Michigan, Ingham & Branch Counties file class action lawsuit against MERS

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Michigan, Ingham & Branch Counties file class action lawsuit against MERS

Michigan, Ingham & Branch Counties file class action lawsuit against MERS

For immediate release:  November 15th, 2011

CONTACT:  Curtis Hertel Jr., Ingham County Register of Deeds, Ph:  517-281-3574

Ingham & Branch Counties file class action lawsuit against MERS

Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. & Branch County Register of Deeds Nancy Hutchins have filed a new lawsuit in the 30th Circuit Court, against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.  The lawsuit alleges that MERS has avoided paying state and county transfer taxes that would have been due on multiple property deeds filed within the last decade.  The transfers usually took place shortly following sheriff’s sales on foreclosed homes.

                “This is another case we’ve found, where the state’s residents have been shortchanged by questionable bank practices”, said Hertel.  “This is money that is intended for public education funds on the state level, and money that the county could have used for local programs like health and police.  The law requires that transfer tax is paid on the value of a property, whenever that property is transferred on a document such as a deed.  The big banks have found multiple ways of dodging those taxes.”

                The lawsuit was filed as a class-action, which means that other counties around Michigan are free to join the suit.  Ingham County and Branch County are the two current plaintiffs.  Hertel is hoping that other Registers from Michigan’s 83 counties will join the action.

                “It’s time for this nonsense to stop”, said the Branch County Register Nancy Hutchins.  “These organizations need to step up to the plate, pay the transfer tax that is due and stop claiming exemptions that by law they are not entitled to.”

                “MERS has transformed the entire mortgage industry into a giant shell game”, said Hertel.  “The current servicer of a mortgage is no longer a matter of public record, and once a property is foreclosed, the real games begin, as deeds and other paperwork are filed in such a way as to avoid transfer taxes at every step.   Property ownership is clouded, and the simple task of collecting transfer tax has been turned into this legal battle, largely because of the involvement of MERS.”

                The lawsuit also lists many of the country’s largest banks, as well as individual officers of MERS, as defendants in the case.  Because MERS has represented and acted in the stead of dozens of different banks in property transactions, Hertel & Hutchins are hoping that the court action will bring clarity to the issue of these delinquent taxes.

                Ingham County residents can ask questions about the lawsuit at a pair of town-hall meetings being held this week.  As part of a series of meetings that Hertel has been convening in various communities across the county this year, there are meetings this week on Tuesday in Okemos, and Thursday in Lansing.  The meeting on Tuesday will take place at Okemos High School, in the 2nd floor library, at 5:30pm, and the meeting on Thursday will take place at the Lansing Church of God in Christ, at 5304 Wise Road, also at 5:30pm.  Citizens can get questions answered about how the foreclosure crisis has affected Ingham County, and also get legal help if they are facing such a problem with their own home.

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