Last Saturday night, Norman Rousseau reportedly spent hours trying to fix an old RV. He was facing the prospect of foreclosure, and he wasn't about to see his family forced onto the street. Then mid-morning, with the RV’s engine in pieces, he shot and killed himself, CBS Los Angeles reports
Rousseau, who lived in Newbury Park, California, has left a wife and stepson to deal with an ongoing battle with Wells Fargo, according to a lawsuit filed in January 2011 by Norman and his wife, Oriane (h/t Alternet).
“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Mr. Rousseau at this difficult time. The eviction has been postponed and we will continue to work with Mrs. Rousseau," a Wells Fargo spokesperson said to The Huffington Post in an email. "Despite current reports, we tried repeatedly to find affordable options for the family."
The trouble started when the Rousseaus refinanced their mortgage, finding out much later that their interest rate actually increased after they did so, the lawsuit states. On top of that, the lawsuit claims that the couple was convinced to roll their credit card debt into the loan, ostensibly prolonging and increasing that debt as well, according to Chris Gardas, the attorney representing the Rousseau family.
At the time, the deal "tasted like honey" to Rousseau, who believed she and her husband had made a solid financial decision, Gardas told The Huffington Post.
Then in May 2009, Wells Fargo allegedly denied it had received the Rousseaus payment for that month. Later, the bank would change its story, blaming the mix-up on putting a stop on the couple's check, CBS Los Angeles reports.
What ensued were repeated and inaccurate requests for payment from Wells Fargo, along with excessive fees and a denied loan modification, according to the lawsuit. That climaxed in a lockout that appears to have led Norman Rousseau to his death, according to the lawsuit. The eviction has now been delayed two weeks, according to the family's attorney.
Oriane has no desire to stay in the home that's the scene of her husband's suicide, the family's lawyer says. She's living in a hotel paid for by local church members but, should that support run out, she may be forced to return until evicted.
Norman Rousseau now counts among the victims of the foreclosure crisis driven to tragic ends. Just last week, a Connecticut woman facing foreclosure shot her 85-year-old mother before turning the gun on herself, The Hartford Courant reports. The event is sadly reminiscent of a senior Ohio couple who, also facing foreclosure, were found with fatal gunshot wounds.
Wells Fargo has originated a third of all residential U.S. mortgages, the most in the country and triple the share of the runner-up, JPMorgan Chase, according to Bloomberg. The bank is also one of five that agreed to pay a $25 billion settlement over allegations of mortgage fraud. It recently received a $3.1 million fine for “highly reprehensible” behavior related to one Louisiana man’s mortgage.
Wells Fargo isn't likely to suffer similar punitive damage here, the family's lawyer told The Huffington Post. "Instead, everybody just says they're doing their job."
As of last night, Mrs. Rousseau told Gardas that she has yet to hear personally from a Wells Fargo spokesperson.