Shuttered reverse lender sued for back pay

by Ryan Smith15 May 2019

A reverse mortgage lender that abruptly ceased operations is being sued for allegedly failing to pay its terminated employees what they were owed.

Live Well Financial, as recently as February one of the nation’s top 10 reverse lenders, unexpectedly halted operations earlier this month. The Virginia-based company initially offered no explanation for the closure, merely posting a notice on its website that “unexpected circumstances” had forced it to cease originations.

Shortly thereafter, Live Well Financial notified the state of Virginia that it would be laying off 103 employees, including founder and CEO Michael C. Hild. In a notice to the state, the lender said it lacked the available cash to continue operations due to “sudden and unexpected developments.”

Now a loan account manager who lost her job with the company has filed a federal lawsuit seeking lost wages, according to a report by The Richmond Times Dispatch. Monica Williams’ suit also seeks class-action status for hundreds of employees in Virginia and San Diego who lost their jobs without the federally mandated 60-day notice, the Times-Dispatch reported. Live Well has not announced how many San Diego employees lost their jobs.

According to the lawsuit, Live Well Financial did not pay Williams and other employees their unpaid wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday pay and accrued vacation pay, and health and life insurance premiums. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires companies that lay off large numbers of employees to provide 60 days’ notice – or, failing that, to pay them their wages and benefits for the 60 days, the Times-Dispatch reported.

“Live Well failed to provide its employees 60 days’ written notice in advance of the May 3 shutdown,” Rene S. Roupinian, a lawyer representing Williams, told the Times-Dispatch. “It’s our understanding that employees received a letter from the company after they were terminated. The letter failed to assert a valid defense to liability under the federal or California WARN acts.”