Larry Delassus died of a massive heart attack on December 19, 2012 while in court battling out the wrongful seizure of his Hermosa Beach, California home. The foreclosure of the residence had been over a typo on the part of Wells Fargo, the bank holding the mortgage on Delassus’ property.
Delassus had been fighting the legal battle against Wells Fargo over a simple numerical typo, which resulted in a near $13,000 bill, for two years leading up to his dramatic in-court death.
Delassus lost his home after the bank mistakenly thought he was behind on his 2007 and 2008 property taxes when in fact it had been in a neighbor. An error had been made on the county assessor’s parcel number, the number corresponding to a neighbor’s home but inadvertently assigned to Delassus.
Delassus had in fact been ahead of schedule on both his mortgage and property taxes. Regardless, he still lost his residence and was forced to have to battle out the error in court.
The 62-year-old had a pre-existing rare blood-clotting disorder called Budd-Chiari syndrome, which he’d been frequently hospitalized for. He had to move into an assisted-living home while awaiting the results of his legal fight.
Anthony Trujillo, Delassus’ attorney, noticed the wrongly assigned parcel number when going through his client’s records. The bank was informed and even acknowledged the mix-up, going as far as to fix Delassus’ credit history to reflect the correction. Yet Wells Fargo still moved forward on reselling the seized property at a cut price auction. Trujillo filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client for fraud and negligence against the bank.
On December 19, Delassus arrived at the Torrance Courthouse in Los Angeles, wheelchair bound, prepared to testify in a preliminary hearing. An hour in, Delassus went into cardiac arrest and died. In a statement, Wells Fargo called the death of their customer “tragic.”
A tentative ruling indicated a dismissal of all claims put forward by Delassus’ attorneys and a ruling in favor of Wells Fargo, according to a statement by the bank. In their opinion, Delassus had no testimony or evidence to present; therefore, there was no reason for him to be there.
Trujillo contradicts the statements made by Wells Fargo, saying the bank had requested Delassus be in attendance for the hearing.
Delassus told friends he was firm in his belief that, once Judge Laura Ellison heard of his stellar payment history, something would have immediately been done to resolve the erroneous blunder. However, Ellison did not feel the facts of the case justified claims of fraud and negligence against Wells Fargo.
It’s rare for a lawsuit to stop a foreclosure as banks don’t have a legal duty to modify a loan, and plaintiffs often can’t afford to hire an attorney. In Delassus’ case, Trujillo was working for free.
Although heart disease had been the culprit in the Navy veteran’s death, Delassus’ friends feel the bank’s carless and catastrophic mistake took an unforgiving toll on his already weak health.
Do you think the bank should have been held accountable for the resell of Mr. Delassus’ home, given they illegitimately foreclosed on the property?