KNECHT vs FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., | Big Time Loss for MERS and DB as Trustee in Washington State Federal District Court

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KNECHT vs FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., | Big Time Loss for MERS and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee in Washington State Federal District Court

KNECHT vs FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., | Big Time Loss for MERS and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee in Washington State Federal District Court

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
AT SEATTLE

JOHN KNECHT, et al.,
Plaintiffs,

v.

FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al.,
Defendants.

EXCERPT:

From its inception, Mr. Knecht’s deed of trust ran afoul of the Deed of Trust Act by designating MERS as its beneficiary. The Act declares that the beneficiary of a deed of trust is “the holder of the instrument or document evidencing the obligations secured by the deed of trust . . . .” RCW 61.24.005(2). Banks and other well-heeled financial interests, in an effort to facilitate the easy transfer of mortgage obligations, created MERS in the mid 1990s. Bain, 285 P.3d at 39-40. MERS is, in essence, a database for tracking mortgage rights that permits MERS’s member institutions to transfer mortgage obligations without publicly recording the transfers. Id. In Washington, lenders hoping to take advantage of the MERS system designated MERS as the beneficiary of deeds of trust, just as ABC did in Mr. Knecht’s deed of trust. But it is now clear that Washington law does not permit MERS to act as a beneficiary unless it is also the “holder” of the note secured by the deed of trust. Bain, 285 P.2d at 47.

There is no suggestion that MERS ever held Mr. Knecht’s note, and yet it purported in April 2010 to assign to DB “the Promissory Note secured by [the Knecht] deed of trust and also all rights accrued or to accrue under said Deed of Trust.” The assignment, which is recorded in King County, was executed by “MERS as nominee for [ABC],” but there is no evidence that ABC actually authorized MERS to effect the transfer. See Bavand v. OneWest Bank, FSB, 309 P.3d 636, 649 (Wash. Ct. App. 2013) (noting MERS’s failure to establish its agency relationship with a noteholder).

There is no dispute in this case that MERS lacked the power to transfer anything to DB. DB does not rest its claim to be the beneficiary of Mr. Knecht’s deed of trust on the MERS assignment, or at least it does not do so in these motions. Indeed, DB consistently refuses to acknowledge that MERS purported to assign not only the deed of trust, but Mr. Knecht’s note as well. DB avoids the MERS assignment, it appears, because it prefers that the court not focus on that apparently void transfer of the deed of trust and note. DB prefers that the court conclude that it acquired its interest in the deed of trust and note without MERS’s assistance.

Even assuming that Mr. Knecht bears the burden to prove that DB is not the beneficiary of his deed of trust, an issue the court does not decide,3the evidence he has provided is sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact that only a trial can resolve. Mr. Knecht has offered two pieces of evidence: his original note and deed of trust, in which DB held no interest; and the MERS assignment, which was a legal nullity. A trier of fact could determine that this evidence makes it more likely than not that DB has no valid interest in Mr. Knecht’s note or deed of trust.

[…]

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One Response to “KNECHT vs FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., | Big Time Loss for MERS and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee in Washington State Federal District Court”

  1. The Motherlode says:

    Washington State is kicking some big banker booty! Bye bye MERS!

    CELEBRATIONS ABOUND!!!

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