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

Latest posts by Peter Christensen (see all)

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.

You may also like...

11 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.

    5

    0
  2. Why is the Case # BLANK?

    3

    0
    • 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.

      4

      0
  3. 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. 

    5

    0
  4. 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.

    7

    1
    • 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.

      3

      0
      • 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.

        1

        0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

xml sitemap
AMC

Class Action Against Corelogic

by Peter Christensen time to read: 3 min
11