Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies perform CPR on Larry Delassus Dec. 19 outside the Department A courtroom where he went into cardiac arrest. Photo by Trujillo law partner, Bob Khakshooy
A bank foreclosure can be a horrifically stressful event on a young and healthy person. But imagine coping with a bank trying to take away your home because of a typo on their part, and not any fault of your own, when you are a frail, disabled veteran. That's the battle 62-year-old Larry Delassus had to fight even though court records show he paid his mortgage two months ahead of schedule and also paid his property taxes in advance.
On the morning of Dec. 19, 2012, in a Torrance courtroom, Larry Delassus' heart stopped as he watched his attorney argue his negligence and discrimination case against banking behemoth Wells Fargo.
His death came more than two years after Wells Fargo mistakenly mixed up his Hermosa Beach address with that of a neighbor in the same condo complex. The bank's typo led Wells Fargo to demand that Delassus pay $13,361.90 — two years of late property taxes the bank said it had paid on his behalf in order to keep his Wells Fargo mortgage afloat.
But Delassus, a quiet man who suffered from the rare blood-clot disorder Budd-Chiari syndrome and was often hospitalized, didn't owe a penny in taxes.
One of his neighbors, whose condo "parcel number" was two digits different from Delassus', owed the back taxes.
In a series of painfully tragic events, Wells Fargo relied on its typographical error to double Delassus' mortgage — from $1,237.69 to $2,429.13 — as its way of recouping the $13,361.90 in taxes Delassus didn't owe. Delassus, a retiree living on a $1,655 check, couldn't meet the mysteriously increased mortgage. He stopped paying, and soon was far behind on his mortgage.
One especially difficult moment during his battle with Wells Fargo came in May 2011, shortly after another bad bout of illness, Delassus' condo was sold by the bank. In a videotaped court deposition later, Delassus breaks down crying. "I came back from the hospital, and that very day, they sold the son of a b*tch," he says. "I'm homeless. I did not have a home. My condo — 16 years, gone. Gone."
There's much more on Larry Delassus' battle with Wells Fargo here.
Once Wells Fargo had acknowledged their typographical error, there doesn't seem to be any logical reason that they didn't bend over backwards to return Mr. Delassus to square one with his mortgage...the 16-year mortgage holder who never missed a payment, and return him to that point with all the erroneously tacked on fees wiped away.
Delassus' attorney Anthony Trujillo, a friend and next-door neighbor, recalls deposing Wells Fargo Litigation Support Manager Michael Dolan in 2012, and asked what his definition of “fair” was.
“Fair is a place where they have ponies and merry-go-rounds,” Dolan said.