Cobb County spokesman Robert Quigley declined comment and referred the Journal to Kathy Curtin, spokeswoman for the plaintiffs’ main law firm, Midtown-based Harris, Penn, Lowry & DelCampo.
Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee did not return calls by press time.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 18 in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta division, refers to “financial injury in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” alleged by Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties.
There’s not a specified amount in the complaint,” Curtin said about the lawsuit. “(The plaintiffs are) not releasing that at this point.”
Curtin would not comment on the reasons the counties chose to file the civil action.
“I don’t believe anyone is at liberty to discuss how the complaint came about. The law firm was investigating multiple banks on behalf of multiple counties,” she said about Harris, Penn’s securities and business fraud division.
HSBC, formerly the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp., allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act, according to the lawsuit, with “predatory and discriminatory residential mortgage lending and servicing activities that have resulted in — and will continue to cause — unprecedented numbers of mortgage loan delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures and/or home vacancies in (the) plaintiffs’ communities and neighborhoods,” particularly in those with high percentages of minority residents.
The lawsuit claims the foreclosure crisis was a direct consequences of “aggressive, targeted marketing” by HSBC and other lenders.
“This crisis has caused tremendous tangible and intangible damage to (the) plaintiffs including the erosion of plaintiffs’ tax base; the loss of property tax revenue; out-of-pocket costs relating to abandoned or vacant properties; the loss of certain intangible property recording fee income; and many other injuries to the fabric of plaintiffs’ communities and residents arising from the resulting urban blight,” the lawsuit stated.
A trial date has not yet been set, Curtin said, although the plaintiff’s legal teams have already been chosen.
“Jimmy Evangelista is on that team. He and Jeff Harris are trying this case on behalf of this firm. We are also partnered with the Cochran firm in Atlanta as co-counsel,” she said about downtown Atlanta based-Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith, Sistrunk and Sams.