Bank of America sued Barbara and Rick Borchers for foreclosure because of an error on the deed to a home they sold eight years ago.
It turns out, though, the deed was already corrected – six years ago.
"I think Bank of America owes this couple an apology," said Warren Weathers, chief deputy for the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office.
"Did they look hard enough? What kind of research did they do, because obviously they missed it, and it's not something that they could of, should of, easily missed."
This is the latest twist in a story first reported in The Tampa Tribune last week. It illustrates the complexity of foreclosure and how easy it is for innocent homeowners to get pulled into someone else's financial trouble.
It all started in 2003 when the Borchers sold their home. The title company made a typo on the deed, according to the lawsuit and public records.
Instead of "Bloomingdale Section R," the deed reads, "Bloomingdale Section H," a legal description for a different house in the neighborhood.
The home traded hands three more times. Now, Bank of America is trying to foreclose on the last buyer but says the error on the deed means it can't take the home back because the description on the deed is for the wrong house.
The bank can't get the clear title required for a transaction until the error is fixed.
So the bank named the Borchers – and all buyers after them – in the lawsuit. Barbara Borchers said the bank's lawyer told her she needed to hire her own lawyer and pay to have the deed corrected.
But Weathers, with the property appraiser's office, said that's unnecessary – and, he said, the lawsuit is too.
"It took us probably 30 minutes or less to find the corrected deed," Weathers said, explaining that the appraiser's office caught the mistake in one of the later sales on the property.
"I would think the bank would check for this before they sued."
Upon learning of the corrected deed, Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens issued this statement: "We're reaching out to the Borchers with the intention of dismissing the count."
Bauwens said the Borchers need to sign some paperwork that would clear up confusion over the deed. She wouldn't elaborate.
But she did say the bank wants to work something out with the Borchers. Once that happens, she said, all the former homeowners would be dropped from the foreclosure lawsuit.
Borchers said she just looks forward to getting out of a lawsuit she shouldn't have been party to.
"If this is corrected, then technically everyone behind us shouldn't be included in the suit either," Borchers said.