Bankruptcy | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Tag Archive | "bankruptcy"

Ally says may put mortgage unit Residential Capital (ResCap) in bankruptcy

Ally says may put mortgage unit Residential Capital (ResCap) in bankruptcy


REUTERS-

Ally Financial Inc, the U.S. government-owned lender, said its mortgage unit could file for bankruptcy, in the company’s most direct statement so far about its plans for the struggling business.

Ally Chief Executive Michael Carpenter said its Residential Capital LLC unit has been examining options that range from “staying the course” to bankruptcy.

“We think that the single most important thing that we can do to preserve and enhance shareholder value is to distance Ally from the mortgage business,” Carpenter said on a conference call with investors after the company posted quarterly earnings.

Sources have told Reuters that bankruptcy was an option for ResCap, possibly as early as mid-May, but the company had previously only hinted at the possibility. An executive said Ally failed a recent test from regulators for soundness in distressed economic situations, known as the Federal Reserve’s “stress test,” in large part because of liabilities linked to the mortgage business.

Ally, which was originally the lending arm of General Motors, said it learned on Wednesday that Chrysler Group LLC was not renewing a preferred lending agreement that will now expire next year, but executives downplayed the importance of that loss on the call.

[REUTERS]

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60 Minutes: The Case Against Lehman Brothers

60 Minutes: The Case Against Lehman Brothers


The case against Lehman Brothers

April 22, 2012 4:00 PM

Steve Kroft talks to the bank examiner whose investigation reveals the how and why of the spectacular financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, the bankruptcy that triggered the world financial crisis.

The case against Lehman Brothers

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Wells Fargo Smacked With $3.2 Million in Damages Over Mortgage Fees [VIDEO]

Wells Fargo Smacked With $3.2 Million in Damages Over Mortgage Fees [VIDEO]


Read the case as first posted on SFF: In re Jones (ED La. 4-5-12) Wells Fargo sanctioned over $3M in punitives for mortgage accounting stay violation

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In re Jones (ED La. 4-5-12) Wells Fargo sanctioned over $3M in punitives for mortgage accounting stay violation

In re Jones (ED La. 4-5-12) Wells Fargo sanctioned over $3M in punitives for mortgage accounting stay violation


Via: Dawn M. Rapoport, ESQ

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

IN RE: CASE NO. 03-16518

MICHAEL L. JONES
DEBTOR

MICHAEL L. JONES
PLAINTIFF

VERSUS

WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE, INC.
DEFENDANT

EXCERPT:

1. Wells Fargo applied payments first to fees and costs assessed on mortgage loans, then to outstanding principal, accrued interest, and escrowed costs. This application method was directly contrary to the terms of Jones’ note and mortgage, as well as, Wells Fargo’s standard form mortgages and notes. Those forms required the application of payments first to outstanding principal, accrued interest, and escrowed charges, then fees and costs. The improper application method resulted in an incorrect amortization of loans when fees or costs were assessed. The improper amortization resulted in the assessment of additional interest, default fees and costs against the loan. The evidence established the utilization of this application method for every mortgage loan in Wells Fargo’s portfolio.

2. Misapplication of payments received post petition resulted in incorrect amortization of Wells Fargo loans and threatened a debtor’s fresh start, as well as, discharge.

3. Application of post petition payments to new, undisclosed post petition fees or costs also threatened a debtor’s fresh start and discharge.

[…]

get the entire decision below

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appoints Prof. Katherine M. Porter to Protect Interests of Homeowners in $18 Billion California Commitment

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appoints Prof. Katherine M. Porter to Protect Interests of Homeowners in $18 Billion California Commitment


News Release

March 16, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: (415) 703-5837

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appoints Independent Monitor to Protect Interests of Homeowners in $18 Billion California Commitment

SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the appointment of Professor Katherine Porter of the University of California, Irvine School of Law as the California monitor of the commitment by the nation’s five largest banks to perform as much as $18 billion worth of homeowner and borrower benefits in the state. Attorney General Harris’ decision to appoint a California monitor was made independent of the national settlement, and Professor Porter’s role is focused exclusively on ensuring compliance in California.

This California commitment is part of a national federal-state mortgage settlement penalizing robo-signing and other servicing and foreclosure misconduct that is currently pending approval in a federal court in Washington, D.C. Upon approval of the settlement, California’s monitor will assist the Attorney General’s office in holding the banks accountable for their commitments to the state and ensuring that the promised benefits are delivered to homeowners in full and on time.

“Hundreds of thousands of California homeowners will benefit from the commitments of up to $18 billion extracted from mortgage lenders. We must enforce full and timely compliance with these commitments, and the appointment of Professor Porter as our California monitor is central to that enforcement,” said Attorney General Harris. “Professor Porter’s wealth of experience and knowledge will protect the interests of homeowners and ensure the settling banks deliver on their promises,” Attorney General Harris continued.

“I will work hard to make sure banks hold up their promises to change troubling practices so that families and communities across California see the benefits of the settlement,” said Professor Porter. “Part of repairing the damage of the mortgage crisis is restoring public confidence that our largest financial institutions will treat consumers fairly and follow the law.”

Katherine Porter is a Professor at University of California, Irvine School of Law. She specializes in commercial and consumer law, including mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcy, and just released a book, Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class. In 2007, Porter authored an empirical study that offered some of the first systemic evidence of the problems in mortgage servicing that harmed homeowners. She has worked with other government entities, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on issues relating to mortgage servicing.

Upon approval of the settlement, Professor Porter will verify the extent and timeliness of lenders meeting their obligations to California homeowners. Using information obtained by the national monitor of the mortgage settlement, former North Carolina Commissioner of Banks Joseph Smith, Professor Porter will review lender filings, homeowner reports and complaints, and other compliance documents to ensure that benefits committed by the banks are performed and result in meaningful relief to California borrowers. She will regularly report the results of her findings to the Attorney General’s Office.

The appointment of Professor Porter as the state’s monitor is one of a series of enforcement mechanisms to ensure transparent compliance with the national settlement and the separate California agreement. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase will face significant financial penalties if they do not meet their guarantee of a minimum of $12 billion in principal reductions and short sales for homeowners within the state. Unlike the larger national agreement, which is only enforceable in a federal court in Washington, D.C., the agreement reached with California empowers Attorney General Harris to enforce the penalty provisions in California state court.

California secured the estimated $18 billion in borrower benefits and relief as part of a national multistate settlement to penalize robo-signing and other bank servicing and foreclosure misconduct. The agreement comes after California departed from the multistate negotiations last September when the relief to California was estimated at $4 billion. Attorney General Harris insisted on more relief for the most distressed homeowners, on stronger enforcement provisions, and that California and other states preserve key investigations into mortgage misconduct.

California’s separate commitment also creates important incentives to ensure that banks will reduce the principal mortgage balance of underwater homeowners in California’s hardest-hit counties and that the principal reductions in these and other California communities will occur within the first year of the settlement. Professor Porter will ensure that both the California-specific and national settlements are properly implemented in the state.

“The California commitment provides a path for thousands of struggling homeowners in California to retain their homes, while preserving our ability to investigate banker crime and predatory lending,” added Attorney General Harris. “This is one important stride in our ongoing efforts to address the mortgage and foreclosure crisis that has devastated too many California communities.”

Attorney General Harris earlier this month joined Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other state legislators to unveil the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, designed to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies and to help consumers and communities cope with the state’s urgent mortgage and foreclosure crisis. The legislation would make permanent and available to everyone the interim reforms agreed to as part of the California commitment, including a single point of contact for mortgage-holders and restrict the unfair and inherently deceptive system of dual-track foreclosures. State legislators authoring key components of the Homeowner Bill of Rights include Assemblymembers Wilmer Carter, Mike Davis, Mike Eng, Mike Feuer, Holly Mitchell, Nancy Skinner, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and Senators Mark DeSaulnier, Loni Hancock, Mark Leno, and Fran Pavley.

Attorney General Harris also continues her work to have the Federal Housing Finance Agency authorize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – holders or guarantors of over 60 per cent of California mortgages – to participate in targeted programs of principal reduction that will benefit struggling homeowners, stabilize the country’s housing market, and benefit taxpayers.

The state’s Mortgage Fraud Strike Force continues its work to crack down on all forms of mortgage misconduct. Earlier this month, three prominent attorneys were arrested and are accused of running a loan modification scam.

A photo of Professor Porter is attached to the electronic version of this release at http://oag.ca.gov/

# # #
Related Attachments

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REQUIRED READING | Gone, but not forgotten: Canceled debt

REQUIRED READING | Gone, but not forgotten: Canceled debt


The bleeding just does not stop.

FL REALTORS-

Like former lovers who send you friend requests on Facebook, old debts can come back to haunt you.

But while you can ignore old flames, you can’t dismiss past debts, even if your lender forgave them. Debts that were canceled or forgiven are considered taxable income – something many taxpayers don’t realize until they receive a 1099-C tax from their lenders.

During the Great Recession, lenders wrote off billions of dollars of credit card debts deemed uncollectible. Now, the tax bills on that debt are coming due. The IRS estimates that creditors will send taxpayers 6.4 million 1099-C tax forms this year, up from 3.9 million in 2010.

The appearance of an unexpected tax bill “creates a financial nightmare for people who have already been through financial hell,” says Gerri Detweiler, personal finance expert for Credit.com.

Fortunately, if unemployment or other financial calamities forced you to default on your debts, there’s a good chance you won’t have to pay the tax bill. You qualify for an exemption from taxes on forgiven debt if:

READ MORE [FLORIDA REALTORS]

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Baum Fraudclosure Mill Leaves NY Homewrecked

Baum Fraudclosure Mill Leaves NY Homewrecked


AND that must be his attorney Vincent Doyle, President of the NY State Bar with him?

Lohud-

New York’s largest foreclosure firm, which once handled thousands of cases in the Lower Hudson Valley, will officially close Monday, but it has left a trail of questions and frustrated property owners caught in legal limbo.

The Steven J. Baum PC law firm, based in Amherst, N.Y., originally was retained for more than 600 foreclosure cases that remain active in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam. In all, Baum’s firm has handled more than 4,000 cases in the three-county region since 1999, court records show.

But last year, the firm announced its official closing, scheduled for Feb. 20, after it came under scrutiny from state and federal agencies for “robo-signing,” or mass producing foreclosure documents without verifying whether they were accurate.

[LOHUD]

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RE-POST: Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims – by Katherine M. Porter

RE-POST: Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims – by Katherine M. Porter


Originally posted on 9/12/2010

Katherine M. Porter
College of Law, University of Iowa

Abstract

The greatest fear of many families in serious financial trouble is that they will lose their homes. Bankruptcy offers a last chance for families save their houses by halting a foreclosure and by repaying any default on their mortgage loans over a period of years. Mortgage companies participate in bankruptcy by filing proofs of claims with the court for the amount of the mortgage debt. In turn, bankruptcy debtors pay these claims to retain their homes. This process is well established and, until now, uncontroversial. The assumption is that the protective elements of the federal bankruptcy shield vulnerable homeowners from harm.

This Article examines the actual behavior of mortgage companies in consumer bankruptcy cases. Using original data from 1700 recent Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, I conclude that mortgage servicers frequently do not comply with bankruptcy law. A majority of mortgage claims are missing one or more of the required pieces of documentation for a bankruptcy claims. Fees and charges on claims often are poorly identified and do not appear to be reasonable. The bankruptcy data reinforce concerns about the overall reliability of the mortgage service industry to charge homeowners only the correct and legal amount of the debt and to comply with applicable consumer protection laws. Mistakes or misbehavior by mortgage servicers can have grave consequences. Bloated claims can jeopardize a family’s ability to save their home in bankruptcy. On a system level, mistakes or misbehavior by mortgage servicers undermine America’s homeownership policies for all families trying to buy a home.

The data also reinforce concerns about whether consumers can trust financial institutions to adhere to applicable laws. The findings are a chilling reminder of the limits of formal law to protect consumers. Imposing unambiguous legal rules does not ensure that a system will actually function to safeguard the rights of parties. Observing the reality that laws can under perform or even misfire has crucial implications for designing legal systems that produce acceptable and just behavior. *

[ipaper docId=37127499 access_key=key-1py1ywgn8bbgdaroowup height=600 width=600 /]

 

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ARKANSAS Bankruptcy case causes title insurance companies to hit “pause”

ARKANSAS Bankruptcy case causes title insurance companies to hit “pause”


Read The BK Order: In Re: JOHNSON – Bank. EDArk – Chase/JP Morgan Chase – No access to Arkansas non-judicial f/c process if not authorized to do business in state

Arkasas Online-

LITTLE ROCK Many title insurance companies in Arkansas are refusing to issue policies in the sale of certain foreclosed-on properties, after a local U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruling in September called into question the validity of the homes’ titles. Sales …

[ARKANSAS ONLINE] subscription

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Why is the President of The NY State Bar Vincent E. Doyle representing Steven J. Baum? Baum Ordered to personally appear 1/24/2012 at 12:00 PM in Poughkeepsie

Why is the President of The NY State Bar Vincent E. Doyle representing Steven J. Baum? Baum Ordered to personally appear 1/24/2012 at 12:00 PM in Poughkeepsie


Well, I for one am not surprised but isn’t the New York State Bar Association suppose to uphold Truth, Justice and Ethics? Hmm…

Now, here’s the best part, if you can recall the article the New York Post wrote about the Judge that gave NY foreclosure king the Baum’s rush?

Here’s an excerpt:

Doc# 64 Notice of Adjournment of Hearing Re: AMENDED Order to Show Cause ordering Mr. Steven J. Baum, Esq. personally appear To SHOW CAUSE why an Order should not be entered holding him in contempt of the standing General Order M-364 of this Court. Why he should not be sanctioned pursuant Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011 and 28 U.S.C. 1927 and the inherent powers of this Court to control and manage its docket; Failing to participate in loss mitigation in good faith, failing to turn over files, unreasonably, and vexatiously multiplying proceedings; Hearing held and adjourned to 1/24/2012 at 12:00 PM at Poughkeepsie Office – 355 Main Street (LaChappelle, Jennifer). Document #: 64

and last but not least Doc# 65

Doc# 65 Notice of Adjournment of Hearing Re: Declaration in Opposition to the Order to Show Cause Directing Attorney to Appear filed by Vincent E. Doyle on behalf of Steven J. Baum; Hearing held and adjourned to 1/24/2012 at 12:00 PM at Poughkeepsie Office – 355 Main Street (LaChappelle, Jennifer). Document #: 65

[ipaper docId=78824258 access_key=key-ol6lmtcyvl4lcybxgpp height=600 width=600 /]

image:NYPost

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Judge gives NY foreclosure king the Baum’s rush

Judge gives NY foreclosure king the Baum’s rush


What’s really disturbing is all the fraudulent paperwork they push through the courts and filed with the counties …no one seems to care. If a defense attorney or a regular Joe was to pull this shit, would they have the same treatment?

I DON’T THINK SO!


New York Post-

Take that, Steven Baum!

The 50-year-old lawyer, who owns New York’s largest home-foreclosure mill, made a rare appearance in a courtroom yesterday — and was promptly ripped by a Bankruptcy Court judge frustrated by his firm’s sloppy work.

Baum, whose eponymous firm has filed more than 25,000 foreclosure actions across the state over the past three years — many of which have been attacked for containing bogus documents — was lectured by Judge Cecilia Morris to correct his way of practicing law.

“How many times do I have to tell you, you didn’t do it right,” Morris said during the afternoon hearing. “Do you not understand ‘do it right’?” she asked Baum.

[NEW YORK POST]

image: NYPost

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CA CLASS ACTION | Bakenie v. JPMorgan Chase “Bankruptcy Fraud, Creation of Fabricated and “Photo-Shopped” Documents, Endorsement”

CA CLASS ACTION | Bakenie v. JPMorgan Chase “Bankruptcy Fraud, Creation of Fabricated and “Photo-Shopped” Documents, Endorsement”


NOTE: This is the 2nd Class Action this month alleging “Photo-Shopped” docs.

See the 1st: AURORA Class Action: Photoshopped Assignments and systemic 131g TILA violations

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

ERNEST MICHAEL BAKENIE, on behalf of
themselves and all others similarily situated,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

JPMORGAN CHASE, N.A.; and
DOES 1 through 10, inclusive,

Defendants

Bakenie v JPMC w[1] by DinSFLA

 

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James Surowiecki: “Homeowners are getting lambasted for doing what companies do on a regular basis”

James Surowiecki: “Homeowners are getting lambasted for doing what companies do on a regular basis”


When people aren’t wealthy or part of the elite, you must follow the rules

The New Yorker-

Paying your debts is, as a rule, a good thing. But the double standard here is obvious and offensive. Homeowners are getting lambasted for doing what companies do on a regular basis. Walking away from real-estate obligations in particular is common in the corporate world, and real-estate developers are notorious for abandoning properties that no longer make economic sense. Sometimes the hypocrisy is staggering: last winter, the Mortgage Bankers Association—the very body whose president attacked defaulters for betraying their families and their communities—got its creditors to let it do a short sale of its headquarters, dumping it for thirty-four million dollars less than the value of the building’s mortgage.

When it comes to debt, then, the corporate attitude is do as I say, not as I do. And 

[THE NEW YORKER]

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MUST READ: Prisoners of Debt

MUST READ: Prisoners of Debt


A fresh start with bankruptcy? Big lenders keep squeezing money out of consumers whose debts were canceled by the courts

BUSINESS WEEK-

In a financial version of Night of the Living Dead, debts forgiven by bankruptcy courts are springing back to life to haunt consumers. Fueling these miniature horror stories is an unlikely market in which seemingly extinguished debts are avidly bought and sold.

The case of Van Rathavongsa illustrates how canceled debts regain vitality. The Raleigh (N.C.) factory worker pulled himself out from beneath a mountain of bills by means of a bankruptcy proceeding that wrapped up in 2002. One of the debts the judge canceled, or “discharged,” was $9,523 Rathavongsa owed to Capital One Financial (COF), the big credit-card company. But Capital One continued to report the factory worker’s discharged debt to credit bureaus as a live balance, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Raleigh.

[BUSINESS WEEK]

Image source: Business Week

The document submitted by a former Equifax employee. It asserts that credit files with incorrectly reported pre-bankruptcy debts were “an extremely frequent and reoccurring problem.”

 

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In Re: JOHNSON – Bank. EDArk – Chase/JP Morgan Chase – No access to Arkansas non-judicial f/c process if not authorized to do business in state

In Re: JOHNSON – Bank. EDArk – Chase/JP Morgan Chase – No access to Arkansas non-judicial f/c process if not authorized to do business in state


United States Bankruptcy Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division.

In re DANIEL L. JOHNSON and SUSAN D. JOHNSON, Chapter 13 Debtors.
In re TAMMY R. PEEKS, Chapter 13 Debtor.
In re TRACY L. ESTES, Chapter 13 Debtor.

Case Nos. 3:10-bk-19119, 3:11-bk-10602, 3:10-bk-16541


September 28, 2011.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS TO CONFIRMATION

AUDREY R. EVANS, Bankruptcy Judge

In a consolidated hearing on July 14, 2011, the Court heard the Objection to Confirmation of Plan filed by Chase Home Finance, L.L.C. (“Chase”) in the case of Daniel and Susan Johnson, Case No. 3:10-bk-19119 (the “Johnson Objection to Confirmation”); the Objection to Confirmation of Plan filed by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“J.P. Morgan”) in the case of Tammy Renae Peeks, Case No. 3:11-bk-10602 (the “Peeks Objection to Confirmation”); and the Objection to Confirmation of Plan filed by Chase in the case of Tracy L. Estes, Case No. 3:10-bk-16541 (the “Estes Objection to Confirmation”) (collectively the “Objections to Confirmation”). J.P. Morgan appeared through its counsel, Kimberly Burnette of Wilson & Associates, P.L.L.C.[1] The Debtors in all three cases were represented at the hearing by Joel Hargis of Crawley & DeLoache, P.L.L.C. Kathy A. Cruz of The Cruz Law Firm, P.L.L.C., also appeared as co-counsel for the Debtor, Tracy L. Estes. At the outset of the hearing, the parties agreed that the facts of the cases were not in dispute, and that the same underlying issue of law was present in each case. For that reason, the hearings were consolidated. The Court accepted evidence and heard the arguments of counsel.[2] At the close of the hearing, the Court took the matter under advisement.

This is a core proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(L). This Order shall constitute findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule of Procedure 7052. To the extent that any finding of fact is construed as a conclusion of law, it is adopted as such; to the extent that any conclusion of law is construed as a finding of fact, it is adopted as such. As explained herein, the Court overrules the Objections to Confirmation.

FACTS

The parties stipulated that at the time of the foreclosure proceedings at issue in these cases, neither Chase nor J.P. Morgan was “authorized to do business” in the state of Arkansas as required by § 18-50-117 of the Arkansas Statutory Foreclosure Act of 1987, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-50-101, et seq. (the “Statutory Foreclosure Act”). Additionally, the Court finds the following to be the facts of each case:

The Johnson Case

Chase initiated non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, through Arkansas’ Statutory Foreclosure Act, against a property owned by Daniel and Susan Johnson. On December 20, 2010, the Johnsons filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy bringing that non-judicial foreclosure to a halt. In their bankruptcy case, the Johnsons filed a Chapter 13 plan listing Chase as a long-term secured creditor that was owed an arrearage of $7,485. On March 2, 2011, Chase filed the Johnson Objection to Confirmation claiming that the correct arrearage amount was $14,072.81. Chase filed a proof of claim in the case (the “Johnson Proof of Claim”) claiming a secured debt of $187,468.21, which included the $14,072.81 arrearage, and explained that $1,380 of the arrearage was for foreclosure fees and costs. On July 4, 2011, Chase transferred the Johnson Proof of Claim to J.P. Morgan.

The Peeks Case

J.P. Morgan initiated a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding, through Arkansas’ Statutory Foreclosure Act, against property owned by Tammy Renae Peeks. To initiate the foreclosure process, J.P. Morgan granted Wilson & Associates, P.L.L.C. (“Wilson & Associates”) a limited power of attorney authorizing Wilson & Associates to conduct the foreclosure.[3] On January 31, 2011, Ms. Peeks filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy bringing the non-judicial foreclosure to a halt. On February 10, 2011, Ms. Peeks filed a proposed Chapter 13 plan that listed J.P. Morgan as a long-term secured creditor that was owed an arrearage of $7,500. On March 21, 2011, J.P. Morgan filed the Peeks Objection to Confirmation asserting that the correct arrearage amount was $10,089.19. J.P. Morgan filed a proof of claim in the Peeks case on July 13, 2011 (the “Peeks Proof of Claim”) claiming a secured debt of $133,172.09, which included an arrearage of $9,516.72, and explained that $2,400.02 of the arrearage was for foreclosure fees and costs.

The Estes Case

Chase initiated non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, through Arkansas’ Statutory Foreclosure Act, against a property owned by Tracy L. Estes. On September 8, 2010, Ms. Estes filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 13, bringing that non-judicial foreclosure to a halt. On September 21, 2010, Ms. Estes filed a proposed Chapter 13 plan listing Chase as a long-term secured creditor that was owed an arrearage of $8,000. Chase filed the Estes Objection to Confirmation on October 20, 2010, asserting that the correct arrearage amount was $10,537.36. Chase filed a proof of claim in the Estes case on October 28, 2010 (the “Estes Proof of Claim”), claiming a secured debt of $37,041.96, which included an arrearage of $10,509.36, and explained that $2,706.56 of the arrearage was for to foreclosure fees and costs. On May 25, 2011, Chase filed an amended proof of claim adjusting the arrearage from $10,509.36 to $10,502.22. On July 14, 2011, Chase transferred the Estes Proof of Claim to J.P. Morgan.

DISCUSSION

The question before the Court is whether the Debtors owe J.P. Morgan the foreclosure fees and costs listed on its proofs of claims. The Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case to cure a default on a debt for its home mortgage through the plan. 11 U.S.C. §§ 1322(b)(3), (5). In order for that plan to be confirmed, a debtor must pay the default arrearage amount in full. The amount owed in order to cure a default is “determined in accordance with the underlying agreement and applicable nonbankruptcy law.” 11 U.S.C. § 1322(e). This determination poses two separate inquires: first, what fees and costs are allowed by the agreement between the parties, and second, what fees and costs are allowed by the applicable law. See In re Bumgarner, 225 B.R. 327, 328 (Bankr. D.S.C. 1998).

In these cases, there is no dispute that the foreclosure fees and costs are owed under the parties’ agreements because the instrument used to create each debt gives J.P. Morgan “the right to be paid back by me for all of its costs and expenses in enforcing this Note . . . .” The only question in each of these three cases is whether the foreclosure fees and costs are allowed by the controlling law. The controlling law is Arkansas’ Statutory Foreclosure Act (i.e., Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure procedure), and the issue is whether J.P. Morgan was qualified to use Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure procedure when it initiated the foreclosure proceedings against these Debtors.

The Debtors argue that J.P. Morgan was not qualified to use the non-judicial foreclosure process because § 18-50-117 of the Statutory Foreclosure Act requires an entity to be authorized to do business in Arkansas, and that J.P. Morgan was not in compliance with that requirement.

J.P. Morgan stipulated that it was not authorized to do business as is required Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117. Nonetheless, it maintains that it was qualified to use Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure process. J.P. Morgan makes three arguments in support of its position. First, J.P. Morgan argues that its compliance with § 18-50-102 of the Statutory Foreclosure Act enabled it to legitimately employ the non-judicial foreclosure process without being authorized to do business in the state as required by Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117. Second, J.P. Morgan argues that the authorized-to-do-business requirement is superseded by a conflicting provision in Arkansas’ Wingo Act, Ark. Code Ann. § 4-27-1501, and finally, that it is preempted by federal law through the provisions of the National Banking Act.

For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that J.P. Morgan was not qualified to use the Arkansas non-judicial foreclosure process when it initiated the foreclosures against these Debtors. J.P. Morgan failed to comply with the authorized-to-do-business requirement of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117, and nothing in Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102, the Wingo Act, or the National Banking Act allowed it to conduct those proceedings without meeting that requirement. Absent compliance with Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117, J.P. Morgan’s avenue for foreclosing on these properties was that of judicial foreclosure through the courts, not through Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure process. As a result, the foreclosure fees and costs incurred by Chase and J.P. Morgan are not owed by the Debtors, and need not be included in the Debtors’ repayment plans in order for those plans to be confirmed.

Finally, both parties request their attorney fees for pursuing or defending these matters. The Court finds that an award of attorney fees to the Debtors is warranted.

The Statutory Foreclosure Act

In 1987, the Arkansas legislature enacted the Statutory Foreclosure Act, which authorized the use of non-judicial foreclosure proceedings as an alternative to judicial foreclosure proceedings. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-50-101, et seq. See also Union Nat’l Bank v. Nichols, 305 Ark. 274, 278, 807 S.W.2d 36, 38 (1991) (“The procedure is designed to be effectuated without resorting to the state’s court system . . . .”). These statutory provisions must be strictly construed. See Robbins v. M.E.R.S., 2006 WL 3507464, at *1 (Ark. Ct. App. 2006) (“It is also true that the Arkansas Statutory Foreclosure Act, being in derogation of common law, must be strictly construed.”).[4]

The parties’ arguments are based on two provisions of the Statutory Foreclosure Act; Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 and Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102. Each of these two provisions places a restriction on who can use Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure process. The first provision, Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117, requires a creditor to be authorized to do business in Arkansas before employing the state’s non-judicial foreclosure process. Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 (“No person, firm, company, association, fiduciary, or partnership, either domestic or foreign shall avail themselves of the procedures under this chapter unless authorized to do business in this state.”) (emphasis added).[5] The second provision, Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102, limits who can be a party to a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding to three categories of persons or entities: (1) trustees or attorneys-in-fact, (2) financial institutions, and (3) Arkansas state agencies. See Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102.[6] Further, this provision requires that in order to qualify, a “trustee or attorney-in-fact” must be a licensed member of the Arkansas bar, or a law firm who employs a licensed member of the Arkansas bar. Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102(a)(1).

The Debtors argued that J.P. Morgan was not qualified to use the non-judicial foreclosure process because § 18-50-117 of the Statutory Foreclosure Act requires an entity to be authorized to do business in Arkansas, and J.P. Morgan stipulated that it was not in compliance with that provision. J.P. Morgan argued that it was not required to comply with Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 because it authorized Wilson & Associates to conduct the foreclosures as its attorney-in-fact, pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102(a)(1). This argument extends in two directions.[7]

Specifically, one extension of J.P. Morgan’s argument is that when the attorney-in-fact category of § 18-50-102 is used, the authorized-to-do-business requirement of § 18-50-117 does not apply. The Court finds no support for this argument. The language of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 is broad, specifically stating that it is applicable to every “person, firm, company, association, fiduciary, or partnership, either domestic or foreign . . . .” An emergency clause recorded in the sessions laws of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 explains the reason that the provision was enacted:

It is found and determined by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas that foreign entities not authorized to do business in the State of Arkansas are availing themselves to [sic] the provisions of the Statutory Foreclosure Act of 1987; that often times it is to the detriment of Arkansas citizens; and that this act is immediately necessary because these entities should be authorized to do business in the State of Arkansas before being able to use the Statutory Foreclosure Act of 1987.
2003 Ark. Acts 1303, § 3, effective Apr. 14, 2003. The broad language of this provision, and the clear concerns set out in the legislative history, indicate that Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 was meant to apply without regard to which category of person or entity is conducting the foreclosure under Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102.

Further, the Court finds nothing in the language of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102 to indicate that it eliminates the need to comply with the authorized-to-do-business requirement of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117, or that the attorney-in-fact party should be treated in any way different from the other categories of persons or entities allowed to conduct a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding. Further, the most recent enactment of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102, now in effect, places several additional requirements on an attorney-in-fact before he can qualify as a party to a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding. In addition to the requirement that the attorney-in-fact be licensed in Arkansas (which was the law at the time of these foreclosure proceedings), an attorney-in-fact must now also have an office located in Arkansas, be accessible during business hours, and be able to accept funds as payment on the subject mortgage. See 2011 Ark. Acts 901, § 2, effective July 27, 2011. These recent additional restrictions to the attorney-in-fact qualification provide further evidence of the Arkansas legislature’s intent to limit access to the Statutory Foreclosure Act, not to further broaden access to that process as J.P. Morgan’s argument would necessarily require.

A second extension of J.P. Morgan’s argument is that, even if Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 applies, J.P. Morgan satisfied the authorized-to-do-business requirement because its attorney-in-fact, Wilson & Associates, satisfied that requirement. This argument also fails. The procedures for appointing an attorney-in-fact to conduct the foreclosure are self-contained within the § 18-50-102 of the Statutory Foreclosure Act. This appointment is accomplished through the use of a power of attorney. Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102(e) (“The appointment of an attorney-in-fact by a mortgagee shall be made by a duly executed, acknowledged, and recorded power of attorney . . . .”). That power of attorney provides the attorney-in-fact only with those powers held by the appointing mortgagee. Ark. Code Ann. 18-50-102(d) (“A mortgagee may delegate his or her powers and duties under this chapter to an attorney-in-fact, whose acts shall be done in the name of and on behalf of the mortgagee.”) (emphasis added).

J.P. Morgan appointed Wilson & Associates as its attorney-in-fact through a limited power of attorney. Wilson & Associates did not initiate the foreclosure proceedings on its own behalf, but initiated those proceedings “in the name of and on behalf of” J.P. Morgan. It is J.P. Morgan’s compliance with the authorized-to-do-business requirement that is relevant, not that of Wilson & Associates. Thus, the Court finds that J.P. Morgan’s compliance with Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102 by electing to use an attorney-in-fact did not, by substitute, afford it compliance with the authorized-to-do-business requirement in Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117.

Therefore, J.P. Morgan has failed to show that its compliance with § 18-50-102 of the Statutory Foreclosure Act enabled it to legitimately employ the non-judicial foreclosure process without being authorized to do business in the state.

The Wingo Act

J.P. Morgan argues that a conflict between the Wingo Act (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 4-27-1501, et seq.), and the Statutory Foreclosure Act (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-50-101, et. seq.), allows J.P. Morgan to conduct non-judicial foreclosures without complying with the authorized-to-do-business requirement found in § 18-50-117 of the Statutory Foreclosure Act.

The Wingo Act is a sub-provision of the Arkansas Business Corporation Act, found at Ark. Code Ann. §§ 4-27-101, et seq. The Wingo Act states that “[a] foreign corporation may not transact business in this state until it obtains a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State.” Ark. Code Ann. § 4-27-1501(a). However, the Wingo Act also contains a non-exhaustive list of actions that do not constitute transacting business. Ark. Code Ann. § 4-27-1501(b). This list includes, among other things, the acts of “[m]aintaining, defending, or settling any proceeding[,]” and “[s]ecuring or collecting debts or enforcing mortgages and security interests in property securing the debts[.]” Ark. Code Ann. §§ 4-27-1501(b)(1), (8).

J.P. Morgan asserts that a conflict exists between the Wingo Act and the Statutory Foreclosure Act because the Wingo Act does not require a creditor to be authorized to do business in order to collect on its debt; the Statutory Foreclosure Act does. J.P. Morgan argues that the Wingo Act controls this conflict, and thus, the authorized-to-do-business requirement of the Statutory Foreclosure Act does not apply.

It is a well-settled principle of construction that where two statutes conflict, the more specific statutory provision controls. See Ozark Gas Pipeline Corp. v. Arkansas Public Service Comm’n, 342 Ark. 591, 602, 29 S.W.3d 730, 736 (2000) (“The rule is well settled that a general statute must yield when there is a specific statute involving the particular matter.”). The exclusions afforded in the Wingo Act address the broad category of “[s]ecuring or collecting debts or enforcing mortgages and security interests . . . .” Ark. Code Ann. § 18-27-1501(b)(8). The Statutory Foreclosure Act, on the other hand, deals with a specific type of collection activity — foreclosure — and an even more specific type of foreclosure — non-judicial foreclosure. Given the greater specificity of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117, the Court finds that the Statutory Foreclosure Act provision carves out the specific statutory procedure of non-judicial foreclosure from the broad category of collecting debts, and as a result, controls any conflict between the two provisions.

Further, J.P. Morgan’s argument ignores the other provisions of the Wingo Act . The provision immediately following the exclusionary provision states that the consequence of transacting business without a certificate of authority is: (1) the foreign corporation is prohibited from maintaining a cause of action in the state courts, and (2) the foreign corporation must pay a monetary penalty. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 4-27-1502(a), (d)(1)(A).[8] As such, the exclusions allowed by § 4-27-1501(b) of the Wingo Act enable a foreign corporation to conduct some activities (including collection activities) without being subject to the consequences found in § 4-27-1502. In other words, under the Wingo Act, a foreign corporation can bring a cause of action in the Arkansas courts in furtherance of its collection activities, without a certificate of authority and without being subject to monetary penalty. This, however, is the full effect of the Wingo Act’s exclusionary provision. While it is true that J.P. Morgan was not required to obtain a certificate of authority in order to collect on its debts in Arkansas under the Wingo Act, it was required to do so if it wanted to employ Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure process. J.P. Morgan’s extension of the Wingo Act exclusions to the Statutory Foreclosure Act is far too broad.

Finally, during the hearing, J.P. Morgan argued that Omni Holding and Development Corp. v. C.A.G. Investments, Inc., 370 Ark. 220, 258 S.W.3d 374 (2007), establishes authority for its position. In Omni, a creditor filed a lawsuit against Omni seeking a judgment on its promissory note and claiming that Omni had committed an unlawful detainer of its property. In response, Omni claimed the creditor lacked standing because it did not have a certificate of authority. The Arkansas Supreme Court held that the creditor did not need a certificate of authority because its actions fell within the Wingo Act exclusion for collection activities. See Omni Holding and Development Corp., 370 Ark. at 226. Consistent with the Court’s determination above, the holding in Omni only stands for the proposition that a creditor can file a lawsuit in furtherance of collection activities without a certificate of authority. Id. (“Thus, C.A.G. was not `transacting business’ in Arkansas and its failure to obtain a certificate of authority did not prevent C.A.G. from filing suit in the state.”) (emphasis added). Under the Wingo Act exclusions, J.P. Morgan was allowed to foreclose on these properties through a judicial foreclosure action in the state court, but it was prohibited from using the state’s non-judicial foreclosure process. Omni does not support J.P. Morgan’s argument.

Therefore, the Court finds that no conflict exists between the Wingo Act and the Statutory Foreclosure Act, and to the extent that any conflict is present the more precise provision of the Statutory Foreclosure Act controls.

The National Banking Act

Finally, J.P. Morgan maintains that federal legislation preempts the requirement in Arkansas’ Statutory Foreclosure Act that a bank be authorized to do business in Arkansas before it employs the state’s non-judicial foreclosure process.

The federal law presented as having preemptive authority in this case is the National Banking Act (“NBA”). A brief review of the text, history, and purpose of the NBA is essential to the task of analyzing its preemptive effect. In 1864, Congress placed into law an act that established a national banking system. An Act to Provide a National Currency Secured by a Pledge of United States Bonds, and to Provide for the Circulation and Redemption Thereof, ch. 106, 13 Stat. 99 (1864) (codified as amended at 12 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq.). Today, that system of laws remains largely intact, and has been renamed the National Banking Act. 12 U.S.C. § 38. See also Watters v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 550 U.S. 1, 10-11, 127 S.Ct. 1559, 1566, 167 L.Ed.2d 389 (2007). The purpose of the national banking act is to prevent the “[d]iverse and duplicative superintendence of national banks” by the differing laws of the individual states. Watters, 550 U.S. at 13-14. See also Easton v. State of Iowa, 188 U.S. 220, 229, 23 S.Ct. 288, 290, 47 L.Ed. 452 (1903) (describing the goal of the NBA as “the erection of a system extending throughout the country, and independent, so far as powers conferred are concerned, of state legislation which, if permitted to be applicable, might impose limitations and restrictions as various and as numerous as the states.”).

Preemption occurs under Article VI of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause, which provides that the laws of the United States “shall be the supreme Law of the Land; . . . any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2. A determination of whether a state law is preempted by federal law “start[s] with the assumption that the historic police powers of the States were not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress.” Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230, 67 S.Ct. 1146, 1152, 91 L.Ed. 1447 (1947). A determination as to the congressional purpose of a law is the “ultimate touchstone” of any preemption analysis. Retail Clerks v. Schermerhorn, 375 U.S. 96, 103, 84 S.Ct. 219, 222, 11 L.Ed.2d 179 (1963); Barnett Bank of Marion County, N.A. v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 25, 30, 116 S.Ct. 1103, 1107 (1996) (“This question is basically one of congressional intent. Did Congress, in enacting the Federal Statute, intend to exercise its constitutionally delegated authority to set aside the laws of a State? If so, the Supremacy Clause requires courts to follow federal, not state, law.”).

Congressional intent to preempt a state law is typically derived from the language, structure, or purpose of the federal statute. See Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525, 97 S.Ct. 1305, 51 L.Ed.2d 604 (1977). Accordingly, preemption is classified into three different categories: express preemption, field preemption, and conflict preemption. See Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Dev. Comm’n, 461 U.S. 190, 203-04, 103 S.Ct. 1713, 1721-22, 75 L.Ed.2d 752 (1983). See also Altria Group, Inc. v. Good, 555 U.S. 70, 76, 129 S.Ct. 538, 543, 172 L.Ed.2d 398 (2008).

Express preemption exists where Congress’s intent to preempt the state law is clearly stated in the language of the federal statute. See Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 461 U.S. at 203. However, more often than not, Congress does not make such an explicit manifestation of its intent. See Watters v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., 550 U.S. 1, 33, 127 S.Ct. 1559, 1579, 167 L.Ed.2d 389 (2007) (Stevens, J., dissenting). In the absence of such an explicit expression, the courts must determine whether the statutory provision implies a preemptive intent by evaluating the structure and purpose of the statute. See Barnett Bank of Marion County, N.A., v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 25, 32, 116 S.Ct. 1103, 1108, 134 L.Ed.2d 237 (1996). These implied forms of preemption are referred to as field preemption and conflict preemption, respectively. Id. Field preemption exists if the structure of the statute represents a “scheme of federal regulation . . . so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it.” Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. at 230. Alternatively, conflict preemption exists where the purpose of the federal law conflicts with the state law. See Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U.S. 725, 746, 101 S.Ct. 2114, 2128-29, 68 L.Ed.2d 576 (1981) (“It is basic to this constitutional command that all conflicting state provisions be without effect.”). Conflict preemption arises under two different scenarios. The first scenario, referred to as physical impossibility preemption, is when it is physically impossible to comply with both the federal law and the state law at the same time. See Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 461 U.S. at 204; In re Bate, 2011 WL 2473493, at *2-4 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. June 22, 2011). The second scenario, referred to as obstacle preemption, is when the “state law stands as an obstacle to achieving the objectives of Congress.” Id.

In these cases, there is no real question that express preemption does not apply. There is no specific provision in the NBA clearly stating a congressional intent to preempt state laws regarding non-judicial foreclosure, or moreover, state laws requiring a person or entity to be authorized to do business in the state before employing the non-judicial foreclosure process. Thus, the NBA does not expressly preempt the authorized-to-do-business requirement of the Statutory Foreclosure Act.

Field preemption is also inapplicable. The Supreme Court has specifically identified the activities of the “acquisition and transfer of property,” and the “right to collect their debts,” as areas where banks are generally subject to state law. Watters, 550 U.S. at 11; McClellan, 164 U.S. at 357. Additionally, regulations promulgated by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (the “OCC”) save certain areas of state law from general preemption by the NBA.[9] See Monroe Retail, Inc. v. RBS Citizens, N.A., 589 F.3d 274, 282 (6th Cir. 2009). Those regulations state that state laws on the subjects of the “rights to collect debts[,]” and the “[a]cquisition and transfer of property[,]” are not inconsistent with the national bank’s real estate lending powers, provided those state laws only “incidentally affect” the bank’s exercise of its powers. 12 C.F.R. §§ 34.4, 7.4007(c), 7.4008(e). The collection of debts and transfers of property are the specific types of activities dealt with by the state law in question, the Statutory Foreclosure Act. Thus, the Court is not persuaded that the NBA’s occupation of these areas is “so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it.” As a result, field preemption does not apply.

As previously mentioned, conflict preemption is found in two different forms: physical impossibility preemption and obstacle preemption. The first of these types, physical impossibility preemption, is not present in this case. It is not “physically impossible” for J.P. Morgan to comply with the requirements of both the NBA and the authorized-to-do-business requirement of the Statutory Foreclosure Act. Such a scenario might exist if, for example, a provision of the NBA prohibited national banks from being certified to transact business within a state. It might then be physically impossible for J.P. Morgan to comply with both the NBA’s requirement and the authorized-to-do-business requirement of the Statutory Foreclosure Act. However, no such provision is found in the NBA, and as a result, physical impossibility preemption does not apply.

The remaining determination is whether obstacle preemption applies. This determination turns on whether the authorized-to-do-business requirement of the Statutory Foreclosure Act “stands as an obstacle to achieving the objectives of Congress.” Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 461 U.S. at 204. A state law stands as an obstacle to a federal law when it significantly interferes with the objectives of that federal law. Barnett, 517 U.S. at 33; Watters, 550 U.S. at 12. As previously stated, Congress’s objective in creating the NBA was to prevent the”[d]iverse and duplicative superintendence of national banks” by the differing laws of the individual states. In order to accomplish that objective, the NBA vests national banks with certain enumerated powers. 12 U.S.C. § 24.[10] Those enumerated provisions provide national banks with “all such incidental powers as shall be necessary to carry on the business of banking . . . .” 12 U.S.C. § 24 (Seventh). Additionally, Congress has given national banks the authority to “make, arrange, purchase or sell loans or extensions of credit secured by liens on interest in real estate . . . .” 12 U.S.C. § 371. See also Watters, 550 U.S. at 18 (stating that mortgage lending is one aspect of the “business of banking”).

The question is whether the burden of the requirement that a bank be authorized to do business in Arkansas before using the non-judicial foreclosure process significantly impairs the bank’s ability to conduct its business of banking, which includes its rights to hold and enforce mortgage liens. The Court finds that it does not. Obviously, the Statutory Foreclosure Act requirement places some measure of burden on a national bank holding a mortgage on property in Arkansas if it wants to foreclose on that property through the state’s non-judicial foreclosure process. However, a bank’s failure (or refusal) to comply with the Statutory Foreclosure Act requirement leaves the bank with the option of foreclosing on a property through the state’s judicial process. On that point, the Statutory Foreclosure Act specifically states that “[t]he procedures set forth in this chapter for the foreclosure of a mortgage or deed of trust shall not impair or otherwise affect the right to bring a judicial action to foreclose a mortgage or deed of trust.” Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-116(a). While this alternative method of collection (judicial foreclosure) may not be as efficient as the non-judicial foreclosure process, the Court finds that it does not significantly impair the bank’s ability to collect on its debt.[11]

Moreover, the process of judicial foreclosure is available in all states, while only approximately 60 percent of the states allow non-judicial foreclosures. See Grant S. Nelson, Reforming Foreclosure: The Uniform Nonjudicial Foreclosure Act, 53 Duke L.J. 1399, 1403 (2004).[12] J.P. Morgan’s contention that the provisions of the NBA are significantly impaired by the authorized-to-do-business requirement is undermined by the fact that only slightly more than half of the states authorize such a procedure at all. The Court finds that the powers conferred to J.P. Morgan under the NBA are not significantly impaired by the Statutory Foreclosure Act’s requirement that J.P. Morgan be authorized to do business in Arkansas, and as a result, conflict preemption does not apply.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Statutory Foreclosure Act’s requirement that a person or entity be authorized to do business in the state is not preempted by the NBA. As a result, the Court finds that J.P. Morgan was not in compliance with the Statutory Foreclosure Act, and that the Debtors do not owe, nor must they pay, J.P. Morgan for any fees and costs incurred through the non-judicial foreclosure proceedings conducted against these Debtors.

Attorney Fees

Both parties have asked for an award of attorney fees. As a general rule, known as the “American rule,” the parties to litigation must pay their own attorney fees. In re Hunter, 203 B.R. 150, 151 (Bankr. W.D. Ark. 1996). However, certain exceptions to this rule exist, one of which is found in Ark. Code Ann. § 16-22-308, which states,

In any civil action to recover on an open account, statement of account, account stated, promissory note, negotiable instrument, or contract relating to the purchase or sale of goods, wares, or merchandise, or for labor or services, or breach of contract, unless otherwise provided by law or the contract which is the subject matter of the action, the prevailing party may be allowed a reasonable attorney’s fee to be assessed by the court and collected as costs.
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-22-308. Under Arkansas law, an award of prevailing party attorney fees under this statute are permissive and discretionary. In re Cameron, No. 4:10-bk-14987, 2011 WL 1979503, at *6 (Bankr. E.D. Ark. May 17, 2011).

This action was brought by the Debtors to determine whether they owed the foreclosure fees and costs incurred by J.P. Morgan in conducting non-judicial foreclosure proceedings on its promissory notes. The Debtors are the prevailing party in these matters, and as such, the Court awards the Debtors a reasonable amount for their attorney fees. Counsel for the Debtors shall submit a separate application for those fees to the Court, as further ordered below.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that J.P. Morgan was not in compliance with the authorized-to-do-business requirement of the Statutory Foreclosure Act when it conducted the foreclosures against these Debtors. Additionally, the Court has determined that J.P. Morgan’s failure to comply with Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 was not cured by empowering an attorney-in-fact under Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-102, was not superceded by the Wingo Act, and was not preempted by the National Banking Act. As a result, the foreclosure fees and costs incurred by Chase and J.P. Morgan are not owed by the Debtors, and need not be included in the Debtors’ repayment plans in order for those plans to be confirmed.

Further, the Court has determined that the Debtors should be awarded their attorney fees incurred in pursuing these actions.

Therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED that the Objections to Confirmation are OVERRULED; it is further,

ORDERED that the Defendant shall pay the reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Debtors in pursuing these actions. The Court will determine the amount of this award on further application by Debtors’ Counsel, which shall include an itemization of the attorney fees incurred in these actions. This application must be filed with the Court within 14 days of the entry of this Order, and shall be served on Counsel for J.P. Morgan. J.P. Morgan shall have 14 days from the date that fee application is filed with the Court in which to file a response, should it wish to do so.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

[1] Although the objections to confirmation were filed by two separate creditors, J.P. Morgan and Chase, as of the date of the hearing all of the claims at issue in this matter had been transferred to J.P. Morgan.

[2] The Court also takes judicial notice of all filings and records in these cases, including the proofs of claim. See Fed. R. Evid. 201; In re Henderson, 197 B.R. 147, 156 (Bankr. N.D. Ala. 1996) (“The court may take judicial notice of its own orders and of records in a case before the court, and of documents filed in another court.”) (citations omitted); see also In re Penny, 243 B.R. 720, 723 n.2 (Bankr. W.D. Ark. 2000).

[3] J.P. Morgan only presented the limited power of attorney filed in the property records for the Peeks case, but J.P. Morgan’s counsel represented to the Court that a similar limited power of attorney was granted and recorded in the property records for each of the three cases.

[4] The Court notes that counsel for the Debtors argued that a determination that the statute had been violated would make any sale under the Statutory Foreclosure Act void ab initio. No property sales actually resulted from the foreclosure proceedings in these cases. The sole dispute in these cases is whether the foreclosure fees and costs incurred through use of Arkansas’ non-judicial foreclosure process are owed.

[5] The Court notes that no explanation is provided by the statute regarding what action is required in order to be authorized to do business under Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117. Following a review of other provisions within the Arkansas Code, it appears that this requirement generally demands that a party obtain a certificate of authority from the secretary of state. See Ark. Code Ann. § 23-48-1003 (“A certificate of authority authorizes the out-of-state bank to which it is issued to transact business in the state . . . .”); Ark. Code Ann. § 4-27-1501 (“A foreign corporation may not transact business in this state until it obtains a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State.”). However, no such determination is necessary in these cases because J.P. Morgan stipulated that it was not so authorized.

[6] J.P. Morgan did not argue that it met the requirements of the Statutory Foreclosure Act because it was a “financial institution.” Nonetheless, the Court notes that even if J.P. Morgan qualified as a financial institution under Ark. Code Ann. § 102, it would still be required to comply with the fundamental statutory requirement of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 for the same reasons discussed herein with regard to its use of an attorney-in-fact.

[7] J.P. Morgan did not provide the Court with the analytical extensions needed to support its argument. As a result, the Court has analyzed all possible extensions of that argument, which include (1) that because J.P. Morgan authorized an attorney-in-fact to conduct the foreclosure, Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 did not apply, or (2) that because J.P. Morgan authorized Wilson & Associates to conduct the foreclosure it satisfied the requirement of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117.

[8] Ark. Code Ann. § 04-27-1502 is titled the “[c]onsequences of transacting business without authority,” and states that:

(a) A foreign corporation transacting business in this state without a certificate of authority may not maintain a proceeding in any court in this state until it obtains a certificate of authority.

. . .

(d)(1)(A) A foreign corporation that transacts business in this state without a certificate of authority shall pay a civil penalty to the state for each year and partial year during which it transacts business in this state without a certificate of authority.

Ark. Code Ann. § 4-27-1502.

[9] In many cases, the OCC regulatory interpretations are entitled to substantial deference, commonly known as Chevron deference. Investment Co. Institute v. Camp, 401 U.S. 617, 626-27, 91 S.Ct. 1091, 28 L.Ed.2d 367 (1971) (“It is settled that courts should give great weight to any reasonable construction of a regulatory statute adopted by the agency charged with the enforcement of that statute.”).

[10] J.P. Morgan did not direct the Court to any specific provision of the NBA to support its argument that the authorized-to-do-business requirement creates an obstacle to achieving Congress’s objectives. Nonetheless, the Court’s review of the NBA has identified several powers granted to national banks that extend to such an argument.

[11] The Court also notes that all a national bank must do in order to meet the requirements of Ark. Code Ann. § 18-50-117 is become authorized to do business in the state.

[12] A list of the types of foreclosure allowed by each state is available at http://www.realty trac.com/foreclosure-laws/foreclosure-laws-comparisons.asp (last visited Sept. 12, 2011).

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PMI Group, “MERS” Shareholder Files Bankruptcy After Regulators Take Over Unit

PMI Group, “MERS” Shareholder Files Bankruptcy After Regulators Take Over Unit


Remember, PMI Group is also a Mortgage electronic Registration System, INC. “MERS” shareholder! Hmmm…

Business Week-

PMI Group Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection after the mortgage insurer lost a court bid to undo the takeover of its main unit by Arizona regulators.

The Walnut Creek, California-based company listed assets of $225 million and debt of $736 million as of Aug. 4 in a Chapter 11 petition filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Arizona Director of Insurance Christina Urias took control of the PMI unit last month on an interim basis and directed claims to be paid at 50 cents on the dollar after losses on mortgage defaults drained capital.“

The ADI Director’s action in seeking receivership of MIC, among other things, has led the debtor to seek bankruptcy protection in order to maximize value for its estate and creditors,” L. Stephen Smith, PMI’s chief executive officer, said in court papers.

[BUSINESS WEEK]

 

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In RE: ONG | PA Bankr. Court “First Horizon and MERS, who apparently serviced such unrecorded mortgage”

In RE: ONG | PA Bankr. Court “First Horizon and MERS, who apparently serviced such unrecorded mortgage”


IN THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

IN RE:
ROBERT A. ONG and DONNA L. ONG,

Debtors. : Chapter 7

Charles O. Zebley, Jr.,

Trustee/Plaintiff,

v.

First Horizon Loans, a division of
First Tennessee Bank, N.A. and
Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc.,

Defendants.

EXCERPT:

The Trustee contends, and First Horizon concedes, that he has reviewed
the records at the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds Office, and that
upon such review he was unable to verify that the Mortgage was ever recorded
there. Furthermore, First Horizon admits that it does not affirmatively assert that
(a) such a record search by anyone other than the Trustee would reveal that the
Mortgage was properly recorded, or (b) the Mortgage was ever properly
recorded. First Horizon, however, does not affirmatively concede that the
Mortgage was never properly recorded. Instead, First Horizon asserts, in its
Answer, that (a) it is searching to ascertain whether proof can be located that
would demonstrate that the Mortgage was properly recorded, (b) until such
search is completed, it lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the Trustee’s
allegation that the Mortgage was never properly recorded, and (c) it thus must
temporarily deny such allegation by the Trustee.

[..]

Because the Court converts the Trustee’s motions for judgment on the
pleadings into motions for summary judgment, the Court cannot immediately
dispose of such motions. Instead, the Court must give First Horizon a
reasonable opportunity to defend such converted motions in accordance with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. See Id. Therefore, First Horizon shall have 21 days from the
date of the instant Memorandum Opinion to produce evidence sufficient in weight
to withstand summary judgment regarding the Trustee’s contention that the
Mortgage was not properly recorded at the time when the Debtors filed for
bankruptcy, after which the Trustee will have 14 days to file a reply. If First
Horizon fails to timely produce such evidence, then summary judgments will
automatically be granted in favor of the Trustee, without any further hearing or
order by the Court, as to both of the Trustee’s avoidance actions.

[…]

[ipaper docId=71240438 access_key=key-1xa9vkaub9wa89yoityu height=600 width=600 /]

 

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AURORA v. TOLEDO | NJ SC  “We question whether Lehman’s designation of MERS as its nominee remained in effect after Lehman filed its bankruptcy”

AURORA v. TOLEDO | NJ SC “We question whether Lehman’s designation of MERS as its nominee remained in effect after Lehman filed its bankruptcy”


NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
APPELLATE DIVISION
DOCKET NO. A-0804-10T3

AURORA LOAN SERVICES, LLC,
Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

BERNICE TOLEDO,
Defendant-Appellant,

and

MR. TOLEDO, Husband of
BERNICE TOLEDO, MORTGAGE
ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC., As Nominee
For LEHMAN BROTHERS BANK FSB;
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC., As Nominee For
AURORA LOAN SERVICES LLC,
Defendants.
_________________________________________________________

Submitted September 26, 2011 – Decided October 18, 2011

Before Judges Alvarez and Skillman.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey,
Chancery Division, Passaic County, Docket
No. F-10005-09.

Kenneth C. Marano, attorney for appellant.

Victoria E. Edwards (Akerman Senterfitt),
attorney for respondent.

PER CURIAM

Defendant appeals from an order entered on August 31, 2010,
which granted a summary judgment in this mortgage foreclosure
action declaring that defendant’s answer “sets forth no genuine
issue as to any material fact challenged and that [plaintiff] is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” There is no
indication in the record before us that plaintiff ever secured a
final judgment of foreclosure. Therefore, the appeal appears
interlocutory. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Garner, 416 N.J.
Super. 520, 523-24 (App. Div. 2010). However, because defendant
did not move to dismiss on that basis and the appeal has been
pending for a substantial period of time, we grant leave to
appeal as within time and address the merits. See R. 2:4-
4(b)(2).

The record before us is rather sparse and disjointed.
However, the following facts may be gleaned from that record.
Defendant owns a home in the Borough of Prospect Park. On
July 24, 2006, defendant executed two promissory notes payable
to Lehman Brothers Bank, the first for $320,000, which was
payable on August 1, 2036, and the second for $60,000, which was
payable on August 1, 2021. Both notes were secured by mortgages
on defendant’s home.

On September 1, 2006, plaintiff began servicing the notes
on behalf of Lehman.

Sometime in 2008, defendant went into default in the
payment of her obligations under the notes.

On January 30, 2009, plaintiff purportedly obtained an
assignment of the $320,000 note from Lehman and the mortgage
securing that note.1 This assignment was signed by a person
named Joann Rein, with the title of Vice-President of Mortgage
Electronic Systems, Inc. (MERS). MERS was described in the
assignment document as a “nominee for Lehman Brothers Bank.”

This document is discussed in greater detail later in the
opinion.

On February 23, 2009, plaintiff filed this mortgage
foreclosure action. The parties subsequently engaged in
negotiations to resolve the matter. Those negotiations were
unsuccessful and are not relevant to our disposition of this
appeal.

Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment to strike
defendant’s answer on the ground there was no contested issue of
fact material to plaintiff’s right to foreclose upon defendant’s
property. In support of this motion, plaintiff relied primarily
on an affidavit by Laura McCann, one of its vice-presidents,
and exhibits attached to that affidavit, which are discussed
later in this opinion. Defendant submitted an answering
certification.

After hearing oral argument, the trial court issued a brief
written opinion and order granting plaintiff’s motion. This
appeal followed.

To have standing to foreclose a mortgage, a party generally
must “own or control the underlying debt.” Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A. v. Ford, 418 N.J. Super. 592, 597 (App. Div. 2011) (quoting
Bank of N.Y. v. Raftogianis, 418 N.J. Super. 323, 327-28 (Ch.
Div. 2010)). If the debt is evidenced by a negotiable
instrument, such as the promissory notes executed by defendant,
the determination whether a party owns or controls the
underlying debt “is governed by Article III of the Uniform
Commercial Code (UCC), N.J.S.A. 12:3-101 to -605, in particular
N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301.” Ibid. Under this section of the UCC, the
only parties entitled to enforce a negotiable instrument are
“[1] the holder of the instrument, [2] a nonholder in possession
of the instrument who has the rights of the holder, or [3] a
person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to
enforce the instrument pursuant to [N.J.S.A.] 12A-3-309 or
subsection d. of [N.J.S.A.] 12A:3-418.” N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301
(brackets added).

In this case, it is clear for the same reasons as in Ford,
418 N.J. Super. at 598, that plaintiff is neither a “holder” of
the promissory notes executed by defendant nor a “person not in
possession” of those notes who is entitled to enforce them
pursuant to N.J.S.A. 12A:3-309 or N.J.S.A. 12A:3-418(d).

Therefore, as in Ford, plaintiff’s right to foreclose upon the
mortgages defendant executed to secure those notes depends upon
whether plaintiff established that it is “a nonholder in
possession of the instrument[s] who has the rights of a holder.”
N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301; see Ford, supra, 418 N.J. Super. at 498-99.

To establish its right to foreclose upon the mortgage
defendant executed to secure her $320,000 note to Lehman,
plaintiff relied upon an affidavit by Laura McCann, a vicepresident
of plaintiff. McCann’s affidavit states that she has
“custody and control of the business records of [plaintiff] as
they relate to [defendant’s] loans.” Regarding each of the
copies of defendant’s notes and mortgages attached to her
certifications, McCann asserts that it is a “true and correct
copy.” However, McCann does not state that she personally
confirmed that those attachments were copies of originals in
plaintiff’s files.

McCann’s affidavit also has attached a copy of a document
that purports to be a “Corporate Assignment of Mortgage” from
MERS, as Lehman’s nominee, to plaintiff. Again, McCann’s
affidavit asserts that this document “is a true and correct copy
of the instrument assigning the Mortgage and Note to
[plaintiff],” but does not state that she personally confirmed
that it was a copy of the original.

A certification in support of a motion for summary judgment
must be based on “personal knowledge.” Ford, supra, 418 N.J.
Super. at 599 (quoting R. 1:6-6); see also Deutsche Bank Nat’l
Trust Co. v. Mitchell, ___ N.J. Super. ___, ___ (App. Div. 2011)
(slip op. at 17-19). Our Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed
the need for strict compliance with this requirement in mortgage
foreclosure actions by adopting, effective December 20, 2010, a
new court rule which specifically states that an affidavit in
support of a judgment in a mortgage foreclosure action must be
“based on a personal review of business records of the plaintiff
or the plaintiff’s mortgage loan servicer.” R. 4:64-2(c)(2).
McCann’s affidavit does not state that she conducted such a
“personal review of [plaintiff’s] business records” relating to
defendant’s notes and mortgages.

Furthermore, even if plaintiff had presented adequate
evidence that the purported assignment of the mortgages and
notes attached to McCann’s affidavit was a copy of the original
in plaintiff’s files, this would not have been sufficient to
establish the effectiveness of the alleged assignment. This
document was signed by a JoAnn Rein, who identifies herself as a
vice-president of MERS, as nominee for Lehman Brothers, and was
notarized in Nebraska. Plaintiff’s submission in support of its
motion for summary judgment did not include a certification by
Rein or any other representative of MERS regarding her authority
to execute the assignment or the circumstances of the
assignment. In the absence of such further evidence, we do not
view the purported assignment of the mortgages and notes to be a
self-authenticating document that can support the summary
judgment in plaintiff’s favor. N.J.R.E. 901; see 2 McCormick on
Evidence § 221 (6th ed. 2006).

There is an additional potential problem with this
purported assignment. The assignment was not made by Lehman, as
payee of the promissory notes secured by the mortgage, but
rather by MERS, “as nominee for Lehman.” Although the notes and
mortgages appointed MERS as Lehman’s nominee, Lehman filed a
petition for bankruptcy protection in September 2008, see Andrew
Ross Sorkin, Lehman Files for Bankruptcy; Merrill is Sold, N.Y.
Times (Sept. 14, 2008), which was before the purported
assignment of defendant’s mortgage and note on January 30, 2009.

Therefore, we question whether Lehman’s designation of MERS as
its nominee remained in effect after Lehman filed its bankruptcy
petition, absent ratification of that designation by the
bankruptcy trustee. On remand, the trial court should address
the question whether MERS was still Lehman’s nominee as of the
date of its purported assignment of defendant’s note and
mortgage to plaintiff.

Accordingly, we reverse the August 31, 2010 order granting
plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and remand to the trial
court for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

[ipaper docId=69388551 access_key=key-22fs56rdfpzf4tuolduu height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Bankruptcy for Countrywide or Liquidation for BofA?

Bankruptcy for Countrywide or Liquidation for BofA?


Abigail C. Field

The LATimes reported that Brian Moynihan wouldn’t rule out bankruptcy for Bank of America. Chris Whalen urged the bank to go bankrupt. Now rumors are swirling that BofA will try to dodge all Countrywide’s lawsuit liability by putting Countrywide into bankruptcy, saving BofA in the process.

Whether BofA succeeds in ducking Countrywide’s liabilities depends mostly on one question: will the bankruptcy court apply Delaware law, which prizes form over substance, or law like New York or California’s, which looks at substance over form? That choice of law factor is what got BofA off the hook of Countrywide liability in one case, and left it on the hook in another, as detailed by Isaac Gradman at the Subprime Shakeout.  And if you think about it, the idea is incredibly galling.

[REALITY CHECK]

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Chris Whalen: Bank Of America Should Declare Bankruptcy

Chris Whalen: Bank Of America Should Declare Bankruptcy


It’s beginning to sound a lot like Lehman! Massive layoffs probably coming soon…

BUSINESS INSIDER-

Bank of America has over $100 billion in mortgage liabilities, says Chris Whalen Co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics.

On a web broadcast published on KingWorldNews, he advocates “the classical American way of dealing with this problem”– complete and total restructuring through Chapter 11. Before its too late.

He says, “The only sane way of fixing this and I mean fix it so that Bank of America comes out of the process restructured, ready to support growth, support leverage, is a classic chapter 11…”

His point: Countrywide’s bond trusts are worthless, were never properly constructed, and don’t protect investors at all. Bank of America is on the hook for all of that, and while its subsidiaries are well capitalized, the parent company is bust. The only thing to do to fix this problem is to unmake $100s of billions worth of bond contracts.

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U.S. banks offered deal over lawsuits – FT

U.S. banks offered deal over lawsuits – FT


REUTERS-

Big U.S. banks in talks with state prosecutors to settle claims of improper mortgage practices have been offered a deal that is proposed to limit part of their legal liability, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The FT said state prosecutors have proposed a deal to limit part of the banks’ liability in return for a multibillion-dollar payment.

The talks aim to settle allegations that banks including Bank of America (BAC.N), JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), Wells Fargo (WFC.N), Citigroup (C.N) and Ally Financial (GKM.N). seized the homes of delinquent borrowers and broke state laws by employing so-called “robosigners”, workers who signed off on foreclosure documents en masse without reviewing the paperwork.

[REUTERS]

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LETTER | Iowa AG: Banks may face criminal liability after robo-signing settlement

LETTER | Iowa AG: Banks may face criminal liability after robo-signing settlement


LIES: Didn’t we hear this before?

HW-

The eventual robo-signing settlement between the 50 state attorneys general and major mortgage servicers will not release these firms from any criminal and not all civil liabilities, according to Iowa AG Tom Miller.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and 20 members of the New York congressional delegation sent a letter to Miller Wednesday, chiding him for allegedly ousting New York AG Eric Schneiderman from the talks.

“We are deeply troubled by your recent action to silence New York’s voice by removing New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from an executive committee negotiating a nationwide settlement with the banks,” Nadler wrote.

[…]

“While a final multistate case release has not been negotiated and the release is a work in progress, attorneys general on the negotiation committee are not preparing to, nor will they agree to, release the banks from all civil liability,” Miller wrote in his letter to Nadler. “We are also not preparing to, nor can we agree to, release the banks from any criminal liability.”

[HOUSING WIRE]

[ipaper docId=63834830 access_key=key-1pa07f0fvx22a1cl256d height=600 width=600 /]

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