You are looking at posts in the category Due process.
In Eaton v. Fed. Nat’l Mortgage Ass’n (Fannie Mae), 2012 Mass. LEXIS 488 (Mass. June 22, 2012), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that a foreclosing party must be in physical possession of both the note and the mortgage (or be acting on behalf of someone who does) when bringing a foreclosure proceeding. However, the ruling applies only prospectively to foreclosures that occur in the future, with the exception that the plaintiff in Eaton that convinced the Court to clarify this rule can take the benefit of it. The refusal to apply the rule retroactively was based on the belief that the law may have been unclear beforehand and that it was the case that many people acted without regard for this principle in the past.
In Quigley v. Winter, 598 F.3d 938 (8th Cir. 2010),the Eighth Circuit upheld a trial court ruling that landlord sexually harassed tenant in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), but it affirmed the trial court’s reduction of the jury’s punitive damages award. The jury awarded $13,685 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages. The trial court reduced the punitive damages award to $20,527.50.
The landlord engaged in a variety of inappropriate behavior, rubbing tenant’s arm, standing close to her and rubbing his genital area, following tenant and her sister into the bedroom while conducting an inspection and they were in their pajamas and then refusing to leave until asked to do so three times, calling tenant while drunk at 2:30 or 3:00 am. The Eighth Circuit held that a claim for hostile housing environment created by sexual harassment is actionable under the FHA, that there was sufficient evidence to find that landlord’s conduct in tenant’s home rose to that level, and that landlord had engaged in quid pro quo harassment by suggesting tenant undress for him to get her security deposit back. The court also found a violation of 42 U.S.C. §3617 when landlord engaged in coercion, intimidation, and interference with tenant’s enjoyment of her housing rights.
However, the court approved the trial judge’s reduction of the punitive damages award from $250,000 to $$20,527.50 on the basis of Supreme Court precedents holding it violates due process to award punitive damages claims that are out of proportion to actual damages. See, e.g., State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003); BMW of N. Am., Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996). While the court found landlord’s conduct “reprehensible,” it did not find the degree of reprehensibility to justify a punitive damages award eighteen times the compensatory damages. The Eighth Circuit agreed with the trial judge that an award one and a half times the compensatory damages sufficiently reflected the reprehensibility of landlord’s conduct.