Commissioners debate wording of possible foreclosure lawsuit - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Commissioners debate wording of possible foreclosure lawsuit

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Commissioners are ready to make predatory lenders pay for their crimes, but argued Wednesday over the best way to do it.

At a commission committee meeting, the usually mild-mannered Commissioner George Flinn got heated on the approach attorneys are taking to sue predatory lenders.

It all started when Shelby County Attorney Brian Kuhn and Webb Brewer of Memphis Area Legal Services asked commissioners permission to sue a list of mortgage lenders.

"To basically stop the foreclosures from happening right now," Kuhn said.

They also want to recoup losses, saying taxpayers lose $20,000 on every foreclosure, from law enforcement carrying out an overload of evictions cleaning up the blight foreclosures leave behind.

But the wording of the resolution concerned some commissioners.  It said they'd sue lenders who targeted African Americans.

"I would like to point out that there are a lot of poor white neighborhoods that are facing the same problem," Commissioner Joyce Avery said.

"You have to have a discrimination," Kuhn said. "Someone has to be discriminated on based on color, religion or something like that."

"What you're saying is the law does not allow diversity here, where the law promotes diversity other places," Flinn said. "If we're not going to allow diversity on this, I'm going to be against this.  This is crazy!"

Commissioners changed the wording to approve a lawsuit against "ethnic minorities" as opposed to African Americans.

The proposed lawsuit passed in committee, but the full Shelby County Commission must vote to make it official.

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