First American Wants Suit Dismissed
|November 28, 2007|
NEW YORK (AP) -- First American Corp. and its home-appraisal unit have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for allegedly colluding with Washington Mutual Inc. to inflate mortgage appraisals.
In a motion filed late Monday, the Santa Ana, Calif., company and its eAppraiseIT unit asked U.S. District Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan to dismiss the attorney general's complaint, saying he lacks authority to pursue a case because all federal savings and loan activities are regulated by the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision.
"Mr. Cuomo has strayed into territory over which he has neither regulatory authority nor oversight responsibility," the motion said.
Cuomo has alleged that First American caved in to pressure from Washington Mutual, eAppraiseIT's largest client, to use a list of so-called "proven appraisers" who allegedly provided inflated appraisal values.
The lawsuit seeks to stop the practice and disgorgement of fees that First American and eAppraiseIT received for the allegedly inflated appraisals. The case was originally filed in New York State Supreme Court earlier this month and then moved to federal court in Manhattan.
Washington Mutual, which is not named as defendant in Cuomo's suit, has previously said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the allegations and has suspended its relationship with eAppraiseIT until it can further investigate the situation.
"This is a meritless motion made in the wrong court," said Jeffrey Lerner, a Cuomo spokesman, in a statement. "First American's vain attempts to raise procedural roadblocks should not distract from the damning facts laid out in great detail in the complaint."
Copyright 2007 Associated Press