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REWIND: “MERS DOUBLE ASSIGNMENT” IN RE MORENO, Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Eastern Div. 2010

REWIND: “MERS DOUBLE ASSIGNMENT” IN RE MORENO, Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Eastern Div. 2010


In re: SIMEON MORENO, Chapter 13, Debtor

Case No. 08-17715-FJB.

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Eastern Division.

May 24, 2010.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON MOTION OF PROPERTY ASSET MANAGEMENT, INC. FOR RELIEF FROM THE AUTOMATIC STAY

FRANK J. BAILEY, Bankruptcy Judge

In the Chapter 13 case of debtor Simeon Moreno, Property Asset Management, Inc. (“PAM”), claiming to be the assignee of a mortgage originally given by the debtor to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as nominee for lender GE Money Bank, moved for relief from the automatic stay to foreclose the mortgage. Moreno initially opposed the motion but then withdrew his objection, whereupon the Court granted the relief requested. Months later, at Moreno’s request, the Court vacated the order granting relief from stay and scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the Motion for Relief from Stay for the limited purpose of reconsidering whether PAM had an interest in the mortgage it sought to foreclose and, to that extent, standing to seek relief from stay.[1] Having held the evidentiary hearing and received proposed findings and conclusions, the Court now enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Findings of Fact and Procedural History

On January 23, 2007, Moreno executed a promissory note in the principal amount of $492,000, payable to lender GE Money Bank. GE subsequently endorsed the note in blank, whereupon possession of the note was transferred through a series of holders and ultimately to Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. (“LBHI”), who held the note when PAM filed its Motion for Relief from Stay and continues to hold it now.[2] LBHI, through one of its employees and through LBHI’s attorney, who not coincidentally also is PAM’s attorney in the present matter, produced the original note at the evidentiary hearing. PAM is not now a holder of the note or an entity for whose benefit another has held the note.

To secure the promissory note, Moreno gave a mortgage on the real property at 5 Maple Street, West Roxbury, Massachusetts (the “Property”) to MERS as nominee for GE (the “Mortgage”). The Mortgage specifies that MERS “is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for [GE] and [GE’s] successors and assigns. MERS is the mortgagee under this security instrument.” The Mortgage further provides that Moreno does hereby mortgage, grant and convey to MERS (solely as nominee for [GE] and [GE’s] successors and assigns) and to the successors and assigns of MERS, with power of sale, the [Property]. . . . Borrower understands and agrees that MERS holds only legal title to the interests granted by Borrower in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for [GE] and [GE’s] successors and assigns) has the right: to exercise any or all of those interests, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and to take any action required of [GE] including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.

The Mortgage was duly recorded.

MERS administers an electronic registry to track the transfer of ownership interest and servicing rights in mortgage loans. With respect to certain loans of which its members are the beneficial owners, MERS also serves as mortgagee of record and holds legal title to the mortgages in a nominee capacity. MERS remains the mortgagee of record when beneficial ownership interests or servicing rights are sold from one member of the MERS system to another. When the beneficial interest in a mortgage loan is transferred from one member of the MERS system to another, MERS tracks the transfer through its internal records. When rights are transferred from a member of the MERS system to a non-member, MERS executes and records an assignment from MERS to the non-member.

To facilitate the execution of the assignments from MERS, MERS designates “certifying officers,” who are typically employees of MERS member firms. MERS authorizes these employees, through formal corporate resolutions, to execute assignments on behalf of MERS. On or about January 6, 2005, MERS, through a document entitled Corporate Resolution and issued by its board of directors, authorized Denise Bailey, an employee of Litton Loan Servicing L.P. (“Litton”), a member of MERS, to execute such assignments on behalf of MERS. In the language of the authorizing document (the “MERS Authorization”),[3] Ms. Bailey was authorized to, among other things, “assign the lien of any mortgage loan naming MERS as the mortgagee when the Member [Litton] is also the current promissory note-holder, or if the mortgage loan is registered on the MERS System, is shown [sic] to be registered to the Member”[4]; and Ms. Bailey was further authorized to “take any such actions and execute such documents as may be necessary to fulfill the Member’s servicing obligations to the beneficial owner of such mortgage loan (including mortgage loans that are removed from the MERS System as a result of the transfer thereof to a non-member of MERS).” In each instance, Bailey’s authority to act is dependent on the existence of a specified relationship of Litton, the MERS member for whom she is employed, to the loan in question.

The Moreno loan was entered into the MERS tracking database in the ordinary course of business. Thereafter, MERS tracked the beneficial interest in the loan. The beneficial interest was transferred from G.E. Money Bank to WMC Mortgage Corporation; then, on September 19, 2007, from WMC Mortgage Corporation to Aurora Bank FSB (formerly known as Lehman Brothers Bank FSB), and then, on July 30, 2008, from Aurora Bank FSB to LBHI. Aurora Bank was at all relevant times a wholly-owned subsidiary of LBHI.

With respect to the Moreno Mortgage, MERS remained the mortgagee of record until, on or about April 30, 2008, MERS, acting through Denise Bailey, assigned the Mortgage to PAM. At the time, Aurora Bank FSB was the beneficial owner of the loan. In executing the MERS assignment to PAM, Ms. Bailey purported to be acting under her MERS Authorization.

The MERS Authorization limited Ms. Bailey’s authority to act for MERS to matters with respect to which Litton was involved in at least one of the ways specified in the above-quoted language from the MERS Authorization. There is evidence, and I find, that Aurora Bank FSB had requested that Litton transfer the loan from MERS to PAM in anticipation of foreclosure. However, PAM has adduced no evidence that Litton had any specified connection to this loan at the time it executed this assignment. There is no evidence that Litton was then (or at any time) the servicer of the loan for Aurora Bank or that Litton was registered as servicer of the loan in the MERS system.[5] (PAM does not contend that Litton was the holder of the promissory note or the owner of the beneficial interest in the loan.)

Scott Drosdick, a vice-president of LBHI and witness for PAM at the evidentiary hearing, testified that Aurora Bank’s instruction to Litton to transfer the mortgage to PAM was later “ratified by LBHI.” Drosdick did not explain what he meant by this, precisely how and when this ratification occurred. Absent such evidence and clarification, this testimony is too vague to have any definite meaning; accordingly I give it no weight.

By a master servicing agreement dated February 1, 1999, LBHI engaged Aurora Loan Services, Inc., now known as Aurora Loan Services LLC (“ALS”), as master servicer of certain loans, including eventually the present Moreno loan. In turn, ALS engaged Litton to service certain loans, including eventually this same loan.

After Bailey executed the MERS assignment to PAM, Bailey executed another assignment of the same mortgage from MERS to LBHI. This second assignment was never recorded; nor is there evidence that it was ever delivered by MERS to LBHI.

Moreno filed a petition for relief under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code on October 13, 2008, commencing the present bankruptcy case. On November 13, 2008, LBHI, acting through its servicer Litton Loan Servicing, LP, filed a proof of claim in this case; the proof of claim asserts a claim, secured by real estate, in the total amount of $530,168.04, the same secured claim as PAM now seeks relief from stay to enforce by foreclosure. On the proof of claim form itself, Litton actually identifies the creditor claimant as simply “Litton,” but on an explanatory document attached to the proof of claim form, Litton states that the claim is filed by “Litton Loan Servicing, LP, as Servicing Agent for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.” The proof of claim does not mention PAM or indicate in any way that the mortgage securing the claim is held by anyone other than LBHI.

On March 31, 2009, and at LBHI’s direction, PAM filed the present motion for relief from the automatic stay, seeking relief from the automatic stay to foreclose and to preserve its rights as to a potential deficiency. PAM intends and is obligated to remit the proceeds of the intended foreclosure sale to Aurora Loan Services LLC, as servicer for LBHI. Regarding ownership of the note and Mortgage, PAM stated in the motion only that it was the holder of a mortgage originally given by Moreno to MERS, that the mortgage secured a note given by Moreno to GE, and that MERS had assigned the mortgage to PAM. PAM did not indicate that LBHI was the current holder of the note or that it held the mortgage as nominee for the benefit of LBHI or of any other entity. The motion did not mention LBHI.

Moreno filed a response to the motion, in essence an objection, in which he expressly admitted PAM’s allegation that his prepetition arrearage was $39,442.49 and, by lack of denial, tacitly admitted that Moreno was some four months in arrears on his postpetition payments under the mortgage. By these allegations and admissions, PAM has established that Moreno is in default on his mortgage loan obligations; the Court rejects Moreno’s request for a finding that PAM has not established a default. The response made no issue of PAM’s standing to foreclose or to seek relief from stay and did not dispute PAM’s allegations regarding ownership of the note and Mortgage. In any event, before a hearing was held on the motion, Moreno, through counsel, withdrew his objection. Consequently, on April 28, 2009, and without a hearing or any review of apparent inconsistencies in the bankruptcy record concerning ownership of the mortgage and note, the court granted PAM relief from the automatic stay to foreclose and to preserve its rights as to a potential deficiency.

PAM had not yet foreclosed when, on December 2, 2009 and by new counsel, Moreno filed an adversary complaint against PAM and, with it, a motion for preliminary injunction. The complaint sought among other things (i) an order invalidating the mortgage on account of irregularities in its origination and (ii) a declaration that PAM was not the holder of the mortgage and note. In the motion for preliminary injunction, Moreno asked that the foreclosure be stayed, or that the automatic stay be reimposed, pending disposition of the adversary proceeding. On December 7, 2009, after a hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction, the Court found that the motion was, in part, essentially one to vacate the order granting relief from the automatic stay, vacated that order, and scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the motion for relief. The order specified that the sole issue at the evidentiary hearing would be PAM’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay, all other issues under 11 U.S.C. § 362(d) being deemed established. After discovery, the evidentiary hearing was held on April 8, 2010, and, with the submission of proposed findings and conclusions, the matter was then taken under advisement.

Discussion

As the party seeking relief from stay to foreclose a mortgage on the debtor’s property, PAM bears the burden of proving that it has authority under applicable state law to foreclose the mortgage in question and, by virtue of that authority, standing to move for relief from the automatic stay to foreclose. PAM contends that it has such authority and standing because, although it does not hold the promissory note that the mortgage secures, it does have title to the mortgage itself; and it holds that title as nominee of and for the benefit of the note holder, LBHI, and is foreclosing for LBHI. In these circumstances, PAM contends, a mortgagee has a right under Massachusetts law to foreclose for the benefit of the note holder and therefore standing to move for relief from stay to foreclose. The Debtor objects, arguing (among other things) that Massachusetts law prohibits foreclosure by one who holds only the mortgage and not the note it secures. I need not address the merits of this and other objections because, even if the theory is a valid one, it requires proof that PAM is the present title holder of the mortgage, and PAM has not carried its burden in this regard.

To show that it presently holds the mortgage, PAM must show a valid assignment of the mortgage from MERS to itself. PAM contends that it holds the mortgage by assignment from MERS. Accordingly, PAM must show that the assignment, which was executed for MERS by Denise Bailey, was within the scope of Bailey’s limited authority to act for MERS.

Ms. Bailey’s authority to act for MERS is defined in the MERS Authorization in seven enumerated paragraphs. In each, Ms. Bailey’s authority to act is dependent on the existence of a specified relationship of Litton, the MERS member by whom she is employed, to the loan in question. PAM has submitted no evidence of the existence of any such relationship. The beneficial owner of the loan at the time of the assignment was Aurora Bank FSB, but there is no evidence that Litton was at the time the servicer of the loan for Aurora Bank FSB or was registered with MERS as such. The Court does not find that Aurora Bank FSB had not retained Litton as its servicer; there is simply no evidence on the issue. But the burden is on PAM to prove that it had, and PAM has not adduced evidence to that effect.

Accordingly, by a separate order, the Court will deny PAM’s motion for relief from the automatic stay without prejudice to renewal upon proper proof.

[1] All other issues were resolved upon entry of the original order granting relief from stay. No cause has been adduced to revisit any but the narrow issue of standing.

[2] Moreno contends that LBHI, which is in bankruptcy proceedings of its own, may have sold its interest in the note through a court-approved sale in its bankruptcy case. However, Moreno does not contend that possession of the note has passed from LBHI to the alleged purchaser (or any nominee of the purchaser), and therefore the alleged possible sale is irrelevant, as possession undisputedly remains in LBHI. In any event, Moreno attempted to establish the fact of the alleged sale by designating certain documents on the docket of the LBHI case and asking the Court to take judicial notice of these and then to find them on its own and to determine from them whether the promissory note in question was among the assets transferred. Having found the alleged sale to be irrelevant, the Court declined to take judicial notice of the bankruptcy documents. However, the proffer also failed for two additional reasons: first, that Moreno did not take a position as to whether a sale did occur, only that the Moreno note may have been among those transferred in the sale; and second, even if the court had taken judicial notice as requested, it remained Moreno’s obligation, which he has not fulfilled, to produce the documents in question and to explain in the first instance how one would conclude from them that the asset in question was among those transferred.

[3] MERS Corporate Resolution, attached to Bailey Affidavit as Exhibit 1.

[4] The grammatical difficulty in this second clause is native to the authorizing document.

[5] The original affidavit of Scott Drosdick includes the following two sentences:

By Master Servicing Agreement dated February 1, 1999, LBHI engaged Aurora Bank FSB (f/k/a Lehman Brothers Bank FSB), to master service, among other things, the Loan [the Moreno loan]. In turn, Aurora Bank FSB engaged Litton pursuant to a Flow Subservicing Agreement dated October 1, 2007, to service the loan.”

By an amendment to the affidavit and in testimony, Drosdick later amended his affidavit to correct this passage by striking Aurora Bank FSB from the first sentence and in its place inserting Aurora Loan Services LLC. Drosdick did not expressly change the second sentence, but that sentence, which begins with the critical words “in turn,” would be nonsensical unless the same substitution—Aurora Loan Services LLC for Aurora Bank FSB—were also made in the second sentence. Therefore, though the second sentence might perhaps be read in isolation as evidence that Litton was servicing the loan for Aurora Bank FSB at the time when Bailey executed the assignment, that sentence cannot credibly be so construed.

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MERS DOUBLE ASSIGNMENT AMNESIA? Oh MS. BAILEY!! IN RE MORENO, Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Eastern Div. 2010

MERS DOUBLE ASSIGNMENT AMNESIA? Oh MS. BAILEY!! IN RE MORENO, Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Eastern Div. 2010


In re: SIMEON MORENO, Chapter 13, Debtor

Case No. 08-17715-FJB.

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Eastern Division.

May 24, 2010.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON MOTION OF PROPERTY ASSET MANAGEMENT, INC. FOR RELIEF FROM THE AUTOMATIC STAY

FRANK J. BAILEY, Bankruptcy Judge

In the Chapter 13 case of debtor Simeon Moreno, Property Asset Management, Inc. (“PAM”), claiming to be the assignee of a mortgage originally given by the debtor to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as nominee for lender GE Money Bank, moved for relief from the automatic stay to foreclose the mortgage. Moreno initially opposed the motion but then withdrew his objection, whereupon the Court granted the relief requested. Months later, at Moreno’s request, the Court vacated the order granting relief from stay and scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the Motion for Relief from Stay for the limited purpose of reconsidering whether PAM had an interest in the mortgage it sought to foreclose and, to that extent, standing to seek relief from stay.[1] Having held the evidentiary hearing and received proposed findings and conclusions, the Court now enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Findings of Fact and Procedural History

On January 23, 2007, Moreno executed a promissory note in the principal amount of $492,000, payable to lender GE Money Bank. GE subsequently endorsed the note in blank, whereupon possession of the note was transferred through a series of holders and ultimately to Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. (“LBHI”), who held the note when PAM filed its Motion for Relief from Stay and continues to hold it now.[2] LBHI, through one of its employees and through LBHI’s attorney, who not coincidentally also is PAM’s attorney in the present matter, produced the original note at the evidentiary hearing. PAM is not now a holder of the note or an entity for whose benefit another has held the note.

To secure the promissory note, Moreno gave a mortgage on the real property at 5 Maple Street, West Roxbury, Massachusetts (the “Property”) to MERS as nominee for GE (the “Mortgage”). The Mortgage specifies that MERS “is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for [GE] and [GE’s] successors and assigns. MERS is the mortgagee under this security instrument.” The Mortgage further provides that Moreno does hereby mortgage, grant and convey to MERS (solely as nominee for [GE] and [GE’s] successors and assigns) and to the successors and assigns of MERS, with power of sale, the [Property]. . . . Borrower understands and agrees that MERS holds only legal title to the interests granted by Borrower in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for [GE] and [GE’s] successors and assigns) has the right: to exercise any or all of those interests, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and to take any action required of [GE] including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.

The Mortgage was duly recorded.

MERS administers an electronic registry to track the transfer of ownership interest and servicing rights in mortgage loans. With respect to certain loans of which its members are the beneficial owners, MERS also serves as mortgagee of record and holds legal title to the mortgages in a nominee capacity. MERS remains the mortgagee of record when beneficial ownership interests or servicing rights are sold from one member of the MERS system to another. When the beneficial interest in a mortgage loan is transferred from one member of the MERS system to another, MERS tracks the transfer through its internal records. When rights are transferred from a member of the MERS system to a non-member, MERS executes and records an assignment from MERS to the non-member.

To facilitate the execution of the assignments from MERS, MERS designates “certifying officers,” who are typically employees of MERS member firms. MERS authorizes these employees, through formal corporate resolutions, to execute assignments on behalf of MERS. On or about January 6, 2005, MERS, through a document entitled Corporate Resolution and issued by its board of directors, authorized Denise Bailey, an employee of Litton Loan Servicing L.P. (“Litton”), a member of MERS, to execute such assignments on behalf of MERS. In the language of the authorizing document (the “MERS Authorization”),[3] Ms. Bailey was authorized to, among other things, “assign the lien of any mortgage loan naming MERS as the mortgagee when the Member [Litton] is also the current promissory note-holder, or if the mortgage loan is registered on the MERS System, is shown [sic] to be registered to the Member”[4]; and Ms. Bailey was further authorized to “take any such actions and execute such documents as may be necessary to fulfill the Member’s servicing obligations to the beneficial owner of such mortgage loan (including mortgage loans that are removed from the MERS System as a result of the transfer thereof to a non-member of MERS).” In each instance, Bailey’s authority to act is dependent on the existence of a specified relationship of Litton, the MERS member for whom she is employed, to the loan in question.

The Moreno loan was entered into the MERS tracking database in the ordinary course of business. Thereafter, MERS tracked the beneficial interest in the loan. The beneficial interest was transferred from G.E. Money Bank to WMC Mortgage Corporation; then, on September 19, 2007, from WMC Mortgage Corporation to Aurora Bank FSB (formerly known as Lehman Brothers Bank FSB), and then, on July 30, 2008, from Aurora Bank FSB to LBHI. Aurora Bank was at all relevant times a wholly-owned subsidiary of LBHI.

With respect to the Moreno Mortgage, MERS remained the mortgagee of record until, on or about April 30, 2008, MERS, acting through Denise Bailey, assigned the Mortgage to PAM. At the time, Aurora Bank FSB was the beneficial owner of the loan. In executing the MERS assignment to PAM, Ms. Bailey purported to be acting under her MERS Authorization.

The MERS Authorization limited Ms. Bailey’s authority to act for MERS to matters with respect to which Litton was involved in at least one of the ways specified in the above-quoted language from the MERS Authorization. There is evidence, and I find, that Aurora Bank FSB had requested that Litton transfer the loan from MERS to PAM in anticipation of foreclosure. However, PAM has adduced no evidence that Litton had any specified connection to this loan at the time it executed this assignment. There is no evidence that Litton was then (or at any time) the servicer of the loan for Aurora Bank or that Litton was registered as servicer of the loan in the MERS system.[5] (PAM does not contend that Litton was the holder of the promissory note or the owner of the beneficial interest in the loan.)

Scott Drosdick, a vice-president of LBHI and witness for PAM at the evidentiary hearing, testified that Aurora Bank’s instruction to Litton to transfer the mortgage to PAM was later “ratified by LBHI.” Drosdick did not explain what he meant by this, precisely how and when this ratification occurred. Absent such evidence and clarification, this testimony is too vague to have any definite meaning; accordingly I give it no weight.

By a master servicing agreement dated February 1, 1999, LBHI engaged Aurora Loan Services, Inc., now known as Aurora Loan Services LLC (“ALS”), as master servicer of certain loans, including eventually the present Moreno loan. In turn, ALS engaged Litton to service certain loans, including eventually this same loan.

After Bailey executed the MERS assignment to PAM, Bailey executed another assignment of the same mortgage from MERS to LBHI. This second assignment was never recorded; nor is there evidence that it was ever delivered by MERS to LBHI.

Moreno filed a petition for relief under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code on October 13, 2008, commencing the present bankruptcy case. On November 13, 2008, LBHI, acting through its servicer Litton Loan Servicing, LP, filed a proof of claim in this case; the proof of claim asserts a claim, secured by real estate, in the total amount of $530,168.04, the same secured claim as PAM now seeks relief from stay to enforce by foreclosure. On the proof of claim form itself, Litton actually identifies the creditor claimant as simply “Litton,” but on an explanatory document attached to the proof of claim form, Litton states that the claim is filed by “Litton Loan Servicing, LP, as Servicing Agent for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.” The proof of claim does not mention PAM or indicate in any way that the mortgage securing the claim is held by anyone other than LBHI.

On March 31, 2009, and at LBHI’s direction, PAM filed the present motion for relief from the automatic stay, seeking relief from the automatic stay to foreclose and to preserve its rights as to a potential deficiency. PAM intends and is obligated to remit the proceeds of the intended foreclosure sale to Aurora Loan Services LLC, as servicer for LBHI. Regarding ownership of the note and Mortgage, PAM stated in the motion only that it was the holder of a mortgage originally given by Moreno to MERS, that the mortgage secured a note given by Moreno to GE, and that MERS had assigned the mortgage to PAM. PAM did not indicate that LBHI was the current holder of the note or that it held the mortgage as nominee for the benefit of LBHI or of any other entity. The motion did not mention LBHI.

Moreno filed a response to the motion, in essence an objection, in which he expressly admitted PAM’s allegation that his prepetition arrearage was $39,442.49 and, by lack of denial, tacitly admitted that Moreno was some four months in arrears on his postpetition payments under the mortgage. By these allegations and admissions, PAM has established that Moreno is in default on his mortgage loan obligations; the Court rejects Moreno’s request for a finding that PAM has not established a default. The response made no issue of PAM’s standing to foreclose or to seek relief from stay and did not dispute PAM’s allegations regarding ownership of the note and Mortgage. In any event, before a hearing was held on the motion, Moreno, through counsel, withdrew his objection. Consequently, on April 28, 2009, and without a hearing or any review of apparent inconsistencies in the bankruptcy record concerning ownership of the mortgage and note, the court granted PAM relief from the automatic stay to foreclose and to preserve its rights as to a potential deficiency.

PAM had not yet foreclosed when, on December 2, 2009 and by new counsel, Moreno filed an adversary complaint against PAM and, with it, a motion for preliminary injunction. The complaint sought among other things (i) an order invalidating the mortgage on account of irregularities in its origination and (ii) a declaration that PAM was not the holder of the mortgage and note. In the motion for preliminary injunction, Moreno asked that the foreclosure be stayed, or that the automatic stay be reimposed, pending disposition of the adversary proceeding. On December 7, 2009, after a hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction, the Court found that the motion was, in part, essentially one to vacate the order granting relief from the automatic stay, vacated that order, and scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the motion for relief. The order specified that the sole issue at the evidentiary hearing would be PAM’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay, all other issues under 11 U.S.C. § 362(d) being deemed established. After discovery, the evidentiary hearing was held on April 8, 2010, and, with the submission of proposed findings and conclusions, the matter was then taken under advisement.

Discussion

As the party seeking relief from stay to foreclose a mortgage on the debtor’s property, PAM bears the burden of proving that it has authority under applicable state law to foreclose the mortgage in question and, by virtue of that authority, standing to move for relief from the automatic stay to foreclose. PAM contends that it has such authority and standing because, although it does not hold the promissory note that the mortgage secures, it does have title to the mortgage itself; and it holds that title as nominee of and for the benefit of the note holder, LBHI, and is foreclosing for LBHI. In these circumstances, PAM contends, a mortgagee has a right under Massachusetts law to foreclose for the benefit of the note holder and therefore standing to move for relief from stay to foreclose. The Debtor objects, arguing (among other things) that Massachusetts law prohibits foreclosure by one who holds only the mortgage and not the note it secures. I need not address the merits of this and other objections because, even if the theory is a valid one, it requires proof that PAM is the present title holder of the mortgage, and PAM has not carried its burden in this regard.

To show that it presently holds the mortgage, PAM must show a valid assignment of the mortgage from MERS to itself. PAM contends that it holds the mortgage by assignment from MERS. Accordingly, PAM must show that the assignment, which was executed for MERS by Denise Bailey, was within the scope of Bailey’s limited authority to act for MERS.

Ms. Bailey’s authority to act for MERS is defined in the MERS Authorization in seven enumerated paragraphs. In each, Ms. Bailey’s authority to act is dependent on the existence of a specified relationship of Litton, the MERS member by whom she is employed, to the loan in question. PAM has submitted no evidence of the existence of any such relationship. The beneficial owner of the loan at the time of the assignment was Aurora Bank FSB, but there is no evidence that Litton was at the time the servicer of the loan for Aurora Bank FSB or was registered with MERS as such. The Court does not find that Aurora Bank FSB had not retained Litton as its servicer; there is simply no evidence on the issue. But the burden is on PAM to prove that it had, and PAM has not adduced evidence to that effect.

Accordingly, by a separate order, the Court will deny PAM’s motion for relief from the automatic stay without prejudice to renewal upon proper proof.

[1] All other issues were resolved upon entry of the original order granting relief from stay. No cause has been adduced to revisit any but the narrow issue of standing.

[2] Moreno contends that LBHI, which is in bankruptcy proceedings of its own, may have sold its interest in the note through a court-approved sale in its bankruptcy case. However, Moreno does not contend that possession of the note has passed from LBHI to the alleged purchaser (or any nominee of the purchaser), and therefore the alleged possible sale is irrelevant, as possession undisputedly remains in LBHI. In any event, Moreno attempted to establish the fact of the alleged sale by designating certain documents on the docket of the LBHI case and asking the Court to take judicial notice of these and then to find them on its own and to determine from them whether the promissory note in question was among the assets transferred. Having found the alleged sale to be irrelevant, the Court declined to take judicial notice of the bankruptcy documents. However, the proffer also failed for two additional reasons: first, that Moreno did not take a position as to whether a sale did occur, only that the Moreno note may have been among those transferred in the sale; and second, even if the court had taken judicial notice as requested, it remained Moreno’s obligation, which he has not fulfilled, to produce the documents in question and to explain in the first instance how one would conclude from them that the asset in question was among those transferred.

[3] MERS Corporate Resolution, attached to Bailey Affidavit as Exhibit 1.

[4] The grammatical difficulty in this second clause is native to the authorizing document.

[5] The original affidavit of Scott Drosdick includes the following two sentences:

By Master Servicing Agreement dated February 1, 1999, LBHI engaged Aurora Bank FSB (f/k/a Lehman Brothers Bank FSB), to master service, among other things, the Loan [the Moreno loan]. In turn, Aurora Bank FSB engaged Litton pursuant to a Flow Subservicing Agreement dated October 1, 2007, to service the loan.”

By an amendment to the affidavit and in testimony, Drosdick later amended his affidavit to correct this passage by striking Aurora Bank FSB from the first sentence and in its place inserting Aurora Loan Services LLC. Drosdick did not expressly change the second sentence, but that sentence, which begins with the critical words “in turn,” would be nonsensical unless the same substitution—Aurora Loan Services LLC for Aurora Bank FSB—were also made in the second sentence. Therefore, though the second sentence might perhaps be read in isolation as evidence that Litton was servicing the loan for Aurora Bank FSB at the time when Bailey executed the assignment, that sentence cannot credibly be so construed.

Posted in bankruptcy, case, concealment, conspiracy, corruption, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, forensic loan audit, lehman brothers, MERS, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, note, reversed court decision, robo signer, robo signersComments (0)

WEISBAND Case No. 4:09-bk-05175-EWH. BKR Tucson Judge HOLLOWELL Denies MLS for Lack of Standing

WEISBAND Case No. 4:09-bk-05175-EWH. BKR Tucson Judge HOLLOWELL Denies MLS for Lack of Standing


Via: Livinglies

GMAC has failed to demonstrate that it is the holder of the Note because, while it was in possession of the Note at the evidentiary hearing, it failed to demonstrate that the Note is properly payable to GMAC

Once the securities have been sold, the SPV is not actively involved.

IN RE WEISBAND

In re: BARRY WEISBAND, Chapter 13, Debtor.

Case No. 4:09-bk-05175-EWH.

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Arizona.

March 29, 2010.

Barry Weisband, Tucson, AZ, Ronald Ryan, Ronald Ryan, P.C., Tucson, AZ, Attorney for Debtor.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

EILEEN W. HOLLOWELL, Bankruptcy Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

The debtor, Barry Weisband (“Debtor”), has challenged the standing of creditor, GMAC Mortgage, LLC (“GMAC”), to seek stay relief on his residence. After reviewing the documents provided by GMAC and conducting an evidentiary hearing, the court concludes that GMAC, the alleged servicer of the Debtor’s home loan, lacks standing to seek stay relief. The reasons for this conclusion are explained in the balance of this decision.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. Creation of Debtor’s Note And Asserted Subsequent Transfers

On or about October 6, 2006, the Debtor executed and delivered to GreenPoint Mortgage Funding, Inc. (“GreenPoint”) an adjustable rate promissory note in the principal sum of $540,000 (“Note”) secured by a Deed of Trust (“DOT”) on real property located at 5424 East Placita Apan, Tucson, Arizona 85718 (“Property”).

On a separate piece of paper, GreenPoint endorsed the Note to GMAC (“Endorsement”). The Endorsement is undated. The DOT was signed by the Debtor on October 9, 2006, and recorded on October 13, 2006. The DOT lists GreenPoint as the lender, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as the beneficiary of the DOT “solely as nominee for [GreenPoint], its successors and assigns.”

Approximately five months before the creation of the Note and DOT, on April 10, 2006, GreenPoint entered into a Flow Interim Servicing Agreement (“FISA”) (Exhibit D)[ 1 ] with Lehman Capital, a division of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. (collectively “Lehman”), pursuant to which Lehman agreed to purchase conventional, residential, fixed and adjustable rate first and second lien mortgage loans from GreenPoint. Under the FISA, GreenPoint agreed to service the mortgage loans it sold to Lehman. According to GMAC, GreenPoint transferred the Note and DOT to Lehman under the FISA.

On November 1, 2006, Lehman entered into a Mortgage Loan Sale and Assignment Agreement (“MLSAA”) with Structured Asset Securities Corporation (“SASC”) (Exhibit E). Under that agreement, Lehman transferred a number of the mortgage loans it acquired under the FISA to SASC. GMAC claims that the Note was one of the mortgage loans transferred to SASC. SASC created a trust to hold the transferred mortgages — GreenPoint Mortgage Funding Trust (“Trust”). The MLSAA also transferred the right to receive principal and interest payments under the transferred mortgage loans from Lehman to the Trust.

Also, on November 1, 2006, SASC entered into a Trust Agreement (Exhibit F) with Aurora Loan Services (“Aurora”) as the master servicer, and U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”) as the trustee. A Reconstituted Servicing Agreement (Exhibit G) was executed the same day, which provided that GreenPoint would continue to service the mortgages transferred to the Trust under the MLSAA, but that the Trust could change servicers at any time. Also, according to GMAC, on November 1, 2006, GMAC, Lehman, and Aurora entered into a Securitization Servicing Agreement (“SSA”) (Exhibit H), pursuant to which GMAC would service the loans transferred to the Trust. GMAC claims that under the SSA it is the current servicer of the Note and DOT.

Thus, according to GMAC, as of November 1, 2006, the Note and DOT had been transferred to the Trust, with SASC as the Trustor, U.S. Bank as the Trustee, Aurora as the master servicer, and GMAC as the sub-servicer. GreenPoint went out of business in 2007. According to GMAC, it remains the sub-servicer of the Note, and that is its only financial interest in the Note and DOT. (Transcript Nov. 10, 2009, pp. 44, 47, 75.)

B. Bankruptcy Events

As of March 1, 2009, the Debtor was in default of his obligations under the Note. Debtor filed his petition for relief under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code on March 19, 2009. On May 16, 2009, GMAC filed a proof of claim (“POC”), which attached the Note and DOT. The Endorsement from GreenPoint to GMAC was not attached to GMAC’s proof of claim. On May 12, 2009, MERS, as nominee for GreenPoint, assigned its interest in the DOT to GMAC (“MERS Assignment”). The MERS Assignment was recorded on July 16, 2009.

GMAC filed a Motion for Relief from Stay (“Motion”) on May 29, 2009, on the grounds that the Debtor had no equity in the Property and the Property was not necessary for an effective reorganization. The Motion also requested adequate protection payments to protect GMAC’s alleged interest in the Property. GMAC attached the Note with the Endorsement and DOT as exhibits to the Motion.

The Debtor filed a response challenging GMAC’s standing to seek relief from stay. After various discovery disputes, GMAC sent a letter dated September 17, 2009, to the Debtor which purported to explain the various transfers of the Note and the DOT. (Docket #90). The letter explained that GreenPoint transferred the “subject loan” to Lehman under the FISA, that Lehman sold the “subject loan” to SASC under the MLSAA, that SASC, Aurora Loan Services, and U.S. National Bank entered into a trust agreement, which created the Trust and made Aurora the master servicer for the “subject loan,” and, that GMAC was the servicer of the “subject loan” under the SSA. According to GMAC, its status as servicer, along with the Endorsement of the Note to GMAC and the assignment of the DOT from MERS to GMAC, demonstrated that it had standing to bring the Motion.

On November 10, 2009, the Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the Motion. GMAC offered the original Note at the hearing and admitted into evidence a copy of the Note, DOT, copies of the FISA, MLSAA, Trust Agreement, the Reconstituted Servicing Agreement and the SSA. However, GMAC did not offer any documents demonstrating how the Note and DOT were conveyed by GreenPoint to the FISA. No document was offered demonstrating how the Note and DOT were conveyed from the FISA to the MLSAA or from the MLSAA into the Trust. Schedule A-1 of the MLSAA, where the transferred mortgages presumably would have been listed, only has the words “Intentionally Omitted” on it, and Schedule A-2 has the word “None.” (Exhibit F, pp. 19-20). Similarly, there is no evidence that the Note and DOT are subject to the SSA. Exhibit A to the SSA, titled “Mortgage Loan Schedule,” is blank. At the conclusion of the hearing, this Court ordered the Debtor to begin making adequate protection payments commencing on December 1, 2009 to the Chapter 13 Trustee. The Court further ordered GMAC and the Debtor to negotiate the amount of the adequate protection payments. When the parties were unable to reach agreement, the Court set the amount of the monthly payments at $1,000.

III. ISSUE

Does GMAC have standing to bring the Motion?

IV. JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT

Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1334(a) and 157(b)(2)(G).

V. DISCUSSION

A. Introduction

Section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that the filing of a bankruptcy petition operates as a stay of collection and enforcement actions. 11 U.S.C. § 362(a). The purpose of the automatic stay is to provide debtors with “protection against hungry creditors” and to assure creditors that the debtor’s other creditors are not “racing to various courthouses to pursue independent remedies to drain the debtor’s assets.” In re Tippett,Dean v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 72 F.3d 754, 755-56 (9th Cir. 1995)); see also In re Johnston, 321 B.R. 262, 2737-4 (D. Ariz. 2005). Despite the broad protection the stay affords, it is not without limits. 542 F.3d 684, 689-90 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Section 362(d) allows the court, upon request of a “party in interest,” to grant relief from the stay, “such as terminating, annulling, modifying, or conditioning such stay.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1). The court may grant relief “for cause, including the lack of adequate protection.” Id. The court may also grant relief from the stay with respect to specific property of the estate if the debtor lacks equity in the property and the property is not necessary to an effective reorganization. 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(2).

Any party affected by the stay should be entitled to seek relief. 3 COLLIER’S ON BANKRUPTCY ¶ 362.07[2] (Henry Somers & Alan Resnick, eds. 15th ed., rev. 2009); Matter of Brown Transp. Truckload, Inc., 118 B.R. 889, 893 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 1990); In re Vieland, 41 B.R. 134, 138 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 1984)). Relief from stay hearings are limited in scope — the validity of underlying claims is not litigated. In re Johnson, 756 F.2d 738, 740 (9th Cir. 1985). As one court has noted, “[s]tay relief hearings do not involve a full adjudication on the merits of claims, defenses or counterclaims, but simply a determination as to whether a creditor has a colorable claim.” In re Emrich, 2009 WL 3816174, at *1 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. 2009).

Nevertheless, in order to establish a colorable claim, a movant for relief from stay bears the burden of proof that it has standing to bring the motion. In re Wilhelm, 407 B.R. 392, 400 (Bankr. D. Idaho 2009). The issue of standing involves both “constitutional limitations on federal court jurisdiction and prudential limitations on its exercise.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). Constitutional standing concerns whether the plaintiff’s personal stake in the lawsuit is sufficient to have a “case or controversy” to which the federal judicial power may extend under Article III. Id.; see also Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559-60 (1992); Pershing Park Villas Homeowners Ass’n v. United Pac. Ins. Co., 219 F.3d 895, 899 (9th Cir. 2000).

Additionally, the “prudential doctrine of standing has come to encompass several judicially self-imposed limits on the exercise of federal jurisdiction.'” Pershing Park Villas, 219 F.3d at 899. Such limits are the prohibition on third-party standing and the requirement that suits be maintained by the real party in interest. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. at 498-99; Gilmartin v. City of Tucson, 2006 WL 5917165, at *4 (D. Ariz. 2006). Thus, prudential standing requires the plaintiff to assert its own claims rather than the claims of another. The requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 17, made applicable in stay relief motions by Rule 9014, “generally falls within the prudential standing doctrine.” In re Wilhelm, 407 B.R. at 398.

B. GMAC’s Standing

GMAC advances three different arguments in support of its claim to be a “party in interest” with standing to seek relief from stay. First, GMAC asserts it has standing because the Note was endorsed to GMAC and GMAC has physical possession of the Note. Second, GMAC asserts that by virtue of the MERS Assignment, it is a beneficiary of the DOT and entitled to enforce and foreclose the DOT under Arizona law. Third, GMAC asserts it has standing because it is the servicer of the Note. The court addresses each of GMAC’s claims in turn.

1. GMAC Has Not Demonstrated That It Is A Holder Of The Note

If GMAC is the holder of the Note, GMAC would be a party injured by the Debtor’s failure to pay it, thereby satisfying the constitutional standing requirement. GMAC would also be the real party in interest under Fed. R. Civ. P. 17 because under ARIZ. REV. STAT. (“A.R.S.’) § 47-3301, the holder of a note has the right to enforce it.[ 2 ] However, as discussed below, GMAC did not prove it is the holder of the Note.

Under Arizona law, a holder is defined as “the person in possession of a negotiable instrument that is payable either to bearer or to an identified person that is the person in possession.” A.R.S. § 47-1201(B)(21)(a).[ 3 ] GMAC has failed to demonstrate that it is the holder of the Note because, while it was in possession of the Note at the evidentiary hearing, it failed to demonstrate that the Note is properly payable to GMAC. A special endorsement to GMAC was admitted into evidence with the Note. However, for the Endorsement to constitute part of the Note, it must be on “a paper affixed to the instrument.” A.R.S. § 47-3204; see also In re Nash, 49 B.R. 254, 261 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 1985). Here, the evidence did not demonstrate that the Endorsement was affixed to the Note. The Endorsement is on a separate sheet of paper; there was no evidence that it was stapled or otherwise attached to the rest of the Note. Furthermore, when GMAC filed its proof of claim, the Endorsement was not included, which is a further indication that the allonge containing the Endorsement was not affixed to the Note.[ 4 ]

In Adams v. Madison Realty & Dev., Inc., 853 F.2d 163 (3d Cir. 1988), the plaintiffs executed promissory notes which, after a series of transfers, came into the defendant’s possession. At issue was whether the defendant was the rightful owner of the notes. The court held that the defendant was not entitled to holder in due course status because the endorsements failed to meet the UCC’s fixation requirement. Id. at 168-69. The court relied on UCC section 3-202(2) [A.R.S. § 47-3204]: “An indorsement must be written by or on behalf of the holder and on the instrument or on a paper so firmly affixed thereto as to become a part thereof.” Id. at 165. Since the endorsement page, indicating that the defendant was the holder of the note, was not attached to the note, the court found that the note had not been properly negotiated. Id. at 166-67. Thus, ownership of the note never transferred to the defendant. Applying that principle to the facts here, GMAC did not become a holder of the Note due to the improperly affixed special endorsement.

While the bankruptcy court in In re Nash, 49 B.R. 254 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 1985) found that holder in due course status existed even though an allonge was not properly affixed to an instrument, the court based its determination on the clear intention that the note assignment be physically attached because: (1) the assignment was signed and notarized the same day as the trust deed; (2) the assignment specifically referenced the escrow number; (3) the assignment identified the original note holder; and (4) the assignment recited that the note was to be attached to the assignment. Id. at 261.

In this case, however, there is no proof that the allonge containing the special endorsement from GreenPoint to GMAC was executed at or near the time the Note was executed. Furthermore, the Endorsement does not have any identifying numbers on it, such as an account number or an escrow number, nor does it reference the Note in any way. There is simply no indication that the allonge was appropriately affixed to the Note, in contradiction with the mandates of A.R.S. § 47-3204. Thus, there is no basis in this case to depart from the general rule that an endorsement on an allonge must be affixed to the instrument to be valid.

GMAC cannot overcome the problems with the unaffixed Endorsement by its physical possession of the Note because the Note was not endorsed in blank and, even if it was, the problem of the unaffixed endorsement would remain.[ 5 ] As a result, because GMAC failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the Endorsement was proper, it has failed to demonstrate that it is the holder of the Note.

2. The MERS Assignment Of The DOT Did Not Provide GMAC With Standing

GMAC argues that it has standing to bring the Motion as the assignee of MERS.[ 6 ] In this case, MERS is named in the DOT as a beneficiary, solely as the “nominee” of GreenPoint, holding only “legal title” to the interests granted to GreenPoint under the DOT. A number of cases have held that such language confers no economic benefit on MERS. See, e.g., In re Sheridan, 2009 WL 631355, *4 (Bankr. D. Idaho 2009); In re Mitchell, 2009 WL 1044368, *3-4 (Bankr. D. Nev. 2009); In re Jacobson, 402 B.R. 359, 367 (Bankr. W.D. Wash. 2009). As noted by the Sheridan court, MERS “collect[s] no money from [d]ebtors under the [n]ote, nor will it realize the value of the [p]roperty through foreclosure of the [d]eed of [t]rust in the event the [n]ote is not paid.” 2009 WL 631355 at *4.

Because MERS has no financial interest in the Note, it will suffer no injury if the Note is not paid and will realize no benefit if the DOT is foreclosed. Accordingly, MERS cannot satisfy the requirements of constitutional standing. GMAC, as MERS’ assignee of the DOT, “stands in the shoes” of the assignor, taking only those rights and remedies the assignor would have had. Hunnicutt Constr., Inc. v. Stewart Title & Trust of Tucson, Trust No. 3496, 187 Ariz. 301, 304 (Ct. App. 1996) citing Van Waters & Rogers v. Interchange Res., Inc., 14 Ariz. App. 414, 417 (1971); In re Boyajian, 367 B.R. 138, 145 (9th Cir. BAP 2007). Because GMAC is MERS’ assignee, it cannot satisfy the requirements of constitutional standing either.[ 7 ]

3. GMAC Does Not Have Standing As The Servicer Of The Note

(a) Servicer’s Right To Collect Fees For Securitized Mortgages

Securitization of residential mortgages is “the process of aggregating a large number of notes secured by deeds of trust in what is called a mortgage pool, and then selling security interests in that pool of mortgages.” Kurt Eggert, Held Up In Due Course: Predatory Lending, Securitization, and the Holder in Due Course Doctrine, 35 CREIGHTON L. REV. 503, 536 (2002). The process begins with a borrower negotiating with a mortgage broker for the terms of the loan. Then, the mortgage broker either originates the loan in its own name or in the name of another entity, which presumably provides the money for the loan. Almost immediately, the broker transfers the loan to the funding entity. “This lender quickly sells the loan to a different financial entity, which pools the loan together with a host of other loans in a mortgage pool.” Id. at 538.

The assignee then transfers the mortgages in the pool to another entity, which in turn transfers the loans to a special purpose vehicle (“SPV”,) whose sole role is to hold the pool of mortgages. Id. at 539. “The transfer to the special purpose trust must constitute a true sale, so that the party transferring the assets reduces its potential liability on the loans and exchanges the fairly illiquid loans for much more liquid cash.” Id. at 542. Next, the SPV issues securities which the assignee sells to investors. Id. at 539.

Once the securities have been sold, the SPV is not actively involved. It “does not directly collect payments from the homeowners whose notes and deeds of trust are held by the SPV.” Id. at 544. Rather, servicers collect the principal and interest payments on behalf of the SPV. Id. Fees are associated with the servicing of loans in the pool. Therefore, GMAC would have constitutional standing if it is the servicer for the Note and DOT because it would suffer concrete injury by not being able to collect its servicing fees.[ 8 ]In re O’Kelley, 420 B.R. 18, 23 (D. Haw. 2009) . In this case, however, the evidence does not demonstrate that the Note and DOT were transferred to the Trust, and, without that evidence, there is no demonstration that GMAC is the servicer of the Note.

(b) There Is Insufficient Evidence That The Note Was Sold To Lehman And Became Part Of The Trust

When the Debtor executed the Note and DOT, GreenPoint was the original holder of the Note and the economic beneficiary of the DOT. GreenPoint, allegedly, transferred the Note to Lehman pursuant to the FISA. However, the term “mortgage loans” is not defined in the FISA and GMAC’s documents regarding the securitization of the Note and DOT provide no evidence of actual transfers of the Note and DOT to either the FISA or the Trust. Because such transfers must be “true sales,” they must be properly documented to be effective. Thus, to use an overused term, GMAC has failed “to connect the dots” to demonstrate that the Note and DOT were securitized. Accordingly, it is immaterial that GMAC is the servicer for the Trust.

C. Debtor’s Other Arguments

1. Securities Investors Are Not The Only Individuals Who Can Satisfy Standing Requirements When Dealing With A 362 Motion on a “Securitized” Mortgage

The Debtor argues that, in an asset securitization scheme, only the securities investors have standing to seek stay relief because they are the only parties with a financial interest in the securitized notes. However, because the Debtor executed the Note and received consideration (which he used to purchase the house), the contract is enforceable regardless of who provided the funding. In other words, the fact that the funds for a borrower’s loan are supplied by someone other than the loan originator, does not invalidate the loan or restrict enforcement of the loan contract to the parties who funded the loan. A number of cases and treatises recognize that consideration for a contract, including a promissory note, can be provided by a third party. See, e.g., DCM Ltd. P’ship v. Wang, 555 F. Supp. 2d 808, 817 (E.D. Mich. 2008); Buffalo County v. Richards, 212 Neb. 826, 828-29 (Neb. 1982); 3 WILLISTON ON CONTRACTS § 7:20 (Richard A. Lord, 4th ed. 2009); RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF CONTRACTS § 71(4) (2009).

Notes are regularly assigned and the assignment does not change the nature of the contract. The assignee merely steps into the shoes of the assignor. In re Boyajian, 367 B.R. 138, 145 (9th Cir. BAP 2007); In re Trejos, 374 B.R. 210, 215 (9th Cir. BAP 2007). No additional consideration is required, as opposed to a novation which creates a new obligation. Id. at 216-17 citing RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF CONTRACTS § 280, cmt. e. Therefore, the Debtor’s argument that the Note is unenforceable because the funder of the Note was not the payee fails. The Note is still valid and can be enforced by the party who has the right to enforce it under applicable Arizona law.

2. Proof Of A Note’s Entire Chain Of Ownership Is Not Necessary For Stay Relief

A movant for stay relief need only present evidence sufficient to present a colorable claim — not every piece of evidence that would be required to prove the right to foreclose under a state law judicial foreclosure proceeding is necessary. In re Emrich, 2009 WL 3816174, at *1 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. 2009). Accordingly, not every movant for relief from stay has to provide a complete chain of a note’s assignment to obtain relief.

Arizona’s deed of trust statute does not require a beneficiary of a deed of trust to produce the underlying note (or its chain of assignment) in order to conduct a Trustee’s Sale. Blau v. Am.’s Serv. Co., 2009 WL 3174823, at *6 (D. Ariz. 2009); Mansour v. Cal-W. Reconveyance Corp., 618 F. Supp. 2d 1178, 1181 (D. Ariz. 2009); Diessner v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., 618 F. Supp. 2d 1184, 1187 (D. Ariz. 2009). It would make no sense to require a creditor to demonstrate more to obtain stay relief than it needs to demonstrate under state law to conduct a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure. Moreover, if a note is endorsed in blank, it is enforceable as a bearer instrument. See In re Hill, 2009 WL 1956174, at *2 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 2009). Therefore, this Court declines to impose a blanket requirement that all movants must offer proof of a note’s entire chain of assignments to have standing to seek relief although there may be circumstances where, in order to establish standing, the movant will have to do so.

3. The Movant Has Not Violated Rule 9011

The Debtor argues that GMAC “violated Rule 7011″ by presenting insufficient and misleading evidence. Given that there is no Rule 7011, the Court assumes that the Debtor was actually referring to Bankruptcy Rule 9011. Rule 9011 allows a court to impose sanctions for filing a frivolous suit. FED. R. BANKR. P. 9011(c); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 11(c). As noted at the evidentiary hearing, the Court did not find that GMAC filed its motion for relief stay in bad faith, nor does this Court believe GMAC filed its motion thinking it did not have proper evidentiary support. There are numerous, often conflicting, decisions on the issues of “real party in interest” and constitutional standing, and what evidence must be presented by a servicer seeking stay relief. The record in this case does not support imposition of 9011 sanctions.

VI. CONCLUSION

GMAC has not demonstrated that it has constitutional or prudential standing or is the real party in interest entitled to prosecute a motion for relief from stay.

Accordingly, its motion is DENIED without prejudice.

Posted in case, foreclosure fraud, livinglies, MERS, mortgage electronic registration system, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, neil garfieldComments (0)


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