CHARLESTON -- A Jackson County man is suing a mortgage loan servicer that he says "unfairly, unreasonably and unlawfully" services loans of state consumers.

Plaintiff Thayer Edsen Winnell, on behalf of himself and a class of West Virginia borrowers, contends that defendant HSBC Mortgage Services Inc. assesses multiple late-payment fees for a single late payment and threatens to impose or actually collects "a host of other unlawful fees."

"These practices enrich the Defendant at the expense of its customers, and unnecessarily place borrowers at risk of default and the loss of their homes through foreclosure," Winnell wrote in his complaint.

The man's suit, filed last month in Jackson Circuit Court, was moved to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia last week.

The suit stems from a mortgage loan Winnell obtained from Household Bank in March 2001. After the mortgage loan was originated, HSBC, based in Brandon, Fla., began servicing it.

The loan required Winnell to make monthly principal and interest payments of $919.53.

In July 2003, he missed a payment. However, he made a full loan payment the next month.

Instead of applying the payment to the loan installment due in August, Winnell alleges that HSBC applied the payment to the installment due in July and charged a late fee for August, even though he wasn't late in making his August payment.

He alleges the company did the same thing the next month.

Winnell also alleges that HSBC failed to credit his loan payments to the principal and interest due under the loan agreement on several occasions, and charged him unlawful default charges.

He is seeking for himself and all class members:

* An injunction prohibiting HSBC from engaging in unlawful conduct;

* An injunction prohibiting the company from initiating foreclosure proceedings on any accounts in West Virginia where the loans were similarly serviced;

* Civil penalties;

* Actual and compensatory damages;

* Attorneys' fees and costs of the action; and

* Pre- and post-judgment interest.

Winnell is represented by John W. Barrett and Jonathan R. Marshall of Charleston law firm Bailey & Glasser. HSBC is represented by Jared M. Tulley of Charleston firm Frost Brown Todd.

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