LaGrange, GA. On November 3, 2006, Martha Romero-Huertas, then a 63 year old retiree living on a fixed income, closed on the purchase of her “dream home” in LaGrange. What started as a “dream” has turned into a five year long “nightmare”, thanks to her lender, listed on her closing papers as Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Ms. Romero-Huertas was making her monthly mortgage payments without a problem until she faced a financial hardship. Her husband, who was helping her pay her monthly mortgage payment, suffered a heart attack, resulting in open heart surgery, a triple bypass. With her husband unable to work and she as well, since she was nursing her convalescing husband, Ms. Romero-Huertas began to fall behind on her monthly mortgage. Trying desperately to “catch up” her mortgage payment, finally the financial hardship, including mortgage arrears and over $120,000.00 in unpaid medical bills, forced the couple to seek protection from the bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code.

After being discharged in bankruptcy, Ms. Romero-Huertas approached Wells Fargo’s loss mitigation department, hoping the lender would modify her existing mortgage. After months of sending in multiple sets of documents proving her financial hardship, Wells Fargo told her that they would give her a “trial modification” where she would be required to make three on-time monthly payments in order to obtain a permanent modification of her mortgage. Ms. Romero-Huertas, believing that Wells Fargo was acting in good faith, made her three on time monthly mortgage payments of $1,583.93 each, and awaited the arrival of their promised written loan modification agreement.

Instead of the promised written loan modification agreement from Wells Fargo, she instead received a Notice of Sale Under Power advising that her home would be sold at a foreclosure auction sale on the courthouse steps of Troup County on September 2, 2008.

Frantic, and desperate to save her home, Ms. Romero-Huertas filed a Complaint in Troup County Superior Court for a Temporary Restraining Order and Rule Nisi to stop the threatened sale of her house set for September 2, 2008. Troup County Superior Court Judge A. Quillian Baldwin, Jr., signed the Temporary Restraining Order and Rule Nisi on August 29, 2008, just three days prior to the threatened sale of her home on the courthouse steps.

Once the sale was stopped, one of Wells Fargo’s attorneys, Jarrod S. Mendel of the law firm of McCalla Raymer, requested that she postpone the scheduled hearing so that Wells Fargo could try and settle the case with her. Ms. Romero-Huertas agreed to a continuance of the hearing and to hold the matter in abeyance while the parties tried to negotiate a settlement.

Eventually Wells Fargo came forward with not one, but two different loan modification agreements. Not knowing which agreement to have Ms. Romero-Huertas sign, the notary public sent to have the documents executed called Wells Fargo, only to be told to have Ms. Romero-Huertas sign both loan modification agreements. Not knowing which set of documents to follow, Ms. Romero-Huertas repeatedly asked Wells Fargo which agreement to follow. Wells Fargo has failed and refused to identify the correct loan modification agreement.

Instead of advising Ms. Romero-Huertas which agreement to sign, Wells Fargo instead initiated another non-judicial foreclosure. Except this time around Wells Fargo, instead of sending Ms. Romero-Huertas a Notice of Sale Under Power, as it had done the first time, gave her no notice whatsoever, initiated by McCalla Raymer attorney Melody Jones. This second foreclosure was first published June 12, 2009 and sold the property as a non-judicial foreclosure sale on the Troup County courthouse steps on July 7, 2009.

Ms. Romero-Huertas, visiting friends in South Carolina at the time, only learned of the foreclosure and sale after the fact. Rushing back to Georgia, not knowing whether all of her furnishings had been put out on the street or who was in possession of the premises, and whether the locks had been changed, faced a very real threat of being rendered homeless without being notified or having the ability to contest the proceedings. The constant emotional strain from her almost five year ordeal has played havoc with Ms. Romero-Huertas’s health, developing multiple health problems due to stress, including cataracts, high blood pressure and aggravation of her arthritis, as well as other serious health conditions.

Ms. Romero-Huertas amended her pending court Complaint against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., suing for, among other things, Wrongful Foreclosure. The case is now winding its way through the legal system and is due to be tried sometime in the summer or fall of 2011. Punitive damages are sought for Wells Fargo’s outrageous behavior. Submitted by Ronald Houchins, (706) 416-8333.