UPDATE 2-Wells Fargo faces payout after $54.8 mln loan fee verdict

Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:56pm EST
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(Adds comment from homeowners' lawyer, 4th paragraph)

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. homeowners suing mortgage companies once owned by a bank Wells Fargo & Co later acquired won a $54.8 million verdict on Friday in a class action over excessive fees.

The verdict, by a federal jury in Manhattan, came in a long-running lawsuit by borrowers whose mortgages were owned or serviced by HomEq Serving or the lender whose loans it was established to manage, the now-defunct The Money Store.

Wells Fargo said afterward that it disagreed with the jury's decision and would likely seek further court review.

A lawyer for the homeowners, Moshe Horn, said in a statement that he was "thrilled our clients finally had our day in court."

Homeowners, who sued in 2001, had sought to recoup about $629 million for alleged overcharges and interest, according to an October court filing by a damages expert for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was filed by homeowner Joseph Mazzei, who contends that The Money Store and HomEq kept charging borrowers monthly late fees even after their mortgages went into default.

According to court records, the jury found the mortgage companies liable for the late fees but not liable on a separate question of whether the companies mishandled attorney fees.   Continued...