Bengali Immigrant Claims Attorney Neglected to Provide Bengali Interpreter.
There’s a growing need for English to Bengali legal translators for on-site face-to-face depositions and for Bengali translators for remote telephonic deposition interpreting services. In Uddin v. Goodson, et al., the Bengali-speaking plaintiff alleged that she was the victim of a real estate scheme in which she was persuaded to stop paying her mortgage in order to obtain a loan modification. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in federal court in which she alleged RICO claims against several defendants and violations of the Federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. One of the named defendants was the plaintiff’s own attorney.
Bengali-Speaking Plaintiff’s Background
The plaintiff is an “unsophisticated factory worker Bengali immigrant” who does not speak, read, or write English. In 2011 the plaintiff and her husband began experiencing financial difficulties and were referred to an individual acting as an agent of a law firm (“agent”) to assist. The agent charged the plaintiff $15,000 to act as a “loan modification specialist.” The specialist allegedly guaranteed that he would obtain a significant reduction in the plaintiff’s mortgage payments and convinced her that she would only be able to obtain a loan modification if she defaulted on her home loan.
In 2012, the plaintiff ceased paying her mortgage, and the bank filed a foreclosure action against her six months later. The agent promised that he and the defendant law office would “handle everything” and protect the plaintiff’s interest. The bank’s foreclosure action was dismissed, but the agent informed the plaintiff, without providing any supporting paperwork, that the bank had denied her request for a loan modification. The agent then instructed the plaintiff that she could still keep her home through a short sale to another individual, who would act as a “straw buyer, hold it temporarily for a fee, and then sell it back to her for a reduced price. The Bengali-speaking plaintiff claimed that she was “unsophisticated in real estate matters” and did not know that the actions recommended by the agent were illegal.
Bangla-Speaking Plaintiff Sells Home in Short Sale
The defendant attorney represented the Bangla-speaking plaintiff in the short sale. The attorney had never met his client, the plaintiff, before the day of the sale, and did not arrange for an English to Bengali interpreter to be present at the short sale hearing.
After the short sale, the straw buyer transferred title through a quit claim deed to a real estate company without informing the plaintiff he was doing so. The funds were transferred to the defendant law firm, who transferred the funds to another company wholly owned by the defendant attorney.
After the property was transferred to the attorney’s company, the straw buyer informed the plaintiff that he would not covey the property back to her and was in fact planning on evicting her family from the home. The defendant lawyer and his law firm filed multiple complaints to take possession of the property.
Bengali-Speaking Plaintiff Files Complaint Against Her Attorney and Others
In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant attorney failed to properly represent her during the closing of the short sale of her home. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant attorney failed to “adequately and completely represent her by failing to have a Bengali interpreter present, and [failed] to explain the documents to the plaintiff prior to signing.”
Attorney Defendant Files Motion to Dismiss
The plaintiff’s attorney subsequently filed a motion to dismiss in regards to the RICO and other claims filed against him. The plaintiff did not file an opposition to her attorney’s motion. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed because the plaintiff had failed to file an “Affidavit of Merit” within 120 days of filing the complaint as required by New Jersey state law.
The court agreed with the defendant’s arguments. The court held that New Jersey’s Affidavit of Merit Statute requires that a complainant who alleges professional negligence against certain professionals must produce an affidavit from an expert attesting to the merits of the claim. Federal court have held that the statute also applies to professional negligence claims in federal courts in New Jersey. The statute, created to prevent frivolous malpractice suits, requires the affidavit to be served upon a defendant within 60 days of the filing of the defendant’s answer to the complaint. The court held that in order to proceed with the plaintiff’s claim, the plaintiff needed to provide proof that her attorney failed to “adequately and competently” represent her. Because the plaintiff did not provide this requisite proof in the form of a supporting affidavit from an expert in the field in accordance with state law, the court was required to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.
The court ultimately dismissed the Bengali-speaking plaintiff’s claims against her attorney with prejudice, meaning the claims against him were dismissed permanently and could not be brought again. The plaintiff’s claims against the other defendants, however, would proceed.
The case is Uddin v. Goodson, et al., Case No. 15-cv-8025 decided on March 8, 2017 in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey.
Get in touch with All Language Alliance, Inc. by filling out “Legal Translation Services Now” form on the right to retain qualified English to Bengali deposition interpreters for real estate and other litigation cases for on-site depos in Denver, Colorado, and to hire Bangla interpreters for remote telephonic depositions.
***This legal document translation article should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal needs.***
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