Steven L. Wirtz, Plaintiff- Appellee,
Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, Defendant-Appellant.
Submitted: October 16, 2017
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
SMITH, Chief Judge, MURPHY and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
Wirtz sued Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC for violations of
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA")
and the Minnesota Mortgage Originator and Servicer Licensing
Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of
Wirtz, and awarded him a total of $50, 962.55 in actual
damages, statutory damages, attorney's fees, and costs
under the two statutes. Specialized appeals, and we reverse
because Wirtz did not prove actual damages under RESPA and
thus did not establish an essential element of his federal
imposes various duties on mortgage loan servicers. 12 U.S.C.
§ 2605. One duty is to respond to certain borrower
inquires, called "qualified written requests, " in
one of three ways. § 2605(e). First, the servicer may
correct the borrower's account and notify the borrower of
the correction. § 2605(e)(2)(A). Second, the servicer
may, "after conducting an investigation, " provide
the borrower with "a statement of the reasons for which
the servicer believes the account of the borrower is correct
as determined by the servicer." § 2605(e)(2)(B)(i).
Or third, the servicer may, "after conducting an
investigation, " provide the borrower with the
"information requested by the borrower or an explanation
of why the information requested is unavailable or cannot be
obtained by the servicer." § 2605(e)(2)(C)(i).
mortgage loan servicer fails to comply with its duties to
respond appropriately to a qualified written request, the
individual borrower is entitled to "any actual damages
to the borrower as a result of the failure." §
2605(f)(1)(A). The borrower also may recover "any
additional damages, as the court may allow, in the case of a
pattern or practice of noncompliance with the requirements of
this section, in an amount not to exceed $2, 000."
§ 2605(f)(1)(B). The Minnesota Act piggybacks on RESPA
by forbidding a servicer to violate a "federal law
regulating residential mortgage loans." Minn. Stat.
§ 58.13, subdiv. 1(a)(8).
ended up in a dispute with Specialized over the
servicer's responses to Wirtz's qualified written
requests. To understand the dispute, it is necessary to
review the history of Wirtz's mortgage loan.
August 2001, Wirtz received a mortgage loan from ABN Amro
Mortgage Group, Inc. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
("Chase") began to service the loan in 2002. Chase
assigned servicing of the loan to Specialized in June 2013.
As part of the transfer of service, Specialized received from
Chase a portion of Wirtz's payment history, which
included a record of payments beginning on June 11, 2011.
partial payment history showed that Wirtz was one-month
delinquent on his loan as of the first entry for June 2011.
The partial payment history also showed that Wirtz fell
behind by another payment between June 2011 and June 2013.
Based on this history received from Chase, Specialized sent
Wirtz a notice that loan payments were past due.
Wirtz made several telephone calls to Specialized disputing
that his account was overdue, Wirtz contacted the Minnesota
Attorney General's office. The Attorney General's
office sent a letter to Specialized on October 9, 2013,
asking the servicer to review the matter promptly.
responded on October 18, 2013, stating that its records
showed that Wirtz's account was one month delinquent on
June 11, 2011, that Wirtz had missed two payments to Chase in
February 2012 and February 2013, and that Wirtz had made an
extra payment in May 2012, resulting in an overall two-month
delinquency. Specialized said that if Wirtz wanted to prove
that his loan was not delinquent when Chase began servicing
the loan, he needed to provide records from the loan servicer
who preceded Chase. Similarly, if Wirtz wanted to contest the
record that he missed payments in February 2012 and February
2013, then Specialized required Wirtz to provide the front
and back of cancelled checks showing that Chase received
November 8, 12, and 25, 2013, Wirtz's counsel sent a
series of three qualified written requests to Specialized
asking for information, including "[t]he monthly
principal and interest payment, and monthly escrow payment
from origination to present." He also sought "[a]
full explanation of why [Specialized] believes that Steven
Wirtz's mortgage was past due on or before 6/17/2013 when
[Specialized] was transferred the servicing rights for the
above-referenced loan." Specialized responded to the
three letters on December 9, 2013, and reiterated that Wirtz
must provide the ...