LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The City Attorney announced on Tuesday a lawsuit against one of the nation’s biggest banks over alleged illegal eviction and maintenance practices.
KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports Carmen Trutanich said U.S. Bank is behind much of what he calls the city’s “bank blight”.
Trutanich told reporters outside City Hall that U.S. Bank is responsible for allowing properties to fall into disrepair after foreclosure proceedings and creating slums by leaving foreclosed homes empty.
The bank — which Trutanich said has foreclosed on over 1,500 homes in Los Angeles over the last year — faces hundreds of millions of dollars in potential liability, as well as an injunction to stop the illegal evictions of low-income tenants.
“U.S. Bank failed to make the necessary repairs, allowing nuisance conditions to fester,” said Trutanich.
Trutanich — who filed a similar lawsuit against Deutsche Bank last year —also noted an increase in crime surrounding the blighted properties.
Bank officials have maintained that contractors who service the loans are exclusively responsible to take care of the property and that in several cases they were unaware of property locations, an assertion that Trutanich flatly rejected.
“Nobody has to tell me where I live, where my daughter lives, or where my son lives, I know where they live and I know where their homes are,” Trutanich told CBS2′s Dave Lopez. “That would be saying a lot, the banks not knowing where their assets are located.”
In a statement, U.S. Bank denied playing any role in the condition of bank-owned properties and said the bank “cares about the City of Los Angeles”.
“We are extremely disappointed that the City Attorney’s office has chosen to file this lawsuit,” said U.S. Bank spokeswoman Teri Charest. “The city attorney has chosen the wrong party…the homes are owned by trusts, consisting of investors, and are serviced by other companies. Our role as trustee is purely administrative.”