LPS claims stories by Reuters and Florida Times-Union inaccurate, sensational
Lender Processing Services (LPS), a mortgage servicing technology firm based in Jacksonville, Fla., sent letters to both Reuters and The Florida Times-Union Friday, claiming that there were multiple errors in stories that both publications ran about the firm. LPS also posted the letters on its website, and one of the reporters says he did nothing wrong. LPS is under scrutiny concerning a 'robo-signing' scandal and the company's foreclosure procedures. In October, LPS was under fire for having varying signatures on foreclosure affidavits produced by a subsidiary, DocX. Soon thereafter, a lawsuit was brought against the firm accusing lawyers that use LPS' Desktop foreclosure system of illegally splitting lawyer's fees with the company. Reuters ran an article on Dec. 6, entitled "Special report: Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin." The article highlights the recent controversy surrounding the company, saying "a Reuters investigation shows that LPS's legal woes are more serious than (CEO Jeff Carbiener) let on." LPS said on Friday that numerous statements and facts in the article are false, and that the company is "extremely disappointed in the inaccurate and sensational article." LPS said it worked with the Reuters reporter for six weeks on the story. "Armed with weeks of factual information, it was our expectation that [Reuters] would have attempted to report facts instead of baseless allegations aimed at sensationalizing a story," the letter to the editor said. One example LPS cites deals with a federal lawsuit filed against the $2.8 billion company in Mississippi. The Reuters coverage reads, "Meanwhile, the threats from four class-action lawsuits filed in federal courts appear to be greater than the company has indicated, especially one filed in Mississippi. In a highly unusual move, a unit of the U.S. Justice Department has joined that suit as a plaintiff." LPS responded that the reporter's claims were outright false. "It is particularly unfortunate that the reporter did not do any fact checking on his reference to the Mississippi case. The statement is false. No unit of the U.S. Justice Department has joined the suit as a plaintiff. The Chapter 13 Trustee is named in the caption of the complaint as a matter of course. A bankruptcy trustee is appointed under the Bankruptcy Code in all Chapter 7 and 13 cases … The U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee, who is not listed as a party to the complaint, merely receives notices of all filings in the case, as is typical in adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court, but is not a plaintiff in this case, has not moved to intervene as a party and has made no claims or allegations in the matter." On the same day the Reuters article ran, The Florida Times-Union ran a story entitled "Report: Jacksonville-based LPS legal problems growing." The article reads similar to the Reuters article, stating LPS "is facing greater legal problems and has produced far more documents of questionable authenticity than previously acknowledged." Jeff Carbiener, chief executive officer of LPS, said in his letter to the local paper that his company was "extremely disappointed with the lack of fact-checking and irresponsible reporting in the article." Carbeiner said The Florida Times-Union followed the Reuters story, and claimed the content as its own. Carbeiner said he never spoke with a reporter from the Florida-based publication, even though the article insinuates so. "The reporter summarized a story written by another publication and attached his name to the article to make it appear as if it was his work," Carbeiner wrote. "Unfortunately, there were numerous errors in the original [Reuters] article that were repeated in The Florida Times-Union article." Roger Bull, the Florida Times-Union reporter who wrote the story, spoke with HousingWire Friday and said he did nothing wrong. "I don't know how anybody could get the impression that I did all that research," Bull said. "I thought it was very clear throughout that 90% of the story was, 'This is what the six-to-eight week, Reuters/Paltrow story said.'" Bull also debated LPS's claim that he gave the firm less than two hours to respond for the story. He said he called LPS at least three times on the day the story ran, as well as e-mailed at least twice. The following day, Bull said he sent follow-up requests for comment on the story, none of which were answered. "Today was the first day I got any sort of response from LPS," he said. "No one likes to have their integrity questioned." The Florida Times-Union will release an official written statement about the subject on Monday, according to Bull. A Reuters spokesperson offered a brief response to HousingWire: "Reuters stands behind the story." Write to Christine Ricciardi.