Despite a surge in actions taken by bank regulators, overall mortgage litigation eased, according to the Fourth Quarter 2008 Mortgage Litigation Report released Monday by A total of 202 active cases were tracked in the latest report. Many fell into more than one of the 22 categories covered during the latest period. Excluding regulatory-only actions, 46 cases were tracked -- tumbling from 74 cases in the third quarter but about the same as the quarterly average for 2007. The biggest volume of activity was with regulatory actions, which jumped to 161 from the third quarter's 126 -- reflecting deteriorating capital at the weakest U.S. banks. Investor class actions eased, though 11 cases were still tracked. And after no third-quarter activity, four mortgage-backed securities lawsuits, three mortgage employment lawsuits and three suitability cases were tracked in the fourth quarter. Most categories, however, saw a decline during the fourth quarter. Cases tied to mortgage compliance tumbled from 18 in the third quarter to six during the latest period. Mortgage fraud litigation was down similarly, falling to five cases in the fourth quarter from 18 in the third quarter. Likely reflecting private and public efforts to stem foreclosures, fourth-quarter foreclosure lawsuits were off by more than half. Secondary marketing lawsuits fell from 12 cases to just three. Mortgage fee lawsuits were down by half in the fourth quarter, while predatory lending actions declined 43 percent. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.