09 Sep Judge Orders Firm To Pay Fees In Rigged-Foreclosure Case – LAW360
by Nate Beck
Law360 (September 9, 2022, 7:36 PM EDT) — A North Carolina federal judge on Friday hit a real estate investment group with legal fees after a group of homeowners won at a trial accusing it of rigging public bids on foreclosed properties and extorting homeowners.
Three North Carolina homeowners accused The Estates LLC, its founder Craig Brooksby, three other people, and associated entities of using a custom-built database to submit artificially low bids on homes in foreclosure and further extorting payments from homeowners.
After a four-day trial in April, a jury found the defendants guilty of bid-rigging, extortion, attempted extortion and unjust enrichment in the scheme. In June, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles followed the verdict with an injunction ordering the investors to return the deed on homes to the three plaintiffs in the case. She also barred them from participating in a foreclosure anywhere in the U.S. for eight years.
Judge Eagles on Friday ordered the investment group to pay nearly $400,000 in attorney fees under a section of the Clayton Act that requires courts to award fees to those injured in an antitrust scheme.
“The defendants engaged in intentional and predatory conduct meant to increase their profits at the expense of the plaintiffs and the public interest,” the judge wrote.
Jim White of JC White Law Group PLLC who represented the homeowners said he was pleased with the decision, and noted The Estates didn’t object to his motion seeking attorney fees.