On July 13, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division reversed a trial court’s decision, ruling that a deceased homeowner’s family (defendants) had provided sufficient evidence to show that a division of a national bank (lender) had knowingly engaged in predatory lending practices when it approved a fraudulent mortgage application in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (Act). According to the opinion, in 2007 when the now deceased homeowner purchased a house, the lender may have been complicit in creating and approving a fraudulent loan application that, among other things, stated falsely that (i) the homeowner was a small business owner with a monthly income of $30,000 rather than $1,500, and (ii) the down payment came from the homeowner, when it supposedly came from a second mortgage offered to him from the same lender. The homeowner defaulted on payments in 2010 and passed away in 2012. In 2015, the defendants responded to a foreclosure complaint filed by the bank, alleging that the Act barred plaintiff’s claims due to the lender’s fraudulent actions, including the aforementioned material misrepresentations. However, the trial court granted summary judgment to the lender on the grounds that claims of fraud brought by the defendants were “untenable” and outside the statute of limitations. The appellate court disagreed and remanded to allow for discovery, ruling that the defendants were permitted to introduce evidence of fraud in defense of the homeowner’s estate even through the statute of limitations had expired. “The doctrine of equitable recoupment permits a defendant to assert an otherwise stale claim and avoid the statute of limitations, where the defendant uses the claim as a shield instead of a sword,” the appellate court stated.