California’s top lawyer urged the state’s Supreme Court on Friday to rule that mortgage servicers owe a duty of care to distressed borrowers seeking to modify their loans, which he said would protect homeowners from unnecessary foreclosure in times of economic crisis.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote in an amicus brief that the court should overturn a lower appeals court’s ruling and allow homeowners to sue mortgage servicers for negligence in handling loan modifications. He said that doing so would prevent servicers from delaying or otherwise mishandling the requests as occurred during the 2008 recession.

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