Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Ins., et al | CA - As is common in many of these "financial meltdown" cases, promissory notes are separated from deeds of trusts, paperwork is often not complete, and the parade of people and entities appears endless... Instead, it rewards parties who, it would appear, have played a major and unlawful role in the theft of someone's home

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Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Ins., et al | CA – Instead, it rewards parties who, it would appear, have played a major and unlawful role in the theft of someone’s home

Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Ins., et al | CA – Instead, it rewards parties who, it would appear, have played a major and unlawful role in the theft of someone’s home

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT
DIVISION EIGHT

MILTON HOWARD GAINES,
Plaintiff and Appellant,

v.

FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY et al.
Defendants and Respondents.

EXCERPT:

This case was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of lawsuits that grew out of the financial meltdown. This litigation is almost the paradigm case: elderly plaintiffs – home owners with substantial equity in their house, mortgage payments two months in arrears – are approached by an employee of their lender with an unsolicited offer to refinance the mortgage based on the lender’s so-called, but false, “preapproval.” This is followed by a bait and switch that sends plaintiffs to the employee’s fiancé, who offers to help with a refinance. The fiancé ends up buying the house with a supposed offer to include lease-back and repurchase options which fail to materialize in the final documentation. In comes the line of assignees and transferees, including ultimate note holder Lehman Brothers, which will not survive the financial crisis. Meanwhile the “assister” pulls out $90,000 in cash from the deal without plaintiffs’ approval but with the aid of the escrow/title insurance company. Later he refinances the property and obtains another $150,000, for a tidy $240,000 fee for his “assistance.” Remarkably, the loan goes into default because the assister does not pay “his” mortgage, and plaintiffs pay an additional $25,000 to $30,000 to avoid foreclosure. Shortly before the lawsuit is filed, one of the plaintiffs dies. During its pendency, the other dies.

I acknowledge that some of these “facts” are allegations to be decided after trial. We do know that plaintiffs settled with Countrywide for $375,000, of which $200,000 represented lost equity, with the rest designated for noneconomic damages. This suggests that there was some fundamental merit to at least some of plaintiffs’ claims, that this was not a sham lawsuit, and this was a lawsuit that demanded the trial court’s exercise of discretion under section 583.340, subdivision (b) to avoid a miscarriage of justice. In my view the dismissal of this lawsuit under the circumstances described defeats the substantial ends of justice.

Instead, it rewards parties who, it would appear, have played a major and unlawful role in the theft of someone’s home.

I would reverse the trial court’s judgment in its entirety.

RUBIN, J.

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3 Responses to “Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Ins., et al | CA – Instead, it rewards parties who, it would appear, have played a major and unlawful role in the theft of someone’s home”

  1. Mike says:

    Thank you for this GREAT POST!

    I think it is important that we acknowledge the fact that there are some really good judges out there and Rubin appears to be one who calls things as he sees them. He displayed his morals and courage, character traits to which his peers should aspire.

    Hopefully, your readers will take the time to read this decision. There is much to be learned.

  2. marilyn lane says:

    I would use the same words Judge Rubin used …reward parties in the major theft of one’s home, in describing how JUDGE ALICE Schlesinger wrote an opinion for Thomas P MALONE OF FIDELITY TITLE
    and David K Fiveson of a scam company he called Coronet Title for their clients in
    Astoria Federal S &L vs. Marilyn lane using a Void ab initio judgment and Schlesinger trying to make it appear as is it were a valid judgment. Here is a case where the Bank admitted they did not own the properties and it was indemnfy indemnify indeminify and the title companies were stepping in to indemnify instead Fidelity and his partner in crime David Fiveson told JUDGE sCHLESINGER THEY HAVE EQUITY AND JUDGE SCHLESINGER TOOK IT AND RULED gainst the Constitution. – another two cases of theft of properties

  3. Steve says:

    The reality is that the plaintiffs were not so victimized in this case as the opinion or the above commentary suggests. They received more than $1 Million in benefits from the sale of the property and the settlement with Countrywide, including nearly $280,000 in cash at the close of escrow, in addition to the Countrywide payment. In addition, they continued to live in the property and still occupy it without paying a dime since the sale in 2006 (other than the voluntary payment of the $25-$30K on the new mortgage), even though they had a mortgage of more than $530,000 on it.

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