Upson County has signed on as the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae seeking damages for unpaid fees of transfer tax on real estate sales. The county is listed as the lead because the Board of Commissioners signed up as part of the lawsuit on Sept. 5, before any other county. Attorney Ken Hodges, who will be representing Upson and the other 158 counties in the state of Georgia, addressed the board at their Sept. 11 meeting to explain the basis of the lawsuit.
“Originally those entities (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) were public entities and were exempt from paying the transfer tax on real estate sales because the transfer tax portion would have gone to the counties to use for EMS, Parks and Recreation or whatever they deemed necessary,” said Hodges. “However, the entities have not been paying transfer tax since they became privatized and they should be doing so just like any other private entity.”
Hodges added that this same type of lawsuit was recently done in the state of Michigan and the judge has already ruled in favor of the counties, therefore he has no doubt they will win the case here. He also noted that it serves Upson well to be first on the list.
“You will be at the negotiating table through us on your behalf. What we are seeking is past damages of the transfer tax that has not been paid and to make sure it is paid in the future. We are not sure how many dollars are going to come to Upson County, but whatever it is, is a dollar that you didn’t have.”
This also comes at no cost to the county.
“We are doing this on a contingency fee, which means even if we lose, which we won’t because we have already won in Michigan, you (Upson) would owe us nothing,” said Hodges. “And by being first, you will be in a better spot to the pot of money that we get.”
County Attorney Ed Trice stated that there is some money out there, but he is not sure if it is as much as some people may think due to the economy in the last few years. Hodges noted that they are estimating to recover between $10-14 million statewide and while the larger counties proportionally will fare better, he assured the board that Upson will be first in his mind when it comes to dividing the money because it is first on the list.