Homeowners are claiming that Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, refused to offer them permanent loan workouts for which they were qualified, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The court said that Wells Fargo was required under the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) to offer workouts to borrowers who were found eligible during a trial period. The Aug. 8 decision reversed dismissals by a San Francisco federal judge of two lawsuits seeking class-action status. The appellate court rejected the argument that Wells Fargo became bound only when sending borrowers signed modification contracts, saying that such a policy would allow the bank to turn away modification requests "for any reason whatsoever -- interest rates went up, the economy soured, [or] it just didn't like the borrower." The ruling applies in several western U.S. states -- including California, Arizona, and Nevada -- that have been harshly affected by foreclosures.