Legal Abuse Syndrome and Foreclosure Fraud

by 05 Jun 2012

(TheNicheReport) -- Until a client sent us a clipping today, I had never heard the term “Legal Abuse Syndrome.” If you look in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you won’t find the term. Not Yet. The DSM is the official “blue book” used by mental health professionals. Whereas many of the CEOs of major banks and lenders probably qualify as sociopaths, we now have a title for those suffering from their heavy-handed tactics.

Dr. Karin Huffer even wrote a book about the disorder entitled “Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome.” Although I have yet to read her book, I certainly will. In fact, it probably should become required reading for judges and lawyers involved in foreclosure cases.

Here is what Dr. Huffer writes:

  • If you are deeply disillusioned and feeling oppressed as an American citizen, resulting from experience with our justice system you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.
  • If you’ve been a litigant in court and justice was not to be obtained at any price, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.
  • If you fantasize about an act of vigilante vengeance because it seems like the only resource, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.
  • If you feel numb, disconnected, and vulnerable, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.
  • If you feel that the “system” will defeat you at every turn and there is nothing you can do about it, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.”

Sadly, we have seen several foreclosure victims that do exhibit these symptoms. Homeowners who have been battling big banks for 4 and 5 years, always in fear of losing their home. Homeowners who didn’t miss a payment but are in foreclosure because the lender says it didn’t receive their payment. Homeowners who improperly had the locks changed on their home only to be told a day later that they could return.

One lawyer wrote in her book that, “Competent, confident, outgoing entrepreneurs are reduced to “shell-shocked” paranoia, unable to make the most basic decisions.  Polite, law-abiding individuals are transformed into raging extremists, after being lulled unsuspectingly in many cases into believing that they will emerge from bankruptcy able to pick up the pieces with a fresh start.”

While the book is not limited to foreclosure cases, those who worry daily about where they will live and who get put on hold for hours or told for the 42nd time that their loan modification paperwork was not received are especially prone to suffering from this type of disorder. Foreclosure victims ride an emotional roller coaster, often facing conflicting information and seemingly impossible hurdles to keep their homes. As we have previously noted, some homeowners sadly resort to suicide.

Dr. Heffer claims that Legal Abuse Syndrome is related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We believe her and see it daily.

Unfortunately many victims and homeowners feel powerless and give up, but homeowners can prevail against big banks.


About the author:

Brian Mahany is a partner at Mahany & Ertl a boutique law firm with several offices throughout the country. His firm concentrates on suing large lenders and banks on behalf of homeowners and foreclosure victims. Brian welcomes questions or comments, he can be reached by email at


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