A bank in Michigan is going after the head of a recently shuttered Chesterfield-based mortgage company, as it looks to recoup collateral on tens of millions of dollars’ worth of allegedly defaulted loans.
Michael Hild, CEO of Live Well Financial, which abruptly shut down this month and laid off more than 100 workers, was sued last week in federal court by Troy, Michigan-based Flagstar Bank.
The lender claims Hild was the guarantor on more than $100 million worth of loans – for which about $80 million is still owed – and that the loans are in default because Live Well “commenced a liquidation of its business.”
The bank, which declined to comment on the case, is represented by attorneys from the Bodman law firm in Detroit.
Hild did not respond to a request for comment.
The complaint, filed May 22 in Michigan federal court, seeks to enforce what it argues are Hild’s guarantees on two loans.
The first was a so-called mortgage warehousing loan and line of credit the bank issued to Live Well in November 2016 for $30 million. The company owes about $13 million in principal on that note, the suit alleges.
Collateral for that loan, the suit states, includes unspecified mortgages, promissory notes and real estate deeds of trust, along with the proceeds of any related insurance policies.
The second loan was a bond-secured credit line from March 2017 that had an initial borrowing limit of $50 million, which then was raised to $70 million.
About $69 million is still owed and Flagstar claims collateral for that note is a first priority right to an interest in a securities account at U.S. Bank.
An SEC filing from Flagstar on May 10 provides further detail, stating that the second loan is collateralized by up to $40 million worth of bonds from the Government National Mortgage Association, better known as Ginnie Mae. Live Well had GNMA approval since 2012 to be an issuer of home equity conversion mortgage-backed securities, which are bundles of reverse mortgages.
The bank states that it sent a notice May 3 that Live Well was in default. It demanded payment of the full balance of the notes on May 10 and claims the company and Hild had yet to repay the money as of the time of the filing last week.
Flagstar’s suit still leaves unanswered a lingering question of what specifically caused Live Well to close abruptly on May 3, without giving notice to its employees – and, it appears, without giving notice to at least one of its larger lenders.
Live Well, in a letter to the Virginia Employment Commission on May 3, stated only that “due to sudden and unexpected developments in the markets for certain financial assets the company uses as collateral or certain credit facilities that provide this liquidity, these lenders have reduced significantly the amount of liquidity they make available to the company.”
Flagstar stated in its SEC filing, without explicitly naming Live Well, “We became aware that one of our commercial borrowers was unexpectedly ceasing their reverse mortgage origination business,” showing that it, too, may have been caught by surprise.
While Hild is being hit personally by Flagstar’s complaint, at least one former Live Well employee is suing the company for back pay.
Monica Williams, who worked at Live Well’s headquarters in the Boulders office park in Chesterfield, filed suit May 8, claiming she and fellow employees were terminated without 60 days notice, which the suit claims is required by federal law.
Williams filed the suit as a class-action complaint seeking to recover 60 days’ worth of wages for her and other colleagues in a similar situation, which it estimates to be 125. The company also had an office in San Diego.
Live Well has yet to respond to Williams’ suit, which was filed in Delaware, where the company is incorporated.
Attorney Christopher Loizides in Delaware is representing Williams.