SACRAMENTO (CN) – Washington Mutual Bank and its real-estate appraisal managers conspired to slander and interfere with a licensed appraiser because she truthfully reported declining market conditions in California real estate beginning in May 2007, the appraiser, Jennifer Wertz, claims in Superior Court.
Wertz says she had done two or three appraisals a day for WaMu since 2001, with no problems, until about July 2006, when “WaMu began to outsource the management of their appraisal services to national appraisal management companies,” among them, defendants LSI [Lenders Service Inc.] and eAppraiseIT.” She says she continued to do business for WaMu, as a preferred vendor, through its codefendants, after they invited her to do so.
Wertz claims she was fired because, beginning in May 2001, she noted “declining” market conditions in her reports. She claims defendant Susan Richter, a WaMu sales manager, “insisted that Plaintiff change her appraisal report to indicate ‘stable’ market conditions so that the loan could be approved. Richter, however did not provide any evidence to contradict Plaintiff’s opinion and the facts supporting the decline of the market conditions. Richter then told Plaintiff that if she did not change the appraisal report, that she, Richter, would have Plaintiff blocked or prevented from doing any WaMu appraisal work.”
Wertz said the then “informed the LSI representative that she believed that direct contract with Richter violated several laws, regulations and policies related to an appraiser’s independence from influence from anyone, including the entity writing the loan, in this instance WaMu.”
In June, Wertz says, LSI told her that WaMu refused to give her any more work “because of two of Plaintiff’s appraisal reports.”
Wertz demands punitive damages. She says she was earning more than $100,000 a year until the defendants conspired to hurt her. See complaint.