Legal Aid saves family home and 51 years of memories


Howard Strain, Esq.

Marley Eiger, Esq.

Betsy and James Gaughan have lived in their Lake County home for 51 years. Due to an unfortunate turn in Mr. Gaughan’s health, the couple was forced to take out a second mortgage to pay necessary medical bills for the treatment of his multiple sclerosis. At age seventy-one, Mrs. Gaughan spends most of her days at her husband’s bedside.

In 2008, the bills became unbearable and the family faced foreclosure. Mrs. Gaughan was put in a difficult position, having to juggle tending to her husband in his ailing health and dealing with a foreclosure.

The Gaughan Family turned to Legal Aid for help. Howard Strain, a foreclosure attorney at Legal Aid, took the Gaughan case. Mr. Strain coordinated with Marley Eiger, another Legal Aid attorney, and the Fair Housing Resource Center in Lake County to help the Gaughan Family.

The bank that had given the Gaughans their first mortgage refused to negotiate a loan modification with the Gaughans, citing that doing so would essentially require issuing a new loan. The bank argued they were no longer in the practice of making residential mortgages, and because of this their hands were tied. As the process continued, Mr. Strain and Ms. Eiger discovered that the bank did, in fact, continue to carry residential mortgage products.

With this contradiction exposed, the Lake County Common Pleas Court magistrate ultimately sent the case to mediation. Before the mediation even commenced, the Gaughans’ Legal Aid attorneys were able to negotiate a loan modification. The modification waived all costs and fees and offered the Gaughans a low, manageable monthly payment, which has allowed them to stay in their home and preserve their memories of 51 years.

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