September 1, 2015
by Paul Weingarden and Kevin Dobie
Usset, Weingarden & Liebo PLLP – USFN Member (Minnesota)
Attorney William Bernard Butler’s war against the mortgage industry, which began in 2010 when his own home went into foreclosure (and continued even after his right to practice in the federal courts ceased in 2013), has come to a halt in state court as well. On August 12, 2015 the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order suspending Butler for a minimum of two years, with conditions of reinstatement.
Before Butler’s formal suspension, he had litigated over 300 cases against mortgage lenders, servicers, GSEs, and their counsel. He asserted various frivolous theories, which were routinely dismissed after lengthy stalls, delays, and appeals — only to be repackaged and renewed by refiling the actions and asserting the identical facts and theories, with usually the same plaintiffs. Despite never winning a single case with these theories, Butler kept on suing, resulting in millions of dollars in lost interest and attorneys’ fees, all for the purpose of allowing his clients to remain in their homes without paying their mortgage obligations.
In late 2013, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals suspended Butler’s right to practice in the Eighth Circuit, and shortly thereafter the Minnesota U.S. District Court followed suit. Undaunted, Butler shifted his attention to the state courts where he asserted the same arguments in over sixty new cases, all of which had been rejected hundreds of times. Whether it was fighting evictions for “wrongful foreclosures” or starting a Torrens proceeding with the intent of re-litigating the foreclosure with old, rejected contentions, Butler pressed on — ignoring further monetary sanctions.
In CitiMortgage v. Kraus, 2015 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 47 (Minn. App. 2015), after unsuccessfully asserting claims on behalf of the Krauses (whom had already litigated the validity of the foreclosure and lost at the Eighth Circuit), Butler continued to press identical theories in the post-foreclosure eviction. On January 12, 2015 the Minnesota Court of Appeals called the Krauses’ defense “one of the most frivolous that has ever been presented to this court,” and the court sanctioned Butler and the Krauses. Incredibly, Butler and the Krauses litigated the same issues yet again; and, on August 24, 2015 the Minnesota Court of Appeals once more determined that the claims had no merit. [Editor’s note: The authors’ firm represented CitiMortgage in these actions.]
For the foreseeable future, the litigation is over — and perhaps longer if Butler does not pay, or make a good faith effort to pay, court-imposed sanctions of $125,000 as well as attorneys’ fees of approximately $175,000.
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