Assignment Of Mortgage | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Tag Archive | "assignment of mortgage"

THIS WEBSITE IS FOR SALE

THIS WEBSITE IS FOR SALE


Greetings everyone,

After 5+ years, I am selling this site that is very well established. I feel the site is best suited for those who practice in defending homes i.e. attorney(s)/forensic auditors/debt consultants/non-profit/ etc.. Ultimately, I would like to find 1 or a group of attorneys that might want to pool in together from across the country. 1,000’s of hours have been carefully dedicated to what the site has grown to become today and for its historical participation of exposing the truth behind massive fraudulent paperwork.

Serious inquiries only. I will consider staying on to continue managing the website.

For more information, please email me at info@stopforeclosurefraud.com

 

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Ohio Supreme Court Oral Arguments: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. v. Duane Schwartzwald et al.

Ohio Supreme Court Oral Arguments: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. v. Duane Schwartzwald et al.


How can you commence an action if you don’t have the proof you’re entitled to to enforce the action in the first place?

Must Lender Have Current Ownership Interest in Promissory Note or Mortgage at the Time Foreclosure Action Is Filed?

Or May Lack of Standing Be ‘Cured’ Through Mortgage Assignment Before Judgment?

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. v. Duane Schwartzwald et al., Case nos. 2011-1201 and 2011-1362
Second District Court of Appeals (Greene County)

ISSUE: If a party files a lawsuit to foreclose on a mortgage and it is later shown that party did not have a current ownership interest in the mortgage or the underlying promissory note on the date the foreclosure action was filed, is the court required to dismiss the suit based on the plaintiff’s lack of standing to bring it? Or may the plaintiff “cure” a defect in standing or in naming the actual party in interest under Civil Rule 17(A) by obtaining an assignment of the mortgage prior to the court’s entry of a judgment in the case?

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RePOST: Open Letter to all attorneys who aren’t PSA literate by April Charney

RePOST: Open Letter to all attorneys who aren’t PSA literate by April Charney


Via: Max Gardner

Are You PSA Literate?

.

We are pleased to present this guest post by April Charney.

If you are an attorney trying to help people save their homes, you had better be PSA literate or you won’t even begin to scratch the surface of all you can do to save their homes. This is an open letter to all attorneys who aren’t PSA literate but show up in court to protect their client’s homes.

First off, what is a PSA? After the original loans are pooled and sold, a trust hires a servicer to service the loans and make distributions to investors. The agreement between depositor and the trust and the truste and the servicer is called the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA).

According to UCC § 3-301 a “person entitled to enforce” the promissory note, if negotiable, is limited to:

(1) The holder of the instrument;

(2) A nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder; or

(3) A person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to section 3-309 or section 3-418(d).

A person may be a person entitled to enforce the instrument even though the person is not the owner of the instrument or is in wrongful possession of the instrument.

Although “holder” is not defined in UCC § 3-301, it is defined in § 1-201 for our purposes to mean a person in possession of a negotiable note payable to bearer or to the person in possession of the note.

So we now know who can enforce the obligation to pay a debt evidenced by a negotiable note. We can debate whether a note is negotiable or not, but I won’t make that debate here.

Under § 1-302 persons can agree “otherwise” that where an instrument is transferred for value and the transferee does not become a holder because of lack of indorsement by the transferor, that the transferee is granted a special right to enforce an “unqualified” indorsement by the transferor, but the code does not “create” negotiation until the indorsement is actually made.

So, that section allows a transferee to enforce a note without a qualifying endorsement only when the note is transferred for value.? Then, under § 1-302 (a) the effect of provisions of the UCC may be varied by agreement. This provision includes the right and ability of persons to vary everything described above by agreement.

This is where you MUST get into the PSA. You cannot avoid it. You can get the judges to this point. I did it in an email. Show your judge this post.

If you can’t find the PSA for your case, use the PSA next door that you can find on at www.secinfo.com. The provisions of the PSA that concern transfer of loans (and servicing, good faith and almost everything else) are fairly boilerplate and so PSAs are fairly interchangeable for many purposes. You have to get the PSA and the mortgage loan purchase agreement and the hearsay bogus electronic list of loans before the court. You have to educate your judge about the lack of credibility or effect of the lifeless list of loans as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act specifically exempts Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities from its application. Also, you have to get your judge to understand that the plaintiff has given up the power to accept the transfer of a note in default and under the conditions presented to the court (out of time, no delivery receipts, etc). Without the PSA you cannot do this.

Additionally the PSA becomes rich when you look at § 1-302 (b) which says that the obligations of good faith, diligence, reasonableness and care prescribed by the code may not be disclaimed by agreement, but may be enhanced or modified by an agreement which determine the standards by which the performance of the obligations of good faith, diligence reasonableness and care are to be measured. These agreed to standards of good faith, etc. are enforceable under the UCC if the standards are “not manifestly unreasonable.”

The PSA also has impact on when or what acts have to occur under the UCC because § 1-302 (c) allows parties to vary the “effect of other provisions” of the UCC by agreement.

Through the PSA, it is clear that the plaintiff cannot take an interest of any kind in the loan by way of an A to D” assignment of a mortgage and certainly cannot take an interest in the note in this fashion.

Without the PSA and the limitations set up in it “by agreement of the parties”, there is no avoiding the mortgage following the note and where the UCC gives over the power to enforce the note, so goes the power to foreclose on the mortgage.

So, arguing that the Trustee could only sue on the note and not foreclose is not correct analysis without the PSA.? Likewise, you will not defeat the equitable interest “effective as of” assignment arguments without the PSA and the layering of the laws that control these securities (true sales required) and REMIC (no defaulted or nonconforming loans and must be timely bankruptcy remote transfers) and NY trust law and UCC law (as to no ultra vires acts allowed by trustee and no unaffixed allonges, etc.).

The PSA is part of the admissible evidence that the court MUST have under the exacting provisions of the summary judgment rule if the court is to accept any plaintiff affidavit or assignment.

If you have been successful in your cases thus far without the PSA, then you have far to go with your litigation model. It is not just you that has “the more considerable task of proving that New York law applies to this trust and that the PSA does not allow the plaintiff to be a “nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder.”

And I am not impressed by the argument “This is clearly something that most foreclosure defense lawyers are not prepared to do.”?Get over that quick or get out of this work! Ask yourself, are you PSA adverse? If your answer is yes, please get out of this line of work. Please.

I am not worried about the minds of the Circuit Court Judges unless and until we provide them with the education they deserve and which is necessary to result in good decisions in these cases.

It is correct that the PSA does not allow the Trustee to foreclose on the Note. But you only get there after looking at the PSA in the context of who has the power to foreclose under applicable law.

It is not correct that the Trustee has the power or right to sue on the note and PSA literacy makes this abundantly clear.

Are you PSA literate? If not, don’t expect your judge to be. But if you want to become literate, a good place to start is by attending Max Gardner’s Mortgage Servicing and Securitization Seminar.

April Carrie Charney

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Certification battle in Ohio MERS class action heats up

Certification battle in Ohio MERS class action heats up


Lexology-

On April 23, 2012, the plaintiff in State of Ohio ex rel. David P. Joyce, Prosecuting Attorney of Geauga County Ohio v. MERSCORP, Inc., et al., N.D. Ohio Case No. 1:11-cv-02474, filed its motion seeking an order certifying the action as a class action, appointing Geauga County as class representative, and appointing plaintiff’s counsel, the New York law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP, as class counsel. The plaintiff argues that the case, which the plaintiff is attempting to bring on behalf of all 88 Ohio counties for relief relating to the allegedly unlawful failure of MERS and its member institutions to record millions of mortgages and mortgage assignments throughout Ohio, meets all requirements of Rule 23(a) and that certification is proper under any one of the 3 subsections of Rule 23(b). The plaintiff hopes to persuade the court that the MERS/member institution policy concerning recordation of mortgages and assignments is a “common scheme or course of conduct” that has given rise to claims “ideally suited for class certification.”

[LEXOLOGY]

[ipaper docId=94254592 access_key=key-2nn3qssi6kdpdxy704up height=600 width=600 /]

 

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The Big Lie: MERS Mortgages in Massachusetts by Jamie Ranney, Esq.

The Big Lie: MERS Mortgages in Massachusetts by Jamie Ranney, Esq.


This is a repost from a previous post dated 11/30/2010

by Jamie Ranney, Esq.
Jamie Ranney, PC
4 Thirty Acres Lane
Nantucket, MA 02554
jamie@nantucketlaw.pro
508-228-9224

This memo will focus on MERS-designated mortgages in Massachusetts.

In this author’s opinion two (2) things are evident after a survey of Massachusetts law.

First, MERS cannot be a valid “mortgagee” under Massachusetts law and thus MERS designated mortgages are invalid in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This is because MERS-designated mortgages by definition “split” the security instrument (the mortgage) from the debt (the promissory note) when they are signed. This “split” invalidates the mortgage under Massachusetts law. Where the security interest is invalid upon the signing of the mortgage, MERS cannot occupy the legal position of a “mortgagee” under Massachusetts law no matter what language MERS inserts into their mortgages that purports to give them the legal position of “mortgagee”. Since MERS-designated mortgages are invalid at their inception, it follows logically therefore that MERS mortgages are not legally capable of being recorded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by its Registers of Deeds.

Second, even if a MERS-designated mortgage were found to be a valid security instrument in Massachusetts, each and every assignment of the mortgage and note “behind” a MERS-designated mortgage must be recorded on the public land records of the Commonwealth in order to comply with the Massachusetts recording statute at M.G.L. c. 183, s. 4 which requires that “conveyances of an estate” be recorded to be valid. A mortgage is a “conveyance of an estate” under Massachusetts law. Since MERS-designated mortgages exist for the primary purpose of holding “legal” title on the public land records while the “beneficial” interest is transferred and sold multiple times (and a mortgage cannot exist without a note under Massachusetts law), MERS-mortgages unlawfully avoid recording fees due the Commonwealth for the transfer(s) of interests under MERS-designated mortgages.

“If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.”1

Continue reading below…

[ipaper docId=44370743 access_key=key-1en9gd3bwhh0zs2atypk height=600 width=600 /]

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SoFla Woman’s 2-Year Battle Gets Mortgage Wiped Out

SoFla Woman’s 2-Year Battle Gets Mortgage Wiped Out


Wonder whose signature was/is still on her documents? His name is Scott Anderson!

Read all about Scott Anderson here.


NBC 6-

A South Florida woman succeeded with the unheard of when she was able to get her mortgage wiped out by a lender.

In an effort to save her mother’s home, Idania Castro waged a two-year battle with the bank.

“The mortgage got wiped out, so I have no mortgage payment, everything was completely satisfied,” Castro said.

The woman, who took it upon herself to go through every document related to the mortgage, finally discovered robo-signing. She said the signatures on her foreclosure documents appeared to have been signed by different people.

[NBC 6]

Image Source: ABC

Here are the many different signatures of Scott Anderson below:

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Florida Supreme Court hears landmark Foreclosure Fraud suit

Florida Supreme Court hears landmark Foreclosure Fraud suit


Does the rule of law matter?

Why hasn’t David J. Stern not been disbarred? Suspended?

Is Fraud upon the court 100,000’s of time & to the face of a judge not a crime?

Why would the original judge not sanction anyone?

Will the Supreme Court allow fraud to slap it in its face 2nd time around?

Where has justice gone?

Reuters-

The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday in a landmark lawsuit that could undo hundreds of thousands of foreclosures and open up banks to severe financial penalties in the state where they face the bulk of their foreclosure-fraud litigation.

Legal experts say the lawsuit is one of the most important foreclosure fraud cases in the country and could help resolve an issue that has vexed Florida’s foreclosure courts for the past five years: Can banks that file fraudulent documents in foreclosure proceedings voluntarily dismiss the cases only to refile them later with different paperwork?

The decision, which may take up to eight months, could influence judges in the other 26 states that require judicial approval for foreclosures.

The case at issue, known as Roman Pino v. Bank of New York Mellon, stems from the so-called robo-signing scandal that emerged in 2010 when it was revealed that banks and their law firms had hired low-wage workers to sign legal documents without checking their accuracy, as is required by law.

If the state Supreme Court rules against the banks, “a broad universe of mortgages could be rendered unenforceable,” said former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey, author of the book, “Foreclosures in Florida.”

[REUTERS]

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Florida foreclosure case could SLAM banks

Florida foreclosure case could SLAM banks


Reuters-

The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that could undo hundreds of thousands of foreclosures and open up banks to severe financial liabilities in the state where they face the bulk of their foreclosure-fraud litigation.

The court is deciding whether banks who used fraudulent documents to file foreclosure lawsuits can dismiss the cases and refile them later with different paperwork.

The decision, which may take up to eight months to render, could affect hundreds of thousands of homeowners in Florida, and could also influence judges in the other 26 states that require lawsuits in foreclosures.

Of all the foreclosure filings in those states, sixty three percent, a total of 138,288, are concentrated in five states, according to RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace. Of those, nearly half are in Florida. In Congressional testimony last year, Bank of America, the U.S.’s largest mortgage servicer, said that 70 percent of its foreclosure-related lawsuits were in Florida.

The case at issue, known as Roman Pino v. Bank of New York Mellon, stems from the so-called robo-signing scandal that emerged in 2010 when it was revealed that banks and their law firms had hired low-wage workers to sign legal documents without checking their accuracy as is required by law.

This was a case of an intentionally fraudulent document fabricated to use in a court proceeding,” says former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey, author of the book Foreclosures in Florida.

[REUTERS]

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PINO v. BONY Oral Argument set for Thursday May 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

PINO v. BONY Oral Argument set for Thursday May 10, 2012 at 9:00 am


The Oral Arguments in Roman Pino v. Bank of New York will be heard before the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, May 10, 2012  at 9:00 AM.  In this case the court will be addressing the circumstances under which a voluntary dismissal (a final judgment or other court action) can be set aside long after the case is over, based on underlying fraud on the court.

The Oral Arguments can be watched live on http://thefloridachannel.org/watch/web3/1336655014.

As reflected above, the Fourth District certified this issue to be one of great public importance, and in doing so, noted that “many, many mortgage foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents” and that Pino’s requested remedy, if imposed, “may dramatically affect the mortgage foreclosure crisis in this State.” Pino, 57 So. 3d at 954-55.

Supreme Court of Florida

No. SC11-697

ROMAN PINO,
Petitioner,

vs.

THE BANK OF NEW YORK, etc., et al.,
Respondents.

[December 8, 2011]

PER CURIAM.

The issue we address is whether Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.350 requires this Court to dismiss a case after we have accepted jurisdiction based on a question certified to be one of great public importance and after the petitioner has filed his initial brief on the merits.1 This narrow question arose after the parties to this action filed a joint Stipulated Dismissal, which advised that they had settled this matter and stipulated to the dismissal of the review proceeding pending before this Court. It cannot be questioned that our well-established precedent authorizes this Court to exercise its discretion to deny the requested dismissal of a review proceeding, even where both parties to the action agree to the dismissal in light of an agreed-upon settlement. The question certified to us by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in this case transcends the individual parties to this action because it has the potential to impact the mortgage foreclosure crisis throughout this state and is one on which Florida’s trial courts and litigants need guidance. The legal issue also has implications beyond mortgage foreclosure actions. Because we agree with the Fourth District that this issue is indeed one of great public importance and in need of resolution by this Court, we deny the parties’ request to dismiss this proceeding.

[…]

[ipaper docId=75141917 access_key=key-10ukvw841p3aqsqqo53z height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Florida Supreme Court to review dismissed foreclosure lawsuit against Greenacres man

Florida Supreme Court to review dismissed foreclosure lawsuit against Greenacres man


This shouldn’t be so difficult, David J. Stern has TONS of fraudulent documents out there. Pick any County, any documents his firm filed and you’re sure to find fraud. Just read the depositions from his former employees.

“We conclude that this is a question of great public importance, as many, many mortgage foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents,” the appeals court wrote in certification to the Supreme Court.

PALM BEACH POST-

An unassuming drywall hanger from Greenacres has banks warning of a “widespread financial crisis” if the Florida Supreme Court favors him in a landmark foreclosure case justices will hear this week.

Plucked out of the 4th District Court of Appeal, Roman Pino v. the Bank of New York is the first significant foreclosure complaint to be heard by the high court since the state’s legendary housing collapse.

It’s particularly unusual because the 41-year-old Pino had already settled the case when the Supreme Court decided in December to take up a legal question it said could affect the mortgage foreclosure crisis statewide.

At issue is whether a bank can escape punishment for filing flawed or fraudulent documents in a case by voluntarily dismissing it. (A voluntary dismissal allows the bank to refile at a later date.)

That’s what Royal Palm Beach-based foreclosure defense attorney Tom Ice said happened when he challenged a document created by the Law Offices of David J. Stern and sought to question employees about its veracity. On the eve of those depositions, the bank moved to dismiss the case, blocking the court’s ability to address any sanctions.

“The objective here was to hide from punishment for the wrongdoing,” Ice said.

[PALM BEACH POST]

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PINO vs BONY | BRIEF OF AMICUS CURIAE FLORIDA LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION AND AMERICAN LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION

PINO vs BONY | BRIEF OF AMICUS CURIAE FLORIDA LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION AND AMERICAN LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION


Via MATT WEIDNER

EXCERPT:

INTRODUCTION
The Court retained this case so that it could give needed guidance to trial courts and other litigants by its answer to a certified question arising from a mortgage foreclosure action. As the Court wrote: The question certified . . . transcends the individual parties to this action because it has the potential to impact the mortgage foreclosure crisis throughout this state and is one on which Florida’s trial courts and litigants need guidance. The legal issue also has implications beyond mortgage foreclosure actions.
Pino v. Bank of New York, 36 Fla. L. Weekly S711 (Fla. Dec. 8, 2011). Florida Land Title Association (“FLTA”) and American Land Title Association (“ALTA”) file this brief to address the need for this Court to give guidance to trial courts and litigants on the importance of protecting the rights of third parties that have justifiably relied on the finality of a prior court action when buying, extending financing on, or insuring title to real property.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
The Court can expressly limit its decision in this case to the setting aside of a voluntary dismissal in a case where no third party interest in real estate is implicated. Should it choose to do so, FLTA and ALTA have no issues to address. However, if the Court decides to write more broadly, we respectfully ask the Court to emphasize the need to protect the rights of affected third parties when collateral attacks are brought against otherwise final court judgments, orders, decrees or proceedings. The residential mortgage foreclosure crisis has caused a host of problems for homeowners, lenders, and Florida’s court system. The Court addressed many of these problems by forming the Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosures in 2009 and by adopting its recommended amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure in 2010. However, unlike some other states, the Court has not adequately addressed the protection of third party interests when otherwise final court proceedings are collaterally attacked, especially the interest of those who have purchased foreclosed real estate.

Respectfully, if the Court is to give guidance to trial courts and litigants regarding collateral attacks against foreclosure actions (whether relief is sought under rule 1.540(b) or the use of inherent judicial powers) beyond the narrow facts of this case, it should give guidance on protecting the interests of third parties that purchase, finance and insure title to foreclosed properties. Recognition and protection of these neglected interests is vital to the integrity of our judicial system and to the ultimate resolution of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

[…]

Download PDF Below

Down Load PDF of This Case

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Bank of Am. v Lucido | NYSC Judge Spinner Slams BOA et al & are forever barred, foreclosed and prohibited from demanding, collecting or attempting to collect

Bank of Am. v Lucido | NYSC Judge Spinner Slams BOA et al & are forever barred, foreclosed and prohibited from demanding, collecting or attempting to collect


Decided on April 16, 2012

Supreme Court, Suffolk County

Bank of America N.A., Plaintiff

against

G. Lucido also known as GALINA LUCIDO, JOHN A. LUCIDO et. al., Defendants

2009-03769

Davidson Fink L.L.P.

Attorneys for Plaintiff

28 East Main Street

Rochester, New York 14614

John Lucido

Defendant Pro Se

46 Merrits Path

Rocky Point, New York 11778

Jeffrey Arlen Spinner, J.

Plaintiff commenced this action claiming foreclosure of a mortgage by filing its Notice of Pendency and Summons and Complaint with the Clerk of Suffolk County. The mortgage at issue was given by Defendants to MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC. As Nominee For FIRST FRANKLIN FINANCIAL CORP. on March 23, 2007 in the original principal amount of $ 494,000.00 and was recorded with the Clerk of Suffolk County in Liber 21524 of Mortgages at Page 751. It was given as collateral security for a simultaneously executed Note in the same amount, the same constituting a first lien encumbering premises known as 46 Merrits Path, Rocky Point, New York.

Sometime thereafter and through no fault of their own, Defendants defaulted upon their monthly installment payments due under the Note. It is undisputed that the principal balance owed to Plaintiff, as of the date of default, was and remains at $ 493,219.75. Following the [*2]commencement of this action, an initial settlement conference, as mandated by CPLR § 3408 was convened on June 2, 2009. Thereafter, seventeen additional or adjourned settlement conferences were held, each one a component part of a continuing albeit fruitless effort to resolve this matter. It was only upon the express directive of the Court that one of Plaintiff’s representatives travelled from Fort Worth, Texas to appear with a view toward some amicable resolution of this action. However, in derogation of the mandatory provisions of CPLR § 3408(c), no person ever appeared on Plaintiff’s behalf who was vested with any authority to settle or otherwise compromise the matter. Further delays were occasioned by serious illness having afflicted both of the Defendants as well as the unfortunate passing of Mrs. Lucido (Mr. Lucido requested that the matter be temporarily removed from the conference calendar because he was unable to move forward while attending to the care of his wife). In addition, Plaintiff’s former counsel, Steven J. Baum P.C., was discharged and the firm was thereafter disbanded.

Defendant JOHN LUCIDO has, in the past, been employed as a commercial mortgage broker. Though he was not involved professionally in the procurement of the loan at issue herein, he apparently enjoys a considerable degree expertise in the area of mortgage financing, which knowledge has been displayed to this Court on multiple occasions. Throughout the settlement conference process, Defendants had, on not less than three occasions in the presence of the Court, submitted the rather voluminous financial documentation demanded by Plaintiff, to be used in considering the initial request for a customary modification. At one point in time, Defendants were offered a so-called “trial modification” with no terms disclosed other than a monthly payment amount to be remitted. However, that offer was never accepted by Defendants because of Plaintiff’s steadfast and continued refusal to disclose any of its terms to them, including the interest rate as well as the manner in which their payments would be applied to the debt, a tactic that was strenuously defended by Plaintiff’s successor counsel as “general industry practice.”

At one of the early settlement conferences, Mr. Lucido informed the Court that the servicing of his loan had been transferred to one of Plaintiff’s wholly-owned subsidiaries and that they had embarked upon a print and internet advertising campaign wherein they were offering principal reductions in an apparent effort to help homeowners bring their delinquent loans current. They advertised basic requirements of a delinquency of over 60 days duration coupled with a principal balance in excess of 120% of the value of the property (as just one example of these blandishments by Plaintiff, see homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com ). Based in large part upon this inducement, Mr. Lucido repeatedly raised the possibility of a principal reduction and when he was advised, in open court, that it would be “considered” by the bank, he obtained a third party evaluation of the Property, reflecting the fair market value to be $ 250,000.00. He thereupon prepared and submitted a written proposal requesting a principal reduction to $ 250,000.00, coupled with the immediate deposit with Plaintiff of $ 23,588.52, a sum equal to twelve months of principal, interest, taxes and insurance for it to hold in escrow to ensure his performance, a reduction in the interest rate to 4.50% (at that time, HAMP modifications were being offered with interest at 2%) and the immediate commencement of payments upon the new principal amount at the new interest rate. This written proposal was sent to Plaintiff prior to January 26, 2011 and by February 9, 2011 it had advised Defendant, by letter, that it had received his proposal and that the same was under consideration. [*3]

The conference was adjourned several more times until June 9, 2011. At that conference, prior counsel advised Defendant and the Court that Plaintiff was “unwilling” to reduce the principal and actually misrepresented to the Court that there had been “…thirteen conferences and Defendant has never submitted financials.” Prior counsel further misrepresented to the Court that Plaintiff did not offer any loan modification programs that included a principal reduction as a component. At that juncture, the Court warned counsel that if there was found to be a lack of good faith in the settlement conference proceedings, the Court would consider the imposition of financial sanctions upon Plaintiff. The Court adjourned the conference to July 13, 2011 with the directive that a representative appear on Plaintiff’s behalf to provide an explanation to the Court.

On July 13, 2011, the matter again appeared for conference with prior counsel present. Plaintiff’s representative informed the Court that the total debt owed by Defendants and secured by the Property (principal, interest, advances, etc.) now stood at $ 673,959.23 and further, affirmatively stated under oath that “This loan is part of a pooling of loans that entrust mortgage—in fact, securities and their pooling and servicing agreement does not allow us to reduce the principal balance.” When the Court called for production of the pooling and servicing agreement (the “PSA”), counsel stated that their office was just informed “today” of this claimed restriction and, in furtherance of Plaintiff’s position, stated that “We can’t consider a principal reduction. It’s prohibited by the PSA.” The bank representative did concede, however, that Defendants had been assiduously trying to work the matter out and that they had, in fact, been submitting financial documentation as requested by Plaintiff. The bank representative also asserted that she had an appraisal showing the property value to be $ 356,000.00 but when pressed for a copy, she stated that it was “tentative.” No such appraisal was ever provided to the Court (indeed Plaintiff never produced any written indicia of the value of the Property), thusleaving the Court to accept the market value of $ 250,000.00 as advanced by Defendants.

The matter was again adjourned while the Court waited patiently for production of a copy of the PSA. Despite the Court’s order, it was not produced on September 14, 2011 nor was it provided on October 19, 2011. However, upon some intense prodding by the Court, prior counsel generously offered to provide the Court only with what Plaintiff considered to be the “salient portions” of the PSA, despite the Court’s clear and unambiguous order that the entire agreement be provided. Once again, the PSA was not provided for the December 7, 2011 conference, necessitating yet another adjournment, this time to December 21, 2011. A document purporting to be a complete copy of the PSA, consisting of 258 pages in PDF form, was finally e-mailed by prior counsel to the Court late in the day on December 15, 2011 (some 155 days after the Court ordered its production), forcing the Court to continue the matter yet again, from December 21, 2011 to January 4, 2012, and advising the parties that there would be a hearing on that date to consider the entire matter, including the possible imposition of sanctions for a lack of good faith.

At the January 12, 2012 hearing, the office of Steven J. Baum P.C. (Plaintiff’s counsel of record) failed to appear. Instead, a gentleman appeared, stating that he was per diem counsel to Pulvers Pulvers & Thompson who, in turn, was of counsel to Davidson Cook who were now attorneys for Plaintiff, though no substitution of attorney had been filed. Counsel indicated his [*4]readiness to proceed with the matter. The same bank representative who had appeared the prior year was present for the hearing as was Defendant Mr. Lucido. At the hearing, it was quickly established that the “complete” PSA as provided to the Court excluded the schedules to which it referred as an integral part, which included a description of the mortgage loans which were to be part of the pool. Although Plaintiff’s representative claimed that she was in possession of the schedules, like the phantom appraisal, they were never provided to the Court. During questioning by the Court, Plaintiff’s representative conceded that Bank of America “…always had…” the PSA in their possession. This failure to disclose, coming upon the heels of Plaintiff’s 155 day delay in providing the PSA coupled with what appears to be the intent, by Plaintiff and its prior counsel, to deceive this Court by deciding to only provide what it deemed to be the “salient” portions of the PSA, leads this Court toward the conclusion that Plaintiff was not acting in good faith throughout the pendency of this matter.

Further examination of documents revealed that Plaintiff claimed standing by virtue of an Assignment from LaSalle Bank National Association acting as Trustee under the PSA that is at issue herein. That Assignment, clearly prepared by the law firm of Steven J. Baum P.C., was acknowledged on December 22, 2008 but expressly stated that it was “…effective as of March 30, 2007. The PSA deals with an entity denominated as “Merrill Lynch First Franklin Mortgage Trust, Mortgage Loan Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2007-3.” Examination of the PSA reveals that it was consummated on May 1, 2007 (a fact that is reflected in the Assignment), which was the date on which it came into legal existence. The Assignment however expressly states that it became effective some 32 days prior to the existence of the PSA. Though questions were raised by the Court, this issue was not resolved, either by counsel or by Plaintiff.

The hearing went forward with Plaintiff vigorously asserting that the PSA absolutely prohibited any reduction of the principal. Upon pointed inquiry by the Court, the following colloquy transpired:

THE COURT: Where is it in that agreement that it states that principal reductions are absolutely prohibited?

BANK: Okay. I read through that here, and I don’t know something stating completely prohibited. It doesn’t come right out and say that portion.

THE COURT: That’s what was represented to the Court. Where does it say that? Give me a page.

BANK: I highlighted it.

BANK COUNSEL: I will read it for you.

BANK: Page 86 is what I had highlighted, and then on Page 90.

BANK COUNSEL: There are provisions in the PSA permitting—

THE COURT: You said Page 86?

BANK COUNSEL: 86, it is section 301, servicer to service mortgage loans. The sentence starting with “notwithstanding” approximately fifteen lines down.

THE COURT: All right. This refers to servicer not engaging in any conduct which would essentially cause the REMIC, the Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit, to fail to qualify as a REMIC or to result in the imposition of certain taxes under the Internal Revenue Code.

BANK COUNSEL: Correct.

THE COURT: Where does it say that a principal reduction is prohibited?

BANK COUNSEL: What this PSA document does state is that there are provisions that can [*5]prohibit the forgiveness of principal or the reduction of principal, but there are other provisions, specifically Page 90, that put it within the discretion of the servicer to recommend a principal reduction which must be signed off on by the investor.

MR. LUCIDO: Where?

BANK COUNSEL: It begins with “notwithstanding Clause 2 above, in the event that mortgage loan is in default.”

MR. LUCIDO: Where is this? Can you highlight that? Page 90? Okay, I see it. This actually allows for it.

THE COURT: This seems to permit—

BANK COUNSEL: Correct, and that’s what we are trying to tell the Court here. There are provisions that prohibit but there are provisions that do allow the servicer to recommend the reduction of principal. But it must be accepted by the investor. It must be in the best interest of the—

THE COURT: But that’s not what has been represented to this Court by the bank and their prior counsel. In fact, prior counsel explicitly represented to this Court on more than one occasion that it is absolutely prohibited under these documents, under this PSA. That is what has been represented to this Court.

BANK COUNSEL: We do submit that it might have been due to some of the provisions prohibiting principal reduction. They would have thought that those provisions may have been triggered. It might have been the opinion of the Court that they have not been.

THE COURT: Where are the express prohibitions, the ones that the bank relies on that they used here in telling this Court that they will not consider a principal reduction because it is absolutely prohibited under the terms of the PSA?

BANK COUNSEL: Under the initial clause, which is 13 lines down from Section 3.01, servicer of service mortgage loan.

THE COURT: Show me where else that it absolutely prohibits a principal reduction? Is there anywhere else in there that you can find?

BANK COUNSEL: We have not found an absolute bar, a prohibition of forgiving or reducing. It is our position, and we submit to this Court, that there are circumstances that if occurring, which is also the signing off of the client, that a principal reduction could occur under certain circumstances.

Subsequent to the foregoing colloquy and without any further concession to the Court’s line of inquiry, counsel advised the Court that an offer was now being made to Defendant, stating that “We are going above and beyond what—we are bending the rules of our underwriting. We are attempting to put together a product here that is not generally offered to the rest of the populace, the rest of the clientele, a 43.5 year product at 2% without the financials.” When the Court inquired as to the reason for Plaintiff’s abrupt about-face, counsel attempted to deflect attention from Plaintiff, instead intimating that the Court was, in effect, coercing a resolution by having “…held the bank’s feet to the fire…” and further mis-stating the facts by incorrectly asserting that “…This Court was not willing to hear it after learning that there was not a principal reduction.” It must be pointed out that in this matter as in all other foreclosure matters assigned to this Part, the Court has only attempted to fulfill its statutory responsibilities and has not, in any manner forced, coerced nor compelled any particular resolution. It is also important to note here that counsel advised the Court that Plaintiff had a new BPO showing a value of $ 346,000.00 and although requested by the Court, this BPO, like the phantom appraisal referred to on July 13, 2011, was never produced.

Based upon the foregoing factual scenario, the Court has serious and substantial questions as to whether or not Plaintiff and its prior counsel of record have acted in good faith in this [*6]matter. By reason of the lengthy delays herein, interest has been accumulating on the debt along with sums that may be due for advances for property taxes and insurance, to say nothing of Plaintiff’s claimed counsel fees (which are, of course, subject to review by the Court). While it is important to note that the Court has grave reservations related to the actions in this matter of Steven J. Baum P.C., Plaintiff’s former counsel of record, the Court hastens to add that it has absolutely no such issues with either Henry P. DiStefano Esq. or Alicia Menechino Esq. (in fact, the appearances covered by these two most excellent attorneys were the only ones upon which the Court was able to obtain a straight answer about anything on the Plaintiff’s case herein).

In 2008, New York’s Assembly and Senate enacted Chapter 472 of the Laws of 2008 which constituted a sweeping reform of the laws governing sub-prime, high cost and non-traditional home loans. Included as part and parcel of that legislation was the newly enacted CPLR § 3408 which required a mandatory settlement conference in an action to foreclose such a mortgage. Since that enactment, this Court, sitting first as Suffolk County’s Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Conference Part and thereafter as an I.A.S. Part, has mandated that the parties to such an action act and negotiate in good faith. Indeed, in December of 2009, both the Assembly and the Senate amended CPLR § 3408 by way of Chapter 507 of the Laws of 2009, which, among other things, added a requirement that the parties act and negotiate in good faith (see CPLR § 3408(f) which states that “Both the plaintiff and the defendant shall negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, including a loan modification, if possible.”). This statutory scheme is further buttressed and implemented by the provisions of The Uniform Rules For The Trial Courts, 22 NYCRR § 202.12-a. Indeed, that Rule vests the Court with broad powers to assist the parties in reaching a settlement of their differences, stating, in pertinent part, that “…The court may also use the conference for whatever other purposes the court deems appropriate,” 22 NYCRR § 202.12-a(c)(2). That Rule further imposes upon the Court the duty to be certain that all parties act in compliance therewith, stating that “…The court shall ensure that each party fulfills its obligation to negotiate in good faith…” 22 NYCRR § 202.12-a(c)(4). For this Court to do anything less would be a serious derogation of its statutory responsibilities and would do a great dis-service to the public that it is obligated to serve..

Since an action to foreclose a mortgage is clearly a suit in equity, Jamaica Savings Bank v. M.S. Investing Co. 274 NY 215 (1937), all of the rules and tenets of equity are fully applicable to the proceeding, including the rules governing punitive or exemplary damages, I.H.P. Corp. v. 210 Central Park South Corp. 12 NY2d 329 (1963). In the timeless words of Judge Benjamin Cardozo “The whole body of principles, whether of law or of equity, bearing on the case, becomes the reservoir drawn upon by the court in enlightening its judgment” Susquehannah Steamship Co. Inc. v. A.O. Andersen & Co. Inc. 239 NY 289 at 294 (1925). In a suit in equity, the Court is vested with jurisdiction to do that which ought to be done. While the formal distinctions between an action at law and a suit in equity have long since been abolished in New York (see CPLR 103, David Dudley Field Code of 1848 §§ 2, 3, 4, 69), the Supreme Court, as New York’s trial court of general jurisdiction, is nevertheless vested with equity jurisdiction and the distinct rules governing the application of the principles of equity are still very much applicable, Carroll v. Bullock 207 NY 567 (1913).

While the Court understands that the instruments upon which a mortgage foreclosure [*7]action is based are contractual in nature and, understanding that “[s]tability of contract obligations must not be undermined by judicial sympathy” Graf v. Hope Building Corp. 254 NY 1 at 4 (1930), it is equally true, as decreed in Noyes v. Anderson 124 NY 175 at 179 (1891) that “a party having a legal right shall not be permitted to avail himself of it for the purposes of injustice or oppression.” Thus, equity will not intervene on behalf of one who acts in an unjust, unconscionable or egregious manner, York v. Searles 97 AD 331 (2nd Dept. 1904), aff’d 189 NY 573 (1907). This Court cannot, and will not, countenance a lack of good faith in the proceedings that are brought before it, especially where blatant and repeated misrepresentations of fact are advanced, neither will it permit equitable relief to lie in favor of one who so flagrantly demonstrates such obvious bad faith.

In those very rare instances where the conduct of a party is unconscionable, shocking or egregious, a Court of equity is vested with the power to award exemplary damages. Exemplary damages may lie in a situation where it is necessary to both effectuate some punishment and to deter the offending party from engaging in such reprehensible conduct in the future. Such an award may also be made to address, as so clearly and succinctly enunciated by our Court of Appeals in Home Insurance Co. v. American Home Products Corp. 75 NY2d 196, 550 NE 2d 930, 551 NYS 2d 481 (1989) “…gross misbehavior for the good of the public…on the ground of public policy”. Indeed, exemplary damages are intended to have a deterrent effect upon conduct which is unconscionable, egregious, deliberate and inequitable, I.H.P. Corp. v. 210 Central Park South Corp. 12 NY2d 329, 189 NE 2d 812, 239 NYS 2d 547 (1963).

In the matter that is sub judice, the record unequivocally demonstrates that Plaintiff, through its deliberate and contumacious conduct, has failed to act in good faith, although required by statute to do so. This Court is driven to the inescapable conclusion that Plaintiff has deliberately acted in bad faith over the preceding thirty four months. Through its repeated and persistent failure and refusal to comply with the lawful orders of the Court including those which directed production of documentation that was essential to address critical issues in the present matter, it has repeatedly caused to be put forth material mis-statements of fact which appear to have been calculated to deceive the Court and has delayed these proceedings without good cause, thereby needlessly increasing the amount owed upon the mortgage debt, to say nothing of the needless waste of the Court’s time and resources, as well as those of Defendant. In short, the conduct of Plaintiff in this matter has been over-reaching, willful and unconscionable, is wholly devoid of even so much as a scintilla of good faith and cannot be countenanced by this Court.

Under the unique circumstances of this matter, the Court determines that it is fair and equitable that Plaintiff be forever barred, precluded, prohibited and foreclosed of and from collecting any of the claimed interest accrued on the loan between the date of default and the date of this Order; that Plaintiff be barred and prohibited from recovering any claimed legal fees and expenses; and further, that the amount due Plaintiff under the Note and Mortgage herein be determined at this time to be no more than the principal balance of $ 493,219.75, exclusive of advances for property taxes and property insurance. The Court also determines that under the circumstances herein, the imposition of exemplary damages upon Plaintiff is equitable, necessary and appropriate, both in light of Plaintiff’s shocking and deliberate bad faith conduct as well as to serve as an appropriate deterrent to any future outrageous, improper and wrongful conduct. The Court hereby fixes and determines [*8]the amount of exemplary damages in the sum of $ 200,000.00, recoverable by Defendants from Plaintiff in the nature of a principal reduction upon the mortgage sought to be foreclosed by Plaintiff.

For all of the foregoing reasons, it is, therefore

ORDERED , ADJUDGED and DECREED that Plaintiff, its successors, assigns and others are forever barred, foreclosed and prohibited from demanding, collecting or attempting to collect, directly or indirectly, any and all of the sums secured by the mortgage under foreclosure herein designated or denominated as interest, attorney’s fees, legal fees, costs, disbursements or any sums other than the principal balance as well as advances for property taxes and property insurance if any, that may have accrued from the date of default up to the date of this Order; and it is further

ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that the debt due Plaintiff under the Note and Mortgage under foreclosure in this action be fixed at $ 493,219.75, exclusive of any sums advanced for property taxes or property insurance; and it is further

ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that Defendant JOHN LUCIDO be and is hereby awarded exemplary damages as against Plaintiff in the amount of $ 200,000.00 to abide the event; and it is further

ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that the foregoing award of $ 200,000.00 in exemplary damages shall be and is hereby applied as a credit against the principal balance of the mortgage under foreclosure herein, amending and reducing the same to $ 293,219.75.

This shall constitute the Decision, Judgment and Order of the Court.

Dated: April 16, 2012

Riverhead, New York

E N T E R:

______________________________________

Jeffrey Arlen Spinner, J.S.C.

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STEWART TITLE BULLETIN: RE: Recent Oklahoma Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Foreclosures

STEWART TITLE BULLETIN: RE: Recent Oklahoma Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Foreclosures


Dear Associates:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has recently issued several opinions:

Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3 {Approved for Publication}

Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Byrams, 2012 OK 4

HSBC Bank USA v. Lyon, 2012 OK 10

Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Matthews, 2012 OK 14

Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Richardson, 2012 OK 15

CPT Asset Backed Certificates; Series 2004-EC1 v. Kham, 2012 OK 22

Bank of America, N.A. v. Kabba, 2012 OK 23

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Eldridge, 2012 OK 24

(It is important to note that only one of the opinions, Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3, has been approved for publication so far.)

These opinions hold that to commence a foreclosure action, the plaintiff must show that it has the right to enforce the promissory note, and in the absence of such showing, the plaintiff lacks standing to bring the lawsuit.  The fact patterns in each of the cases vary slightly (seven are based on appeals from orders granting summary judgment entered by the trial court, and one is based upon a default judgment), but the basic fact pattern is as follows:  Plaintiff files a foreclosure action either without attaching a copy of the promissory note or attaching the note without proper indorsement(s) by the original lender.  Defendant raises the issue that Plaintiff does not have standing to sue, either in response to a Motion for Summary Judgment or by pleadings filed after the Journal Entry of Judgment.  Motions are denied after Plaintiff provides documentation showing indorsement or allonge.  Defendant appeals.

[STEWART VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER]

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Amicus Brief of Oregon AG John Kroger on Hooker v Northwest Trustee, BofA & MERS lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Amicus Brief of Oregon AG John Kroger on Hooker v Northwest Trustee, BofA & MERS lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


Hi/5 Dan Marsh

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

IVAN HOOKER, KATHERINE HOOKER

v.

NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SERVICES, INC.;
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC
REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.,

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ROBERTSON v. MERSCORP, INC. | USDC M.D. Alabama Remands to State Court, Failed to record certain assignments of interests in mortgages

ROBERTSON v. MERSCORP, INC. | USDC M.D. Alabama Remands to State Court, Failed to record certain assignments of interests in mortgages


United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division.

NANCY O. ROBERTSON, in her
official capacity as
Probate Judge of Barbour
County, Alabama, on behalf
of herself and all others
similarly situated,

Plaintiff,

v.

MERSCORP, INC., a Delaware
corporation, and MORTGAGE
ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC., a Delaware
corporation,

Defendants.

Plaintiff Nancy O. Robertson (“Robertson”), acting in her official capacity as probate judge of Barbour County, Alabama, and on behalf of all probate judges in the State, brought suit in state court against defendants MERSCORP, Inc. (“MERSCORP”), and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), claiming that the defendants failed to record certain assignments of interests in mortgages. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446, the defendants removed this case to federal court on a diversity-of-citizenship ground. Robertson moves to remand to state court because the defendants have failed to satisfy their burden of demonstrating that the $75,000 amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction has been met in this case. For the reasons that follow, Robertson’s remand motion will be granted.

I. STANDARD FOR REMAND

Where, as here, a defendant seeks to remove a case on a diversity-jurisdiction ground and the damages have not been specified by the plaintiff, the removing defendant “must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the $75,000 jurisdictional requirement.” Leonard v. Enterprise Rent A Car, 279 F.3d 967, 972 (11th Cir. 2002). “A removing defendant bears the burden of proving proper federal jurisdiction.” Id. The court may not “speculate in an attempt to make up for the notice’s failings.” Lowery v. Alabama Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1215 (11th Cir. 2007).

II. BACKGROUND

The defendants operate the MERS system, which is a digital marketplace for mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. As the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals succinctly explained:

“MERS is a private electronic database, operated by MERSCORP, Inc., that tracks the transfer of the `beneficial interest’ in home loans, as well as any changes in loan servicers. After a borrower takes out a home loan, the original lender may sell all or a portion of its beneficial interest in the loan and change loan servicers. The owner of the beneficial interest is entitled to repayment of the loan. For simplicity, we will refer to the owner of the beneficial interest as the `lender.’ The servicer of the loan collects payments from the borrower, sends payments to the lender, and handles administrative aspects of the loan. Many of the companies that participate in the mortgage industry—by originating loans, buying or investing in the beneficial interest in loans, or servicing loans—are members of MERS and pay a fee to use the tracking system.

“When a borrower takes out a home loan, the borrower executes two documents in favor of the lender: (1) a promissory note to repay the loan, and (2) a deed of trust, or mortgage, that transfers legal title in the property as collateral to secure the loan in the event of default. State laws require the lender to record the deed in the county in which the property is located. Any subsequent sale or assignment of the deed must be recorded in the county records, as well.
“This recording process became cumbersome to the mortgage industry, particularly as the trading of loans increased. It has become common for original lenders to bundle the beneficial interest in individual loans and sell them to investors as mortgage-backed securities, which may themselves be traded. MERS was designed to avoid the need to record multiple transfers of the deed by serving as the nominal record holder of the deed on behalf of the original lender and any subsequent lender.

“At the origination of the loan, MERS is designated in the deed of trust as a nominee for the lender and the lender’s `successors and assigns,’ and as the deed’s `beneficiary’ which holds legal title to the security interest conveyed. If the lender sells or assigns the beneficial interest in the loan to another MERS member, the change is recorded only in the MERS database, not in county records, because MERS continues to hold the deed on the new lender’s behalf. If the beneficial interest in the loan is sold to a non-MERS member, the transfer of the deed from MERS to the new lender is recorded in county records and the loan is no longer tracked in the MERS system.”

Cervantes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 656 F.3d 1034, 1038-39 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal citations omitted).

In her role as probate judge of Barbour County, Robertson is responsible for compiling and maintaining an accurate index of grantors and grantees of interests in real estate. Robertson also collects fees for the assignment and recording of mortgages.

Robertson alleges that the MERS system illegally circumvents Alabama’s recording statutes for interests in real estate. Robertson seeks an accurate accounting and index of all transfers in real estate involving the MERS system for the past ten years, an injunction ordering the defendants to comply with Alabama’s recording statutes, and reimbursement for any fees that should have been paid.

III. DISCUSSION

The defendants posit two theories of potential liability that they believe push the amount-in-controversy above the $75,000 threshold. They are uncertain which theory Robertson intends to pursue in this litigation, but base these theories on a reading of the complaint. As the defendants have the burden of establishing this court’s jurisdiction, the court focuses on these two theories to ascertain whether removal jurisdiction is proper.

First, the defendants put forward a Note Transfer Theory: any sale or transfer of notes constitutes an assignment of mortgages that must be recorded under Alabama law. According to the defendants, approximately 3,475 mortgages naming MERS as mortgagee of record were recorded in Barbour County for the past ten years, the relevant time period in Robertson’s complaint. The defendants argue that these mortgages were transferred at least 2,693 times. The Barbour County Probate Court charges a $16.50 fee to record the first page of an assignment and $2.50 for each additional page. Assuming that each assignment is one page, the defendants would owe $44,434.50 in recording fees for the past ten years.

Acknowledging that this figure falls short of the jurisdictional threshold, the defendants extrapolate the cost of recording fees ten years into the future. They presume that the number of note transfers would be the same, thereby reaching an amount-in-controversy of $88,869.
This methodology, however, ignores that the past ten years witnessed an unprecedented housing boom followed by the worst recession since the 1930s. It is simply unrealistic to assume that the number of note transfers in the next ten years would mirror the past decade. The defendants have put forward no evidence to back up their assumption about a constant rate of note transfers over the next ten years. This court cannot speculate as to future-note-transfer rates. Lowery, 483 F.3d at 1215 (“The absence of factual allegations pertinent to the existence of jurisdiction is dispositive and, in such absence, the existence of jurisdiction should not be divined by looking to the stars.”). Because the Note Transfer Theory cannot surmount the amount-in-controversy requirement without resort to hypothetical future costs, the defendants have failed to meet their burden.

The defendants’ alternative theory of liability is the False Mortgage Theory: the listing of MERS as the mortgagee of record is a false designation and concealment. Under this theory, MERS would have to re-record approximately 3,475 mortgages in Barbour County to update the mortgagee of record. According to the defendants, a standard mortgage is 15 pages long and the Barbour County Probate Court charges $16.50 for the first page and $2.50 for each additional page. The total cost to re-record these mortgages would be approximately $178,962.50.

While this figure is above the amount-in-controversy threshold, Robertson expressly disavows any reliance on the False Mortgage Theory. Rather, Robertson claims that the “mortgage, as recorded, does not conceal the real parties in interest.” Robertson’s Reply Brief (Doc. No. 18) at 9. Robertson’s complaint concerns actions taken after the mortgage is recorded, “when the security interest is bought and sold under cover of the Defendants’ operation.” Id. Robertson seeks an accounting of the interests in real estate, not an invalidation and re-recording of mortgages. Given Robertson’s representations to this court, the defendants would not be liable for $178,962.50 under the False Mortgage Theory.

Finally, in their notice of removal, the defendants comment that the costs incurred by them to provide an accurate index would be substantial. They provide no monetary estimate of these costs, however. But even if the defendants were to calculate this figure, “the costs borne by the defendant in complying with the injunction are irrelevant” because “the value of an injunction for amount in controversy purposes must be measured by what the plaintiff stands to gain.” Morrison v. Allstate Indemnity Co., 228 F.3d 1255, 1268 n.9 (11th Cir. 2000).

To the extent that there is any uncertainty as to the theory of liability in this litigation, “uncertainties are resolved in favor of remand.” Burns v. Windsor Insurance Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994). The defendants, therefore, have failed to satisfy their burden of establishing the amount in controversy.
* * *
Accordingly, it is the ORDER, JUDGMENT, and DECREE of the court that plaintiff Nancy O. Robertson’s motion to remand (Doc. No. 12) is granted and that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), this case is remanded to the Circuit Court of Barbour County, Alabama for want of jurisdiction.

It is further ORDERED that all other pending motions are left for resolution by the state court after remand.

The clerk of the court is DIRECTED to take appropriate steps to effect the remand.

This case is closed.

DONE, this the 2nd day of April, 2012.

/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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Onewest Bank, FSB v Galli | NYSC “ASMT between WMC & WAMU a nullity and therefore the plaintiff must establish how it procured the notes and mortgages”

Onewest Bank, FSB v Galli | NYSC “ASMT between WMC & WAMU a nullity and therefore the plaintiff must establish how it procured the notes and mortgages”


SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF RICHMOND

ONEWEST BANK, FSB, as successor in interest to
INDYMAC BANK, FSB,

Plaintiff

against

JOHN A. GALLI,
GEORGANN GALLI, and
“JOHN DOE #1″ through “JOHN DOE #10″,
inclusive the last ten names being fictitious and unknown
to the plaintiff, the persons or parties intended being the persons,
tenants, occupants, or corporations, if any, having or claiming
an interest in or lien upon the mortgaged premises described
in the complaint

Defendants

The plaintiff moves for partial summary judgment dismissing the defendants’ third,
fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth
affirmative defenses. In opposition, the defendants cross-move for summary judgment arguing
that the plaintiff lacks standing; lacks capacity to commence and maintain this action; failed to
elect remedies pursuant to RPAPL § 1301; and failed to provide each defendant with the
requisite acceleration notices. The plaintiff’s motion is denied, and the defendants’ motion is
granted.

Facts

This is an action to foreclose real property known as 231 Douglas Road, Staten Island,
New York. On August 26, 2003 John A. Galli and Georgann Galli executed a promissory note
and mortgage in favor of WMC Mortgage Corp. (“WMC”) in the amount of $550,000. The
mortgage contained the following language concerning the business entity known as Mortgage
Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”):

I understand and agree that MERS holds legal title to the rights
granted by me in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to
comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for Lender and
Lender’s successor and assigns) has the right:
(A) to exercise any or all of those rights, including, but not
limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and
(B) to take any action required of Lender including, but not
limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.

In addition the Promissory Note submitted in connection with these motions contain an
undated Allonge to Promissory Note stating: “Pay to the Order of INDYMAC BANK, FSB
Without Recourse WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK”. On October 22, 2004, MERS
purportedly assigned this mortgage as nominee for WMC to Washington Mutual Bank, FA.

On November 16, 2004 the defendants executed a promissory note and mortgage in favor
of Washington Mutual Bank, F.A. in the amount of $457,050.77. Once again, the Promissory
Note submitted for consideration in connection with these motions contains an undated Allonge
to Promissory Note that states “Pay to the Order of IndyMac Bank, FSB Without Recourse
Washington Mutual Bank”. Simultaneously, the defendants executed a Consolidation, Extension
and Modification Agreement (“CEMA”) with Washington Mutual Bank, F.A. on the same day.
Exhibit A of the CEMA lists the 2003 WMC mortgage executed by the defendants as well as the
concurrently executed Washington Mutual Bank, FA mortgage as being consolidated, extended
and modified by this agreement. However, WMC was not a signatory to the November 16, 2004
CEMA.

Two years later on April 5, 2006, MERS as nominee for Washington Mutual Bank, FA
purportedly assigned the 2003 WMC mortgage and the 2004 Washington Mutual Bank, FA
mortgage to Washington Mutual Bank. A second assignment on the same day had Washington
Mutual Bank, F/K/A Washington Mutual Bank, FA purportedly made the following assignments
to MERS as nomminee for Indymac Bank, FSB:

Mortgage dated 08/26/2003 made by John A. Galli and Georgeann
Galli, Husband and Wife to Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. as nominee for WMC Mortgage Corporation in the
principal sum of $550,000.00 and recorded on 01/28/2004, in the
office of the CLERK of the County of RICHMOND, in Book
17109 of Mortgages, page 242.

ASSIGNMENT FROM: Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. as nominee for WMC Mortgage Corporation to
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for
Washington Mutual Bank, FA dated 10/22/2004 recorded
6/2/2005.

ASSIGNMENT FROM: Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. As nominee for Washington Mutual Bank FA to
Washington Mutual Bank dated 4/4/2006 to be recorded
concurrently.

2nd Mortgage dated 11/16/2004 recorded 6/2/2005 in document
control 48484 between John A. Galli and Georgeann Galli, aka
Georgeann Galli husband and wife and Washington Mutual Bank,
FA in the amount of $457,050.77

Consolidation, Extension, and Modification Agreement made by
John A. Galli and Georgeann Galli, aka Georeann Galli husband
and wife and Washington mutual Bank, FA dated 11/16/2004
recorded 6/2/2005 in document number 48485 consolidated
mortgages 1 & 2 to form a single lien in the amount of
$1,000,000.00

On April 14, 2006 the defendants executed another Promissory Note and Mortgage this
time in favor of IndyMac Bank, FSB in the amount of $143,595.50. Concurrently with the third
mortgage, the defendants executed a Consolidation, Extension and Modification Agreement in
favor of IndyMac Bank, FSB. Once again, neither WMC, nor Washington Mutual Bank f/k/a
Washington Mutual Bank, FA were signatories to this second CEMA.

According to the affidavit of Brian Burnett, an Assistant Vice President of OneWest
Bank, FSB (“OneWest”) that on or about July 11, 2008, IndyMac Bank, FSB failed and went into
receivership. Upon entering receivership it changed its name to IndyMac Federal Bank, FSB and
on or about March 19, 2009 merged with OneWest. According to Mr. Burnett, OneWest
acquired all of IndyMac’s assets. However, notably absent from the record is a copy of the
purchase and assumption agreement between OneWest and IndyMac.

On or about September 1, 2008 the defendants allegedly defaulted on the notes and
mortgages.

The plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment dismissing the defendants third,
fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth, twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth affirmative
defenses. The defendant cross moves to dismiss the plaintiff’s action arguing that the plaintiff:
1) lacks standing; 2) lacks capacity to commence and maintain this action; and 3) failed to elect
remedies pursuant to RPAPL § 1301. In opposition to the defendants’ cross motion, the plaintiff
submits attorney certified copies of the relevant notes and mortgages encumbering 231 Douglas
Road, Staten Island, New York.

Discussion

The court will address the defendants’ cross-motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to
CPLR § 3211(a). The record in this case shows that MERS assigned the mortgage several times
before the original notes and mortgages found their way to the plaintiff in this action. Here the
court must determine whether the plaintiff in a foreclosure action must establish a clear chain of
title of the relevant notes and mortgages prior to commencing the foreclosure proceeding. This
court concludes that a foreclosing plaintiff must establish how it came to possess the relevant
notes and mortgages it wishes to foreclose.

On June 7, 2011 the Appellate Division, Second Department issued its decision in the
Bank of New York v. Silverberg case.1 In that case the court was called to resolve the issue of,
“. . . whether a party has standing to commence a foreclosure action when that party’s
assignor–in this case, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. . . . was listed as a nominee
and mortgagee for the purposes of recording, but was never the actual holder or assignee of the
underlying notes.”2 The Appellate Division, Second Department held that such a party did not
have standing to commence a foreclosure action.

In a mortgage foreclosure action, a plaintiff must be both the holder or assignee of the
mortgage and the underlying note at the time the action is commenced.3 Here, as was the case in
Silverberg, MERS purportedly transferred the WMC mortgage to Washington Mutual Bank, FA
in connection with a consolidation as nominee. In turn, MERS as the nominee of Washington
Mutual Bank, FA assigned the mortgage to Washington Mutual Bank. Subsequently,
Washington Mutual Bank assigned the mortgages, prior assignments and CEMAs to MERS as
nominee of IndyMac Bank, FSB. The Appellate Division, Second Department found in
Silverberg that “. . . as ‘nominee,’ MERS’s authority was limited to only those powers which
were specifically conferred to it and authorized by the lender.” Here, as was the case in
Silverberg, MERS lacked the authority to assign the underlying notes. Consequently, how the
plaintiff came into possession of the mortgages and notes in this case is suspect.

The plaintiff cites a multitude of cases purportedly holding that possession of the physical
notes establishes its standing to commence this action.4 But each of these cases predate the
Appellate Division, Second Department’s decision in Silverberg. Consequently, this court finds
that the initial transfer between WMC Mortgage and Washington Mutual Bank, F.A. is a nullity
and therefore the plaintiff must establish how it procured the notes and mortgages for 231
Douglas Road, Staten Island, New York.

Given this court’s decision on the cross-motion the plaintiff’s motion for summary
judgment is denied.

Accordingly, it is hereby:

ORDERED, that John A. Galli and Georgann Galli’s cross-motion dismissing the
plaintiff’s complaint is granted and the complaint is dismissed without prejudice; and it is further
ORDERED, that the plaintiff’s motion to foreclose is denied.

ENTER,
DATED: March 23, 2012

Joseph J. Maltese
Justice of the Supreme Court

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Johnson v. HSBC BANK USA, Dist. Court, SD California – Pooling and Servicing Agreement (“PSA”) allowed for homeowner to show improper transfers

Johnson v. HSBC BANK USA, Dist. Court, SD California – Pooling and Servicing Agreement (“PSA”) allowed for homeowner to show improper transfers


 

GREGORY JOHNSON, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
HSBC BANK USA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION AS TRUSTEE FOR THE ELLINGTON TRUST SERIES 2007-1; BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; and Does 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

 

 Case No. 3:11-cv-2091-JM-WVG.

United States District Court, S.D. California. 
March 19, 2012.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS Docket No. 12.

JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

On September 12, 2011, Plaintiff Gregory Johnson brought a complaint against HSBC Bank USA, National Association as Trustee for the Ellington Trust Series 2007-1 (“HSBC”) and Bank of America, N.A. (“BOA”). BOA has filed a motion to dismiss (“MTD” or “motion”). Plaintiff filed an opposition on February 17, 2012. HSBC originally failed to answer the complaint, but jointly moved with Plaintiff to set aside default. The court granted that motion, and HSBC now joins BOA’s motion to dismiss with no further argument. Neither Defendant has filed a reply brief. For the reasons stated below, the motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

In December of 2006, Plaintiff obtained a loan from Fremont Investment & Loan (“Fremont”) in order to purchase property located in Oceanside, California. Compl. ¶ 24. The Deed of Trust named Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS”) as the nominee and beneficiary of the Deed of Trust. ¶ 24. The complaint alleges that Fremont “attempted to securitize and sell [the] loan to another entity or entities” that were “not HSBC Bank or the Ellington Trust.” ¶ 25. Consequently, HSBC “is merely a third-party stranger to the loan transaction.” ¶ 26. Plaintiff alleges that despite his requests, BOA (apparently his mortgage servicer), has failed to verify the debt and amount owed.[1] ¶ 26.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the document purporting to assign the Deed of Trust from MERS to HSBC (Compl. Ex. A), dated May 29, 2008, was fraudulent, in part because the assignment was executed after the closing date of the trust, which violates the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (“PSA”).[2] ¶ 28-29. Plaintiff also alleges that Treva Moreland, “the purported signatory of the purported `Assignment’, was not the `Assistant Secretary’ for MERS and lacked the requisite corporate and legal authority to effect an actual `assignment’ of Plaintiff’s Note and Mortgage.” ¶ 38. The complaint states that Treva Moreland signs thousands of property record documents without any authority, and thus any amount Plaintiff owes is subject to equitable offset by damages owed by Defendants.

The complaint further alleges that in October of 2010, HSBC “caused a document purporting to be a Substitution of Trustee (`Substitution’) to be recorded with the County of San Diego.” ¶ 57. The substitution purported to substitute Quality Loan Service Corporation (“Quality”) as trustee, but Plaintiff claims that no such transfer ever occurred. ¶ 57. The complaint states that under California law, the lender must be the party to appoint the successor trustee, and HSBC was not the lender.

In the summer of 2009, Plaintiff sought a loan modification from Wilshire, the original servicer of Plaintiff’s loan. ¶ 66. At some point the loan “was sold or transferred to BOA.” ¶ 67. Plaintiff made nine payments under the modified plan, but BOA refused to honor the new plan. ¶ 68. After much confusion, Plaintiff obtained a loan modification from BOA to be effective February 1, 2011. ¶ 79. In March of 2011, Plaintiff sent a Qualified Written Request letter to verify the debt owed, but BOA did not provide a substantive response. ¶ 83.

Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants have not properly credited payments he has made on the mortgage and have incorrectly calculated interest. ¶ 85. He claims that Defendants knew at all times that Plaintiff was paying incorrect amounts. ¶ 86. As a result of their actions, Plaintiff’s credit has been damaged and his home has been made unmarketable because “the title to Plaintiff’s home has been slandered [and] clouded.” ¶ 89. Finally, the complaint states that “Plaintiff has offered to and is ready, willing, and able to unconditionally tender his obligation.” ¶ 96.

Based on these factual allegations, the complaint seeks relief under seven causes of action, each applied to both Defendants: (1) declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2202; (2) negligence; (3) quasi-contract; (4) violation of 12 U.S.C. § 2605; (5) violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692; (6) violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.; (7) accounting.

II. LEGAL STANDARD AND DISCUSSION

A motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of the pleadings. De La Cruz v. Tormey, 582 F.2d 45, 48 (9th Cir. 1978). In evaluating the motion, the court must construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, accepting as true all material allegations in the complaint and any reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. See, e.g., Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003). The Supreme Court has held that in order to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The court should grant 12(b)(6) relief only if the complaint lacks either a “cognizable legal theory” or facts sufficient to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

A. Viability of Attack on Loan Securitization

1. Ability to Challenge Loan Securitization

The threshold issue of whether Plaintiff can make any claim related to the loan’s securitization affects the viability of many of the individual claims discussed below. BOA cites Rodenhurst v. Bank of America, 773 F.Supp.2d 886, 899 (D. Haw. 2011) for its statement that “[t]he overwhelming authority does not support a cause of action based upon improper securitization.” However, the discussion cited in that case centers on plaintiffs who claim that securitization itself violates the agreement between the mortgagor and mortgagee. Here, Plaintiff does not dispute the right to securitize the mortgage, but alleges that as a result of improper procedures, the true owner of his mortgage is unclear. As a result, he has allegedly been paying improper entities an excess amount.

Ninth Circuit district courts have come to different conclusions when analyzing a plaintiff’s right to challenge the securitization process as Plaintiff has here. See Schafer v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 2011 WL 2437267 (C.D. Cal. 2011) (denying defendants’ motion to dismiss declaratory relief claim, which was based on alleged improper transfer due to alleged fraud in signing of documents); Vogan v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2011 WL 5826016 (E.D. Cal. 2011) (allowing § 17200 claim when plaintiffs alleged that assignment was executed after the closing date of securities pool, “giving rise to a plausible inference that at least some part of the recorded assignment was fabricated”). But see Armeni v. America’s Wholesale Lender, 2012 WL 603242 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (dismissing declaratory relief, quasi-contract, UCL, and accounting claims because “plaintiff lack[ed] standing to challenge the process by which his mortgage was (or was not) securitized because he is not a party to the PSA”); Junger v. Bank of America, N.A., 2012 WL 603262 at *3 (C.D.Cal. 2012).

Here, the court finds that Plaintiff is not categorically excluded from making claims based on allegations surrounding the loan’s securitization.[3] As in Vogan, and unlike Armeni, Plaintiff here alleges both violations of the PSA and relevant law. BOA has not sufficiently demonstrated that violations of law associated with the loan’s securitization can go unchecked because Plaintiff is not a party to the PSA.

Other cases cited by BOA on this issue are irrelevant or inapplicable here.

2. Sufficiency of Allegations of Improper Assignment

BOA also argues that Plaintiff makes no showing that the assignment was improper. It claims that Treva Moreland was authorized to assign the Deed of Trust, and there was no violation of the statute, asserting that “[n]owhere in [the complaint] does [Plaintiff] allege facts showing the Assignment was defective, invalid, or somehow voidable.” MTD at 4. However, the complaint states that MERS had no knowledge of the assignment, that Treva Moreland was never appointed to “assistant secretary” by the MERS board of directors, and thus there was no authority to make the assignment.

While BOA cites no case law on this point, Plaintiff provides persuasive authority to demonstrate that courts have accepted allegations such as his. In Kingman Holdings, LLC v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 2011 WL 1883829 (E.D. Tex. 2011), the court assessed a fraud claim against CitiMortgage in which the plaintiff alleged that MERS’ appointment of an assistant secretary (“Blackstun,” who later made the assignment) was invalid because it was not approved by the board of directors. The court upheld the fraud claim under the 9(b) standard, finding that Plaintiff’s allegations were plausible and that if Blackstun had no authority to bind MERS, then MERS filed a fraudulent document after he executed the assignment.

Similarly, in Vogan, the court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss a § 17200 claim because, as here, the plaintiff pleaded that Wells Fargo recorded a fabricated assignment of the loan because the assignment was executed after the closing date of the mortgage-backed security pool, “giving rise to a plausible inference” of fabrication. Id. at *7. Here, in addition to attacking Treva Moreland’s authority, Plaintiff has alleged that the assignment was made after the closing date of the trust, as required by Section 2.1 of the PSA.

B. Tender Requirement

BOA also argues that a plaintiff “must tender the entire unpaid balance of the loan to maintain an action challenging foreclosure.” MTD at 4. However, as BOA separately points out, Plaintiff is not currently in foreclosure—BOA rescinded its Notice of Default in March of 2011. BOA fails to acknowledge this fact in its argument, merely citing cases supporting the existence of the tender rule in actions for wrongful foreclosure.

Even if the fact of foreclosure were at issue, BOA has not sufficiently demonstrated that the tender rule should apply here. Plaintiff is not challenging Defendants’ compliance with the foreclosure law, but is claiming that defendants did not properly receive the assignment of their loan. The “tender requirement does not apply to this case because” Plaintiff challenges “the beneficial interest held by [Defendants] in the deed of trust, not the procedural sufficiency of the foreclosure itself.” Vogan at *8.

C. Declaratory Relief

BOA seeks dismissal of the declaratory relief claim because the issues “will be resolved by the other claims for relief.” MTD at 5. It also argues that the California foreclosure statute does not recognize a judicial action to determine whether a party foreclosing is authorized to do so.

The Ninth Circuit has explained that while there is no bar to declaratory relief if legal remedies exist, a court’s discretion should lead it to refuse to grant declaratory relief unless it would clarify the parties’ interests or relieve the uncertainty giving rise to the proceeding. U.S. v. Washington, 759 F.2d 1353, 1356-57 (9th Cir. 1985). The Schafer court upheld a declaratory relief claim in a similar action to this one, noting that there was a controversy over whether the assignment of a deed of trust was fraudulent, and the cause of action was not duplicative. 2011 WL 2437267 at *4.

While it is possible that declaratory relief will be unnecessary, it would be premature to dismiss the cause of action at this point. BOA has failed to show how resolution of each of the other claims will necessarily provide all of the requested relief if they are granted. Further, it remains possible that some or all of Plaintiff’s other claims will not survive to trial—if that occurs, declaratory judgment could serve to clarify the parties’ interests.

D. Negligence

The complaint alleges that HSBC and BOA were negligent because they demanded mortgage payments when they did not have the right to enforce that obligation. This allegedly caused Johnson to overpay in interest, among other things. As a result of the “reckless negligence, utter carelessness, and blatant fraud of the Defendants,” Plaintiff’s chain of title has been “rendered unmarketable and fatally defective.” Compl. ¶ 110.

Defendants’ motion to dismiss argues that they had no duty of care here, because Plaintiff “does not plead facts supporting a finding that Defendant’s conduct exceeded the scope of its conventional role as a lender.”[4] MTD at 6. Plaintiff states that his relationship with BOA is not conventional because the loan has been securitized, so “Defendants hold Plaintiff’s payments for the benefit of the certificate holders.” Pl. Opp. at 20. Further, Plaintiff argues that a lender that offers a loan modification has gone beyond its conventional role.

The rule that a lender does not have a duty to a borrower is only a “general rule,” and only applies to situations where a lender plays its conventional role. E.g., Taheny v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2010 WL 5394315 (E.D. Cal. 2010). Accepting the allegations of the complaint as true, BOA has gone beyond the typical lender’s role. As in Ansanelli v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 2011 WL 1134451 at *7 (N.D. Cal. 2011), BOA established a loan modification plan with Plaintiff, made excessive interest charges and made “derogatory credit reports to credit bureaus.” Compl. ¶ 109. More generally, Plaintiff alleges that BOA did not have the legal authority to demand payments from Plaintiff because of the assignment’s invalidity. If BOA was not a lender legally authorized to collect payments from Plaintiff, the general rule shielding actual lenders from liability would not apply.

More generally, the court finds that the allegations Plaintiff has put forth meet the federal pleading standard under Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). While yet to be proven, Plaintiff presents plausible allegations of misconduct that, if true, would entitle him to relief.

E. Quasi-Contract

Based upon the same factual allegations, Plaintiff seeks to recover on a quasi-contract cause of action. BOA maintains that in California a quasi-contract claim is the same as a claim for unjust enrichment, and such an action does not lie if an express agreement governs the parties’ rights. Further, BOA argues that the rule of tender applies under Cal. Civ. Code § 1691(b), which governs rescission of a contract.

BOA is correct that a plaintiff may not recover on a quasi-contract action if an express agreement exists. E.g., Cal. Med. Ass’n, Inc. v. Aetna U.S. Healthcare of Cal., 94 Cal. App. 4th 151, 172 (2001). However, as Plaintiff points out, the complaint alleges that there is no valid agreement governing the transaction between Plaintiff and BOA. Thus, if Plaintiff succeeds in showing that BOA was not authorized to collect payment, he may be able to recover based on quasi-contract. For the same reason, BOA’s § 1691 argument fails—it does not state why the tender rule should apply if no contract exists.

F. Violation of 12 U.S.C. § 2605 — The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act

The complaint alleges that Plaintiff sent a Qualified Written Request (“QWR”) to BOA in March of 2011 asking for information to verify the validity of the debt at issue. However, BOA failed to provide the legally-required information, only providing a partial history of the account.

BOA’s motion to dismiss states that instead of including information about why the account was in error, the QWR “includes a list of document demands which appear to be entirely irrelevant to a valid QWR under RESPA.” MTD at 9. Further, BOA maintains that Plaintiff’s damage claims are not sufficiently specific.

1. Whether Plaintiff Failed to Submit a Proper QWR

Generally, Ninth Circuit courts have held that a QWR must relate to the servicing of a loan, rather than its creation or modification. Gates v. Wachovia Mortg. FSB, 2011 WL 2602511 at *3 (E.D. Cal. 2010). Further, the “borrower’s inquiry must include a statement of the reasons for the belief of the borrower . . . that the account is in error or provide sufficient detail to the servicer regarding other information sought by the borrower.” Id; 12 U.S.C. § 2605(e).

BOA has not argued that the QWR was unrelated to servicing of the loan, but states that Plaintiff did not provide “a statement or supporting documentation of his reasons for believing the account was in error.” MTD at 9. While Plaintiff may not have stated the reasons he believed the account was in error, Defendant provides no argument on why it believes that the QWR failed to “provide sufficient detail to the servicer regarding other information sought by the borrower,” merely arguing that the list of document demands “appear to be entirely irrelevant to a valid QWR under RESPA.” MTD at 9. While some courts have found QWRs inadequate because they related to the creation or modification of a loan, the QWR here requested information that related to “making the payments of principal and interest with respect to the amounts received from the borrower.” 12 U.S.C. § 2605. For example, the QWR requested collection notes concerning the loan, as well as the name and contact information of the entity to which BOA was purportedly making the payments received from Plaintiff. While all of the information requested by Plaintiff may not have been validly sought under the statute, the QWR provided sufficient information concerning several requests for information that should have garnered a response by BOA. See Tamburri v. Suntrust Mortg., Inc., 2011 WL 6294472 at *7 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (noting that QWR requesting documentation supporting collection and enforcement efforts, including documents in support of enforcement of promissory note and deed of trust and a list of assignments “arguably request[ed] information as to how the servicer has handled [plaintiff’s] account”).

While BOA states that it provided a complete response following its initial letter confirming receipt and promising to provide a response, it has not detailed or produced the alleged response.

2. Whether Plaintiff Adequately Pled Damages

Plaintiff may recover for actual damages suffered under 12 U.S.C. § 2605(f)(1)(a). BOA asserts that Plaintiff has failed to plead damages adequately. Generally the requirement for damages has been interpreted liberally. Yulaeva v. Greenpoint Mortg. Funding, Inc., 2009 WL 2880393 at *15 (E.D. Cal. 2009). While Plaintiff does not provide substantial factual support, the allegations are sufficient to state a claim at the pleading stage—Plaintiff has specifically alleged that he sought certain information, BOA denied him his statutorily required information, and the failure to receive that information caused him to pay more than was necessary on his loan and to incur costs in repairing his credit.

G. Violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1692 — Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The complaint states that BOA violated the FDCPA through making various false representations in its attempt to collect on the loan. The MTD asserts that the FDCPA’s definition of a “debt collector” does not include a mortgage servicer or an assignee of the debt, “where the `debt was not in default at the time it was obtained by [a servicing company].'” MTD at 10 (citing 15 U.S.C. §1692a(6)(F)). Further, it argues that a foreclosure on a property based on a deed of trust does not constitute collection of a debt within the meaning of the FDCPA.

Plaintiff agrees that the statute’s definition of “debt collector” does not include an entity attempting to collect a debt that was not in default when the debt was obtained by that entity. However, he has alleged that BOA took over servicing the debt sometime after September 2009, Compl. ¶ 67, and the debt went into default in May 2008. According to BOA, the default notice was not rescinded until 2011. BOA does not address this issue in its MTD.

BOA also argues that “foreclosure on a property based on a deed of trust does not constitute collection of a debt within the meaning of the FDCPA,” citing Hulse v. Ocwen Federal Bank, FSB, 195 F.Supp.2d 1188, 1204 (D. Or. 2002). In that case, the judge decided that “[f]oreclosing on a trust deed is distinct from the collection of the obligation to pay money . . . . Payment of funds is not the object of the foreclosure action.” Id. First, many courts have registered disagreement with this decision. See, e.g., Albers v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC 2011 WL 43584 (E.D. Wash. 2011) (noting that Hulse’s reasoning has been rejected by the Fourth and Fifth circuits and limited in other circumstances).

Second, as Plaintiff points out, he does not allege that foreclosure of the property constituted the violation; instead, he believes the demands of payment and threats were unlawful. Hulse held that “any actions taken by [defendant] in pursuit of the actual foreclosure may not be challenged as FDCPA violations,” but “plaintiffs may maintain any FDCPA claims based on alleged actions by [defendant] in collecting a debt.” Hulse at 1204. Based on this, even if the court were to accept Hulse’s reasoning, the FDCPA claim survives.

H. Violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200

Plaintiff alleges that BOA has engaged in unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business practices by executing misleading documents, executing documents without proper authority to do so, and demanding payments for non-existent debt, among other things.

BOA concedes that violation of another law serves as a predicate for stating a cause of action under § 17200, but states that “Plaintiff must plead facts to support the underlying statutory violation.” MTD at 11. Because the court has upheld Plaintiff’s other claims, the § 17200 claim must be upheld under the unlawful prong. See, e.g., Vogan v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2011 WL 5826016 at *6-7 (upholding § 17200 claim because court had also upheld claim under Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §1641(g)).

I. Accounting

Plaintiff also requests an accounting for all payments made. BOA states that a request for accounting must be tied to another actionable claim, and Plaintiff has no viable claims. BOA also states that Plaintiff has not alleged he is owed a balance.

“A cause of action for an accounting requires a showing that a relationship exists between the plaintiff and defendant that requires an accounting, and that some balance is due the plaintiff that can only be ascertained by an accounting.” Tamburri v. Suntrust Mortg., Inc., 2011 WL 6294472 at *17 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (quoting Teselle v. McLoughlin, 173 Cal.App.4th 156, 179 (2009) (also noting that the purpose of requesting an accounting is “to discover what, if any, sums are owed to the plaintiff” and that “an accounting may be used as a discovery device”)).

Further, “[a] request for a legal accounting must be tethered to relevant actionable claims.” Harvey G. Ottovich Revocable Living Trust Dated May 12, 2006 v. Washington Mutual, Inc., 2010 WL 3769459 (N.D. Cal. 2010). While the complaint does not specifically “tether” the request for accounting to another single cause of action, it is clearly based on the same set of circumstances that is the basis for most of the causes of action in this case—the collection of money that was not actually due to Defendants.

Because Plaintiff has pleaded viable claims that are related to the same facts under which he requests an accounting, the court declines to dismiss the accounting claim at this time.

J. Motion to Strike Request for Punitive Damages and Fees

Defendant has made a motion to strike the request for punitive damages, arguing the “complaint is patently insufficient to support” such a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f) allows a court to strike an insufficient defense or “any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”

BOA cites to Bureerong v. Uvawas, 922 F.Supp.1450 (C.D. Cal. 1996), which holds that a motion to strike may be used when damages are not recoverable as a matter of law. However, a more recent Ninth Circuit case, Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970 (9th Cir. 2010), held that “Rule 12(f) does not authorize district courts to strike claims for damages on the ground that such claims are precluded as a matter of law.” Id. at 974-75. Thus, without any argument that the claim for punitive damages is redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous, BOA’s motion cannot succeed.

BOA also asks the court to strike the request for attorney’s fees, claiming there is no contractual or statutory basis for the award. However, as Plaintiff points out, RESPA allows for attorney’s fees. 12 U.S.C. §2605(f)(3) (providing that costs may be recovered “together with any attorneys [sic] fees incurred in connection with such action”).

III. CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, the motion to dismiss is DENIED. Defendants’ motion has failed to demonstrate that Plaintiff’s claims were implausible or precluded as a matter of law.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

[1] While Plaintiff does not dispute that he owes money on the loan, he disputes the amount owed and “seeks the Court’s assistance in determining who the holder in due course is of his Note and Deed of Trust.” ¶ 22.

[2] Plaintiff admits he is not a party to or beneficiary of the PSA, but claims that the failure to securitize his note should prevent HSBC and BOA from claiming any interest in the mortgage.

[3] BOA has failed to apply its argument concerning the loan’s securitization to any of Plaintiff’s specific claims, and the court declines to perform this task.

[4] BOA also denies the existence of proximately-caused damages, but does not directly address the alleged damages from derogatory credit reports and excessive interest charges.

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Full Deposition of Michele Sjolander, Executive Vice President of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. “Stamp Endorsement”

Full Deposition of Michele Sjolander, Executive Vice President of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. “Stamp Endorsement”


Remember Michele Sjolander? Well, you can read about her in MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI -

As well as in ARIZONA BK COURT ORDERS BONY MELLON TO PRODUCE ORIGINAL CUSTODIAN DOCUMENTS

and finally in the FULL DEPOSITION OF BANK OF AMERICA ROBO SIGNER RENEE D. HERTZLER

Fresh off the depo wagon comes her Full Deposition courtesy of 4closurefraud.

Excerpts:

Q It’s employees at Recontrust that stamp the
7 endorsements on the notes in general, including this one;
8 is that right?
9 A Yes.
10 Q And you’ve seen that taking place?
11 A Yes.
12 Q In Simi Valley?
13 A Yes.
14 Q Is there some type of manual or set of
15 instructions?
16 A They have my power of attorney.
17 Q Well, okay. That’s not what I’m asking. But I
18 do want to know about that. But what I’m saying: Is
19 there some sort of manual or instructions or –
20 A If you want to know the desk procedures, you
21 would have to speak with an associate of Recontrust.
22 Q Okay. Okay. Sorry. I’m just reading the notes
23 again. Now, I’m going to try to explain this. I may
24 have to do it a couple of times, but just bear with me.
25 And you’ve been very helpful so far. I appreciate it,
1 there it sat is I guess what I’m asking.
2 A In safekeeping, yes.
3 Q Okay. All right. Now, this is something you
4 touched on a minute ago. I’m going to try to phrase it
5 in a way that makes sense. Who — and let’s just deal
6 with Countrywide in 2007.
7 Who is allowed to be an endorser as you were? I
8 mean, who — let me leave it at that and see if that
9 makes sense to you.
10 A I don’t know what you’re asking.
11 Q What I’m saying is: Are there people other than
12 you at Countrywide in 2007 whose names would appear on a
13 note as an endorsement?
14 A For Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.?
15 Q Yes.
16 A In 2007, I was the endorser for Countrywide Home
17 Loans, Inc.
18 Q Okay. And, I mean, can you explain why you, in
19 particular? I mean, how is that established?
20 A Just lucky.
21 Q I mean, I know this is going to sound silly, but
22 was there some competition for it? Did they come to you
23 and say, “Ms. Sjolander, we choose you?” I mean, how did
24 you come to be designated the person?
25 A It is the position I held within Countrywide.
1 Q Okay. And did you know that going in; you know,
2 if you take this job, you’re going to be the endorser?
3 Was that explained to you at some point?
4 A I knew that my previous boss was the endorser,
5 yes.
6 Q Oh, okay. Now, we covered this, that other
7 people stamped your signature and the other — her name
8 is — oh, it’s Laurie Meder?
9 A Meder.
10 Q Okay. So other people have a stamp with her
11 name and your name on it, and how do those people have
12 the authority to put her name and your name on a note for
13 it to be an effective endorsement?
14 A With my name, they have a power of attorney.
15 Q And what does the power of attorney say?
16 A The power of attorney allows them to place my
17 endorsement stamp on collateral.
18 Q How do they come to have your power of attorney?
19 A I gave that to them.
20 Q But, I mean, in what sort of process? You know,
21 how does someone at Recontrust — I mean, I understand
22 that a power of attorney document exists, I’m assuming;
23 correct?
24 A Yes.
25 Q And how do those people come to operate under
1 it?
2 A It’s common, standard practice.
3 Q I may not be asking it quite right. I guess
4 what I’m asking is: Do they — the people who actually
5 use the stamps — is there more than one, or is there
6 just one stamp? I said “stamps” multiple. Is there only
7 one, or is there –
8 A No, there’s multiple stamps.
9 Q So do these people sign something that says, “I
10 understand I’m under Michele Sjolander’s power of
11 attorney”?
12 A Once again, you would have to look at the desk
13 procedures for Recontrust, and you would have to talk to
14 someone at Recontrust.
15 Q So that’s your understanding that you — did you
16 sign a power of attorney document?
17 A Yes, I did.
18 Q And, I mean, can you explain just in — you
19 know, in general, not word for word what it says, but
20 what does it purport to grant as power of attorney?
21 A It grants Recontrust. They can endorse and
22 assign notes on behalf of myself.
23 Q And do you know if this applies to a select
24 group of people?
25 A I do not have — I would have to read the
1 document.
2 Q Okay. But just to clarify, once again, you
3 don’t actually know the legal mechanism by which these
4 people with the stamps operate under this power of
5 attorney?
6 A As I said, I would have to go back through all
7 of the documentation that surrounds the power of
8 attorney, and Recontrust has desk procedures, and it
9 would be their procedures for them to assign that, to
10 place the stamp on the collateral.
11 Q And this was a procedure in 2007, what we’re
12 talking here is 2007?
13 A Correct.
14 Q And to the present?
15 A No.

<SNIP>

4 Q All of it, okay. Let’s see. Now, you mentioned
5 documents that you had reviewed. The AS-400, that’s a –
6 can you just refresh my memory? What was that again?
7 A A servicing system.
8 Q A servicing system, okay. Now, when you looked
9 over these records and documents before that you
10 mentioned before, where were you when you looked at
11 those?
12 A Simi Valley.
13 Q Simi Valley. And where were the documents that
14 you were looking at?
15 A At that time, they were brought into my office.
16 Q Do you have any idea where they were brought
17 from?
18 A They were printed off the system.
19 Q Printed off the system.
20 A From one of my associates.
21 Q Is that a computer system?
22 A As I said, the collateral tracking is printed
23 off the AS-400, which is our servicing system. The
24 investor number commitment was printed off — it’s a
25 web-based application from secondary marketing. It’s
1 printed off of that. The note was printed off of our
2 imaging system. And I think in this case I asked for a
3 copy of the note showing the endorsements, because in our
4 imaging system it does not — the note is actually imaged
5 prior to my endorsement stamp being in place. So I had
6 my associate contact the bank, which is Recontrust, to
7 get a copy of the original note to show my endorsement
8 stamps, because in imaging it is not shown.
9 Q So if a copy is made of a note that you got from
10 Recontrust, it doesn’t have an endorsement? Is that what
11 you’re saying?
12 A From our bank, it does. In our imaging system,
13 it does not. The note is imaged prior to an
14 endorsement — in ’07, the note is imaged prior to an
15 endorsement being placed on the note. So if you look in
16 our imaging system, you wouldn’t see the chain of title
17 of endorsement.
18 Q And where would you see that?
19 A On the original note.
20 Q Which is — which is where?
21 A In this case, it was in the Fannie Mae vault in
22 Simi Valley, California.
23 Q We’ll come back to the Fannie Mae vault. Okay.
24 So they’re printed off in AS-400 imaging system.
25 A AS-400 and the imaging system are two different
systems.
2 Q Oh, you said AS-400 is a servicing software
3 platform of some type?
4 A Yes.
5 Q And the imaging system, what — can you describe
6 that?
7 A It’s a –
8 Q You know –
9 A It’s when all of the collateral documents and
10 credit file documents are imaged after the closing of a
11 loan, and they are put in our imaging system, and we can
12 go into the system by loan number and pull up the
13 documentation of a loan –
14 Q I guess –
15 A — if you have access to the system.
16 Q But imaging, I mean, I’m imagining a scanner of
17 some sort. Is that what it is?
18 A It is not my area. I cannot tell you.

continue below…

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NEW YORK CONTINUES ASSAULT ON MERS

NEW YORK CONTINUES ASSAULT ON MERS


By Jonathan C. Cross and Stacey Trimmer

New York government officials are continuing their assault against foreclosure actions where Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) was the assignee of the mortgage, and challenges to foreclosures involving MERS are increasingly gaining traction in New York courts. Recently, the New York State Attorney General filed a complaint against MERS and several banks alleging fraud and deception in foreclosure proceedings. People v. JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., No. 2012/2768 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 3, 2012). In addition, three New York trial courts have decided motions involving standing and other issues in such actions. CIT Group/Consumer Fin., Inc. v. Platt, 33 Misc. 3d 1231(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2011); U.S. Bank N.A. v. Bressler, 33 Misc. 3d 1231(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2011); Bank of New York Mellon v. Martinez, 33 Misc. 3d 1215(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2011). Two courts ruled against the foreclosing banks, finding they did not have standing to foreclose where MERS assigned a mortgage without express authority to do so or sufficient documentation evidencing that the note was also transferred. Although the third court dismissed a lack of standing defense, it did so solely for procedural reasons.

Read More Beginning At Page 16

[CHADBOURNE]

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Naked Capitalism | OCC Servicer Review Firm Also “Scrubs” Loan Files, Fabricates Documents

Naked Capitalism | OCC Servicer Review Firm Also “Scrubs” Loan Files, Fabricates Documents


Yves Smith-

Reader Lisa N. pointed me to a troubling October 2010 press release by SolomonEdwardsGroup, a company that describes itself as a “national financial services consulting and staffing firm” about its remediation services for “significant loan documentation problems.” Alert readers will recognize that this is shortly after the robosiging scandal broke.

Here are the key parts of the press release:

SEG’s teams can also be rapidly deployed across the U.S., to help banks and servicers “scrub” files and determine which foreclosures may have been tainted by incorrect loan documentation and processing issues such as robo-signing….

For instance on a recent engagement, SEG quickly deployed a 25-person team to review a single-family loan portfolio containing 5,000 loans and within six weeks brought the portfolio into compliance with investor guidelines. During another recent engagement, SEG successfully completed the same type of project involving 20,000 single-family loans tainted by fraud allegations.

Needless to say, this sounds consistent to the charges we’ve heard from borrower attorneys and have even seen at trial: that of “tah dah” documents appearing suddenly in court that solved all the problems with the evidence presented. A not that unusual case occurred last week, in Kings County, New York, where in HSBC v. Sene, when the lawyers for the bank tried submitting two notes (borrower IOUs), the second attempting to remedy problems raised by the first one, each presented as the original. The judge not only ruled against the foreclosure but referred the case to the district attorney and the state attorney general.

Why the Failure to Convey Notes and Make Assignments Properly is Such a Big Deal in Mortgage Securitizations…

[NAKED CAPITALISM]

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RePOST: U.S. BANK v. BRESSLER | NYSC “ASMT from MERS is defective, as it had no right, authority to assign the mortgage or the note”

RePOST: U.S. BANK v. BRESSLER | NYSC “ASMT from MERS is defective, as it had no right, authority to assign the mortgage or the note”



Decided on December 7, 2011

Supreme Court, Kings County

 

U.S. Bank National Association, AS TRUSTEE FOR SG MORTGAGE SECURITIES ASSET BACKED CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-FRE2, Plaintiff,

against

Alan Bressler, CCU LLC, MERS, INC. ET AL, Defendants.

33920/08

Debra Silber, J.

Recitation, as required by CPLR 2219(a), of the papers considered in the review of plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and for the appointment of a Referee to compute in this foreclosure action, and defendant’s cross-motion to dismiss.

PapersNumbered

Notice of Motion and Exhibits Annexed ……………………………….1-12

Cross-motion and Exhibits Annexed ……………………………………13- 20

Answering Affidavits …………………………………………………………21-30

Reply Affidavits ………………………………………………………………..

Other:

Upon the foregoing cited papers, the Decision/Order on this application is as follows:

Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and the appointment of a referee to compute in this foreclosure action concerning 1477 East 32nd Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11234, Block 7694, Lot 85, is denied and defendant mortgagor’s motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing is granted, for the reasons set forth herein.

Defendant Alan Bressler alleges in his Answer to the Complaint that the plaintiff lacks standing to bring this action. In response to the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, defendant cross moves to dismiss the foreclosure action on the grounds that plaintiff lacks standing to bring this action. The court finds that defendant is correct, and as such, the action must be dismissed.

The mortgage in question was issued by Fremont Investment and Loan on May 4, 2006. The loan states “for purposes of recording, MERS is the mortgagee of record.” The tortured history of MERS is described in Bank of NY v. Silverberg, 2011 NY Slip Op 5002, 86 AD3d 274 (2nd Dept), and need not be repeated. On December 18, 2008, an Assignment of Mortgage was executed, and subsequently recorded, which assigns the mortgage and not the note, and assigns it from MERS to plaintiff. First, the assignment of a mortgage without the note is defective as the transfer of the mortgage without the debt is a nullity. In a decision citing Silverberg, the court said “an assignment of the mortgage without assignment of the underlying note or bond is a nullity” Citimortgage, Inc. v Stosel, 2011 NY Slip Op 8319 (2nd Dept) citing U.S. Bank, N.A. v [*2]Collymore, 68 AD3d at 754; see Bank of NY v Silverberg, 86 AD3d 274, 280, 926 N.Y.S.2d 532.

Secondly, an assignment from MERS to plaintiff is defective, as MERS had no right or authority to assign the mortgage or the note. Bank of NY v Silverberg, supra. “The plaintiff, which merely stepped into the shoes of MERS, its assignor, and gained only that to which its assignor was entitled . . . did not acquire the power to foreclose by way of the

. . . assignment.” Id.

It must also be noted that not only did MERS lack the power and authority to execute the assignment on behalf of Fremont Investment and Loan on December 18, 2008, but Fremont did not exist any longer on that date, as it was first subjected to a cease and desist order from the FDIC and then went into Bankruptcy. Then, its assets were apparently sold sometime in 2010 in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding, which started in the summer of 2008, to Signature Group Holdings Inc.[FN1]

Further, it must be noted that the execution of an Assignment of Mortgage by MERS is barred by the Settlement Agreement between the US Attorney’s Office on behalf of the United States of America and the Office of Steven J. Baum P.C. and Pillar Processing, LLC, dated October 6, 2011, which states at paragraph 14 that “Baum shall no longer permit anyone employed by or contracted by Baum to execute any assignment of a mortgage as an officer, director, employee, agent or other representative of MERSCORP, Inc., and/or Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.” The office of Mr. Baum was the attorney for the plaintiff when this matter was commenced, the assignment at issue is stamped “Pillar Processing LLC” and is signed on behalf of MERS by Elpiniki M. Bechakas, an attorney in the office of Steven J. Baum, according to the public internet attorney registration website maintained by the State of New York.

To the extent that plaintiff’s counsel opposes the defendant’s motion to dismiss with various affirmations of counsel, including one that states that the Note was indeed also assigned, and annexes (Exhibit B) a photocopy of a document alleged to be an assignment of the note, which is merely a blank piece of paper that states “Pay to the order of US Bank National Association as Trustee, without recourse,” and is undated and signed by “Michael Koch, Vice President, Fremont Investment and Loan,” this is insufficient. Ms. Jones, Vice President for Loan Documentation for Wells Fargo Bank N.A., states in her affidavit (Paragraph 5) “the Note was endorsed and was physically delivered to Wells Fargo/ASC as servicing agent and custodian for US Bank prior to the commencement of this action . . . Thus, Wells Fargo’s records specifically reflect that, it was in physical possession of the endorsed note prior to the commencement of this action.” The language in the affidavit indicates that the loan was assigned and transferred to plaintiff while Fremont Investment & Loan was still in existence, in July of 2006, but this is the only indication of this fact, and does not indicate delivery to plaintiff, but merely alleging delivery to plaintiff’s agent for servicing without any supporting documentation. Ms Jones provides no date of the alleged delivery, and as discussed above, at the time of the alleged delivery, Fremont may not have existed, or may have been subject to the restrictions on transfer in the proceedings in Bankruptcy Court, or may have been subject to the FDIC’s cease [*3]and desist order. This cannot be ascertained without a date.

The affirmation of counsel that indicates that the current loan servicer has confirmed that the information in the complaint is accurate is also insufficient, as there is no indication that the alleged servicer is actually the servicer for this loan. The pooling and servicing agreement is between plaintiff and the servicer. There is nothing in the papers from Signature Group Holdings, Inc., the entity that now appears to own the Note and Mortgage, which confirms that they too have retained Wells Fargo as servicer for this loan.

In conclusion, plaintiff has failed to make out a prima facie case for summary judgment due to the defects in the documentation in their motion, described above. The defendant has made out a prima facie case for dismissal on the grounds that plaintiff lacked standing at the time the action was commenced, and may in fact still lack standing, which plaintiff has not overcome with any documentation, in admissible form or not, to prevent dismissal of the complaint.

This shall constitute the Decision and Order of the Court.

Dated: December 7, 2011

E N T E R :

Hon. Debra Silber A.J.S.C.

Footnotes

Footnote 1:http://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news18108/former-sub-prime-lender-fremont-exits-bankruptcy-and-re-emerges-signature-group-holdings

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Court sides with Nevada in BoA foreclosure case

Court sides with Nevada in BoA foreclosure case


REUTERS-

A federal appeals court on Friday granted Nevada’s request to send its lawsuit alleging mortgage modification and foreclosure abuses against Bank of America Corp back to Nevada state court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision by a lower court, which had concluded that the lawsuit belonged in federal court.

Nevada’s complaint, filed in Clark County, Nevada, in January 2011, alleges that Bank of America misled consumers about the terms of its home mortgage modification and foreclosure processes.

Nevada also accused the bank of violating terms of a consent judgment it and several of its subsidiaries had entered into with the state in February 2009.

After Bank of America removed the lawsuit to federal court, Nevada’s request to send it back to state court was denied.

Chief Judge Robert Clive Jones of the District of Nevada ruled that the lawsuit belonged in his court because the lawsuit was a class action, which gives federal courts jurisdiction.

[REUTERS]

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