Class Action Against Corelogic

Peter Christensen

Peter Christensen

General Counsel - Attorney at LIA Administrators & Insurance Services
A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, he has been an attorney since 1993 and maintains the blog Appraiser Law Blog. LIA has been offering E&0 insurance and loss prevention information to the appraisal profession nationally since 1972.
Peter Christensen

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Staff Appraiser Overtime Class Action Lawsuit Against Corelogic AMCA residential staff appraiser has filed an overtime class action lawsuit against appraisal management company CoreLogic Valuation Solutions. The appraiser is a current employee and works as a staff appraiser in Southern California. On behalf of herself and a putative class of similar CoreLogic staff appraisers, she alleges that CoreLogic’s compensation practices violate the overtime pay requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and California state labor laws.

The case will be legally interesting to watch because CoreLogic allegedly pays its employee appraisers on a “piece work” per appraisal basis with additional compensation for based on production and other factors. The plaintiff alleges that she and other staff appraisers worked an average 5 to 20 hours of overtime per week above the regular 40 hours, but that their compensation for the overtime hours did not properly include the “bonus pay” in calculating overtime compensation. Under the law, the overtime rate of pay must be 1.5x the overall regular hourly rate, even when the employee is paid on a piece work basis. Many appraisal firms pay their staff employee appraisers per appraisal and it will relevant for such firms to follow this case.

Mitchell v. CoreLogic Valuation, FLSA Complaint re Piece Work Pay

The lead attorney behind the case – Bryan Schwartz – is the same attorney who led a successful staff appraiser overtime class action against LandSafe Appraisal that resulted in a $36 million settlement in May 2015. Later that same year, CoreLogic purchased LandSafe from Bank America for a reported $70 million.

The new case is presently before the same judge – the Hon. David Carter in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California – who heard the earlier LandSafe case. In that case, Judge Carter issued a key order ruling that LandSafe’s staff appraisers were not properly treated as exempt from overtime. That order created a ripple of overtime liability claims against other large appraisal businesses.

As a general matter, overtime cases filed by employee appraisers continue to affect many large appraisal firms, as well as lenders who employ staff production appraisers or reviewers. The attorney leading the new CoreLogic case also has filed staff appraiser overtime suits against JP Morgan Chase, BBT and Solidifi. Last year, other attorneys based in Texas solicited appraisers to pursue overtime cases with a mass mailing. hose attorneys then filed two overtime cases — one against TSI Appraisal and the other against a smaller firm in California.

In all of these overtime cases, the plaintiff appraisers essentially claim that “appraisers are not professionals” for the purpose of overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To justify that position, the appraisers allege their work is too routinized, too form-based and too closely supervised to qualify for “professional” status. Class claims under the FLSA are voluntary opt-in class actions, meaning that appraisers only become plaintiffs if they affirmatively choose to join in a case by filling out an opt-in form that is filed with the court. (In a recent case in California, the plaintiff’s attorneys actually abandoned a class action claim — it seemed that too few appraisers expressed interest in joining the action to justify a class. This won’t seem to be an issue in the CoreLogic lawsuit.)

It’s awkward but… here’s the “I told you so.” Overtime litigation against appraisal firms was a coming trend that I reported and warned about here on this blog many years ago and also warned about during compliance events. In February 2013 (before the big case against LandSafe was even filed later that year), I wrote about a few small overtime cases and warned that

“I do believe that many appraisal firms and AMCs may be at risk for similar litigation involving overtime issues and that these three cases could lead to future additional litigation against other firms.”

Here is that 2013 post: “Overtime Lawsuits Affecting Appraisal Firms, Lenders and AMCs.” Five years later, appraisal firms, lenders and AMCs have now collectively paid more than $50 million in unpaid overtime, together with penalties, interest and attorneys fees.

Here’s a warning about a fresh related employment law issue: a new trend touching more appraisal firms and similar businessesis the classification of workers as independent contractors, rather than as employees. In these suits, plaintiff workers argue that they were improperly classified by firms as independent contractors and then claim that, if they had been treated properly as employees, they would have been entitled to compensation for overtime, as well as reimbursement for expenses. I have addressed this subject in a recent article that appeared in the Appraisal Institute’s Valuation magazine. The article “Independent Minded” is available here (link to on-line version of magazine).

Peter Christensen

Peter Christensen

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, he has been an attorney since 1993 and maintains the blog Appraiser Law Blog. LIA has been offering E&0 insurance and loss prevention information to the appraisal profession nationally since 1972.

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20 Responses

  1. Baggins Baggins says:

    What about the independents? I have not had a standard 40 in as long as I can remember. If I would have sold out my independence and worked for an amc I could sue? They all behave that way! On a brighter note, if these companies were not able to pressure staff appraisers, the independent side would have a lot more negotiation room.

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    • Peter C says:

      The case no. is blank in the complaint document because at the time a court complaint is filed, the case number is not yet known by the attorney filing the complaint.  It usually gets stamped or written somewhere on the complaint manually.

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  2. craig gilbert says:

    I’ve been involved in other Federal cases with Judge Carter as the presiding judge. He is no nonsense, has an excellent reputation, and is well respected by the legal community. Please provide case # when it is known. My prediction: this case will be settled among plaintiff and defendant before trial – to keep the facts and testimony sealed and to avoid public scrutiny, among other reasons. Please keep us apprised as case progresses. Thanks Peter. 

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  3. Who would have thought being treated as non professionals would ever be to our benefit? Virtually every single argument in favor of FNMAs CU; or “Leveraged Big Data” or hybrids and alternative AVM based appraisal only adds ammunition to the plaintiff’s case.

    Every single argument that claims automation can do what we do augments their claim of ‘routinized’ non professional work products.

    Well done CoreLogic! – you mindless buffoons!

    Hoisted on their own petard.

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    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Meanwhile, the appraisers who followed ‘professional advisement’ and did not work with amc’s fell on their own swords, and the most incompetent appraisers whom had no other options but to work with amc’s will be rewarded.  For a long time I was down on ‘retired appraiser’, but now a days, I really miss that guys regular presence on the blogs.  Turns out his cynicism was not just well deserved, but a necessary understanding point regarding just how imbalanced this industry has become.  Save us retired appraiser, we need you now!  Let’s face facts, overtime compensation is not even a drop in the bucket, mortgage origination appraisers nationally will be wiped out in less than a decade if these abusive trends continue.

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      • He still posts Baggs – with more specificity lately.

        Re suit, I think CL would likely try to settle but doubtful it would be sealed. I think they’d want that but in the end the only thing to be sealed is what the whole case is about – employees or exempt? Any settlement with any pay out pretty well defeats any reason for sealing the record.

        CL is a billion to billion and a half a year megalith. Ten million; twenty or even a hundred million is chump change to them.

        I wonder if the old DataQuick non compete clause had a sunset provision or whether it was a forever thing? It would be nice to have their old style basic services again.

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  4. Baggins Baggins says:

    This just in, fresh off the press. Alamode sells to Corelogic. So what’s a reasonable alternative? Who owns ACI? Somehow I feel like there is this one monopoly company controlling everything. They’ve taken over my cost book, multiple local mls systems, and now my software? Corelogic is simply ruining the valuation industry one acquirement at a time. It’s time to break them up under anti trust. Everyone at AlaMode should be ashamed, what a stab in the back for both Mercury and Alamode to both end up in the hands of Corelogic.

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    • ACI was previously bought out by First American which was a old partner of CL before they were required to separate. See old articles here in AB for details.  First American created the infamous PACE PRO product with ACI. DONT BUY IT! (I have both ACi and alamode and will be switching asap.)

      Best alternative Im aware of is Bradford ClickForms. Its not perfect but I have several friends that like it better than ACI or alamode. Lets hear from other appraisers across the country!

      What do YOU use? Does it also have UCIAR EP/SP or other commercial forms? Does it have 71A and 71B?

      There are 40,000+- unique appraiser sending reports to FNMA DONT use alamode anymore (as soon as your subscription run out). Start downloading all your cloud stored reports asap. Otherwise you will be a CL hostage forever.

      Yet another reason to refuse to use cloud based appraisal software!

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      • Baggins Baggins says:

        Corelogic, er, I meant alamode just hinted at bundled all in one approaches on the qa I posted below. So soon it will go public, have stocks, amazing price jack ups, and you won’t be able to tell the difference between subscribing to mls and appraisal software, who knows but it will be all bad if Corelogic is in charge of it. Get ready for technical delays with a never ending stream of unnecessary updates which work against the appraisers best interest. Now we see the big picture why daddy biggers shut down Appraisal Advisor.

        The dude is so busy on vacation, he never updated his linkedin. Oh, the message they used to promote…

        https://www.linkedin.com/in/dave-biggers-3610909/

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  5. My Predictions: Most likely, this case will be settled quietly with an out of court settlement. This case probably will never see the inside of a court room other than for initial proceedings and pleadings, and, for the Judge’s final confirmation that the agreement (secret, not published) is approved by both sides. Many large corporations do not want facts and truth to become public domain via publication. One method is to wear down the Plaintiff(s), perform the depositions, determine the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, gather facts, hire consultants and experts, and so on, in order to reduce the eventual $$payout$$ to an acceptable level, along with very important words in the agreement like “accepting no guilt” of accusations and claims made. Some might call this simply a cost of doing business.

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  6. I used A La Mode myself for a number of years. I have also used ACI and a couple others and have tested multiple software over the years. Presently, I use Bradford Technologies. I prefer Bradford over ACI and A La Mode. Each user has their own preferences of software for one reason or another. Some say ACI is great and others say A La Mode is great. Usually its the one they started with and don’t want to change. Bradford is an excellent option to consider if you want to show your support for the smaller company over the monopoly. They are located in Silicone Valley and are typically on the leading edge of technology. The learning curve is quite fast. Good tech support. Generally good software, photo program, mapping, integration etc. No software is perfect. Jeff Bradford is a great supporter of appraisers. He was invited to speak at the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Symposium coming up on January 26th in Downey CA to discuss Artificial Intelligence and Appraising. Here’s a link to their web site: http://www.bradfordsoftware.com. The other software option is ACI.

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    • Hi Craig, helpful post! I use all three but just ordered “homeputer” appraisal software from http://www.homeputer.com after reading links sent to me by AB; and their online reviews and samples. I HATE change as well and agree re analysis of each system you’ve used and subjective preferences.

      My decision was based purely on the announcement that corelogic bought out alamode and my previous knowledge that First American bought out ACI. Admittedly a spur of the moment final decision but one that had been in the offing for some time now. That the entire package costs only $249 and includes the first years maintenance and service made it a no brainer. Bradford, alamode and ACI cant [won’t] even try to compete with that price.

      Sometimes a person just has to bite the bullet and stand up for principles. I am NOT going to use either software service that is trying to put appraisers out of business. Especially the one that admitted they used millions of appraisals in the past without appraisers consent to help develop the software that they intend to try to see us replaced with!

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      • Baggins Baggins says:

        A little birdie told me recently that Alamode is auto subscribing all users into the SmartExchange program. Demand to opt out of that. 

        So let’s count how many major distribution portals they have gobbled up, that’s all of them or nearly all.

        CoreLogic acquires a la mode | 2018-04-12

        And this pr fluff from alamode;

        Common questions about the sale of a la mode

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        • Gosh Id hate to think they are just assuming it is ok to just sign people up for things they didn’t ask for. You dont think they’d actually violate someones personal privacy do you?

          I just emailed this to AB but dont want to wait for it to possibly post.

          “I just got this notice when I logged into my Matrix based local mls”

          Remine: New Core Product Coming Soon to CRMLS


          Remine is a powerful software platform that combines property records, data visualization, tracking, and predictive analytics. It combs over billions of data points to present users with a map chockful of information on properties.
          Remine is unlike any other real estate technology product on the market.
          And it’s coming soon to CRMLS.

          Most Remine services, including searching and mapping, will be available to all CRMLS users at no extra charge. Advanced options, like the ability to buy personal contact information of property holders or track a high volume of properties, will be available through fee-based plans.
          Want to learn more? CRMLS is offering a free webinars.
          Click Here to register now!

          Am I crazy? I mean more than usual? Am I the only person that sees the sale of property owner personal contact information to be an egregious violation of business ethics, and quite possibly federal privacy laws?

          MLS forms have had a provision for owner contact information to be displayed for other agents to contact them all along IF THE PROPERTY OWNER wanted it disclosed! So I have to wonder, where is this coming from?

          Perhaps the CORE clue is in the names ‘Core’ and ‘Remine’ (as in data mined). I’m pretty certain my local combined regional MLS doesn’t have the ability to scan data to devleop this information. I wonder WHO could it be that does? What sources would they likely use for this personal private information about property owners that they intend to sell? Could it be the owner of Realist?

          Did someone scan all the databases of the federal do not call list for this information?

          Is it possible that someone had access to uploaded loan-package data and appraisals through a ‘portal’ of some type with all kinds of personal ownership information in them? As for this super nifty ‘new’ analytics program how woud it determine market value for property that hasn’t reently sold…say a property that had only been recently refinanced?

          Perhaps some kind of ‘data aggregator‘? I wonder if it could be someone with a case pending before the FTC already?

          I guess we wont know until we see who is cashing the checks or processing the payments for that private contact information, will we? I know I’d be real upset to learn that ANY data contained in the FHA appraisal I pad for on my property found its way into some ‘data aggragator’ database for subsequent resale. As a homeowner Id consider that outright theft of professional services that I paid for. Theft for uses that were never disclosed to me.

          Do they also sell my social security and bank account numbers? Perhaps the names, gender and ages of my minor children? Have my tax records and tax return data now become public records though an aggregator that sells private information?

          BTW what exactly IS “data visualization”? Is that what we used to call ‘reading’?

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  7. Baggins Baggins says:

    Corelogic Realist allows me and anyone else with access, to look at mortgage loan history, and identify which company sold the person their last loan, their track history of refinance, etc. So now I get all these clever mock mailers enticing me to buy mortgage insurance and other items with little disclaimers not actually associated with (my lender).

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Class Action Against Corelogic

by Peter Christensen time to read: 3 min
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