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Ruiz v. 1st FIDELITY LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Minn: Court of Appeals “foreclosure by advertisement is void for failure to strictly comply with sections 580.02 and 580.032″

Ruiz v. 1st FIDELITY LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Minn: Court of Appeals “foreclosure by advertisement is void for failure to strictly comply with sections 580.02 and 580.032″


Doris Ruiz, Appellant,
v.
1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC, Respondent.

No. A11-1081.
Court of Appeals of Minnesota.
Filed March 12, 2012.
 

Jonathan L. R. Drewes, Michael J. Wang, Drewes Law, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellant.

David R. Mortensen, Christina Weber, Wilford, Geske & Cook, P.A., Woodbury, Minnesota, for respondent.

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Larkin, Judge; and Cleary, Judge.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

LARKIN, Judge.

Appellant challenges the district court’s award of summary judgment for respondent, arguing that the district court erroneously concluded that respondent’s foreclosure by advertisement was valid despite respondent’s failure to strictly comply with certain statutory requirements. Because Minnesota Supreme Court precedent requires strict compliance with statutory requirements in a foreclosure by advertisement and because there are genuine issues of material fact regarding appellant’s unlawful-eviction claim, we reverse and remand.

FACTS

On June 30, 2005, appellant Doris Ruiz executed a mortgage on a duplex located in Minneapolis. By September 2008, appellant had failed to make payments on the underlying debt and defaulted on the mortgage. On September 21, 2009, the mortgage was assigned to respondent 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC. Respondent recorded the mortgage assignment on November 17. But the recording identified respondent as 1st Fidelity instead of 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC. Later, respondent initiated a foreclosure by advertisement.

Beginning on May 18, 2010, respondent published a notice of foreclosure sale for six consecutive weeks in a designated legal newspaper. On that same day, respondent filed a foreclosure-pendency notice with the Hennepin County Recorder and re-recorded the September 2009 mortgage assignment to accurately state respondent’s legal name as 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC. A foreclosure sale was held on November 30,[1] and respondent purchased the property. Appellant failed to redeem the property, and the redemption period expired on January 4, 2011.

After the redemption period expired, a real estate agent visited the property at respondent’s request. The agent concluded that although appellant continued to occupy the lower unit of the duplex, the upper unit was vacant. The agent executed an affidavit stating that the upper unit was dark and free of typical signs of occupancy, such as items in the window.

Based on the agent’s representations, respondent hired a handyman to change the locks to the upper unit. The handyman executed an affidavit stating that he changed the locks on the front and back doors. The affidavit states that he only saw a chair, a plant stand, and a few miscellaneous items in the unit; he did not observe a television, entertainment center, dishes in the kitchen, or any of the “usual items one would see in an occupied residence”; the items that were in the unit were disorganized; the counters were clear of items associated with residency such as soap dispensers; and no mail or newspapers were visible in the unit. Based on his observations, he concluded that no one resided in the upper unit.

After discovering that the locks to the upper unit had been changed, appellant called the real estate agent. The agent asserts that appellant was “quite angry” and would not allow him “to get a word in to the conversation.” The agent called appellant back and left her a voicemail, offering to provide her with a key to the upper unit. Appellant did not respond to the voicemail. Instead, appellant forcibly entered the upper unit, damaging the door and doorframe in the process.

Appellant filed suit against respondent on February 3, seeking a declaration that the foreclosure sale was “null and void” because respondent failed to strictly comply with the statutes that govern a foreclosure by advertisement. Appellant asserted three instances of inadequate compliance: failure to accurately record the September 2009 mortgage assignment prior to publication of the foreclosure notice; failure to record the foreclosure-pendency notice prior to publication of the foreclosure notice; and failure to provide appellant with a pre-foreclosure counseling notice. Appellant also asserted wrongful-eviction and quiet-title claims, seeking monetary damages on the wrongful-eviction claim and “[j]udgment quieting title to the Subject Property in [appellant]’s name” on the quiet-title claim. Respondent moved to dismiss, or in the alternative for summary judgment, all of appellant’s claims. Appellant moved for summary judgment on her invalid-foreclosure and quiet-title claims. The district court denied appellant’s motion but awarded summary judgment for respondent, dismissing all of appellant’s claims with prejudice. This appeal follows.

DECISION

“A motion for summary judgment shall be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993). “[T]here is no genuine issue of material fact for trial when the nonmoving party presents evidence which merely creates a metaphysical doubt as to a factual issue and which is not sufficiently probative with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case to permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions.” DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 71 (Minn. 1997). “[T]he party resisting summary judgment must do more than rest on mere averments.” Id.

“[Appellate courts] review a district court’s summary judgment decision de novo. In doing so, we determine whether the district court properly applied the law and whether there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment.” Riverview Muir Doran, LLC v. JADT Dev. Grp., LLC, 790 N.W.2d 167, 170 (Minn. 2010) (citation omitted). “On appeal, the reviewing court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was granted.” Fabio, 504 N.W.2d at 761.

I.

Appellant argues that the foreclosure is void because respondent failed to strictly comply with certain statutory requirements. Respondent argues, and the district court agreed, that respondent substantially complied with the statutes and that substantial compliance is sufficient. We disagree.

In 1910, the Minnesota Supreme Court adopted a strict-compliance standard in foreclosure-by-advertisement proceedings, stating:

Foreclosure by advertisement is purely a statutory creation. One who avails himself of its provisions must show an exact and literal compliance with its terms; otherwise he is bound to profess without authority of law. If what he does failed to comply with the requirements of the statute, it is void.

Moore v. Carlson, 112 Minn. 433, 434, 128 N.W. 578, 579 (1910). The supreme court has recently reiterated this strict-compliance requirement, citing Moore for the principle that “[u]nder Minnesota law, a foreclosure by advertisement—non-judicial mortgage foreclosure—is only valid if the party seeking to foreclose the mortgage meets certain statutory requirements.” Jackson v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 770 N.W.2d 487, 492 (Minn. 2009). The legal question in Jackson was “what constitutes an assignment of a mortgage within the meaning of Minnesota’s foreclosure by advertisement statutory scheme.” Id. at 489. In resolving this question, the supreme court reviewed the history of Minnesota’s foreclosure-by-advertisement statutes and explained that:

Foreclosure by advertisement was developed as a non-judicial form of foreclosure designed to avoid the delay and expense of judicial proceedings. Because foreclosure by advertisement is a purely statutory creation, the statutes are strictly construed. We require a foreclosing party to show exact compliance with the terms of the statutes. If the foreclosing party fails to strictly comply with the statutory requirements, the foreclosure proceeding is void.

Id. at 494 (emphasis added) (quotations and citations omitted).

Jackson concluded with a statement that “[a]s a court that reviews and interprets the laws of this state, we must apply the foreclosure by advertisement statutes as they have been written by the legislature and as they have been applied and interpreted in the past.” Id. at 502-03. The supreme court’s statements regarding the strict-compliance standard, although dicta, are entitled to “great weight.” In re Wylde, 454 N.W.2d 423, 425 (Minn. 1990); see Simons v. Shiltz, 741 N.W.2d 907, 910 (Minn. App. 2007) (relying on dicta in a supreme court opinion), review denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 2008). Moreover, the statements provide no indication that the court is willing to depart from the standard that it adopted in 1910.

Despite the supreme court’s recent reiteration of the strict-compliance requirement, the district court accepted respondent’s arguments that substantial compliance with foreclosure-by-advertisement statutory requirements is nonetheless sufficient. The district court reasoned: “Although [appellant]’s reading of Jackson is technically correct, [appellant] does not take into account the entire context of decisions concerning foreclosure and real property, and that minor errors should not and do not invalidate a foreclosure.”

In concluding that substantial compliance is sufficient, the district court relied on Hudson v. Upper Mich. Land Co., 165 Minn. 172, 206 N.W. 44 (1925), Sieve v. Rosar, 613 N.W.2d 789 (Minn. App. 2000), and State by Spannaus v. Dangers, 368 N.W.2d 384 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1985). This reliance was misplaced. Although language in Hudson is inconsistent with the strict-compliance standard, see Hudson, 165 Minn. at 174, 206 N.W. at 45 (“Whether a sale on the foreclosure of a mortgage pursuant to a power of sale is void or voidable by reason of an irregularity in the proceedings depends upon the nature of the irregularity.”), Hudson does not provide a basis to reject the supreme court’s much more recent reiteration of the strict-compliance standard in Jackson. And Rosar and Dangers are factually distinguishable and therefore not on point. See Rosar, 613 N.W.2d at 793 (requiring only substantial compliance to effect a valid redemption after a foreclosure sale); Dangers, 368 N.W.2d at 386 (requiring only substantial compliance in condemnation proceedings).

The district court also reasoned that “[i]n the foreclosure and real property context, [appellant]’s reliance on Jackson and the standard of strict compliance is inflexible and does not correspond to the reality of the foreclosure process.” But the supreme court clearly requires strict compliance with the foreclosure-by-advertisement statutes, and “[t]he district court, like this court, is bound by supreme court precedent.” State v. M.L.A., 785 N.W.2d 763, 767 (Minn. App. 2010), review denied (Minn. Sept. 21, 2010). We therefore review respondent’s foreclosure by advertisement for strict compliance with the relevant statutory requirements.

Recording of the Mortgage Assignment

Minn. Stat. § 580.02 (2010) requires that all assignments of a mortgage be recorded as “a condition precedent to the right to foreclose by advertisement.” Jackson, 770 N.W.2d at 497. “[P]roceedings to foreclose a real estate mortgage by advertisement shall be deemed commenced on the date of the first publication of the notice of sale.” Minn. Stat. § 541.03, subd. 2 (2010).

The mortgage in this case was assigned to respondent in September 2009, and the assignment was recorded on November 17. But this recording inaccurately stated respondent’s legal name. The notice of foreclosure sale was published on May 18, 2010. On May 18, respondent once again recorded the September 2009 mortgage assignment to correct the inaccuracy in the first recording. Appellant argues that because respondent did not accurately record the mortgage assignment prior to publishing the notice of sale, the foreclosure is invalid. Respondent counters that the November 2009 recording was sufficient and that it only re-recorded the assignment “out of an abundance of caution.” But respondent offers no legal argument or authority indicating that the first recording was legally sufficient even though it inaccurately stated the assignee’s legal name. And the second recording was untimely under Minn. Stat. § 580.02. Because respondent failed to strictly comply with section 580.02, “the foreclosure proceeding is void.” Jackson, 770 N.W.2d at 494.

Recording of the Notice of Pendency

A person foreclosing a mortgage by advertisement shall record a notice of the pendency of the foreclosure with the county recorder or registrar of titles in the county in which the property is located before the first date of publication of the foreclosure notice but not more than six months before the first date of publication.

Minn. Stat. § 580.032, subd. 3 (2010).

Appellant argues that respondent failed to satisfy this requirement, because it recorded the notice of pendency on the first date of publication. The district court disagreed, relying on a substantial-compliance standard. The district court reasoned that “[respondent] sent the Notice of Pendency for recording on May 14, 2010 by personal courier and attempted to have the Notice of Pendency recorded prior to the first date of publication.” But the date that respondent attempted to record the notice is irrelevant. See Jackson, 770 N.W.2d at 494 (stating that the supreme court requires “a foreclosing party to show exact compliance with the terms of the statutes” (quotation omitted)). Because respondent failed to strictly comply with section 580.032, subd. 3, “the foreclosure proceeding is void.” Id.

Having concluded that respondent’s foreclosure by advertisement is void for failure to strictly comply with sections 580.02 and 580.032, we reverse the district court’s summary-judgment dismissal of appellant’s claims under these sections. And we remand for entry of judgment for appellant on these claims, as well as on her quiet-title claim. It is therefore unnecessary to review the district court’s dismissal of appellant’s claim that the foreclosure is void because respondent did not provide appellant with a pre-foreclosure counseling notice under Minn. Stat. § 580.021, subd. 2 (2010).

II.

Appellant argues that respondent wrongfully evicted her from the upper unit of the property, asserting that because the upper unit was not vacant, respondent was not authorized to change the locks to the unit. See Minn. Stat. § 582.031, subd. 1(a) (2010) (“If premises described in a mortgage or sheriff’s certificate are vacant or unoccupied, the holder of the mortgage or sheriff’s certificate or the holder’s agents and contractors may enter upon the premises to protect the premises from waste and trespass, until the holder of the mortgage or sheriff’s certificate receives notice that the premises are occupied.”). The district court granted summary judgment because “[a]lthough [appellant] denies that the Upper Unit was vacant, she does not adequately rebut [respondent]’s evidence. Essentially, [appellant]’s evidence is conclusory in nature, and she has not pointed to any specific, admissible facts in the record to overcome [respondent]’s assertions or the standard for summary judgment.” We disagree.

Appellant’s affidavit states: “When speaking with [respondent’s real estate agent] . . . in January 2011, I specifically told him that my family occupies both units in the duplex. . . . Upon the contractor’s entry into the property, furniture, clothes, and all normal items demonstrating occupancy would have been readily apparent to the intruding contractor.” Appellant also submitted utility bills showing gas and electricity usage at the unit. Appellant’s affidavit is no more conclusory than the affidavits that respondent submitted in support of summary judgment. Moreover, the real estate agent’s affidavit acknowledges that appellant informed him, before respondent changed the locks, that “her family had a right to have access to both upper and lower units.” On this record, there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the upper unit was “vacant or unoccupied” under Minn. Stat. § 582.031, subd. 1(a).

The district court also reasoned that “even if . . . there remains a genuine issue of material fact that is in dispute,” it could not “ignore the actions of [appellant] in this matter” in re-entering the upper unit because neither party is entitled to self-help. In arriving at this conclusion, the district court appears to have weighed the evidence, which is not permitted on summary judgment. See Fairview Hosp. & Health Care Servs. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 535 N.W.2d 337, 341 (Minn. 1995) (“It is axiomatic that on a summary judgment motion a court may not weigh the evidence or make factual determinations, but must take the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.”). We therefore reverse the district court’s award of summary judgment to respondent on appellant’s wrongful-eviction claim and remand for further proceedings on this claim.

Reversed and remanded.

[1] The foreclosure sale was originally scheduled for June 30, 2010, but appellant filed an affidavit to postpone the sale for five months in exchange for reduction of the redemption period from six months to five weeks.

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Richard v. Schneiderman & Sherman et al – MI SC instead of granting leave to appeal, VACATED the judgment & remanded the case pursuant to Res. Funding v. Saurman

Richard v. Schneiderman & Sherman et al – MI SC instead of granting leave to appeal, VACATED the judgment & remanded the case pursuant to Res. Funding v. Saurman


Michigan Supreme Court
Lansing, Michigan

January 30, 2012

AARON RICHARD,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

v

SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, P.C.,
Defendant-Appellant,

and

GMAC MORTGAGE, and MORTGAGE
ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS,
INC.,
Defendants-Appellees.
_________________________________________/

By order of December 29, 2011, the proceedings in this case were automatically
stayed by the filing of a petition in bankruptcy. On order of the Court, the bankruptcy
stay having been lifted and the case having been reopened, the application for leave to
appeal the August 25, 2011 judgment of the Court of Appeals is considered and, pursuant
to MCR 7.302(H)(1), in lieu of granting leave to appeal, we VACATE the judgment of
the Court of Appeals and we REMAND this case to the Court of Appeals for
reconsideration in light of Residential Funding Co, LLC, f/k/a Residential Funding Corp
v Saurman, 490 Mich ___ (decided November 16, 2011).

MARILYN KELLY, J., would grant leave to appeal.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (0)

Iowa Class Action Against CitiMortgage “agressively and falsely advertised its commitment to help homeowners obtain affordable loan modifications.”

Iowa Class Action Against CitiMortgage “agressively and falsely advertised its commitment to help homeowners obtain affordable loan modifications.”


H/T   Adam Belz

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
CENTRAL DIVISION

KEITH GOODYK, on behalf of himself and all
others similarly situated,
Plaintiff,

V.

CITIMORTGAGE, INC.,
Defendant.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

Richard v. SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, PC | MI Appeals Court Vacates, Reversed/Remands “MERS is not entitled to utilize foreclosure by advertisement where it does not own the underlying note”

Richard v. SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, PC | MI Appeals Court Vacates, Reversed/Remands “MERS is not entitled to utilize foreclosure by advertisement where it does not own the underlying note”


AARON RICHARD, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, P.C., GMAC MORTGAGE and MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 297353.

Court of Appeals of Michigan.

August 11, 2011, 9:00 a.m.

Before: BORRELLO, P.J., and METER and SHAPIRO, JJ.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiff, Aaron Richard, appeals as of right an order granting summary disposition in favor of defendants, Schneiderman & Sherman, P.C. (Schneiderman), GMAC Mortgage (GMAC), and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS). We reverse the trial court’s grant of summary disposition, vacate the foreclosure proceeding, and remand further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

This case arises from plaintiff’s attempts to challenge the foreclosure and sale of property he owned located at 19952 Hubbell in Detroit. Plaintiff purchased the property in part through a $50,000 loan, executed on May 4, 2006, from Homecomings Financial Network, Inc. The loan was secured by a May 4, 2006, mortgage with MERS, as the nominee of Homecomings.

It is not clear from the record when plaintiff fell behind on his mortgage payments. However, on October 9, 2009, Schneiderman, acting as GMAC’s agent, mailed plaintiff a notice stating that his mortgage was in default and informing him of his rights, including to request mediation. The outstanding debt owed to GMAC was listed as $50,267.78. Ultimately, MERS began non-judicial foreclosure by advertisement under MCL 600.3201, et seq., and purchased the property at the subsequent sheriff’s sale.

Plaintiff filed suit, in pro per, during the redemption period, alleging that the sheriff’s sale was “flawed” on numerous grounds and asserted that MERS did not hold any rights to the debt. Defendants filed for summary disposition, asserting, among other things, that the sheriff’s sale was “not only legal, but also valid, as all required procedures were followed.” The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of defendants and dismissed plaintiff’s claim.

Although many of plaintiff’s claims are without merit, it is clear that the sheriff’s sale was invalid because, although MERS was only a mortgagee, MERS foreclosed on plaintiff’s property utilizing non-judicial foreclosure by advertisement. This Court has held that MERS is not entitled to utilize foreclosure by advertisement where it does not own the underlying note. Residential Funding Co, Inc v Saurman, ___ Mich App ___; ___ NW2d ___ (Docket Nos. 290248, 291443; April 21, 2011), slip op at 11. Under such circumstances, “MERS’ inability to comply with the statutory requirements rendered the foreclosure proceedings . . . void ab initio.Id. Because the application of Saurman is dispositive, we must determine whether Saurman is retroactive and, if so, whether to assign it full or limited retroactivity.

“[T]he general rule is that judicial decisions are to be given complete retroactive effect.” Hyde v Univ of Mich Bd of Regents, 426 Mich 223, 240; 393 NW2d 847 (1986). “Complete prospective application has generally been limited to decisions which overrule clear and uncontradicted case law.” Id.

Rules determined in opinions that apply retroactively apply to all cases “still open on direct review and as to all events, regardless of whether such events predate or postdate our announcement of the rule[s].” Harper v Virginia Dep’t of Taxation, 509 US 86, 97, 113 S Ct 2510, 125 L Ed 2d 74 (1993). Rules determined in opinions that apply prospectively only, on the other hand, not only do not apply to cases still open on direct review, but do not even apply to the parties in the cases in which the rules are declared. See Pohutski v City of Allen Park, 465 Mich 675, 699, 641 NW2d 219 (2002). [McNeel v Farm Bureau Ins, 289 Mich App 76, 94; 795 NW2d 205 (2010).]

Given that this Court applied its holding to the cases in Saurman, it is clear that the holding in Saurman has been afforded at least limited retroactivity.[1] However, cases given limited retroactivity apply “in pending cases where the issue had been raised and preserved,” Stein v Southeastern Mich Family Planning Project, Inc, 432 Mich 198, 201; 438 NW2d 876 (1989), while cases with full retroactivity apply to all cases then pending. This distinction makes a difference because, although plaintiff contested the foreclosure, he did not specifically raise and preserve the issue of whether MERS has the authority to foreclose by advertisement. Thus, Saurman is only applicable to this case if it is granted full retroactivity.

“The threshold question is whether `the decision clearly established a new principle of law.'” Rowland v Washtenaw Co Rd Comm, 477 Mich 197, 220; 731 NW2d 41 (2007) (citation omitted). Our Supreme Court has held that cases that properly interpret statutes, even if prior caselaw has held differently, “restore[] legitimacy to the law” and, thus, are “not a declaration of a new rule, but . . . a vindication of controlling legal authority.” Id. at 222 (quotation marks and citation omitted). In Saurman, this Court interpreted MCL 600.3204(1)(d). There was no existing caselaw and, therefore, it did not overrule any law or reconstrue a statute. See Hyde, 426 Mich at 240. Consequently, this Court’s decision in Saurman was not “tantamount to a new rule of law,” see Rowland, 477 Mich at 222 n 17, and, therefore should be given full retroactive effect.[2] Hence, Saurman is applicable to the instant case, rendering the foreclosure proceedings void ab initio. Saurman, ___ Mich App at ___, slip op at 11.

Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary disposition, vacate the foreclosure proceeding, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We do not retain jurisdiction.

[1] In addition, “there is a serious question as to whether it is constitutionally legitimate for this Court to render purely prospective opinions, as such ruling are, in essence, advisory opinions.” Rowland v Washtenaw Co Rd Comm, 477 Mich 197, 221; 731 NW2d 41 (2007), quoting Wayne Co v Hathcock, 471 Mich 445, 485 n 98; 684 NW2d 765 (2004).

[2] We reiterate the general rule that a retroactive decision cannot serve to reopen those cases that are already closed. Thus, where the time to oppose the foreclosure by advertisement, the time to oppose the resulting eviction, and the time to appeal from those actions have run, a party may not rely on Saurman in an attempt to reopen those cases to recover possession or ownership.

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BAKRI v MERS, BONY, TROTT & TROTT PC | Michigan Appeals Court REVERSED “MERS did not have the authority to foreclose by advertisement, No interest in Note”

BAKRI v MERS, BONY, TROTT & TROTT PC | Michigan Appeals Court REVERSED “MERS did not have the authority to foreclose by advertisement, No interest in Note”


S T A T E  O F  M I C H I G A N
C O U R T  O F  A P P E A L S

ALLEN BAKRI,
Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEM, MERSCORP INC, BANK OF NEW
YORK MELLON, f/k/a BANK OF NEW YORK,
and TROTT & TROTT PC
,
Defendants-Appellees.

EXCERPT:

Although we find that the trial court properly concluded that defendant MERS had the
right to assign the mortgage to defendant Bank of New York Mellon and that defendant Bank of
New York Mellon had the power to foreclose on and sell the property, our inquiry does not end
there. There is another layer to the analysis, which involves an issue not raised by the parties,
but decided in our recent decision in Residential Funding Co, LLC v Saurman, ___ Mich App
___; ___ NW2d ___ (Docket Nos. 290248 & 291443; April 21, 2011) (Shapiro, J.). In Saurman,
the issue was whether a mortgagee who was not the note holder could foreclose by advertisement
under MCL 600.3204(1)(d). Saurman, slip op pp 7-8. We held that under MCL 600.3204(1)(d),
the Legislature has limited foreclosure by advertisement to those parties with ownership of an
interest in the note and that because the mortgagee was not “the owner . . . of an interest in the
indebtedness secured by the mortgage[,]” MCL 600.3204(1)(d), it lacked the authority to
foreclose by advertisement:

Applying these considerations to the present case, it becomes obvious that
MERS did not have the authority to foreclose by advertisement on defendants’
properties. Pursuant to the mortgages, defendants were the mortgagors and
MERS was the mortgagee. However, it was the plaintiff lenders that lent
defendants money pursuant to the terms of the notes. MERS, as mortgagee, only
held an interest in the property as security for the note, not an interest in the note
itself. MERS could not attempt to enforce the notes nor could it obtain any
payment on the loans on its own behalf or on behalf of the lender. Moreover, the
mortgage specifically clarified that, although MERS was the mortgagee, MERS
held “only legal title to the interest granted” by defendants in the mortgage.
Consequently, the interest in the mortgage represented, at most, an interest in
defendants’ properties. MERS was not referred to in any way in the notes and
only Homecomings held the notes. The record evidence establishes that MERS
owned neither the notes, nor an interest, legal share, or right in the notes. The
only interest MERS possessed was in the properties through the mortgages.
Given that the notes and mortgages are separate documents, evidencing separate
obligations and interests, MERS’ interest in the mortgage did not give it an
interest in the debt. [Saurman, slip op pp 10-11 (emphasis in original; footnote
omitted).]

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