On the morning of Dec 19, 2012, Larry Delassus, a shy and emotional elderly man, died in a courtroom as his attorney argued a negligence and discrimination case against Wells Fargo. The bank had mistakenly overbilled Delassus for his mortgage, and then, after acknowledging their mistake, had continued to foreclose on him, demonstrating the unfairness and inhumanity the banking system is infamous for.
According to L.A. Weekly, Delassus’ death came two years after Wells Fargo had accidentally mixed up his address with that of his neighbors, demanding that Delassus pay up $13,361.90. The bank held that it had paid two years of property taxes on behalf of the elderly man in order to keep his mortgage afloat. However, Delassus didn't owe any money — especially not $13,361.90 — considering he was actually six months ahead on his taxes.
Thanks to the typo, Wells Fargo had hiked up Delassus’ mortgage from $1,237.69 to $2,429.13, in order to recoup the larger sum of money he purportedly owed. Delassus, both confused by the increased mortgage and unable to pay it on his $1,655 monthly paycheck, stopped paying his mortgage and it wasn't too long before he was far behind on his payments. He eventually moved into an apartment in an assisted-living home.
Unfortunately for Delassus, it wasn't until his attorney, Anthony Trujillo, both a next-door neighbor and good friend, found that it was in fact a typo on behalf of the bank that had led Delassus to spiral into this mess. According to L.A. Weekly, although Wells Fargo acknowledged their mistake, they still went ahead and foreclosed on Delassus, selling his condo.
Instead, after acknowledging the mistake and the consequent issues that led Delassus to fall so far behind his on mortgage payments, the bank still held that because he was so far behind now, they would not let him resume his previous installment of $1,237.69. The bank also would not tell him what his reinstatement cost was, nor did they provide him with a reinstatement amount despite their error.
Then, on January 25, 2011, Wells Fargo contacted him, telling Delassus they wanted the total payoff amount on the condo of $337,250.40. And they wanted it by the next day.
It was then, that instead of paying up, Trujillo and Delassus sued the bank, claiming negligence and discrimination against a disabled person.
On May 13, 2011, the bank sold his condo, leaving Delassus temporarily homeless until he moved into the Assisted-Living apartment, and he was still in court nearly four years after he received the first letter from the bank, in December of 2012 — literally fighting to his death.
The night before he died, the L.A. Country Superior Judge Laura Ellison had made it clear that she intended to side with Wells Fargo in a summary judgment.
Although Delassus suffered from a blood-clot disorder called Budd-Chiari, system, his friends believe it was this inhumane system that worsened his condition and eventually killed him.
“The stress just completely messed him up. Once you get in that state, this world is tough on you,” said Trujillo.