The federal judge overseeing a $189 million mortgage insurance lawsuit against Wells Fargo admonished prosecutors Tuesday for dumping millions of documents on the bank so late in the process, making good on an earlier warning against using dumping tactics in the case.
According to Law360, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman chided prosecutors in the Southern New York District for overwhelming Wells with millions of documents since March 2. This includes last week’s introduction of several million documents that do not include vital documents from custodians of information submitted to HUD by Wells Fargo, the report stated. The tactic, Furman said, effectively gives the bank no time to review the documents so close to the discovery deadline.
Furman originally warned prosecutors in January against dumping documents onto the bank, saying that if “a party produces discovery too close to the deadline for another party to respond appropriately, the result will be sanctions ‒‒ not an extension of the deadline.” Ironically, in March, Furman denied Wells’ efforts to speed up discovery by forcing the U.S. Department of Justice to winnow millions of pages of records down to only those that fit narrower search terms and by requesting additional electronic records, Law360 reported.
Furman also denied motions from the bank and the Department of Justice to alter the number of depositions in the case. Each side is allowed 25 depositions; the government sought to decrease that total.
The suit, filed in the Southern New York District in November 2013, accuses Wells of “fraudulent practices in falsely certifying tens of thousands of materially defective mortgages for [the] Federal Housing Administration,” a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A contentious battle fought mainly over what can and cannot be introduced in discovery has raged since.