Taylor v. Wells Fargo Home MortgageAnnotate this Case
Appellant purchased a home and fell behind on her mortgage payments. Despite the bank having agreed to postpone a foreclosure sale, it proceeded with the sale. After she threatened suit, the bank re-purchased the home and entered into settlement negotiations with appellant; the bank promised to re-convey the property to appellant so that she could proceed with a sale to a third party. The bank subsequently refused to perform and appellant sued both the bank and the bank's counsel for breach of the settlement agreement and fraudulent inducement. The superior court granted partial summary judgment to the woman on her breach of contract claim, finding that a binding settlement contract had been formed between appellant and the bank. Appellant then filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy trustee sold the property and the bankruptcy estate abandoned the present state court claim, placing the remaining balance from the sale of the property into the superior court registry. The superior court held a bench trial on the remaining fraud claim and on the parties' respective damages. At the conclusion of appellant's case, the court granted a directed verdict to the bank and the bank's counsel on the fraud claim. The superior court awarded the bank the unpaid loan balance as well as the fair rental value of the property for appellant's post-foreclosure occupancy of the property, and awarded the woman lost sale damages. The superior court also awarded the parties prejudgment interest, and later awarded the bank and its counsel attorney's fees. Appellant appealed the superior court's final judgment. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the bank abandoned its claim for rental damages at trial. Accordingly, the Court reversed the superior court's award of rental damages and any accompanying award of prejudgment interest. Because any right to recover fees for work performed on behalf of the dismissed defendants was waived, because it was error to award attorney's fees to the bank's counsel in responding to the bankruptcy petition, and because the superior court did not properly calculate attorney's fees under Alaska Civil Rule 68, the case was remanded to recalculate attorney's fees. The superior court was affirmed in all other respects.