Promoter Forecloses On Wells Fargo

The nationwide mortgage disaster has generated a panoply of sad, sad stories. Every day we hear the woeful tales of people that face home foreclosure after falling ill or losing their jobs and falling behind on payments to those “too big to fail” banks.

This isn’t one of those tales. Instead, Philadelphia promoter Patrick Rodgers’ story proves that with a little hard work and enough publicity, even a banking giant like Wells Fargo can be brought to its knees.

Rodgers, an active promoter, books a weekly club night and industrial, electronic and goth shows through his company Dancing Ferret Concerts. He recently secured what he calls a “fully satisfying settlement” from Wells Fargo after taking the company to court over violations of the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, winning, and even foreclosing on a Wells Fargo home mortgage branch office.

While Rodgers refused to disclose details of the settlement, he previously told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Wells had agreed to undo any damage to his credit reports and pay down his mortgage to compensate him for all his time and energy spent taking legal action.

But why exactly did Rodgers take legal action? And how did he win against Wells?

To back up a bit, Rodgers told Pollstar things began after he paid $180,000 for a historic home in a neighborhood just “a stone’s throw from a rough area” of Philly in 2002. He received word from Wells Fargo roughly eight years later that he’d need to secure additional insurance to cover the replacement value of the home, which they estimated would cost roughly $1 million to rebuild to historic standards.

Rodgers thought the house was worth considerably less and refused to purchase such a costly policy. Wells Fargo, however, claimed it would have to purchase “forced placement insurance” on his behalf, and at a substantially higher rate, of course.

“Anyone who seeks a home mortgage loan has to agree to have homeowners insurance, and that insurance must cover the replacement value of the structure and any attachments,” a Wells Fargo representative told the Inquirer.

Rodgers wrote a number of letters saying he refused to authorize the company to purchase the $1 million policy, but received no response from Wells. Finally, after mysterious charges and fees began to appear on his mortgage statement, he did some research.

He discovered that under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Wells Fargo would have to respond to him within a certain period of time if he sent in a Qualified Written Request outlining his issue with the company and documenting his previous attempts to resolve the issue.

Wells Fargo missed multiple deadlines to respond and Rodgers took the company to small claims court, though no lawyers would take his case. He won a $1,000 default judgment when no one showed in court. After the company missed its 30-day window to appeal, he secured a writ of execution and filed for a sheriff’s levy to sell off the inventory of the local Wells Fargo office.

And that’s when Rodgers’ years of experience promoting shows came in handy. After papering the streets of Philly with sheriff’s sale posters and alerting the local media, Rodgers finally got a response from Wells Fargo, though it wasn’t what one would expect. He said he was served with papers to have the judgment thrown out before Wells Fargo sent over a check for his winnings and asked if he’d consider settling a new case he’d filed against them.

So he called off the dogs and negotiated a deal with the bank.

“I would not have given up my position for anything less than a fully satisfying settlement and this was a fully satisfying settlement,” he said. “I agreed to let them off the hook and we signed the formal papers … So the big bad wolf is off their doorstep and I can get back to focusing a bit more on my concert promotion.”

While Rodgers chalks up his entire experience with Wells Fargo as one “spectacular, cascading failure of communications,” he said he’s still proud to have taken on the fourth largest bank in the country and run circles around it.

Wells Fargo’s representative called the settlement “a recognition of our miscommunication.”

So what’s next for Rodgers now that his days as an amateur lawyer are numbered?

“After doing the next to impossible and beating a major bank in court without a lawyer, I’m setting my sights on doing a Dead Can Dance show in Philly,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do it. That’s my dream concert and I hope to make it happen.”