Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo
EAST NAPLES — Some friends questioned whether it was a good idea to show up at a Bank of America branch with a repo van, demanding that the bank pay up.
Yet rookie attorney Todd Allen still took the chance and it has paid off.
Allen made national news when he arrived at a Bank of America branch on Davis Boulevard in East Naples in June 2011 with Collier County sheriff's deputies, a moving company and a court writ permitting them to seize furniture and cash to satisfy the $2,500 judgment. It was a last alternative.
He left after the branch manager cut a check for the judgment and expenses incurred in executing the levy.
"I rolled the dice," said Allen, who had been a lawyer for eight months at the time. "It could have backfired. It could have been a career-limiting move, but I felt that I had to take the risk and do it."
The Ave Maria School of Law graduate became a national mini-celebrity after he sued Bank of America in 2011 because it mistakenly tried to foreclose on a couple's home.
Bank of America tried to foreclose on Warren and Maureen Nyerges' Golden Gate Estates home in 2010. But their home had been fully paid for and didn't have a mortgage.
It was a mistake that was reported by the media. The story also was featured on the "Daily Show" on Comedy Central.
"Daily Show" correspondent John Oliver told the story of how Allen showed up with repo men to foreclose on a banking giant, making everyone laugh.
"That is the single, greatest story I have ever heard," Oliver said on the show.
Oliver told the trio that the case could turn into a movie. That's exactly what happened. A movie on the big screen is in the works, according to the attorney and couple.
Bank of America representatives couldn't be reached for comment for this story.
Allen said his life has changed quite a bit. He never anticipated getting nationwide attention.
"After that, my career took off," said the 35-year-old East Naples resident who is originally from Utah. "I started getting a lot more business and a lot more referrals."
Allen, of the Naples firm Goede & Adamczyk, is voluntarily taking more free cases and quickly became a national media source for the foreclosure crisis.
The couple still lives in their house.
Warren Nyerges, 48, said their lives haven't really changed. Occasionally, the couple gives advice about how they handled the bank in court to people all over the country who call them.
"Now, with the bank off our back, we can relax," Warren Nyerges said.
What surprised Allen the most was receiving calls from people out of the state all facing foreclosures, he said.
Allen said that case helped him understand how big the national foreclosure crisis is and the impact it has on homeowners.
"It opened my eyes to the depth and the scope of the foreclosure crisis," he said.
Despite all of his efforts, Allen said banks still aren't helping homeowners nearly enough, even today.
In summer 2011, Allen and the Nyergeses signed with a producer in Los Angeles and entered into a contract to make a movie.
"The idea is being shopped around to movie houses but nothing has happened yet," Allen said.
Allen said he doesn't have a preference of which company decides to do the film as long as the scope of the foreclosure crisis and the impact it has on people is accurate.
When asked who he wants to play his part, the married father of three children said he really doesn't care.
"I just want it to be funny," he said of the movie.
Warren Nyerges said he doesn't have a preference of which actor plays his role, as long as he is handsome.
"It would make an amusing story," he said about the potential film.