Multnomah County Wins Unusual Legal Victory Over Mortgage Giant

By  | Featured on Willamette Week

Local governments usually pay legal settlements rather than collect them.

But on Jan. 5, Multnomah County disclosed that, unlike dozens of counties across the country, it had won a settlement against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., a giant bookkeeping service banks use to facilitate mortgage transfers.

In a 2012 lawsuit, the county alleged MERS failed to properly record such transfers.

That had two consequences: It made it difficult for people to know who their mortgage lender was; and second, it deprived the county of millions of dollars in recording fees.

In the settlement, MERS agreed to pay the county $9 million—before legal fees. That means the general fund gets a windfall of about $6 million.

County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury and her colleagues will present the settlement Jan. 7 at county headquarters.

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