September 27, 2010 / 9:32 PM / 9 years ago

JPMorgan faces lawyers' queries on foreclosures practices

* JPMorgan facing hearing next month

* Case follows similar problems at GMAC Mortgage

By Elinor Comlay

NEW YORK, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Lawyers in Florida, one of the states hardest hit by the housing crisis, are questioning JPMorgan Chase and Co’s (JPM.N) foreclosure practices after discovering an executive authorized such a proceeding without knowing whether the bank had a valid claim.

The second-largest U.S. bank is one of the largest mortgage lenders and the latest to face allegations of shoddy foreclosure practices.

In May, the Florida law firm Ice Legal P.A. deposed a JPMorgan executive who signed an affidavit supporting the New York-based bank’s claims against its client and discovered that the executive did not personally check the details of the case.

According to a transcript, the executive Beth Ann Cottrell said she had been part of an eight-person team that signs 18,000 documents a month. Cottrell said she did not personally review the documents in the case before signing the affidavit, according to the transcript.

A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment.

Next month a Florida court will hear arguments in the case, according to Dustin Zacks, a lawyer at the Ice Legal firm.

Investigators are also questioning Ally Financial Inc, once known as GMAC, after that company last week said some employees submitted affidavits that contained information they did not personally verify, casting doubt on whether they were treating troubled homeowners properly. [ID: nN24242956]

Earlier on Monday, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal joined regulators in California and Illinois in opening inquiries into GMAC’s lending practices.

GMAC said it addressed errors in processing the foreclosures months ago and that it is confident the mistakes did not wrongly turn people out of their homes. (Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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