When I announced Kentucky's participation last year in the historic $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement, I vowed to consumers that our work was not over. During the negotiations for the national settlement, I felt Kentucky had significant civil claims against the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS).
On Jan. 23, my office filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court against MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiary, MERS, for violations to Kentucky law.
By law, mortgage assignments must be recorded in the appropriate County Clerk's office with a $12 fee that is collected by the clerks on behalf of the Commonwealth. Our lawsuit alleges that MERS violated Kentucky law by failing to record mortgage assignments with County Clerks when mortgages were sold or transferred from one bank to another. We also believe MERS ripped off the Commonwealth of Kentucky by failing to pay recording fees to the County Clerks.
By creating a system that provides absolutely no public record of sales or transactions, MERS has destroyed the integrity of the public land recording system in the Commonwealth. Hundreds of thousands of Kentucky loans are registered in the MERS system. When homeowners struggled to pay their mortgages at the height of the housing crisis, many couldn't find out who owned their loans or who to call to request a loan modification.
Our lawsuit also alleges that MERS violated Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act by committing unfair, false, misleading or deceptive conduct. MERS could be fined up to $2,000 per violation.
For more information on our lawsuit against MERS, please see our press release or watch the video of our press conference.
It was an honor to speak yesterday at the Different Faces of Substance Abuse conference in Lexington. This annual event brings together prevention and treatment specialists, social workers and law enforcement from across the Commonwealth to develop and improve strategies to combat drug abuse in Kentucky communities.
I am grateful for all these folks are doing to help families that have been torn apart by addiction and illicit drug use. I also appreciate all they are doing to help me combat the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S., prescription drug abuse.
I was pleased to report that we are making progress. Nearly half of the state's known pain clinics have shut down in the wake of tougher regulations. For the first time in a decade, prescriptions for the most abused/diverted drugs, like Opana, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, are down. And after years of delays, Purdue Pharma will finally have to go before a Kentucky court and jury to respond to our allegations that they misrepresented the addictive nature of Oxycontin.
To learn more about the progress we've made combating prescription drug abuse in Kentucky, watch our video from yesterday's Different Faces of Substance Abuse conference.
You can also visit our Prescription Drug Abuse page.