform evictions; no formal agreement had been announced when this story was published, but it is believed that Dart wants legislation that will alter how pre-eviction notices are handled. The Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association said in a press statement Thursday that Dart's refusal to honor eviction orders likely placed him in contempt of court, but also would place at risk the willingness of lenders to underwrite loans in Cook County going forward. "This is nothing short of a constitutional issue where the executive branch, charged with the duty to enforce and uphold the law, has unilaterally decided it will not enforce the laws of the legislature or the orders of the judiciary," said one attorney.