Lawsuit claims foreclosure proceedings led to father's fatal heart attack

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 10:29 PM

GRAND PRAIRIE - Jo Engel still cries when someone says his name. Her husband Harry was her everything, for 56 years.

"I'll try to not cry about it, but I'll never get over him," she said.

Their daughter, Debra, said her father was the glue that held them all together. And their home wasn't just a home.

"It was our security," she said.

As her parents aged a fixed income forced them to cut back, so after living in their Grand Prairie home for 22 years, a letter offering a lower refinancing rate sounded attractive. They say they went to see a JP Morgan Chase employee in person to discuss it, and he told them in order to qualify for the program, they had to skip a mortgage payment. So they did.

"They relied on that," said attorney Chris Ash. "They did exactly what they were instructed to do, missed a payment, followed instructions to the letter."

Ash said the Engels paid a lower mortgage for about a year before other letters started arriving in their mailbox, and knocks on the door began.

The family said the letters said JP Morgan Chase was kicking them out of the refinancing program. Late fees and penalties were adding up.

Foreclosure proceedings began, and the Engels say eviction was even threatened.

"When he got those letters, he just changed," Debra said.

Harry Engel repaid what he could, but on July 1, 2010, he suffered a sudden heart attack and died. He was 79 years old, but was in good health, Debra said.

The Engels blame his death on JP Morgan Chase. They filed a lawsuit against the company.

"He wasn't sick," Debra said. "He couldn't take the stress. The stress of it just killed him."

A spokesman for Chase reviewed the lawsuit, saying "There are serious factual inaccuracies in the filing, but we are not going to comment because it is ongoing litigation."

He added, "We have not completed any foreclosure on the property. We work with homeowners across the country to help them to avoid foreclosure whenever possible."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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