bankruptcy | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA - Part 3

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Conn. Senator Richard Blumenthal announces an investigation on abusive bank and servicer practices

Conn. Senator Richard Blumenthal announces an investigation on abusive bank and servicer practices


Blumenthal Announces Measures to Aid Homeowners, Crack Down on Abusive Practices by Mortgage Services

Monday, July 11, 2011

(Hartford, CT) –Senator Richard Blumenthal today joined with mortgage foreclosure advocates and Bristol resident Janet Driscoll to announce an investigation into the troubling practices of mortgage servicers.

“The rate of foreclosure and families that struggle with their mortgage payments is one of the single largest barriers to economic recovery that we still see today. Homeowners deserve a fair-shake and my office is committed to assisting homeowners, like Janet, who have experienced first-hand the demoralizing effects of impending foreclosure at the hands of poor mortgage servicing practices,” said Blumenthal. “This investigation will ask the tough questions to bring about real changes to this broken system so that people can no longer be given the run-around when trying to stay in their homes.”

The investigation that will be conducted through the Senate Judiciary Committee will ask top mortgage servicers to examine the policies and procedures in place at top mortgage servicers that affect mortgage foreclosures, as well as practices and policies at those institutions related to filing proofs of claim in the bankruptcy courts.

I believe today that it’s because of the Senator’s office that my family still has their home,” said Janet Driscoll, a Bristol homeowner who Blumenthal’s office recently helped avoid foreclosure.

During his first 7 months in office, Blumenthal has been an aggressive supporter of a number of legislative measures that seek to address the foreclosure crisis. This past June, he joined with other lawmakers in writing to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, urging them to work with State Attorneys General and other federal agencies while they look into lapses in the foreclosure procedure.

Senator Blumenthal is working with many of his Senate colleagues to level the playing field for those struggling in these tough economic times. He is pursuing a number of measures that will alleviate some of the pressure on home owners and restrict the abusive practices of banks and servicers:

###

Press Contact

Kate Hansen (202) 224-2823 or Lily Adams (860) 258-6942

Kate_Hansen@blumenthal.senate.gov ; Lily_Adams@blumenthal.senate.gov

source: http://blumenthal.senate.gov

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FALSE STATEMENTS: In re Jessie M. Arizmendi, Bk. No. 09-19263-PB13, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California

FALSE STATEMENTS: In re Jessie M. Arizmendi, Bk. No. 09-19263-PB13, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California


By FRAUD DIGEST

False Statements

Brian Burnett
Freddie Mac
IndyMac Bank, FSB
MERS
OneWest Bank, FSB

Action Date: June 27, 2011
Location: San Diego, CA

California Bankruptcy Judge Laura Stuart Taylor has joined the ranks of judges who will not tolerate fraudulent documents produced by banks to foreclose. Judge Taylor entered an Order To Show Cause why OneWest Bank, FSB, should not incur “a significant coercive sanction intended to deter any future tender of misleading evidence to any court of this district.” Judge Taylor ordered OneWest to appear before her on July 29, 2011, to show cause as to why it should not be subject to compensatory and/or coercive sanctions, in the case In re Jessie M. Arizmendi, Bk. No. 09-19263-PB13, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California. The case involves a motion for relief from stay filed by OneWest supported with a declaration of Brian Burnett, who declared under penalty of perjury that OneWest was the real party in interest in connection with the Motion because OneWest was the current beneficiary under the terms of a promissory note and Deed of Trust.

According to the Burnett declaration, OneWest received its interest in the Trust Deed pursuant to an Assignment from MERS. The assignment of the Trust Deed and the Note showed the transfer from MERS as nominee for the original lender directly to OneWest in 2010.

At trial, however, OneWest’s witness, Charles Boyle, testified that the beneficiary of the loan was actually Freddie Mac. Based on this conflict, the Court required post-trial briefings.

According to the Court, “OneWest, in its post-trial brief, provided a standing argument based on a new version of the Note, which attached an allonge dated July 24, 2007 evidencing a transfer from Original Lender to IndyMac Bank, FSB and bore an endorsement in blank from IndyMac Bank, FSB. This was new information not presented in the OneWest Declaration and this note was not identical to the note authenticated by the OneWest Declaration and attached to the OneWest Proof of Claim.

This Court is concerned, thus, that OneWest provided false or misleading evidence to the Court and that OneWest did so willfully, maliciously, in bad faith, and/or for an inappropriate purpose.”

According to research by Fraud Digest, Brian Burnett has used many different job titles when signing mortgage-related documents for OneWest, often using different titles on the same day, including:

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Acoustic Home Loans;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Aegis Wholesale Corporation;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for American Brokers Conduit;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Beach First National Bank;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Credit Suisse Financial Corp.;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for CTX Mortgage Company, LLC;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for DHI Mortgage Company, Ltd.;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Express Capital Lending;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Finasure Home Loans, LLC;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for First Magnus Financial Corporation;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for First Meridian Mortgage;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Flick Mortgage Investors, Inc.;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Home Loan Center, Inc. d/b/a LendingTree Loans;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Impac Funding Corp., d/b/a Impac Lending Group;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for IndyMac Bank, FSB;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for LoanCity;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for MortgageIt, Inc.;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for NetBank, a Federal Savings Bank;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for New American Funding, a California Corporation;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Opteum Financial Services, LLC;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for OneWest Bank, FSB;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Quicken Loans, Inc.;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Sloan Mortgage Group, Inc.;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for Taylor, Bean & Whitaker;

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for TM Capital, Inc.

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for d/b/a Fedfirst Mortgage Corporation; and

– Assistant Vice President, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee for UBS AG.

July 29, 2011, may be the day that Brian Burnett and OneWest are held accountable for the thousands of mortgage assignments – with false statements regarding the history and ownership of mortgages – presented to courts to foreclose.



© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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Draft Report of the PEB on the UCC Rules Applicable to the Assignment of Mortgage Notes and to the Ownership and Enforcement of Those Notes and the Mortgages Securing Them

Draft Report of the PEB on the UCC Rules Applicable to the Assignment of Mortgage Notes and to the Ownership and Enforcement of Those Notes and the Mortgages Securing Them


This Draft was mentioned in the [IN RE VEAL]

On March 29, 2011, the PEB released for public comment its Draft Report on UCC Rules Applicable to the Assignment of Mortgage Notes and to the Ownership and Enforcement of Those Notes and the Mortgages Securing Them. The PEB is now reviewing the comments received by the submission deadline of May 28, 2011.

From: John A. Sebert, Chair, Permanent Editorial Board for the Uniform Commercial Code (PEB)

Summary

The Uniform Commercial Code provides four sets of rules that determine matters that are important in the context of enforcement of mortgage notes and the mortgages that secure them:

  • First, in the case of a mortgage note that is a negotiable instrument, Article 3 of the UCC determines the identity of the person who is entitled to enforce the note and to whom the maker owes its payment obligation; payment to the person entitled to enforce the note discharges the maker’s obligation, but failure to pay that party when the note is due constitutes dishonor.
  • Second, for both negotiable and non-negotiable mortgage notes, Article 9 of the UCC determines whether a transferee of the note from its owner has obtained an attached property right in the note.
  • Third, Article 9 of the UCC provides that a transferee of a mortgage note whose property right in the note has attached also automatically has an attached property right in the mortgage that secures the note.
  • Finally, Article 9 of the UCC provides a mechanism by which the owner of a note and the mortgage securing it may, upon default of the maker of the note, record its interest in the mortgage in the realty records in order to conduct a non-judicial foreclosure.

[ipaper docId=58135658 access_key=key-1k731amd1w9ox5m5gxre height=600 width=600 /]

Source: The American Law Institue and The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws

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2011 MORTGAGE SERVICING by Adam Levitin and Tara Twomey

2011 MORTGAGE SERVICING by Adam Levitin and Tara Twomey


2011

Mortgage Servicing

Adam J. Levitin
Georgetown University Law Center

Tara Twomey
National Consumer Law Center

This Article argues that a principal-agent problem plays a critical role in the current foreclosure crisis.

A traditional mortgage lender decides whether to foreclose or restructure a defaulted loan based on its evaluation of the comparative net present value of those options. Most residential mortgage loans, however, are securitized.

Securitized mortgage loans are managed by third-party mortgage servicers as agents for mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) investors.

Servicers‘ compensation structures create a principal-agent conflict between them and MBS investors. Servicers have no stake in the performance of mortgage loans, so they do not share investors‘ interest in maximizing the net present value of the loan. Instead, servicers‘ decision of whether to foreclose or modify a loan is based on their own cost and income structure, which is skewed toward foreclosure. The costs of this principal-agent conflict are thus externalized directly on homeowners and indirectly on communities and the housing market as a whole.

This Article reviews the economics and regulation of servicing and lays out the principal-agent problem. It explains why the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”) has been unable to adequately address servicer incentive problems and suggests possible solutions, drawing on devices used in other securitization servicing markets. Correcting the principal-agent problem in mortgage servicing is critical for mitigating the negative social externalities from uneconomic foreclosures and ensuring greater protection for investors and homeowners.

[ipaper docId=57810290 access_key=key-1xkx7hslotmya66c9evp height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (3)

FALSE STATEMENTS: Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu

FALSE STATEMENTS: Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu


By Lynn Szymoniak, ESQ.

False Statements

American Home Mortgage Servicing
DocX, LLC
Lender Processing Services
Sand Canyon Corporation
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Action Date: June 12, 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ

On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit issued an important and lengthy analysis of standing and real-party-in-interest issues in a foreclosure case in Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu.

GSF Mortgage Corporation was the original lender in this case. Wells Fargo Bank, as Trustee for Option One Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3, and its servicer, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., sought to set aside the automatic bankruptcy stay in order to foreclose on the Veals. The note was not endorsed to Wells Fargo or to the trust. As part of their efforts to establish standing, and real-party-in-interest status, Wells Fargo and American Home Mortgage Servicing, the servicer for the Trust, filed a mortgage assignment.

The Assignment was prepared by Docx, LLC in Alpharetta, GA, the document mill made famous by Fraud Digest, then by 60 Minutes, Reuters, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Naked Capitalism, Foreclosure Hamlet, 4closure Fraud, Stop Foreclosure Fraud, the Wall Street Journal, and many others. While Docx is now closed, its documents live on in courts and recorders offices across the country.

The Veal Assignment was signed by Tywanna Thomas and Cheryl Thomas who claimed to be officers of Sand Canyon Corporation formerly known as Option One Mortgage. From deposition testimony of Cheryl Thomas, it is known that both Cheryl and Tywanna Thomas were actually employees of Lender Processing Services, the company that owned Docx. There are many different versions of the Tywanna Thomas signature because, as we now know, the employees in Alpharetta forged each other’s names on witnessed and notarized documents.

The Assignment was signed (by someone) on November 10, 2009, but a line on the Assignment right underneath the legal description of the property states:
“Assignment Effective Date 10/13/2009.”

The closing date of the trust was October 27, 2006, almost three years prior to the Assignment effective date. Investors were told the trust would obtain actual Assignments to the Trust of the mortgages pooled in that trust by the closing date.

Dale Sugimoto, the president of Sand Canyon, said in a sworn affidavit on March 18, 2009, filed in the Ron Wilson bankruptcy case in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Case No. 10-51328, Document 52-3, that Sand Canyon does not own any residential mortgages and has no servicing rights.

To summarize:

1. Cheryl Thomas and Tywanna Thomas were not officers of Sand Canyon, as represented on the Assignment. Someone other than Tywanna Thomas and Cheryl Thomas often forged their names.

2. The Veal loan was not transferred to the Option One trust effective October 13, 2009, as represented on the Assignment.

3. Sand Canyon did not own the Veal mortgage and, therefore, had no authority to assign the mortgage to the Option One Trust. The Latin phrase – Nemo dat quod non habit – best covers this situation. Translation: one cannot give what one does not have.

Investors in this Option One trust, the Bankruptcy Judge in the Veal case, bankruptcy trustees with similar documents, homeowners and their lawyers, the SEC, and the Justice Department must all demand answers (and reparations) from the Trustee, the document custodian, the servicer and Lender Processing Servicing.


© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

IN RE VEAL | AZ 9th Circuit BAP “Reverses Stay, Wells Fargo & AHMSI Lack of Standing, PSA Fail, Assignment Fail, UCC Articles 3 & 9 Applied”

IN RE VEAL | AZ 9th Circuit BAP “Reverses Stay, Wells Fargo & AHMSI Lack of Standing, PSA Fail, Assignment Fail, UCC Articles 3 & 9 Applied”


UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL
OF THE NINTH CIRCUIT

In re:
HOWARD RICHARD VEAL, JR., and
SHELLI AYESHA VEAL,
Debtors.

HOWARD RICHARD VEAL, JR.;
SHELLI AYESHA VEAL,
Appellants,

v.

AMERICAN HOME MORTGAGE SERVICING,
INC.; WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., as
Trustee for Option One Mortgage
Loan Trust 2006-3 Asset-Backed
Certificates, Series 2006-3, and
its successor and/or assignees,
Appellees.

Argued and Submitted on June 18, 2010
at Phoenix, Arizona
Filed – June 10, 2011
Appeal From The United States Bankruptcy Court
for the District of Arizona

Honorable Randolph J. Haines, Bankruptcy Judge, Presiding

Before: MARKELL, KIRSCHER and JURY, Bankruptcy Judges.

EXCERPTS:

The Substantive Law Related to Notes Secured by Real Property

Real party in interest analysis requires a determination of the applicable substantive law, since it is that law which defines and specifies the wrong, those aggrieved, and the redress they may receive. 6A Federal Practice and Procedure § 1543, at 480-81 (“In order to apply Rule 17(a)(1) properly, it is necessary to identify the law that created the substantive right being asserted . . . .”). See also id. § 1544.

1. Applicability of UCC Articles 3 and 9
Here, the parties assume that the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) applies to the Note. If correct, then two articles of the UCC potentially apply. If the Note is a negotiable instrument, Article 3 provides rules governing the payment of the obligation represented by and reified in the Note.

[…]

In particular, because it did not show that it or its agent had actual possession of the Note, Wells Fargo could not establish that it was a holder of the Note, or a “person entitled to enforce” the Note. In addition, even if admissible, the final purported assignment of the Mortgage was insufficient under Article 9 to support a conclusion that Wells Fargo holds any interest, ownership or otherwise, in the Note. Put another way, without any evidence tending to show it was a “person entitled to enforce” the Note, or that it has an interest in the Note, Wells Fargo has shown no right to enforce the Mortgage securing the Note. Without these rights, Wells Fargo cannot make the threshold showing of a colorable claim to the Property that would give it prudential standing to seek stay relief or to qualify as a real party in interest.

Accordingly, the bankruptcy court erred when it granted Wells Fargo’s motion for relief from stay, and we must reverse that ruling.

[…]

AHMSI apparently conceded that Wells Fargo held the economic interest in the Note, as it filed the proof of claim asserting that it was Wells Fargo’s authorized agent. Rule 3001(b) permits such assertions, and such assertions often go unchallenged. But here the Veals did not let it pass; they affirmatively questioned AHMSI’s standing. In spite of this challenge, AHMSI presented no evidence showing any agency or other relationship with Wells Fargo and no evidence showing that either AHMSI or Wells Fargo was a “person entitled to enforce” the Note. That failure should have been fatal to its position.

[…]

IV. CONCLUSION

For all of the foregoing reasons, the bankruptcy court’s order granting Wells Fargo’s relief from stay motion is REVERSED, and the order overruling the Veals’ claim objection is VACATED and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

[ipaper docId=57568003 access_key=key-21zui8wgrizbsty2ugqa height=600 width=600 /]

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IN RE ARIZMENDI | CA Bank. Court Denies Stay, Order to Show Cause “Contempt, Sanctions, (2) ONEWEST Notes; 1 Endorsed, 1 Unendorsed” “MERS Assignment”

IN RE ARIZMENDI | CA Bank. Court Denies Stay, Order to Show Cause “Contempt, Sanctions, (2) ONEWEST Notes; 1 Endorsed, 1 Unendorsed” “MERS Assignment”


In re: Jessie M. Arizmendi, Debtor.
OneWest Bank FSB, its assignees and/or successors, Moving Party,
v.
Jessie M. Arizmendi, Debtor; Thomas H. Billingslea, Chapter 13 Trustee; and Indymac Mortgage Services, Junior Lien, Respondents.

Bk. No. 09-19263-PB13, RS No. CNR-2.

United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. California.

May 26, 2011.

Not for Publication

MEMORANDUM DECISION

LAURA S. TAYLOR, Bankruptcy Judge


EXCERPTS:

Additional Briefing.

At the trial, the Court carefully considered the demeanor of the various witnesses and the testimony provided. In connection with the trial, the Court also reviewed all other evidence and argument appropriately before the Court. Notwithstanding, however, significant questions continued, and the Court required additional briefing in connection with several issues as outlined in the Order Setting Briefing Schedule, Outlining Preliminary Determinations, and Establishing Procedures for Final Resolution of Issues (Dkt. No. 56) (the “Briefing Order”).

OneWest’s post-trial documents provided the analysis and argument required by the Briefing Order. But, these documents also contained factual assertions inconsistent with the OneWest Declaration and the Claim. OneWest now provided a standing argument based on a new version of the Note (the “Endorsed Note”).[3] The Endorsed Note attached an allonge dated July 24, 2007 evidencing a transfer from Original Lender to “IndyMac Bank, FSB” and bore an endorsement in blank from IndyMac Bank F.S.B. OneWest argued in connection therewith that it had enforcement rights under the Endorsed Note as a holder notwithstanding the admittedly accurate testimony at trial indicating that OneWest is a servicer for Freddie Mac and not the secured creditor. The OneWest post-trial memorandum also references a separate agreement with Freddie Mac, but fails to further evidence or discuss this agreement. The OneWest post-trial memorandum, finally, bases a standing argument on physical possession of the Endorsed Note and OneWest’s alleged status as a trust deed beneficiary based on the Assignment.

[…]

But, there are key assumptions that the Court must make in order for this set of facts to withstand scrutiny. And they are that OneWest, in fact, holds the Endorsed Note and held the Endorsed Note at all appropriate points in time. Frankly, the Court is not willing to make such assumptions at this time. OneWest attached the Unendorsed Note to both its Proof of Claim and the Declaration. The Declaration stated under penalty of perjury, that the Unendorsed Note was a true and accurate copy of the Note held by OneWest. The Proof of Claim implicitly stated the same and OneWest, of course, is obligated to provide only accurate information in connection with its Proof of Claim. The problem is that the Unendorsed Note does not bear the endorsement or attach the allonge found on the Endorsed Note, a document produced only after trial and the close of evidence. One West, thus, leaves the Court with the quandary of guessing which promissory note OneWest holds, whether and when One West held the Endorsed Note, and what the explanation is for the failure to provide the Endorsed Note prior to the close of evidence.[10]

A further evidentiary anomaly arises on account of the Assignment; MERS executed this document as a nominee for the Original Lender. But the allonge to the Endorsed Note makes clear that the Original Lender assigned its interests in the Note more than three years prior to execution of the Assignment. And rights under the Trust Deed follow the Note. Polhemas v. Trainer, 30 Cal. 686, 688 (1866). Thus, MERS’ purported assignment of the Trust Deed and the related note as nominee for the Original Lender and without a reference to either IndyMac Bank, FSB or Freddie Mac appears designed to disguise rather than to illuminate the facts.

And finally, even if OneWest’s second post-trial discussion of standing and submission of evidence were accurate, one thing remains clear: OneWest failed to tell the true and complete story in the OneWest Declaration and in the Claim.

The Court is concerned, as a result, that OneWest does not hold the Endorsed Note. But, perhaps more significantly, the Court is concerned that OneWest has determined that business expediency and cost containment are more important than complete candor with the courts. On these points, Ms. Arizmendi has a right to be heard, and the Court has a right to explanation.

Further, this is not the first time that OneWest has provided less than complete information in the Southern District of California. See “Memorandum Decision Re Motion to Vacate Clerk’s Entry of Default and Motion to Dismiss Complaint; Order to Show Cause for Contempt of Court”, docket no. 39, Adv. Pro. 10-90308-MM (In re Doble; Bk. Case No. 10-11296) (Defendants, including OneWest, were neither candid nor credible in explaining failure to respond timely to complaint and submitted multiple and different notes as “true and correct”); “Order to Show Cause Why OneWest Bank, FSB and Its Attorneys Law Offices of Randall Miller and Christopher Hoo Should Not Appear Before the Court to Explain Why They Should Not Be Held in Contempt or Sanctioned”, docket no. 47, In re Carter, Bk. Case No. 10-10257-MM13 (among other things OneWest provides inconsistent evidence as to its servicer status); and “Order After Hearing to Show Cause Why Indymac Mortgage Services; OneWest Bank, FSB; Randall S. Miller & Associates, P.C.; Christopher J. Hoo; Barrett Daffin Frappier Treder & Weiss, LLP; and Darlene C. Vigil Should Not Appear Before the Court to Explain Why They Should Not Be Held in Contempt or Sanctioned”, docket no. 47, In re Telebrico, Bk. No. 10-07643-LA13 (Court concerned that OneWest provided evidence that was either intentionally or recklessly false).

The curious thing about these cases is that OneWest likely would prevail in each of them if it completely and candidly explained the basis for its motion and its standing in connection therewith. Undoubtedly, however, doing so is more costly than using a form declaration that is not customized as to the facts on a case by case basis and that is signed by an uninformed declarant. OneWest perhaps assumes that it really does not matter if the Court provides relief based on erroneous information. But, OneWest should remember an earlier theme in this decision and that is that the law is the law, rules are rules, and both must be obeyed. And, when it becomes clear that OneWest did not obey the rules, the Court can and, indeed, must act.

In short, the Court will not participate in a process where OneWest increases its profits by disobeying the rules of this Court and by providing the Court with erroneous information. The Court, thus, will take two steps. First, the Court will deny the Stay Motion without prejudice based first on the evidentiary problems that make it impossible for the Court to determine that OneWest is properly before the Court and that render evidence critical to OneWest’s prima facie case unreliable and second based on the Court’s inherent authority to regulate and control proceedings. Next, the Court hereafter will issue an order to show cause why One West should not be held in contempt and/or otherwise sanctioned. In connection therewith, the Court will consider a compensatory sanction to include a recovery of any costs Ms. Arizmendi would not have incurred but for OneWest’s improper actions. The compensatory sanction, frankly, could be quite limited. But, the Court also believes that a coercive sanction may well be appropriate. Given the orders to show cause that pre-date the one this Court will issue, it appears that the Court must create an economic disincentive for OneWest that will counter balance the economic benefit of a lack of complete candor. Further detail on the Court’s sanctions considerations will be set forth in the order to show cause and will not be further discussed here.

The Court finally notes that the order to show cause will issue only as to OneWest and possibly as to MERS. OneWest uses a variety of law firms. The Court was in a position to observe the demeanor of the lawyers handling this matter when the witness stated that OneWest was a mere servicer. The Court concludes based on this observation that they were unaware of this fact and unaware that OneWest supplied questionable documentary evidence. And frankly, there is nothing to be gained in pursuing the individual attorneys who must regularly appear in front of this Court. OneWest can simply change counsel and then be less than candid with a new set of attorneys.[11] The Court is interested in modifying OneWest’s behavior at an entity level, and any coercive sanction will be designed to achieve the same.

CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, the Stay Motion is denied without prejudice to the right of OneWest to refile a stay relief motion. In so doing, OneWest must provide declaratory evidence that explains when and how it obtained physical possession of the Endorsed Note and/or Unendorsed Note and that otherwise provides case specific evidence of standing given its servicer status.

[ipaper docId=57567731 access_key=key-22ffgxbli042xfmdtz1o height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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IN RE FONTES | Arizona Bankr. Court Appellate Panel Slams Standing “MERS Assignment, HSBC Affidavit”

IN RE FONTES | Arizona Bankr. Court Appellate Panel Slams Standing “MERS Assignment, HSBC Affidavit”


In re: CARLOS RAMON FONTES and EVA MARIE FONTES, Debtors.
CARLOS RAMON FONTES; EVA MARIE FONTES, Appellants,
v.
HSBC BANK, USA, NA; DIANNE CRANDELL KERNS, Chapter 13 Trustee, Appellees.

BAP No. AZ-10-1345-JUMKPa, Bk. No. 08-13133.

United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, Ninth Circuit.

.

Argued and Submitted on February 17, 2011 at Phoenix, Arizona. April 22, 2011.

Ronald Ryan, Esq. argued for Appellants Carlos and Eva Fontes Steven D. Jerome, Esq. of Snell & Wilmer LLP argued for Appellee HSBC Bank USA, NA Craig Morris, Esq. argued for Appellee Dianne Crandell Kerns.

Before: JURY, MARKELL, and PAPPAS, Bankruptcy Judges.

EXCERPT:

A. HSBC’s Theories

HSBC argues that we should affirm the court’s decision on the ground that debtors’ statements in their schedules and confirmed plan regarding ASC were judicial admissions[9] that HSBC had standing to bring the motion for relief from stay because ASC was HSBC’s loan servicer. HSBC further argues that the doctrine of judicial estoppel[10] should bar debtors from challenging HSBC’s standing because debtors acknowledged their debt to ASC, HSBC’s loan servicer, in their schedules and plan. Thus, HSBC maintains that debtors should not be able to take an inconsistent position in the context of the relief from stay proceeding. Finally, HSBC contends that despite these grounds for affirming the bankruptcy court’s ruling, it independently met its burden of proof that it had a colorable claim to debtors’ property.[11]

Although we may affirm the bankruptcy court’s decision on any ground fairly supported by the record, Wirum v. Warren (In re Warren), 568 F.3d 1113, 1116 (9th Cir. 2009), we disagree with HSBC that it should prevail under any of these theories.

We first address HSBC’s argument that it proved it had a colorable claim to debtors’ property. The record shows that the bankruptcy court did not directly address this question because it relied on debtors’ confirmed plan for its decision. Regardless, we review standing issues de novo and there is no evidence in the record that supports HSBC’s contention.

The assignment of the deed of trust from MERS, as nominee for Infinity, to HSBC also purported to assign the note. However, HSBC, as MER’S assignee, would take subject to the rights and remedies of its assignor. HSBC overlooks the fact that there is no evidence in the record that shows MERS had any interest in the note to assign. Although the deed of trust gave MERS, as nominee, the power to assign the deed of trust, it did not mention the note, nor did the note itself name MERS as nominee, so MERS could not take this right from the documents themselves. Further, there is no independent evidence that Infinity conveyed the note to MERS. Finally, debtors were not obligated under the note to make payments to MERS. In short, the language in the deed of trust which names MERS as a beneficiary, solely as nominee of Infinity, was insufficient to confer any economic benefit on MERS. In re Weisband, 427 B.R. 13, 20 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 2010).

In Weisband, the bankruptcy court considered whether a MERS assignment of a deed of trust provided the loan servicer with standing for purposes of obtaining relief from stay. The court concluded that MERS had no interest in the note and would suffer no injury if the note was not paid and the deed of trust not foreclosed. As a result, the court concluded that MERS did not have constitutional standing and, if MERS did not have constitutional standing, its assignee could not satisfy the requirements for constitutional standing either. Id.; see also Wilhelm, 407 B.R. at 404[12] (discussing validity of MERS’s assignments related to the note). We do not perceive a different result is warranted under these circumstances.

Moreover, HSBC gives the Williams’ declaration more credence than the rules of evidence allow. Williams’ declaration was conclusory, simply stating that she was familiar with the business records of HSBC and that HSBC was the “holder or servicer” of the note. Williams also stated that HSBC had a contractual right to collect payments and maintain legal actions for the beneficial note holder, either as the current note holder or pursuant to either a Master Servicing Agreement or Power of Attorney. However, neither of those documents were attached to her declaration and there is no other foundation for her to have made these equivocal statements. Finally, the declaration creates an ambiguity because Williams stated that HSBC was “the holder or servicer” of the Note. Which is it? If HSBC was a servicer of the note, it does not necessarily follow that HSBC was the holder of the note under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 47-1201(B)(21)(a).[13]Weisband, 427 B.R. at 21 (noting that “[E]ven if a servicer has constitutional standing, it may still not be the `real party in interest’ under Fed. R. Civ. P. 17 and may not, therefore be able to satisfy the requirements for prudential standing.”). In short, Williams’ declaration did not establish that HSBC had constitutional or prudential standing or that HSBC had authority to act for any entity that did have standing. See

HSBC’s judicial admission and estoppel theories as grounds for affirmance are also unpersuasive. HSBC seeks to have these doctrines applied to itself vis-a-vis ASC. The only manner in which HSBC links itself to ASC in the record is through its repeated assertion without reference to any evidence that ASC was its “servicer.”[14] No further details are given. Does HSBC mean that ASC was its agent at the time of debtors’ filing? Or, does HSBC mean it somehow became the successor in interest to ASC? The record does not support either theory.

Generally, a loan servicer acts only as the agent of the owner of the instrument. We do not find any evidence in the record that establishes an agency relationship between HSBC and ASC that existed when debtors filed their petition and proposed their plan. The record contains no servicing agreement between ASC and HSBC indicating that ASC was HSBC’s agent, and ASC’s proof of claim did not state that it was acting as the authorized agent for HSBC. Further, MERS’s assignment to HSBC of the trust deed and note is dated September 11, 2009 — a date well past the petition and plan confirmation dates. Thus, the only inference to be drawn from the record is that ASC was acting as servicer for some party other than HSBC when debtors filed their petition.

We also cannot conclude on this record that HSBC established that it was ASC’s successor in interest. A successor in interest is “one who follows another in ownership or control of property. A successor in interest retains the same rights as the original owner, with no change in substance.” Black’s Law Dictionary, (9th ed. 2009). Nothing in the record shows ASC was in the line of assignments of the note or trust deed. In reality, ASC and HSBC appear to be separate unrelated entities at the time of debtors’ filing. Without a direct link to ASC, HSBC cannot take advantage of the judicial admission or estoppel doctrines to bar debtors’ challenge to its standing.

In sum, the record is devoid of evidence that would support any of HSBC’s theories.

[…]

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Prof. Levitin | About Those Notes…Evidence of Securitization Fail

Prof. Levitin | About Those Notes…Evidence of Securitization Fail


You’re either pregnant or you ain’t. Can’t be both!

Credit Slips-

Since last October, shortly after the robosigning scandal broke, I’ve been talking until I turned blue in the face about robosigning being the tip of the iceberg with mortgage problems and that the real issue was chain of title. Robosigning appeared to be an almost unexpected deposition by-product; the real goal in the depositions that uncovered the robosigning was exposing the backdating of mortgage endorsement. And that they did–the notaries’ whose seals were on the documents didn’t have their commissions when the assignments supposedly took place.

But why would anyone bother backdating mortgage assignments? …


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Fortune Confirms Pervasive Defects in Bank of America Mortgage Documents

Fortune Confirms Pervasive Defects in Bank of America Mortgage Documents


Naked Capitalism-

Do you remember the brouhaha over testimony by a senior executive in Countrywide’s mortgage servicing unit last year? It called into question whether mortgages had been conveyed properly to securitizations, which in turn would impair Bank of America’s ability to foreclose.

Let me refresh your memory. As we wrote last year:

Testimony in a New Jersey bankruptcy court case provides proof of the scenario we’ve depicted on this blog since September, namely, that subprime originators, starting sometime in the 2004-2005 timeframe, if not earlier, stopped conveying note (the borrower IOU) to mortgage securitization trust as stipulated in the pooling and servicing agreement….

As we indicated back in September, it appeared that Countrywide, and likely many other subprime orignators quit conveying the notes to the securitization trusts sometime in the 2004-2005 time frame. Yet bizarrely, they did not change the pooling and servicing agreements to reflect what appears to be a change in industry practice. Our evidence of this change was strictly anecdotal; this bankruptcy court filing, posted at StopForeclosureFraud provides the first bit of concrete proof. The key section:

As to the location of the note, Ms. DeMartini testified that to her knowledge, the original note never left the possession of Countrywide, and that the original note appears to have been transferred to Countrywide’s foreclosure unit, as evidenced by internal FedEx tracking numbers. She also confirmed that the new allonge had not been attached or otherwise affIXed to the note. She testified further that it was customary for Countrywide to maintain possession of the original note and related loan documents.

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At Bank of America, more incomplete mortgage docs raise more questions

At Bank of America, more incomplete mortgage docs raise more questions


Abigail Field-

Fortune examined hundreds of foreclosure documents to determine the validity of mortgage securitizations after Bank of America debunked testimony about them last fall. The results raise more questions than they answer.

Are Countrywide mortgage-backed securities really mortgage-backed? Do banks even have the legal right to foreclose on certain homes?


Check out the related posts below …

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IN RE ALCIDE, Bankr. Court, ED Pennsylvania | “EVERHOME, EVERBANK, MERS”

IN RE ALCIDE, Bankr. Court, ED Pennsylvania | “EVERHOME, EVERBANK, MERS”


In re: MICHELIN ALCIDE, Chapter 7, Debtor.

Bky. No. 10-15489 ELF.

United States Bankruptcy Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.

May 27, 2011.

MEMORANDUM

ERIC L. FRANK, Bankruptcy Judge

Excerpts:

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A.

In order to place the present dispute in the proper procedural perspective, it is helpful to summarize certain background information regarding this chapter 13 case.

On July 27, 2010, less than four weeks after the commencement of the case, Everhome, as Servicer for Everbank, filed a proof of claim (Claim No. 3) (“the Proof of Claim”). The Proof of Claim is in the amount of $103,973.26 and states that the claim is secured by the Property. The Proof of Claim also states that instalment payments on the loan are delinquent from March 1, 2005 at $677.07 per month and that the total pre-petition delinquency on the loan is $63,703.80.[6]

The Debtor filed his bankruptcy schedules on August 3, 2010 and a chapter 13 plan on August 4, 2010. (Doc. #’s 15, 16).

In his bankruptcy schedules (“the Schedules”), the Debtor disclosed a one-half ownership interest in the Property. (Doc. # 15, Schedule A).[7] He disclosed the current value of his one-half interest in the Property as $50,000.00. I infer from the Debtor’s disclosure that he calculated the value of his interest in the property by dividing in half the value of the entire Property (i.e., $100,000.00 divided by two).

In his bankruptcy schedules, the Debtor also disclosed that the Property is encumbered by a mortgage in the amount of $103,973.26. In Schedule D, the Debtor identified three creditors as mortgage holders:

(1) MERS, Inc. as Nominee for Everhome Mortgage Co.;[8]

(2) Michael J. Clark, Esquire; and

(3) Everhome Mortgage Co., Inc.

(Doc. # 15, Schedule D).

In Schedule D, the Debtor also disclosed that the Property was encumbered by three municipal liens (two in favor of “Philadelphia Gas Works” and one in favor of “Water Revenue”) in the aggregate amount of $12,364.30.

The Debtor filed a chapter 13 plan (“the Plan”) on August 4, 2010. (Doc. # 16). In substance, the Plan proposed for the Debtor to pay $5.00 per month for 60 months ($300.00 total) to the Chapter 13 Trustee. In addition, the Plan provided for the Debtor to sell the Property and distribute the proceeds in full satisfaction of the allowed secured claim of the holder of the note and mortgage on the Property and the other claims secured by the Property, with any remaining sale proceeds to be turned over to the Trustee.

The Plan made no reference to value the of the Property or the fact that the total amount due on the secured claims, as disclosed on his Schedules, exceeds the value of the Property. The Plan did not explain how the Debtor would be able to consummate the proposed sale or how any net proceeds would be available to the Trustee from the sale of a $100,000 asset encumbered by more than $116,000.00 in liens. The Plan set no deadline for the sale of the Property. But see In re Erickson, 176 B.R. 753, 757 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 1995) (suggesting that a chapter 13 plan that features the sale of the debtor’s property must state the terms and time of the contemplated sale).

B.

I find the following facts based on the testimony presented and the documents introduced into evidence at the March 17, 2011 hearing.

Everhome and Everbank

1. Everhome and Everbank are separate entities.

2. Everbank is the parent company of Everhome.

3. Everhome “services” mortgages held by Everbank, by accepting payments from borrowers and tracking those payments and any defaults that arise under the mortgage.

the Mortgage

4. On November 18, 1998, the Debtor entered into a mortgage loan transaction (“the Original Transaction”) with Home Mortgage, Inc. (“HMI”).

5. The mortgage loan transaction was guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration.

6. In the Original Transaction, the Debtor signed a note (“the Note”) and a mortgage (“the Mortgage”) against the Property in favor of HMI. (See Ex. M-2).

7. The Mortgage states that it secures repayment of a debt evidenced by the Note. (Id.).

8. On June 30, 2000, HMI, acting through its Vice President, Teresa N. Jones, executed a written assignment, assigning the Mortgage to PrimeWest Mortgage Corporation (“PrimeWest”).

9. The HMI — PrimeWest assignment was recorded in the Philadelphia Department of Records on July 28, 2000. (Ex. M-4).

10. On June 1, 2005, PrimeWest, acting through its Vice President, Tanya Ault, executed a written assignment, assigning the Mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), “as nominee for Everhome Mortgage Company.” (Ex. M-5).

11. The PrimeWest — MERS/Everhome assignment was recorded in the Philadelphia Department of Records on October 25, 2005. (Ex. M-5).

12. On March 8, 2011, MERS, again as “as nominee for Everhome Mortgage Company,” and acting through Ann Johnson, Assistant Secretary, and Marcie Metcalf, Vice President, executed a written assignment, assigning the Mortgage to Everbank. (Ex. M-7).

13. The March 8, 2011 MERS — Everbank mortgage assignment was unrecorded as of March 17, 2011, the date of the hearing in this contested matter.

the Note

14. Attached to the Note is a blank endorsement executed by an individual purportedly acting on behalf of PrimeWest.

15. Everhome does not have physical possession of the Note.

16. U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note.

17. Everhome considers U.S. Bank to be acting as Everhome’s “custodian” in maintaining physical possession of the Note.[9]

18. The record does not reflect when U.S. Bank came into possession of the Note.[10]

the foreclosure Complaint

19. On September 14, 2005, MERS, acting in its own name (and without the qualifying reference “as nominee”) filed a complaint in mortgage foreclosure (“the Complaint”) against the Debtor in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, docketed at No. 1150, Sept. Term 2005. (Ex. D-1).

20. In the Complaint, MERS alleged, without any qualification, that it is “the original Mortgagee named in the Mortgage, the legal successor in interest to the original Mortgagee, or is the present holder of the mortgage by . . . Assignment(s).” (Ex. D-1, Complaint ¶2).[11]

21. As of July 2, 2010, MERS’ motion for summary judgment, which the Debtor contested, was pending.

the bankruptcy case

22. The Debtor commenced this chapter 13 bankruptcy case on July 2, 2010.

23. On July 27, 2010, Everhome, acting “as servicer for Everbank,” filed a proof of claim, asserting a claim secured by the Property in the amount of $103,973.26, with pre-petition arrears of $63,703.80.

24. On October 4, 2010, Everhome, again acting “as servicer for Everbank,” initiated this contested matter by filing the Motion, alleging that it is the “holder of a secured claim” against Debtor, secured by a first mortgage on the Property.

25. The Motion requests that the court grant Everhome relief from the automatic stay “to foreclose upon and to otherwise exercise its rights with respect to the [Property].”

26. Since the commencement of this bankruptcy case, the Debtor has made no payments to Everhome or Everbank.

[…]

C. Everhome Has Not Established that It Is A Party In Interest

On the present record, Everhome has not established that it is a party in interest entitled to seek relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. §362(d) in order to prosecute a foreclosure action against the Property. Everhome has not presented sufficient evidence to permit a finding that it is either: (1) the holder of the mortgage, with the concomitant right to enforce it under Pennsylania law or (2) an agent authorized by the holder of the Mortgage to initiate court proceedings to enforce the Mortgage on the holder’s behalf.

1.

When it filed the Motion, Everhome had a record interest in the Mortgage in the form of the 2005 mortgage assignment from PrimeWest to MERS “as nominee for Everhome.”[20] As stated above, Pennsylvania law unequivocally provides that a mortgage holder may enforce the mortgage in a judicial foreclosure proceeding. See Part III.B.2., supra. Thus, at first blush, Everhome would have appeared to be a party in interest when it filed the Motion. However, other evidence presented conclusively contradicted Everhome’s apparent status as the mortgage holder.

Most significantly, during the hearing, Everhome made no claim that it is the mortgage holder. All of the evidence it presented, through Mr. Ricketson’s testimony, was designed to prove that Everhome is servicing the Mortgage on behalf of its parent company, Everbank. Everhome made no effort to harmonize this position with the inconsistent language in the 2005 mortgage assignment from PrimeWest to MERS — Everhome. Everhome’s own position in the litigation, by itself, makes it impossible to accord it “party in interest” status as the holder of the Mortgage.

Further, by the time the hearing was held in this contested matter, another mortgage assignment had been executed, which on its face removed Everhome as the beneficial mortgagee. Although the March 2011 assignment from MERS to Everbank was not recorded, under Pennsylvania law, the allegation that a party is the owner of a mortgage that is not yet recorded is sufficient to permit that party to proceed as a plaintiff in an action in mortgage foreclosure. Mallory, 982 A.2d at 993. Thus, Everhome’s own evidence tended to prove that Everbank, not Everhome, is the party in interest with the right to enforce the Mortgage under applicable nonbankruptcy law.[21]

Everbank has not made a preliminary showing that it is a holder of the Mortgage with a right of enforcement. Therefore, Everhome may be a party in interest only if the evidence shows that Everhome has been authorized by the party that has the right to enforce the Mortgage to initiate legal proceedings on its behalf.

2.

Everhome’s position is that the Mortgage is held by Everbank and that as the servicer of the Mortgage, it has authority to file a motion for relief from the automatic stay. The Debtor does not concede this.

A number of courts have upheld the authority of a mortgage loan servicer to file a proof of claim on behalf of the mortgage holder.[22] Most of the reported decisions also hold that a mortgage loan servicer has standing and is a party in interest entitled to prosecute a motion for relief from the automatic stay.[23]

After reviewing the relevant case law, I conclude that a servicer’s financial interest in the debtor’s unpaid stream of mortgage payments satisfies the initial, and most fundamental, requirement for “party in interest” status (“injury in fact”), but does not automatically meet the prudential requirement that the movant assert its own legal rights, not that of a third party.

Most commonly, as in this case, a motion for relief from the automatic stay requests that the bankruptcy court authorize the movant to initiate or resume a foreclosure against the secured property. The purpose of the foreclosure action is to subject the secured property to sale, thereby permitting the secured creditor to realize its collateral. In Pennsylvania, it is the mortgage holder that has the right to pursue an action in mortgage foreclosure. Therefore, even though the servicer has an economic interest in the revenue stream generated by the mortgage, the relief requested in a stay relief motion — the right to pursue foreclosure proceedings against the collateral — involves the enforcement of the rights of the mortgage holder, not the servicer. Thus, the servicer’s economic stake in the mortgage does not necessarily mean that the servicer is a party in interest that may seek relief from the automatic stay in order to proceed with foreclosure.

That said, even though the in rem rights to be enforced following the grant of relief from the automatic stay may be those of the mortgage holder and not the servicer, the servicer may nonetheless be a party in interest in the bankruptcy case, with the right to prosecute a stay relief motion, if the servicer is acting within the scope of its authority as the mortgage holder’s agent. Whether it has such authority depends on the content of the servicing agreement between the mortgage holder and the servicer. That agreement may or may not be broad enough in scope as to delegate to the servicer the authority to initiate and manage foreclosure litigation on the mortgage holder’s behalf.[24]

A servicer can establish its authority to initiate the legal action if it demonstrates that its contractual duties to the mortgage holder include not just the collection of payments, but also the conduct of mortgage foreclosure and other legal proceedings on the holder’s behalf. Such authority includes the power to move for relief from the automatic stay in the bankruptcy court. See Martinez, 2011 WL 996705, at *5; Jacobson, 402 B.R. at 367; Woodbury, 383 B.R. at 379. Stated in slightly different terms, a servicer may have standing and be a party in interest if it files the motion for relief from the automatic stay in its capacity as the holder’s attorney-in-fact. See Hwang I, 396 B.R. at 767.[25]

Reduced to its essence, to establish its status as a party in interest entitled to seek relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. §362(d) in order to enforce legal remedies for a default under a mortgage, a mortgage servicer must demonstrate that:

(1) the initiation of the stay relief motion in the bankruptcy court is within the scope of authority delegated to the servicer by its principal and

(2) the principal itself is a party in interest (i.e., its principal is a party with the right to enforce the mortgage).

In this case, assuming arguendo that the record supports a finding that Everbank is the mortgage holder with the authority to enforce the Mortgage in foreclosure proceedings, but see n. 21, supra, there is a paucity of evidence regarding the scope of Everhome’s authority as servicer. The parties’ servicing agreement was not introduced into evidence; nor were its particulars described by Everhome’s trial witness. In his testimony, Mr. Ricketson described Everhome as having the authority to collect payments, track payments and determine when an the account is in default. There was no evidence that Everbank has appointed Everhome as its agent for the purpose of initiating legal proceedings to enforce the Mortgage.

This is a fatal gap in the evidence. I am unwilling to assume that the mere label of “servicer” is sufficient to cloak Everhome with authority to file a legal action on Everbank’s behalf.

Given the Debtor’s denial of Everhome’s asserted party in interest status in his written response to the Motion, some evidence of Everhome’s authority was necessary and that evidence was not offered. As the Wilhelm court stated

At the pleading stage, plaintiffs in federal court may rely on the allegations of their complaint to establish standing. Similarly, stay relief movants may initially rely upon their motion. But if a trustee or debtor objects to a stay relief motion based upon lack of standing, the movant must come forward with evidence. Additionally, if the stay relief motion itself reveals a lack of standing, movants cannot rest on the pleadings.

407 B.R. at 400 (citation omitted); see also Jacobson, 402 B.R. at 370 (“At a minimum, there must be an unambiguous representation or declaration setting forth the servicer’s authority from the present holder . . . to collect on the note and enforce [the mortgage]”).

Accordingly, the Motion must be denied.[26]

IV. CONCLUSION

This is a case in which the Debtor was substantially in arrears on his home mortgage when he commenced this bankruptcy case, has not paid his monthly mortgage payment over a number of months since filing the case and proposed a chapter 13 plan that contemplates the sale of his residence and that, on its face, is of questionable feasibility due to the apparent lack of equity in the Property. Without prejudging the merits of the motion for relief from the automatic stay, there is no question that the mortgagee has a good faith basis for pressing a motion for relief from the automatic stay.

At the same time, however, it is understandable why the Debtor responded to the Motion by demanding proof that Everhome was the proper party to come before the court. From his perspective, Everhome’s role in the mortgage relationship is, at best, opaque. Prior to the bankruptcy filing it was MERS (purporting, at least initially, to act in its own right), not Everhome or Everbank, that filed the foreclosure action against Debtor in state court. And, as the evidence revealed, Everhome holds itself out as merely the mortgage servicer and not the mortgage holder. There is no doubt that the Debtor acted in good faith in disputing Everhome’s status as a party in interest. In fact, the Debtor’s position was meritorious. At trial, Everhome failed to come forward with sufficient evidence to establish its party in interest status, resulting in the denial of the relief Everhome requested from this court.

To the extent that the outcome in this matter may appear anomalous due to the apparent merits of the request for stay relief and the seemingly technical nature of the issue regarding the identity of the proper moving party, the fault lies with the moving party. When a party claiming to be a secured creditor seeks relief from the automatic stay, the Debtor and the bankruptcy court are entitled to insist that the moving party show that it is the holder of the secured claim or that it is the authorized agent of the holder. This imposes an evidentiary burden “that is not difficult to meet,” requiring only “present[ation of] the rudimentary elements of its claim.” In re Salazar, 2011 WL 1398478, at *2, 3 (Bankr. S.D. Cal. Apr. 12, 2011). Indeed, in this case, the evidentiary shortfall does not appear to have been insurmountable.

In the age of mortgage securitization, meeting the evidentiary burden imposed by the “party in interest” requirement of 11 U.S.C. §362(d) may be a somewhat more cumbersome task for certain stay relief movants than it was for residential mortgagee—movants in the past, but that does not justify diluting the fundamental constitutional and statutory requirement that a party be a “party in interest” before it may obtain redress from a federal bankruptcy court. Any added burden is a product of the business model chosen by the mortgage finance industry and therefore, is simply part of the mortgage loan industry’s cost of doing business. Presumably, the cost is offset by the benefits of the mortgage securitization system.

Furthermore, while a moving creditor may believe that its status as a party in interest is self-evident, the court cannot rule based on factual assumptions or evidentiary leaps. Our legal system is governed by the core principle that court decisions are based on the evidence presented to the court. That principle cannot be compromised because a particular industry has chosen a business model that complicates its legal affairs and makes it inconvenient to come forward with the evidence needed to establish its status as a proper party. In the final analysis, the Motion must be denied to protect the integrity of the legal process.

For these reasons, I will deny the Motion without prejudice.

….

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ROADBLOCK | Banks Hit Foreclosure Hurdle

ROADBLOCK | Banks Hit Foreclosure Hurdle


WSJ

Banks trying to foreclose on homeowners are hitting another roadblock, as some delinquent borrowers are successfully arguing that their mortgage companies can’t prove they own the loans and therefore don’t have the right to foreclose.

These “show me the paper” cases have been winding through the courts for several years. But in recent months, some judges have been siding with borrowers and stopping foreclosures after concluding that banks’ paperwork problems are more serious than previously thought and raise broader ethical questions.

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Tennessee BK Trustee Says In 60 Cases This Year, Lenders Couldn’t Produce Original Note

Tennessee BK Trustee Says In 60 Cases This Year, Lenders Couldn’t Produce Original Note


SHOW ME THE NOTE!!

Bizjournals Nashville-

Federal legislation introduced last week is giving credence to a battle being fought in Middle Tennessee by bankruptcy trustee Henry “Hank” Hildebrand.

The Bill can be found in the link below…

VT Senator Patrick Leahy Introduces Bill To Fight Creditor Fraud In Bankruptcy Courts

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VT Senator Patrick Leahy Introduces Bill To Fight Creditor Fraud In Bankruptcy Courts

VT Senator Patrick Leahy Introduces Bill To Fight Creditor Fraud In Bankruptcy Courts


‘‘Fighting Fraud in Bankruptcy Act of 2011’’


Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced legislation Tuesday to strengthen the tools available to U.S. bankruptcy trustees to protect American homeowners from creditor fraud in bankruptcy court.  Leahy introduced the Fighting Fraud in Bankruptcy Act, with cosponsors Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

“The Fighting Fraud in Bankruptcy Act is another step forward in the Judiciary Committee’s important efforts to protect American citizens from fraud,” said Leahy.  “As Congress looks at ways to mitigate the foreclosure crisis to reduce its impact on homeowners and the economy, I hope all Senators can agree that the foreclosure process for Americans should be a fair one and one in which there is accountability for fraud or other misconduct.  And I hope we can all agree that the integrity of our judicial system is something worth protecting.”

“It’s inexcusable when big banks hit homeowners with bogus mortgage fees and improper foreclosures,” said Whitehouse.  “This bill will help ensure that Rhode Islanders who fall on hard times have access to a fair bankruptcy process and a chance at a fresh start.”

“Homeowners facing foreclosure, including military personnel serving our country far from their homes, are entitled to full legal protection from fraud and misconduct,” said Blumenthal. “This commonsense proposal simply strengthens existing authority for holding creditors accountable for abuses. It will deter needless litigation that is currently wasting resources, clogging the bankruptcy courts, and slowing our economic recovery.”

The Fighting Fraud in Bankruptcy Act includes four key provisions.  The legislation will:

  • Clarify that U.S. trustee has a duty to take action to remedy creditor abuse of the bankruptcy process;
  • Permit the bankruptcy court, either on its own or in response to a motion from the trustee, to correct or sanction misconduct and fraud committed by creditors in the bankruptcy process;
  • Empower the trustee to establish audit procedures to ensure that creditors are complying with the law;
  • Require a mortgage lender to certify under penalty of perjury that a foreclosure proceeding against active duty members of the military who are deployed is in compliance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  The SCRA protects active duty military personnel by requiring a stable, manageable interest rate for military homeowners on active duty, and staying foreclosure actions during their deployment.

The Judiciary Committee has held several hearings in recent years regarding the foreclosure crisis.  Earlier this year, the Committee considered and reported to the full Senate the Limiting Investor and Homeowner Loss in Foreclosure Act  to authorize bankruptcy courts to establish loss mitigation programs to avoid foreclosures.

# # # # #

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[Source: http://leahy.senate.gov]

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Mortgage servicer abuse facing state, fed probes

Mortgage servicer abuse facing state, fed probes


New York Post-

On Wednesday, consumer defense attorney Linda Tirelli added another outrageous example of mortgage servicer misbehavior to her growing file of hundreds of such abuses against New York homeowners.

The overcharging by a servicer — which manages mortgages day-to-day for lenders — to bill a homeowner in foreclosure over $2,700 for property inspections that cost just $9.60 a pop came as federal and state regulators are investigating shoddy practices by servicers and big banks, which are often one and the same.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/mortgage_servicer_abuse_facing_state_Umjx6WymEioIMWkl6hHmGM#ixzz1N8smTqVt

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Indiana Appeals Court “MERS INTEREST” | CITIMORTGAGE v. BARABAS

Indiana Appeals Court “MERS INTEREST” | CITIMORTGAGE v. BARABAS


IN THE
COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA

CITIMORTGAGE, INC.,
Appellant-Intervenor/Cross-Claimaint,

vs.

SHANNON S. BARABAS A/K/A SHANNON
SHEETS BARABAS,1
Cross-Claim Defendant,

RECASA FINANCIAL GROUP, LLC,
Appellee-Plaintiff/Cross-Claim Defendant,
and
RICK A. SANDERS,
Appellee/Third-Party Defendant.

EXCERPT:

9. The [c]ourt further finds that [Citi?s] Relief Motion did not provide any notice to ReCasa and the creditors of the [b]ankruptcy [p]roceeding as to any interest of [Citi] in the Real Estate and as to Irwin Mortgage.

***

16. The [c]ourt further finds that [Citi?s] September 22, 2008 Relief Motion and the [b]ankruptcy [p]roceeding could not provide notice of any interest obtained by [Citi] pursuant to the [a]ssignment of [m]ortgage since the [a]ssignment of [m]ortgage was executed more than six months after the filing of the Relief Motion and after the termination and closure of the [b]ankruptcy [p]roceeding.

17. The [c]ourt further finds that no one has provided any evidence to this [c]ourt of the existence of any document providing notice of [Citi?s] interest in the Real Estate and the Irwin Mortgage prior to the filing of ReCasa?s June 13, 2008 [c]omplaint.

18. The [c]ourt further finds that no one has provided to this [c]ourt any document evidencing and providing notice of [Citi?s] interest in Real Estate and Irwin Mortgage other than [Citi?s] submission of an April 1, 2009 [a]ssignment of [m]ortgage recorded 22 months after the filing of ReCasa?s [c]omplaint and six months after the [c]ourt?s September 9, 2008 [d]efault [j]udgment and order of foreclosure.

19. The [c]ourt further finds that pursuant to Indiana Code [§] 32-29-8-2 and the findings herein, [Citi] failed to have its [a]ssignment of [m]ortgage properly placed on the mortgage record, and [Citi] is bound by this [c]ourt?s September 9, 2008 [d]efault [j]udgment, September 16, 2008 [a]mended [d]efault [j]udgment, and order of foreclosure in this cause of action as if [Citi] were a party to ReCasa?s [c]omplaint.

[…]

Ultimately, the Kansas supreme court found that in this case, MERS was little more than a “straw man” for Millennia (and later Sovereign). Id. at 166. The supreme court also noted that the mortgage repeatedly referenced the lender—not MERS—with respect to how notice was to be provided. Id. at 165-166. As such, the supreme court held that

[e]ven if MERS was technically entitled to notice and service in the initial foreclosure action—an issue we do not decide at this time—we are not compelled to conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion to vacate default judgment and require joinder of MERS and Sovereign.

Id. at 168.5

We choose to follow the persuasive reasoning of the Landmark case because it is factually similar to the present case. Like Landmark, Citi seeks to have the default judgment set aside based on the fact that it received its interest from MERS, which served as the mortgagee “solely as nominee” for Irwin Mortgage. (Appellant?s App. p. 88). Thus, when Irwin Mortgage filed a petition and disclaimed its interest in the foreclosure, MERS, as mere nominee and holder of nothing more than bare legal title to the mortgage, did not have an enforceable right under the mortgage separate from the interest held by Irwin Mortgage. With respect to notice, just as the mortgage in Landmark referenced all notice to be sent to the lender, here, too, the mortgage states that notice to the lender should be sent to the lender?s address, or “10500 Kincaid Drive, Fishers, IN 46038,” which is the address of Irwin Mortgage. (Appellant?s App. p. 88). Thus, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to set aside ReCasa?s amended default judgment.6

Continue below…

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Benedict v. Ratner, 268 US 353 – Supreme Court 1925

Benedict v. Ratner, 268 US 353 – Supreme Court 1925


268 U.S. 353 (1925)

WALLACE BENEDICT, RECEIVER,
v.
RATNER.

No. 11.

Supreme Court of United States.

Argued October 5, 1923. Decided May 25, 1925.

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

354*354 Mr. Selden Bacon, for petitioner.

Mr. Louis S. Posner, for respondent.

357*357 MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Hub Carpet Company was adjudicated bankrupt by the federal court for southern New York in involuntary proceedings commenced September 26, 1921. Benedict, who was appointed receiver and later trustee, collected the book accounts of the company. Ratner filed in that court a petition in equity praying that the amounts so collected be paid over to him. He claimed them under a writing given May 23, 1921 — four months and three days before the commencement of the bankruptcy proceedings. By it the company purported to assign to him, as collateral for certain loans, all accounts present and future. Those collected by the receiver were, so far as 358*358 appears, all accounts which had arisen after the date of the assignment, and were enumerated in the monthly list of accounts outstanding which was delivered to Ratner September 23. Benedict resisted the petition on the ground that the original assignment was void under the law of New York as a fraudulent conveyance; that, for this reason, the delivery of the September list of accounts was inoperative to perfect a lien in Ratner; and that it was a preference under the Bankruptcy Act. He also filed a cross-petition in which he asked that Ratner be ordered to pay to the estate the proceeds of certain collections which had been made by the company after September 17 and turned over to Ratner pursuant to his request made on that day. The company was then insolvent and Ratner had reason to believe it to be so. These accounts also had apparently been acquired by the company after qthe date of the original assignment.

The District Judge decided both petitions in Ratner’s favor. He ruled that the assignment executed in May was not fraudulent in law; that it created an equity in the future acquired accounts; that because of this equity, Ratner was entitled to retain, as against the bankrupt’s estate, the proceeds of the accounts which had been collected by the company in September and turned over to him; that by delivery of the list of the accounts outstanding on September 23, this equity in them had ripened into a perfect title to the remaining accounts; and that the title so perfected was good as against the supervening bankruptcy. Accordingly, the District Court ordered that, to the extent of the balance remaining unpaid on his loans, there be paid Ratner all collections made from accounts enumerated in any of the lists delivered to Ratner; and that the cross-petition of Benedict be denied. There was no finding of fraud in fact. On appeal, the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the order. 282 Fed. 12. A writ of certiorari was granted by this Court. 259 U.S. 579.

359*359 The rights of the parties depend primarily upon the law of New York. Hiscock v. Varick Bank of N.Y., 206 U.S. 28. It may be assumed that, unless the arrangement of May 23 was void because fraudulent in law, the original assignment of the future acquired accounts became operative under the state law, both as to those paid over to Ratner before the bankruptcy proceedings and as to those collected by the receiver;[1] and that the assignment will be deemed to have taken effect as of May 23. Sexton v. Kessler, 225 U.S. 90, 99. That being so, it is clear that, if the original assignment was a valid one under the law of New York, the Bankruptcy Act did not invalidate the subsequent dealings of the parties. Thompson v. Fairbanks, 196 U.S. 516; Humphrey v. Tatman, 198 U.S. 91. The sole question for decision is, therefore, whether on the following undisputed facts the assignment of May 23 was in law fraudulent.

The Hub Carpet Company was, on May 23, a mercantile concern doing business in New York City and proposing to continue to do so. The assignment was made there to secure an existing loan of $15,000, and further advances not exceeding $15,000 which were in fact made July 1, 1921. It included all accounts receivable then outstanding and all which should thereafter accrue in the ordinary course of business. A list of the existing accounts was delivered at the time. Similar lists were to be delivered to Ratner on or about the 23d day of each succeeding month containing the accounts outstanding at such future dates. Those enumerated in each of the lists delivered prior to September, aggregated between $100,000 and $120,000. The receivables were to be collected by the company. Ratner was given the right, at any time, to 360*360 demand a full disclosure of the business and financial conditions; to require that all amounts collected be applied in payment of his loans; and to enforce the assignment although no loan had matured. But until he did so, the company was not required to apply any of the collections to the repayment of Ratner’s loan. It was not required to replace accounts collected by other collateral of equal value. It was not required to account in any way to Ratner. It was at liberty to use the proceeds of all accounts collected as it might see fit. The existence of the assignment was to kept secret. The business was to be conducted as theretofore. Indebtedness was to be incurred, as usual, for the purchase of merchandise and otherwise in the ordinary course of business. The amount of such indebtedness unpaid at the time of the commencement of the bankruptcy proceedings was large. Prior to September 17, the company collected from accounts so assigned about $150,000, all of which it applied to purposes other than the payment of Ratner’s loan. The outstanding accounts enumerated in the list delivered September 23 aggregated $90,000.

Under the law of New York a transfer of property as security which reserves to the transferor the right to dispose of the same, or to apply the proceeds thereof, for his own uses is, as to creditors, fraudulent in law and void.[2] 361*361 This is true whether the right of disposition for the transferor’s use be reserved in the instrument[3] or by agreement in pais,[4] whether the right of disposition reserved by unlimited in time[5] or be expressly terminable by the happening of an event;[6] whether the transfer cover all the property of the Debtor[7] or only a part;[8] whether the right of disposition extends to all the property transferred[9] or only to a part thereof;[10] and whether the instrument of transfer be recorded or not.[11] oral or written;

If this rule applies to the assignment of book accounts, the arrangement of May 23 was clearly void; and the equity in the future acquired accounts, which it would otherwise have created,[12] did not arise. Whether the rule applies to accounts does not appear to have been passed upon by the Court of Appeals of New York. But it would seem clear that whether the collateral consist of chattels 362*362 or of accounts, reservation of dominion inconsistent with the effective disposition of title must render the transaction void. Ratner asserts that the rule stated above rests upon ostensible ownership, and argues that the doctrine of ostensible ownership is not applicable to book accounts. That doctrine raises a presumption of fraud where chattels are mortgaged (or sold) and possession of the property is not delivered to the mortgagee (or vendee).[13] The presumption may be avoided by recording the mortgage (or sale). It may be assumed, as Ratner contends, that the doctrine does not apply to the assignment of accounts. In their transfer there is nothing which corresponds to the delivery of possession of chattels. The statutes which embody the doctrine and provide for recording as a substitute for delivery do not include accounts. A title to an account good against creditors may be transferred without notice to the debtor[14] or record of any kind.[15] But it is 363*363 not true that the rule stated above and invoked by the receiver is either based upon or delimited by the doctrine of ostensible ownership. It rests not upon seeming ownership because of possession retained, but upon a lack of ownership because of dominion reserved. It does not raise a presumption of fraud. It imputes fraud conclusively because of the reservation of dominion inconsistent with the effective disposition of title and creation of a lien.

The nature of the rule is made clear by its limitations. Where the mortgagor of chattels agrees to apply the proceeds of their sale to the payment of the mortgage debt or to the purchase of other chattels which shall become subject to the lien, the mortgage is good as against creditors, if recorded.[16] The mortgage is sustained in such cases “upon the ground that such sale and application of proceeds is the normal and proper purpose of a chattel mortgage, and within the precise boundaries of its lawful operation and effect. It does no more than to substitute the mortgage as the agent of the mortgagee to do exactly what the latter had the right to do, and what it was his privilege and his duty to accomplish. It devotes, as it should, the mortgaged property to the payment of the mortgage debt.” The permission to use the proceeds to furnish substitute collateral “provides only for a shifting of the lien from one piece of property to another taken in exchange.” Brackett v. Harvey, 91 N.Y. 214, 221, 223. 364*364 On the other hand, if the agreement is that the mortgagor may sell and use the proceeds for his own benefit, the mortgage is of no effect although recorded. Seeming ownership exists in both classes of cases because the mortgagor is permitted to remain in possession of the stock in trade and to sell it freely. But it is only where the unrestricted dominion over the proceeds is reserved to the mortgagor that the mortgage is void. This dominion is the differentiating and deciding element. The distinction was recognized in Sexton v. Kessler, 225 U.S. 90, 98, where a transfer of securities was sustained.[17] It was pointed out that a reservation of full control by the mortgagor might well prevent the effective creation of a lien in the mortgagee and that the New York cases holding such a mortgage void rest upon that doctrine.

The results which flow from reserving dominion inconsistent with the effective disposition of title must be the same whatever the nature of the property transferred. The doctrine which imputes fraud where full dominion is reserved must apply to assignments of accounts although the doctrine of ostensible ownership does not. There must also be the same distinction as to degrees of dominion. Thus, although an agreement that the assignor of accounts shall collect them and pay the proceeds to the assignee will not invalidate the assignment which it accompanies,[18] the assignment must be deemed fraudulent in law if it is agreed that the assignor may use the proceeds as he sees fit.

In the case at bar, the arrangement for the unfettered use by the company of the proceeds of the accounts precluded 365*365 the effective creation of a lien[19] and rendered the original assignment fraudulent in law. Consequently the payments to Ratner and the delivery of the September list of accounts were inoperative to perfect a lien in him, and were unlawful preferences.[20] On this ground, and also because the payment was fraudulent under the law of the State, the trustee was entitled to recover the amount.[21]

Stackhouse v. Holden, 66 App. Div. 423, is relied upon by Ratner to establish the proposition that reservation of dominion does not invalidate an assignment of accounts. The decision was by an intermediate appellate court, and, although decided in 1901, appears never to have been cited since in any court of that State.[22] There was a strong dissenting opinion. Moreover, the case is perhaps distinguishable on its facts, p. 426. Greey v. Dockendorff, 231 U.S. 513, upon which Ratner also relies, has no bearing on the case at bar. It involved assignment of accounts, but there was no retention of dominion by the bankrupt. The sole question was whether successive assignments of accounts by way of security, made in pursuance of a contract, were had because the contract embraced all the accounts. The lien acquired before knowledge by either party of insolvency was held good against the trustee.

Reversed.

[1] Williams v. Ingersoll, 89 N.Y. 508, 518-520; Coats v. Donnell, 94 N.Y. 168, 177. See Rochester Distilling Co. v. Rasey, 142 N.Y. 570, 580; MacDowell v. Buffalo Loan, etc. Co., 193 N.Y. 92, 104. Compare New York Security & Trust Co. v. Saratoga Gas, etc. Co., 159 N.Y. 137; Zartman v. First National Bank, 189 N.Y. 267.

[2] Griswold v. Sheldon, 4 N.Y. 580; Edgell v. Hart, 9 N.Y. 213; Russell v. Winne, 37 N.Y. 591; Southard v. Benner, 72 N.Y. 424; Potts v. Hart, 99 N.Y. 168; Hangen v. Hachemeister, 114 N.Y. 566; Mandeville v. Avery, 124 N.Y. 376; Skilton v. Codington, 185 N.Y. 80; Zartman v. First National Bank, 189 N.Y. 267; In re Marine Construction & Dry Docks Co., 135 Fed. 921, 144 Fed. 649; In re Davis, 155 Fed. 671; In re Hartman, 185 Fed. 196; In re Volence, 197 Fed. 232; In re Purtell, 215 Fed. 191; In re Leslie-Judge Co., 272 Fed. 886. Compare Frost v. Warren, 42 N.Y. 204; also Lukins v. Aird, 6 Wall. 78; Robinson v. Elliot, 22 Wall. 513; Smith v. Craft, 123 U.S. 436; Means v. Dowd, 128 U.S. 273; Etheridge v. Sperry, 139 U.S. 266; Huntley v. Kingman, 152 U.S. 527; Knapp v. Milwaukee Trust Co., 216 U.S. 545.

[3] Edgell v. Hart, 9 N.Y. 213, 216; Zartman v. First National Bank, 189 N.Y. 267, 270.

[4] Russell v. Wynne, 37 N.Y. 591, 595; Southard v. Benner, 72 N.Y. 424, 432; Potts v. Hart, 99 N.Y. 168, 172-173.

[5] Southard v. Benner, 72 N.Y. 424, 430; Potts v. Hart, 99 N.Y. 168, 172.

[6] Zartman v. First National Bank, 189 N.Y. 267, 270.

[7] Zartman v. First National Bank, 189 N.Y. 267, 269.

[8] Russell v. Winne, 37 N.Y. 591; Southard v. Benner, 72 N.Y. 424.

[9] Potts v. Hart, 99 N.Y. 168, 172.

[10] Russell v. Winne, 37 N.Y. 591, 593; In re Leslie-Judge Co., 272 Fed. 886, 888.

[11] Potts v. Hart, 99 N.Y. 168, 171. N.Y. Personal Property Law, § 45; Laws, 1911, c. 626, authorizes the creation of a general lien or floating charge upon a stock of merchandise, including after-acquired chattels, and upon accounts receivable resulting from the sale of such merchandise. It provides that this lien or charge shall be valid against creditors provided certain formalities are observed and detailed filing provisions are complied with. It is possible that, if its conditions are performed, the section does away with the rule “that retention of possession by the mortgagor with power of sale for his own benefit is fraudulent as to creditors.”

[12] Field v. Mayor, etc. of New York, 6 N.Y. 179.

[13] Smith v. Acker, 23 Wend. 653; Griswold v. Sheldon, 4 N.Y. 580, 590; Edgell v. Hart, 9 N.Y. 213, 218; Conkling v. Shelley, 28 N.Y. 360. The statutes to this effect merely embody the commonlaw rule. But, in New York, an additional statute provides that unrecorded chattel mortgages under such circumstances are absolutely void as to creditors. New York Lien Law, § 230; Laws, 1909, c. 38, § 230, as amended 1911, c. 326, and 1916, c. 348, See Seidenbach v. Riley, 111 N.Y. 560; Karst v. Kane, 136 N.Y. 316; Stephens v. Perrine, 143 N.Y. 476; Russell v. St. Mart, 180 N.Y. 355. See Stewart v. Platt, 101 U.S. 731, 735. Compare Preston v. Southwick, 115 N.Y. 139; Nash v. Ely, 19 Wend. (N.Y.) 523; Goodwin v. Kelly, 42 Barb. (N.Y.) 194. In the case of a transfer of personal property by sale, retention of possession creates a rebuttable presumption of fraud. See Kimball v. Cash, 176 N.Y. Supp. 541; also New York Ice Co. v. Cousins, 23 App. Div. 560; Rheinfeldt v. Dahlman, 43 N.Y. Supp. 281; Tuttle v. Hayes, 107 N.Y. Supp. 22; Young v. Wedderspoon, 126 N.Y. Supp. 375; Sherry v. Janov, 137 N.Y. Supp. 792; Gisnet v. Moeckel, 165 N.Y. Supp. 82. In order to create a valid pledge of tangible personalty, there must be a delivery to the pledgee. In re P.J. Sullivan Co., 247 Fed. 139, 254 Fed. 660.

[14] Williams v. Ingersoll, 89 N.Y. 508, 522.

[15] Niles v. Mathusa, 162 N.Y. 546; National Hudson River Bank v. Chaskin, 28 App. Div. 311, 315; Curtis v. Leavitt, 17 Barb. (N.Y.) 309, 364; Young v. Upson, 115 Fed. 192. In 1916, Section 230 of the New York Lien Law was amended to the effect that a mortgage, pledge, or lien on stocks or bonds given to secure the repayment of a loan is, if not recorded, absolutely void against creditors unless such securities are delivered to the mortgagee or pledgee on the day the loan is made. See N.Y. Laws, 1916, c. 348.

[16] Conkling v. Shelley, 28 N.Y. 360; Brackett v. Harvey, 91 N.Y. 214; Spaulding v. Keyes, 125 N.Y. 113; Briggs v. Gelm, 122 App. Div. 102. See Robinson v. Elliot, 22 Wall. 513, 524; People’s Savings Bank v. Bates, 120 U.S. 556, 561.

[17] See note 18, infra.

[18] Young v. Upson, 115 Fed. 192. If it is agreed that the transferor may use the original collateral for his own purposes upon the substitution of other of equal value, the transfer is not thereby invalidated. Clark v. Iselin, 21 Wall. 360 (book accounts); Sexton v. Kessler, 225 U.S. 90 (negotiable securities); Chapman v. Hunt, 254 Fed. 768 (book accounts). Compare Casey v. Cavaroc, 96 U.S. 467.

[19] Compare Mechanics’ Bank v. Ernst, 231 U.S. 60, 67.

[20] Schaupp v. Miller, 206 Fed. 575; Grimes v. Clark, 234 Fed. 604; Gray v. Breslof, 273 Fed. 526, 527.

[21] Mandeville v. Avery, 124 N.Y. 376, 382; Stimson v. Wrigley, 86 N.Y. 332, 338; Dutcher v. Swartwood, 15 Hun (N.Y.) 31.

[22] It was cited in Young v. Upson, 115 Fed. 192 (Circ. Ct.); In re Michigan Furniture Co., 249 Fed. 978 (D. Ct.); and in the opinion here under review.

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In RE: PHILLIPS | Alabama BK Court Denies Aurora, U.S. Bank Motion to Dismiss Fraud Claims

In RE: PHILLIPS | Alabama BK Court Denies Aurora, U.S. Bank Motion to Dismiss Fraud Claims


UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA

IN RE PHILLIPS

In re: RICK ALLEN PHILLIPS and REBECCA RUTLAND PHILLIPS, Debtors.
RICK ALLEN PHILLIPS
, Plaintiff,

v.

AURORA LOAN SERVICES, LLC and U.S. BANK, AS TRUSTEE FOR STRUCTURED ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2007-10.

Case No. 08-11442-MAM-7, Adv. Proc. No. 11-00027.

United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. Alabama.

May 9, 2011.

Mindi C. Robinson, Adams and Reese, LLP, Birmingham, Alabama, Attorneys for Defendants.
Scott Hetrick and Nicholas F. Morisani, Adams and Reese, LLP, Mobile, Alabama, Attorneys for Defendants.

Nick Wooten, Auburn, Alabama, Attorney for Plaintiff.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS ADVERSARY CASE

MARGARET A. MAHONEY, Bankruptcy Judge

This case is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss this adversary case on various grounds. The Court has jurisdiction to hear this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 157 and 1334 and the Order of Reference of the District Court. The Court has the authority to enter a final order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2). For the reasons indicated below, the Court is granting the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss all grounds for relief, except for the fraud on the court grounds.

FACTS

The Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that the documentation of the Phillips’ mortgage and transfer of it were flawed such that the mortgage is avoidable as a preference or fraudulent transfer. The complaint also asserts that the defendants violated the Phillips’ automatic stay and committed a fraud on the Court. The facts that are relevant to this motion are a limited set of the facts alleged in the complaint.

Phillips entered into a note and mortgage with Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB on September 7, 2007, in the amount of $840,000 when he purchased real estate located at 26200 Perdido Beach Boulevard, Condo Unit 1505, Orange Beach, Alabama. The mortgage indicated that the lender was Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB. The mortgage also indicated that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) was “the mortgagee under this Security Agreement.” The document also stated that MERS was “acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns.” The note was in the name of Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB as well. The mortgage was recorded in the Baldwin County, Alabama Probate Court records on October 10, 2007. There was no new filing in the Baldwin County Probate Court until July 28, 2009, when an assignment of the mortgage was filed. MERS, “as nominee for Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB,” assigned the mortgage to Aurora Loan Services.

On April 25, 2008, Rick Phillips and his wife filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. On December 30, 2008, Aurora filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay. The motion stated that Aurora was the “holder of the mortgage” and was a “creditor” of Phillips. The motion had a copy of the note and mortgage attached to it. The note stated that Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB was the note holder. The note was not endorsed to any other party or in blank. The mortgage stated that Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB, was the lender with MERS being the “mortgagee under this Security Instrument” and stating that MERS was “acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns.” Neither the Debtor nor the Trustee objected to the standing of Aurora to seek relief from the stay. In fact, an order to which the Debtor and Trustee consented was entered on February 12, 2009.

There are other facts asserted in the complaint about the mortgage. U.S. Bank had purchased the note and mortgage of Phillips on or about October 30, 2007, and placed the mortgage in a securitized trust of which U.S. Bank was trustee. Aurora was named servicer for U.S. Bank about the same date. The complaint also states that the mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank in the MERS system of recordation on about October 1, 2007. These facts support Phillips’ claims in the complaint.

LAW

The complaint asserts that Phillips is entitled to: have the mortgage declared null and void as a fraudulent transfer due to 11 U.S.C. § 544(a)(3); have the transfer of funds to U.S. Bank at foreclosure declared a preference under 11 U.S.C. § 547 and have the funds turned over to the trustee; have the foreclosure and transfer of funds to U.S. Bank declared a violation of the automatic stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362; have the actions of Aurora and U.S. Bank declared a fraud on the court; and have this court quiet title to the property, declaring title to be in the bankruptcy estate of Phillips. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss prior to answering the complaint as is their right pursuant to Fed. R. Bank. P. 7012.

To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations such that it raises a right to relief above the speculative level. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In assessing the merits of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must assume that all factual allegations set forth in the complaint are true. See, e.g. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1 (2002). Because all factual allegations are taken as true, the failure to state a claim for relief presents a purely legal question. Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1269 n.19 (11th Cir. 2009).

The defendants assert four grounds upon which the complaint should be dismissed. The grounds are res judicata, judicial estoppel, the fact that Aurora was a creditor, and the fact that the defendants could not have violated the stay. The court concludes that res judicata eliminates all grounds except fraud on the court and therefore Counts One, Two, Three and Five are due to be dismissed.

“Application of res judicata is central to the fundamental purpose of the judiciary — the conclusive resolution of disputes.” Curry v. Baker, 802 F.2d 1302, 1310 (11th Cir. 1986) (citing Montana v. United States, 440 U.S. 147, 153 (1979)). “Finality `relieve[s] parties of the cost and vexation of multiple lawsuits, conserve[s] judicial resources, and, by preventing inconsistent decisions, encourage[s] reliance on adjudication.'” Id. (quoting Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980)). “Under res judicata, also known as claim preclusion, a final judgment on the merits bars the parties to a prior action from re-litigating a cause of action that was or could have been raised in that action.” In re Piper Aircraft Corp., 244 F.3d 1289, 1296 (11th Cir. 2001). Claim preclusion bars subsequent litigation when the following conditions are met: (1) the prior decision was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) there was a final judgment on the merits; (3) both cases involve the same parties or their privies; and (4) both cases involve the same causes of action. Id. “In general, cases involve the same cause of action for purposes of res judicata if the present case `arises out of the same nucleus of operative fact, or is based upon the same factual predicate, as a former action.” Israel Discount Bank, Ltd. v. Entin, 951 F.2d 311, 315 (11th Cir. 1992) (quoting Citibank, N.A. v. Data Lease Fin. Corp., 904 F.2d 1498, 1503 (11th Cir. 1990)).

With regards to the Relief from Stay Order that was entered on February 12, 2008, this Court’s jurisdiction was proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 157 and 1334 and the Order of Reference of the District Court. The order was entered by consent of the parties and, following entry of that order, no party filed a motion to reconsider. The Consent Order Granting Relief from Stay was a final order. The Motion for Relief from Stay lists the Phillips as debtors and Ms. Littleton as the Trustee. All parties received notice of the motion and the mortgage and note were attached to the motion. Neither the Phillips nor the Trustee raised any objection, rather, the stay was lifted by agreement of the parties. The Plaintiff now brings a complaint seeking to avoid the mortgage, quiet title, and turnover the funds liquidated. Permitting such a challenge to go forward would violate the doctrine of res judicata because each of the elements of claim preclusion have been met in this case. The proper time for the Plaintiff to question the mortgage and note was when the Relief from Stay Motion was filed. However, no one challenged or questioned the mortgage and note at that time. It would be improper to permit them to relitigate those issues now.

With regards to Count Four of the Plaintiff’s complaint alleging Fraud on the Court, that issue has not been previously litigated. The complaint alleges that the Defendants filed false pleadings concealing the true mortgage creditor’s identity, thereby violating the bankruptcy rules and perpetrating a fraud on the court. Inappropriate behavior, including litigation abuse and fraud, can be dealt with by a bankruptcy court pursuant to § 105 of the Code as an “abuse of the bankruptcy process.” Under § 105, sanctions may be warranted against parties who willfully abuse the judicial process. In re Gorshtein, 285 B.R. 118 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2002). This power is broad enough to empower a court to impose sanctions for “filings [in a case] as well as commencement or continuation of an action in bad faith.” Id. (citing In re Spectee Group, Inc., 185 B.R. 146, 155 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 1995). Taking the Plaintiff’s factual allegations as true, Aurora claimed in the motion for relief from stay to be a creditor and the holder of the mortgage. There is no document that supports those assertions other than a statement in a Pooling and Servicing Agreement filed with the SEC. This allegation of filing a false pleading is sufficient to raise a right to relief above a speculative level in that the Plaintiff has stated a claim for fraud on the court. The motion for dismissal is due to be denied with regards to Count Four of the complaint.

Therefore it is ORDERED:

1. The Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss as to counts one, two, three, and five is GRANTED;
2. The Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss as to count four is DENIED.

Copy courtesy of LEAGLE

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In re: DOBLE | CA BK Judge Rips Deutsche, MERS, LPS System & Multiple “True & Correct” Copies of Note

In re: DOBLE | CA BK Judge Rips Deutsche, MERS, LPS System & Multiple “True & Correct” Copies of Note


CESAR M. DOBLE,

v.

DEUTSCHE BANK NA T’L TRUST
COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE OF THE
HARBORVIEW MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST
2005-5, MORTGAGE LOAN PASSTHROUGH
CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2005-5
AND ONEWEST BANK, F.S.B.

Excerpts:

Instead, One West forwarded the Complaint to an outside vendor, Lender Processing Services (“LPS”), which is retained by One West to handle routine legal matters, but not litigation. LPS then exacerbated the problem by assigning an incorrect response date and sending the Complaint to the wrong outside counsel.

[…]

The most disconcerting misrepresentation to the Court was Defendants’ submission of multiple “true and correct”  copies of the Note under penalty of perjury without any endorsement from Plaza.  Whether the Note was endorsed is central to the merits ofthis case. When Defendants finally submitted an endorsed copy of the Note on November 8, 2010, they attempted to pass off the first three unendorsed copies of the Note as “illegible.” The first three copies of the Note were fully readable, so the phantom endorsement page was not a problem with legibility. The timing of this tardily produced endorsement, produced after several requests, suggests it was added only in response to the litigation.

To add to the Court’s incredulity, Defendants have never answered the Court’s specific questions as to when and under what circumstances this newly proffered endorsement was executed.

[…]

The first two causes of action seek damages and disallowance of Defendants’ secured and unsecured claims for lack of standing on four separate grounds: (a) MERS’ assignment of the DOT to One West and, in tum, One West’s assignment to Deutsche Bank, were invalid; (b) Defendants have no interest in the Note nor any right to enforce it under California law; (c) the assignment of the DOT to Deutsche Bank was not of public record; and (d) Defendants violated New York Trust law so that Deutsche Bank cannot be the owner of the Loan as a matter oflaw. Where a secured creditor cannot establish a right to enforce a loan, it has no standing to file or defend a claim, or to seek relief from stay. In re Gavin, 319 B.R. 27,32 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2004); In re Hayes, 393 B.R. 259,269-70 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2008).

Although the Court rejects Doble’s New York Trust claims and his avoiding power claim, the record here supports Doble’s first three standing claims. MERS had no authority to assign the DOT, under its terms and as a matter oflaw, without the authority to assign the Note. The Note was not assigned until it was endorsed by Plaza. Until that endorsement, the MERS’ assignments were a nullity. Deutsche Bank currently lacks authority to enforce the Loan as the assignee of Plaza, and will continue to lack authority until it records its assignment.

[…]

III. CONCLUSION

The Court denies Defendants’ request to set aside the clerk’s entry of a default, but grants their Motion to Dismiss the portions of the first and second causes of action relating to Doble’s New York Trust claims and avoiding power claims. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Doble’s third and fourth causes of action is also granted. As to the remainder of the first and second causes of action, the Court finds MERS’ limited role as beneficiary of the DOT did not provide talismanic protection against the myriad foreclosure deficiencies committed by Defendants [*47] regarding this Loan. MERS’ role did not provide Defendants the authority to enforce the DOT, the ability to assign the Note without an endorsement from Plaza, or an exception to their obligation to record the assignment to Deutsche Bank. The Court will allow Doble to produce additional evidence in support of his claims, but not his wife’s claims. The Court will disallow Defendants’ secured and unsecured claims without prejudice. Defendants may file an amended proof of claim in this case if they fully address the defects identified in this Memorandum Decision.

The Court orders Defendants to appear and show cause why they should not pay Doble’s attorneys fees for their conduct in this action, and schedules a status conference for April 28, 2011 at 3:00 in Department 1 of this Court.

Dated: April 14, 2011

/s/ Margaret M. Mann

[ipaper docId=54824981 access_key=key-1lk1l5qi5u0y0hqswz1u height=600 width=600 /]

In re: CESAR M. DOBLE, Chapter 13, Debtor,
CESAR M. DOBLE, Plaintiff,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK NAT’L TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE OF THE HARBORVIEW MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2005-5, MORTGAGE LOAN PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2005-5 AND ONEWEST BANK, F.S.B., Defendants.

Bankruptcy No: 10-11296-MM13, AP: 10-90308-MM.

United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. California.

April 14, 2011.

MEMORANDUM DECISION RE MOTION TO VACATE CLERK’S ENTRY OF DEFAULT AND MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT; ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT

MARGARET M. MANN, Bankruptcy Judge

Defendants OneWest Bank, F.S.B. (“OneWest”) and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (“Deutsche Bank”), as Trustee of the HarborView Mortgage Loan Trust 2005-5, Mortgage Loan Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-5 Under the Pooling and Servicing Agreement Dated June 1, 2005, were defaulted by debtor Cesar Doble (“Doble”) when they failed to timely respond to the complaint in this action (“Complaint”). The Complaint challenges Defendants’ right to assert claims based upon a loan secured by Doble’s residence, and seeks damages for Defendants’ refusal to modify the loan. After the default, Defendants brought a Motion to Vacate Clerk’s Entry of Default and a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint. The Court held several continued hearings on both motions, at which additional evidence and argument were presented.

Due to Defendants’ misconduct in this case and others that threatens the integrity of the judicial process the Court declines to set aside the default. The Court also issues an order to show cause why Defendants should not be held in contempt and ordered to pay Doble’s attorneys fees. Despite this ruling, the Court will not allow Doble relief he is not entitled to receive. The Court also grants much of the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Further proceedings will be scheduled to determine the judgment to be entered in this case.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. The Loan

Doble and his wife Martha Doble own a residence located at 1466 Heatherwood Avenue in Chula Vista, California (“Property”). The Property is encumbered by a deed of trust (“DOT”) securing a promissory note (“Note”) payable on its face to Plaza Home Mortgage, Inc. (“Plaza”), executed in connection with a $650,000 loan (“Loan”) made by Plaza. The DOT identifies Plaza as “Lender,” and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as beneficiary. The DOT grants Lender the right to repayment of the Loan and performance of Borrower’s covenants, explicitly stating that MERS “holds only legal title to the interests granted by Borrower” and MERS may exercise “any or all… interests, including … the right to foreclose and sell the Property” only “if necessary to comply with law or custom.”[1]

The Dobles defaulted on the Loan a few years later and sought to take advantage of the federal Home Affordable Mortgage Program (“HAMP”) by modifying the Loan so they could afford the payments. After a trial loan modification was granted, the Dobles made two payments in the modified amount. Despite the last payment under the modified Loan being in default, the Dobles were offered a permanent modification to the Loan, which they attempted to accept. Thereafter, the Dobles made no more payments under the Loan.

B. The Bankruptcies

Martha Doble filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy case in 2009 (Case No. 09-16970-LA13, Bankr. S.D. Cal.), which was dismissed. Doble filed this Chapter 13 bankruptcy case on June 28, 2010. The Complaint filed by Doble the day after he filed bankruptcy seeks damages and equitable relief, alleging that Defendants have no secured or unsecured claims in this case, that they violated the automatic stay by seeking to foreclose on the DOT without owning the Loan, and that they failed to discharge their responsibilities regarding modifying the Loan. Based upon a slew of contradictory documents purporting to transfer interests in the Note and DOT among the Defendants, Plaza and MERS, OneWest and Deutsche Bank have each represented to the Court to be the owner of the Loan in both cases. One West has separately asserted it is the servicer of the Loan.

C. Defendants’ Failure to Respond to the Complaint

The summons to the Complaint established a response date of July 29, 2010. Together with the Complaint, the summons was promptly served and received by Defendants. Pursuant to their servicing agreement, Deutsche Bank forwarded the Complaint to OneWest’s legal headquarters in Pasadena on July 2. Deutsche Bank then apparently did nothing further to respond to the Complaint, and OneWest misplaced the Complaint, failed to calendar a response, and did not otherwise follow-up on the matter.

The Complaint resurfaced after a response was due. When it was found on August 4, OneWest compounded the error. It did not follow internal protocol, which would have required the Complaint be sent to its litigation office in Austin, Texas, for referral to outside counsel. Instead, OneWest forwarded the Complaint to an outside vendor, Lender Processing Services (“LPS”), which is retained by OneWest to handle routine legal matters, but not litigation. LPS then exacerbated the problem by assigning an incorrect response date and sending the Complaint to the wrong outside counsel. In a final mishap, outside counsel neglected to look at the response date on the summons, and then waited another week until August 11 to request an extension. By this point, the default had already been entered.

Defendants filed their Motion to Vacate the Default and their Motion to Dismiss the Complaint on August 31, 2010. Defendants initially offered a declaration of outside counsel to explain their failure to timely respond to the Complaint. Counsel averred that he received the assignment of the Complaint on August 4, with a referral form showing a due date of August 20, although Defendants’ Motion to Vacate contrarily states Defendants mistakenly believed the due date was August 11. Counsel apparently relied upon the incorrect due date on the referral form calculated by the outside vendor, and did nothing to confirm the correct response date, which was apparent from the face of the summons. Not until August 11 did counsel contact Doble to request an extension. Defendants were already in default by this time, and the extension was denied.[2]

Because the Defendants initially provided no reason for their failure to respond to the Complaint until after the response was overdue, the Court asked a series of questions regarding the improper calendaring. In response to the Court’s questions, Defendants submitted the declaration of OneWest employee, Charles Boyle, who was resident in the Austin, Texas office. This employee averred that, after receipt of the Complaint in Pasadena, the Complaint was inadvertently logged into an automated referral system by a non-legal staff employee who has since resigned. Boyle averred this error was discovered the first week of August by a supervisor who re-referred the Complaint to local counsel.

Since Defendants had still not answered many of the Court’s questions, the Court again requested more information. Specifically, the Court requested Defendants provide more information regarding: 1) Boyle’s personal knowledge of the events in Pasadena given his residence in Texas; 2) what happened to the Complaint during the first month after it was served, and 3) why outside counsel waited seven days to contact Doble after receiving the Complaint on August 4. Finally, at the hearing on December 16, 2010, in response to questions asked from the bench, counsel for Defendants provided a more complete story: the Complaint had been lost, there were multiple departures from protocol, and several attorneys had received the Complaint and not bothered to review it. After a final attempt to clarify some of the facts pertaining to ownership of the Loan and why Defendants failed to timely respond to the Complaint, the Court took the matter under submission on February 3, 2011.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Defendants have not Demonstrated Good Cause to Vacate the Clerk’s Default

Rule 55(c) permits the Court to set aside an entry of default only “for good cause.” Defaulting parties have the burden of proving good cause. Franchise Holding II, LLC v. Huntington Restaurants Group, Inc., 375 F.3d 922, 926 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting TCI Group Life Ins. Plan, Life Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Knoebber, 244 F.3d 691, 697 (9th Cir. 2001)).

To determine whether good cause exists, courts consider (1) whether the default is the result of the defaulting party’s” culpable conduct”; (2) whether the defaulting party has a” meritorious defense”; or (3) whether reopening the default would “prejudice”[3] the innocent party. United States v. Mesle, 615 F.3d 1085, 1091 (9th Cir. 2010).[4] The test for good cause is disjunctive, and the defaulting party must prove all three factors favor setting the default aside. Franchise Holding, 375 F.3d at 926; Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1091. If any one factor favors upholding the default, the Court need not set it aside. Id. However, all doubt should be resolved in favor of a trial on the merits. Id. While there was no prejudice to Doble for the delayed response, the Court is without doubt that Defendants’ pervasive misconduct alone precludes a finding of good cause to set aside the default.

To determine whether Defendants have a meritorious defense, the Court has evaluated Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, including admitting evidence and taking judicial notice as requested of the documents of public record in the case. SeeLee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court agrees that Doble cannot state a claim for relief on his third, fourth, and part of his first and second causes of action, and dismisses these claims with prejudice. Upon a proper motion to enter a default judgment under Rule 55(b)(2), the Court will exercise its discretion to permit the submission of evidence from all parties on whether Doble can prove his prima facie case on the other claims. However, Defendants will be prohibited from presenting a case in defense of Doble’s claims because the default will be upheld. Fed. R. Evid. 210; Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2);

1. Defendants Are Culpable

A defendant’s conduct is culpable if it is consistent with a “devious, deliberate, willful, or bad faith failure to respond.” Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1092. Where a defendant’s actions are negligent, and not intentional, the defendant is not culpable. Id.; TCI, 244 F.3d at 698-99. For “legally sophisticated” defendants, however, intentionality is assumed because legally sophisticated parties are held to understand the consequences of their actions. Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1093. As large financial institutions, OneWest and Deutsche Bank are sophisticated parties.

Where sophisticated defendants are aware of the pendency of a suit, but are indifferent to the consequences of not responding, culpability may be found even when bad faith is absent. Franchise Holding II, 375 F.3d at 926 (defendant was culpable for failing to respond despite plaintiffs warning it would seek a default after side-agreement negotiations broke down); Direct Mail Specialists, Inc. v. Eclat Computerized Technologies, Inc., 840 F.2d 685, 690 (9th Cir. 1988)Oracle USA, Inc. v. Qtrax, Inc., No. C09-3334 SBA, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97630, at *12-*13 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 3, 2010) (defendant’s conduct was culpable when defendant did not respond to accommodate the convenience of the CEO, cost considerations, and its hope for a settlement); Markel Ins. Co. v. Dahn Yoga & Health Ctrs., Inc., No. C09-1221RSM, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58763, at *11-*15 (W.D. Wash. May 17, 2010) (defendants were culpable where one failed to keep registered service agent updated on its address and another failed to inform itself that the client had waived a service problem). (defendant was culpable in not responding due to a mistaken belief service was improper);

Defendants’ conduct can only be described as an intentional disregard for their obligations to comply with Court procedures and provide candid answers to the Court’s questions. As in Franchise II, Oracle, Direct Mail, and Markel,[5] properly calendared the response date. Whether due to apathy or profit maximizing considerations, Defendants relied exclusively upon a non-attorney outside vendor, contrary to protocol, and failed to properly implement litigation procedures. See Franchise II, 375 F.3d at 926; Oracle, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97630, at * 10-12 (defendants failed to appropriately allocate corporate resources to respond to the litigation). This misplaced reliance on a non-attorney to calculate a response time is similar to the conduct of the defendants in Direct Mail and Markel, who erred in their analysis that service was improper. See Direct Mail, 840 F.2d at 690; Markel, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58763, at *16 (“[Defendant] will not be heard to object that service was improper, nor blame its failure to respond … on poor document management policies.”). Defendants’ multiple errors are also thus distinguishable from Park v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, No. 10cvf1546-WQH-WMc, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123119, at *8-*10 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 19, 2010), where the defendants’ failure to answer was the result of an unintentional administrative error rather than culpable misconduct. While the Court appreciates that mistakes happen and isolated negligence can be excusable neglect, see Pioneer, 507 U.S. at 407-08,[6] what happened here was not mere negligence. Defendants were aware of the suit and the consequences of the default, but repeatedly failed to follow their own protocols. Defendants have never explained why none of Defendants’ three attorneys

Compounding their culpability problems, the Court finds that Defendants’ initial explanation of the default was neither candid nor credible. A “devious” failure to respond is culpable. Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1092. The full story belies their initial characterization that their errors in handling the Complaint were minor and isolated. No less than six mistakes or breaches of protocol occurred in how the Complaint was handled: (1) both copies of the Complaint were not sent immediately to Boyle in Austin, Texas, where litigation was to be handled; (2) the Complaint was lost for a month; (3) when the Complaint was found on August 4, 2010, it was not sent to Austin as protocol demanded, but mistakenly logged into the non-attorney LPS system; (4) LPS miscalculated the response date for the Complaint; (5) LPS incorrectly assigned the response to a law firm who was not the appropriate counsel to handle litigation for OneWest; and (6) Outside counsel failed to check the correct response date and relied upon the LPS miscalculation. The Court cannot accept Boyle’s claim that new intake protocols have solved OneWest’s systemic problems. Defendants themselves could not fully explain what went wrong in their efforts to respond to the Complaint. Even after three tries, Defendants have left questions unanswered.

Defendants’ disregard for their obligations of candor to the Court and compliance with Court procedures, not only in connection with the entry of default, but also in the presentation of numerous other documents to the Court on the merits, is culpable. The default will not be set aside.

2. Defendants Acted in Bad Faith

Defendants’ conduct in presenting evidence on the merits of this case and others demonstrates a callousness towards their legal obligations that amounts to bad faith; an additional reason not to set aside the default. Defendants filed numerous pleadings in this case and in the Martha Doble case seeking the Court’s assistance in enforcing the Loan.[7][8][9] tell a convoluted tale as to who owns the Loan and is thus entitled to enforce it. This Court was forced to repeatedly request additional evidence from Defendants to evaluate their own motions. Defendants’ pleadings and transactional documents

The most disconcerting misrepresentation to the Court was Defendants’ submission of multiple “true and correct” copies of the Note under penalty of perjury without any endorsement from Plaza. Whether the Note was endorsed is central to the merits of this case. When Defendants finally submitted an endorsed copy of the Note on November 8, 2010, they attempted to pass off the first three unendorsed copies of the Note as “illegible.” The first three copies of the Note were fully readable, so the phantom endorsement page was not a problem with legibility. The timing of this tardily produced endorsement, produced after several requests, suggests it was added only in response to the litigation. To add to the Court’s incredulity, Defendants have never answered the Court’s specific questions as to when and under what circumstances this newly proffered endorsement was executed. For the purpose of its analysis on the merits, the Court finds that the endorsement was not made until it was presented to the Court on November 8, 2010.[10]

This lack of candor in the presentation of evidence on the merits supports a finding of bad faith in regard to the default. The court system can only function if parties take their representations and responsibilities seriously. Chambers v. NASSCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43, 47 (1991); see also In re Snyder, 472 U.S. 634, 641 (1985). Courts have held that a lender’s actions amount to bad faith where the lender is shown to have routinely misrepresented its role in bankruptcy cases, caused unnecessary litigation, or prejudiced another party. See Ameriquest Mortg. Co. v. Nosek (In re Nosek), 609 F.3d 6, 9 (1st Cir. 2010). In two previous cases before this Court, Defendant OneWest has been ordered to show cause for failing to comply with its obligations as a party before the Court. See In re Carter, Ch. 13 Case No. 10-10257-MM13 (Bankr. S.D. Cal.); In re Telebrico, Ch. 13 Case No. 10-07643-LA13 (Bankr. S.D. Cal.). Not only in this action, but in others as well, One West has demonstrated a “confusion and lack of knowledge, or perhaps sloppiness, as to their roles.” Ameriquest, 609 F.3d at 9.[11]

Because Defendants’ conduct in not responding to the Complaint was intentional and in bad faith, the Court will not set aside the default.

B. Resolution of the Merits of the Case

To uphold the default entered against Defendants, the Court must consider both the merits of Defendants’ defense and the merits of Plaintiff’s case, as challenged in Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1094 (defaulting party must present a valid defense before court can set aside a default); Fed.R. Civ. P. 55(b); Eitel v. McColl, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471 (9th Cir. 1986); Cashco Fin. Servs. v. McGee (In re McGee), 359 B.R. 764, 771 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2006) (default judgment requires assessment of the merits of plaintiff’s claims).[12] This task is made more difficult since neither Doble’s Complaint, nor Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, is a model of clarity. Five causes of action are alleged in the Complaint, but more than five are presented.

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss complicates the analysis further since it questions a few, but not all, of Doble’s claims. Defendants claim MERS had authority to transfer the Loan as a matter of law, but not that the assignment was properly executed or acknowledged. Defendants dispute Doble’s attempt to employ 11 U.S.C. §544(a) to set aside the MERS’ assignment to OneWest. They also argue HAMP does not provide a private cause of action. Defendants do not, however, address the state law claims contained in the fifth cause of action.

Sorting the parties’ claims and defenses, the Court concludes some of Doble’s claims lack merit, and others require further evaluation. Even though the Court will uphold the default entry resulting from Defendants’ culpable conduct, it will nevertheless dismiss with prejudice Doble’s third and fourth causes of action, and part of Doble’s first and second causes of action relating to New York Trust law and 11 U.S.C. § 544(a). See Moore v. United Kingdom, 384 F.3d 1079, 1090 (9th Cir. 2004) (invalid causes of action may be dismissed despite default). The Court will hold further proceedings on the remaining claims to respect the due process rights of Defendants. Danning v. Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388-89 (9th Cir. 1978) (default judgment proceedings should be consistent with due process).

1. Defendants’ Secured and Unsecured Claims (1st and 2nd Causes of Action)

The first two causes of action seek damages and disallowance of Defendants’ secured and unsecured claims for lack of standing on four separate grounds: (a) MERS’ assignment of the DOT to OneWest and, in turn, OneWest’s assignment to Deutsche Bank, were invalid; (b) Defendants have no interest in the Note nor any right to enforce it under California law; (c) the assignment of the DOT to Deutsche Bank was not of public record; and (d) Defendants violated New York Trust law so that Deutsche Bank cannot be the owner of the Loan as a matter of law. Where a secured creditor cannot establish a right to enforce a loan, it has no standing to file or defend a claim, or to seek relief from stay. In re Gavin, 319 B.R. 27, 32 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2004); In re Hayes, 393 B.R. 259, 269-70 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2008).

Although the Court rejects Doble’s New York Trust claims and his avoiding power claim, the record here supports Doble’s first three standing claims. MERS had no authority to assign the DOT, under its terms and as a matter of law, without the authority to assign the Note. The Note was not assigned until it was endorsed by Plaza. Until that endorsement, the MERS’ assignments were a nullity. Deutsche Bank currently lacks authority to enforce the Loan as the assignee of Plaza, and will continue to lack authority until it records its assignment.

a. MERS Cannot Transfer DOT Enforcement Rights to Defendants

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss relies upon MERS’ status as nominal beneficiary of the DOT[13] to establish their standing to enforce the Loan. They cite several cases which have so held. Lane v. Vitek Real Estate Indus. Group, 713 F. Supp. 2d 1092, 1099 (E. D. Cal. 2010); Hafiz v. Greenpoint Mortg. Funding, Inc., 652 F. Supp. 2d 1039, 1043 (N.D. Cal. 2009); Pantoja v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 640 F. Supp. 2d 1177, 1190 (N.D. Cal. 2009); see also Perry v. Nat’l Default Servicing Corp., No. 10-CV-03167-LHK, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92907, at *11 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 20, 2010).[14] The Court does not disagree with these cases to the extent they hold MERS need not have physical possession of the note to commence a foreclosure, and securitization of a mortgage note need not impact the enforceability of the mortgage itself. The key issue before the Court is different: whether MERS had statutory authority to assign the DOT under its terms, particularly when MERS held no rights under the Note. To decide this issue, the Court rejects Defendants’ invitation to overlook the statutory foreclosure mandates of California law, and rely upon MERS as an extra-judicial commercial alternative.[15]

The DOT is a four party instrument among the Dobles as Borrowers, Plaza as Lender, First American Title as trustee, and MERS as beneficiary. The Lender’s rights regarding the Loan are pervasive. The Lender (Plaza) is entitled to receive all payments under the Note, to control enforcement of the DOT under its terms, and only the Lender is entitled to conduct a nonjudicial foreclosure.[16]

MERS has none of these rights under the DOT and is not even mentioned in the Note. MERS is not given any independent authority to enforce the DOT under its terms, and its status as beneficiary under the DOT is only “nominal.” While the Borrowers acknowledge in the DOT that MERS can exercise the Lender’s rights as “necessary to comply with law or custom,[17] this acknowledgement is not accompanied by any actual allocation of authority to nonjudicially foreclose on the Property, nor is such authority allocated in any other document in the record. See also, e.g., LaSalle Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Lamy, No. 030049/2005, 2006 NY Slip Op 51534U, slip op. 2 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2006); MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (“MERS’ only right is to record the mortgage. Its designation as the `mortgagee of record’ in the document does not change or expand that right….”). Defendants’ authority to foreclose cannot, therefore, be derived from MERS because MERS never held such authority.[18] Shannon v. General Petroleum Corp., 47 Cal. App. 2d 651, 661 (1941) (assignment can only carry rights owned by the assignor.)

Even though MERS’ status as the nominal beneficiary of the DOT may have allowed it to assign that limited status, this authority does not convey a right to enforce the Loan. An assignment of a mortgage without assignment of the corresponding debt is a nullity under controlling law. Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. 271, 275 (1872); Kelley v. Howarth, 39 Cal. 2d 179, 192 (1952); Johnson v. Razy, 181 Cal. 342, 344 (1919) (“A mortgage is mere security for the debt, and it cannot pass without transfer of the debt.”); Polhemus v. Trainer, 30 Cal. 686, 688 (1866) (interest in the collateral subject to the mortgage does not pass “unless the debt itself [is] assigned.”). Within California’s comprehensive statutory nonjudicial foreclosure scheme found at Civil Code sections 2920-2955, four separate statutes corroborate that the secured debt must be assigned with the deed of trust.[19]

Since MERS could not assign any enforcement rights under the Note or DOT because it held none, Defendants could not rely on the invalid MERS assignment to enforce the DOT. Polhemus, 30 Cal. at 688; see also U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637, 651 (2011). They had to receive an assignment from Plaza as the payee of the Note before the MERS assignment of its nominal interest in the DOT could have any enforceable impact.

b. Defendants’ Right to Enforce the Note

A negotiable promissory note such as the Note can only be enforced in accordance with Article 3 of the Commercial Code (“CCC”), Cal. Com. Code §§ 1101-16104 (Deering 2011). The CCC permits enforcement of a note by a party who: (1) holds a directly endorsed note (section 1205(21)); (2) previously had the ability to enforce the note, but it was lost, destroyed, or stolen (section 3309); (3) has possession of an endorsed-in-blank instrument (section 1205(21)); or (4) can prove both possession of the enforcement rights received from its transferor (section 3301). Id; In re McMullen Oil Co., 251 B.R. 558, 568 (Bankr.C.D. Cal. 2000); In Re Carlyle, 242 B.R. 881, 887 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1999). These requirements apply to every link in the chain of transfer of the note. Where a note has been assigned several times, each assignment in the chain must be valid or the party claiming the note cannot enforce it. In re Gavin, 319 B.R. 27, 32 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2004); In re Wells, 407 B.R. 873 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 2009). Even if a party is the owner of a promissory note, it is not entitled to enforce the note unless it meets the statutory criteria for enforcement. Cal.Com. Code §3203(b) cmt. 2.

Enforcement option 1 is not applicable. The Note is not payable to Defendants, but to Plaza. Neither Defendant can enforce the Note as a direct payee or endorsee. In re Wilhelm, 407 B.R. 392, 402 (Bankr. D. Idaho 2009); Chicago Title Ins. Co. v. Allfirst Bank, 905 A.2d 366, 374 (Md. 2006). No claim was made that the Note was lost or stolen, which eliminates option 2.

As to option 3, not until November 8, 2010 did Defendants produce the Note endorsed in blank by Plaza. An endorsement is not effective until it is signed. Com.Code §3203(c); Security Pacific Nat. Bank v. Chess, 58 Cal. App. 3d 555, 564 (1976). Until the note is properly endorsed, assignments of the deed of trust do not serve to transfer enforcement rights. Id. The endorsement must be on the note or attached. Lopez v. Puzina, 239 Cal. App. 2d 708, 714 (1st Dist. 1966).

Defendants did not attempt to demonstrate the requirements of option 4; that they had possession of the Note and that Plaza had transferred to them the right to enforce it even without an endorsement. Instead, they erroneously relied upon the MERS assignment. Com.Code § 3203 (1), (2) n. 17; In re McMullen Oil Co., 251 B.R. 558, 567 (Bankr. CD. Cal. 2000); In re Agard, No. 10-77338-reg, 2011 Bankr. LEXIS 488, at *58 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2011) (“[E]ven if MERS had assigned the Mortgage acting on behalf of the entity which held the Note at the time of the assignment, this Court finds that MERS did not have authority, as “nominee” or agent to assign the Mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.”). Under the circumstances of this case, the Court declines to give the Defendants another chance to “prove the transaction.” Instead, the Court finds that Defendants did not have any right to enforce the Note before November 8, 2010, when they produced an endorsement of the Note from Plaza.

c. Deutsche Bank’s Assignment of the DOT Must Still be Recorded

Although Deutsche Bank met the first of the foreclosure prerequisites to enforce the power of sale in the DOT under Civil Code section 2932.5[20] when it became the holder of the Note on November 8, 2010, it still failed to meet the second. Civil Code section 2932.5 requires that the assignee of the secured debt record its interest before it can exercise the power of sale under the DOT and nonjudicially foreclose. Deutsche Bank admits it has recorded neither of the two assignments from OneWest to Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank, therefore, still lacks authority to enforce the DOT, and any enforcement actions taken thus far are void. Ibanez, 458 Mass, at 651; Polhemus, 30 Cal. at 688.

d. New York Trust Law

As part of the first and second causes of action, Doble alleges that Deutsche Bank cannot own the Loan because the Loan was not properly transferred to it in accordance with New York Trust law and the trust documents. Under the terms of the Purchase and Servicing Agreement (“PSA”), Doble alleges all assets to be part of the trust had to be conveyed before June 1, 2005. Since none of the assignments of the Loan met that deadline, Doble claims Deutsche Bank has no interest in the Loan. Defendants, in turn, claim Doble has no standing to challenge the trust, citing Rogan v. Bank One, N.A. (In re Cook), 457 F.3d 561, 567 (6th Cir. 2006). While the Court agrees that Doble has no standing to interfere with trust administration, he does have standing to challenge Defendants’ assertion they had standing to file a claim and to seek to foreclose the Loan. Wilhelm, 407 B.R. at 400.

The Court nevertheless finds the allegations of this claim to be too flawed to remain a part of this suit. See Eitel, 782 F.2d at 1471. Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court cannot determine whether the Loan was validly conveyed to the trust, whether the trust is invalid, or what effect such an invalidation would have on Defendants’ claim.[21] Doble has provided no legal support for his claims. His citation to New York Estate Powers and Trusts Law section 7-2.4 (Consol. 2010), to support that any “sale, conveyance, or other act” in “contravention” of the trust is void, is incorrect.[22]

Doble’s New York trust claim within the first and second causes of action therefore will be dismissed with prejudice.

2. The Assignments May Not be Avoided (2nd Cause of Action)

The Court agrees that Doble has no viable avoiding power claim to assert as a result of Defendants’ recordation of assignments after the Martha Doble bankruptcy case was filed. Doble was provided constructive notice of Defendants’ lien from the recordation of the DOT, regardless of whether interests in the Loan were later transferred. In re Cook, 457 F.3d at 568; Kapila v. Atl. Mortg. & Inv. Corp. (In re Halabi), 184 F.3d 1335, 1338 (11th Cir. 1999); see also In re Probasco, 839 F.2d 1352, 1354 (9th Cir. 1988) (applying California law, a bona fide purchaser who records prevails over a prior transferee who failed to record). The Court also notes these claims are property of the Martha Doble bankruptcy estate, not this case. Doble thus lacks standing to assert this claim. See Estate of Spirtos v. One San Bernardino County, 443 F.3d 1172, 1176 (9th Cir. 2006) (husband does not have authority to assert claims on the part of wife without substantial proof of standing). This part of the second cause of action is also dismissed with prejudice.

3. Violation of Stay (3rd Cause of Action)

Doble’s third cause of action alleges[23] that Assignments 2 and 3 from OneWest to Deutsche Bank were executed post-petition in Martha Doble’s case, and are void and in violation of his co-debtor stay under 11 U.S.C. §1301. In response, Defendants assert that the stay is not violated by assignments of their mortgage interests post-petition, because those interests do not belong to Martha Doble’s bankruptcy estate.

The Court agrees that this is not a valid cause of action. Because the automatic stay only applies to transfers of a debtor’s property interests under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(3), Defendants’ transfers of their interests in the Loan do not violate the automatic stay. Halabi, 184 F.3d at 1337; Cook, 457 F.3d at 568. This cause of action will be dismissed with prejudice.

4. Violation of Bankruptcy Code (4th Cause of Action)

Doble specifically seeks damages and sanctions relating to Defendants’ proof of claim and false declaration filed in the relief from stay motion in Martha Doble’s case. Defendants’ only response to this is to reiterate that the unrecorded assignment is not avoidable under § 544(a). Defendants fail to address any other allegations in this cause of action.

Despite Defendants’ failure to cogently respond to this cause of action, the Court finds Doble has no standing to assert damages in his wife’s bankruptcy case. Doble was not a joint debtor in that case, and Martha Doble is not a party in this case. See In re Scott, 437 B.R. 376, 379-80 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2010). This cause of action is not viable to the extent it seeks damages for Doble in his wife’s case, and it will be dismissed with prejudice.

5. Loan Modification Claims (5th Cause of Action)

In the fifth cause of action, Doble alleges an array of theories complaining of Defendants’ conduct in the loan modification process, including that they engaged in unlawful business practices, violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code Section §§ 1750-1759, and breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In response, Defendants only challenge whether HAMP establishes a private cause of action, based on Doble’s allegation he is an intended third party beneficiary under the HAMP contract.

The facts alleged in the Complaint, as well as the additional evidence proffered by the parties in response to the Court’s inquiries, reflect ongoing efforts by Doble to modify the Loan over a period of eighteen months. Doble claims the efforts were successful, and Defendants should be bound by the permanent loan modification they offered him in May 2010. Defendants claim the Loan modification effort failed because Doble failed to make all of the payments due during the trial period. To resolve this basic controversy requires further evidentiary proceedings, since the communications by Defendants were confusing and contradictory, but Doble did fail to make all of the required payments even if there was a binding loan modification with Defendants. To facilitate the evidentiary hearing, the Court will preliminarily address Doble’s theories of recovery.

Courts have differed on whether HAMP permits a private right of action. Compare Benito v. Indymac Mortg. Servs.,and Escobedo v. Countrywide, No. 09-cv-1557 BTM (BLM), 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117017, at * 4-*7 (S.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 2009) (same), with Marques v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc., No. 09-cv-1985-L (RBB), 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81879, at *19-*20(S.D. Cal. Aug. 12, 2010) (finding a borrower is a third party beneficiary with regard to certain contract terms that are not discretionary, and HAMP otherwise has no enforcement remedies). In determining whether a party is an intended beneficiary of a government contract, a court must examine “the precise language of the contract for a clear intent to rebut the presumption that the third parties are merely incidental beneficiaries.” County of Santa Clara v. Astra USA, Inc., 588 F.3d 1237, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. granted sub. nom, Astra USA, Inc. v. Santa Clara County, 131 S.Ct. 61 (2010) (failure to include express language identifying parties as intended beneficiaries is not dispositive). To the extent Doble can prove a specific provision of HAMP was violated, and compliance with the provision was mandatory for Defendants, he may be able to prove a valid cause of action as a third party beneficiary of HAMP. No. 2:09-CV-001218-PMP-PAL, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51259, at *20-*21 (D. Nev. May 21, 2010) (holding a borrower is not a third party beneficiary),

Doble’s other claims are not invalid as a matter of law even if he cannot establish a direct cause of action under HAMP. Failure to establish a HAMP third party beneficiary contract cause of action does not preclude state law claims relating to the Lender’s alleged misconduct. Escobedo, 2009 U.S. Dis. LEXIS 117017, at * 10 (allowing claims for violation of unfair business practices under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200); Villa v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 10CV81 DMS (WVG), 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23741, at *9 (S.D. Ca. 2010) (allowing an amendment to allege misrepresentation claims); Aceves v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 192 Cal. App. 4th 218, 233 (2d Dist. 2011) (allowing promissory estoppel and fraud claims). Doble’s claims under the California Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750-1759, and his claims for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, therefore, cannot be dismissed as a matter of law at this time.

C. Order To Show Cause

Based on the facts and circumstances described in this Memorandum Decision, the Court orders that Defendants appear and show cause why they should not pay Doble’s attorney’s fees for their conduct in this action. This order to show cause is issued pursuant to this Court’s authority under 28 U.S.C. § 157, 11 U.S. C. § 105, Bankruptcy Rule 9011(c)(1)(b) and the Court’s inherent power to monitor the proceedings before it for the benefit of the Court, the profession and the public. Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43, 47 (1991); In re Sunshine Jr. Stores, Inc., 456 F.3d 1291, 1305 (11th Cir. 2006) (“it is within a court’s discretion to assess attorney’s fees on a party … for actions taken in bad faith”).

III. CONCLUSION

The Court denies Defendants’ request to set aside the clerk’s entry of a default, but grants their Motion to Dismiss the portions of the first and second causes of action relating to Doble’s New York Trust claims and avoiding power claims. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Doble’s third and fourth causes of action is also granted. As to the remainder of the first and second causes of action, the Court finds MERS’ limited role as beneficiary of the DOT did not provide talismanic protection against the myriad foreclosure deficiencies committed by Defendants regarding this Loan. MERS’ role did not provide Defendants the authority to enforce the DOT, the ability to assign the Note without an endorsement from Plaza, or an exception to their obligation to record the assignment to Deutsche Bank. The Court will allow Doble to produce additional evidence in support of his claims, but not his wife’s claims. The Court will disallow Defendants’ secured and unsecured claims without prejudice. Defendants may file an amended proof of claim in this case if they fully address the defects identified in this Memorandum Decision.

The Court orders Defendants to appear and show cause why they should not pay Doble’s attorneys fees for their conduct in this action, and schedules a status conference for April 28, 2011 at 3:00 in Department 1 of this Court.

[1] See infra Part II.B.1.a.

[2] Doble’s reason for not agreeing to set aside the default was his frustration with the “false documents” submitted regarding ownership of the Loan.

[3] To be prejudicial, reopening the default must result in greater harm than a mere delay in relief. Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1095; see also Franchise Holding II, 375 F.3d at 926 (plaintiff was prejudiced where there was a possibility that a delay in judgment would allow defendant an opportunity to hide assets). Here, Defendants have asserted that Doble is not prejudiced by their delay and there is no evidence before the Court to the contrary. Ultimately, however, since Rule 55(c)’s good cause factors are disjunctive, and Defendants’ conduct is culpable, a prejudice analysis is unnecessary.

[4] The Rule 55(c) good cause factors are identical to those used to consider whether relief should be granted from a default judgment under Rule 60(b). See Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1091; TCI, 244 F.3d at 696. However, while the factors are the same, the standards for evaluating the factors are distinct. O’Brien v. R.J. O’Brien & Assocs., Inc., 998 F.2d 1394, 1401 (7th Cir. 1993). Rule 55(c)’s relief from default standard is less rigorous than the relief from judgment standard of Rule 60(b). Hawaii Carpenters’ Trust Funds v. Stone, 794 F.2d 508, 513 (9th Cir. 1986) (“The different treatment of default entry and judgment by Rule 55(c) frees a court considering a motion to set aside a default entry from the restraint of Rule 60(b) and entrusts determination to the discretion of the court.”); accord Tessill v. Emergency Physician Assocs., 230 F.R.D. 287, 289 (W.D.N.Y. 2005).

[5] These three attorneys are the Deutsche Bank counsel who forwarded the Complaint to OneWest, the OneWest Corporate Legal Department who received both the OneWest Complaint it received on its own behalf and the Complaint sent by Deutsche Bank, and Burnett & Matthews, the first outside counsel who received the Complaint.

[6] This reading of culpability is consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the analogous “excusable neglect” standard of Rule 60(b)(1). Pioneer Inv. Serv. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd., 507 U.S. 380, 393, 395-97 (1993) (a party’s failure to respond is excusable if inadvertent or negligent); Mesle, 615 F.3d at 1092; Franchise Holding II, 375 F.3d at 927.

[7] In the Martha Doble case, in a Declaration filed May 4, 2010, Deutsche Bank, through its purported power of attorney, One West, claimed to be the owner of the Loan based upon a chain of assignments. Deutsche Bank claimed the same in its proof of claim. However, in this case, OneWest filed the proof of claim for the Loan identifying itself as the creditor. In this adversary case, Defendants averred MERS assigned all beneficial interest under the DOT to OneWest on October 22, 2009 and OneWest assigned all beneficial interest to Deutsche Bank in an unrecorded assignment dated May 19, 2010. This assignment to Deutsche Bank on May 19, 2010, however, is dated after Deutsche Bank averred to this Court on May 4, 2010 that it was the owner of the Loan. Separately, Deutsche Bank has also claimed it owned the Loan as of 2008 without evidentiary support.

[8] The Court on October 5, 2010 issued a tentative ruling continuing the hearing on the Motions and seeking additional evidence regarding who had the right to foreclose the Loan, and whether the Loan Modification Agreement, which Doble alleges he executed on June 3, 2010, was also executed by Defendants. The Court issued another tentative ruling on December 15, 2010 seeking an “explanation from Defendants regarding the contradictory statements submitted by Defendants under penalty of perjury in both Debtor’s and Martha Doble’s bankruptcy cases regarding the identity of the owner of the Note,” the role of OneWest, and the circumstances of the endorsement of the Note. The Court inquired twice more regarding the circumstances of the alleged loan modification and the Defendants’ default.

[9] Defendants provided the Court with an “Assignment of Deed of Trust” executed on June 26, 2009 through which MERS, as the original beneficiary, purports to assign to OneWest all beneficial interest under the DOT, “together with the Note” (“Assignment 1”). However, One West did not record its interest until after its foreclosure proceedings were started. On July 14, 2009, a Notice of Default on the loan was recorded by OneWest, even though OneWest lacked any recorded interest in the Loan at the time. Only when OneWest recorded a Notice of Sale on the Loan on October 22, 2009, did it finally record Assignment 1.

On November 24, 2009, OneWest executed, but did not record, an Assignment of Deed of Trust to Deutsche Bank “together with the Note” (“Assignment 2”). Then on May 19, 2010, OneWest executed but did not record another Assignment of Deed of Trust “together with the Note” (“Assignment 3”) to Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank curiously produced a copy of a power of attorney it granted to OneWest regarding ownership of the Loan. Whatever significance this power of attorney has, it does not support the assignment from OneWest to Deutsche Bank because Deutsche Bank had no apparent rights to the Loan before it received them from OneWest.

[10] This sanction is similar to the entry of a default judgment against Defendants for their bad faith failure to comply with the orders of this Court. See, e.g., Carter v. Brooms (In re Brooms), No. NC-10-1117-KiSah, 2011 Bankr. LEXIS 648, at *21 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. Jan. 18, 2011) (upholding the court’s default judgment pursuant to 7016(d) for a party’s failure to comply with a pre-trial order).

[11] Specifically, an inability to coherently prove ownership is both endemic to the industry, and a common problem. Ameriquest, 609 F.3d at 9; see also, e.g., U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637 (2011) (holding US Bank did not sufficiently demonstrate it held title to a mortgage under Massachusetts law prior to foreclosure where US Bank alleged it received title pursuant to a trust agreement and did not provide the trust agreement but, instead, provided an unsigned offer of mortgage-backed securities to potential investors that did not specifically identify the mortgage in question).

The Court’s finding here is consistent with the findings of the academics and reporters who note this pattern of behavior is common in the mortgage industry. Studies have shown that mortgage holders and servicers routinely file inaccurate claims, some of which may not be lawful. See Katherine Porter, Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims, 87 Tex. L. Rev. 121, 123-24 (2008); Andrew J. Kazakes, Developments in the Law: the Home Mortgage Crisis, 43 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1383, 1430 (2010) (citing David Streitfeld, Bank of America to Freeze Foreclosure Cases, N.Y. Times, Oct. 2, 2010, at B1) (reporting that after revelation of Porter’s study several Banks froze foreclosures); Eric Dash, A Paperwork Fiasco, N.Y. Times, Oct. 24, 2010, at WK5 (reporting the repeal of the initial freeze and the problems banks faced in clearing up foreclosure paperwork). The Inspector General overseeing the recent financial crisis has studied this issue and concluded:

Anecdotal evidence of [loan servicers’] failures [have] been well chronicled. From the repeated loss of borrower paperwork, to blatant failure to follow program standards, to unnecessary delays that severely harm borrowers while benefiting servicers themselves, stories of servicer negligence and misconduct are legion, and . . . they too often have financial interests that don’t align with those of either borrowers or investors.

Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Quarterly Report to Congress 12 (Jan. 26, 2011), available at http://www.sigtarp.gov/ (follow link for “Quarterly Report to Congress”).

[12] After entry of a default, a court may exercise its discretion to enter a default judgment on the merits of the case. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b); Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). The Ninth Circuit in Eitel identified the following factors for a court to consider in exercising that discretion:

(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the merits of plaintiff’s substantive claim, (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the sum of money at stake in the action; (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect, and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits.

Eitel, 782 F.2d at 1471-72.

[13] The DOT states “MERS is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns. MERS is the beneficiary under this Security Instrument.” DOT at p. 1.

[14] Under Ninth Circuit law this Court may decline to follow these decisions because it is not bound. State Compensation Ins. Fund v. Zamora (In re Silverman), 616 F.3d 1001, 1005 (9th Cir. 2010). While the Ninth Circuit reserved the issue of whether bankruptcy courts are bound by district court decisions within the district where the bankruptcy court sits, it recognized that such a requirement “could create the same problem of subjecting bankruptcy courts to a non-uniform body of law.” Id.

[15] The Court notes that circumventing the public recordation system is, in fact, the purpose for which the MERS system was created. Merscorp, Inc. v. Romaine, No. 179, 2006 NY Slip Op. 9500, slip op. 6 (Ct. of Appeals 2006). Creation of a private system, however, is not enforceable to the extent that it departs from California law as explained in this Memorandum Decision.

[16] Under the DOT, the Lender is secured the right to: “(i) the repayment of the Loan, and all renewals, extensions and modifications of the Note; and (ii) the performance of Borrower’s covenants and agreements under this Security Instrument and the Note.” In addition, under the covenants executed between the Lender and Doble, the Lender is granted exclusive authority to accelerate repayment, “give notice to Borrower prior to acceleration,” “invoke the power of sale” through written notice to the Trustee in the event of default, and appoint successor trustees. DOT at pp. 2, 11, 12.

[17] The DOT provides, “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 of Lender and Lender’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 Lender including, but not limited to, releasing or cancelling this Security Instrument.” DOT at p. 3 (emphasis added).

[18] Since the briefing on this matter was completed, Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 192 Cal. App. 4th 1149, 1151-58 (4th Dist. 2011) was decided. Gomes held that there is no cause of action under Civil Code section 2924(a)(1) that would permit a borrower to test MERS’ authority to initiate a nonjudicial foreclosure without a specific factual basis for the challenge. Neither Gomes nor Civil Code section 2924(a)(1) however, address Civil Code section 2932.5, applicable when an assignee forecloses. Id. at 1155. Instead, Gomes relied upon the borrower’s acknowledgement of MERS’ authority in the DOT to allow MERS to foreclose as nominal beneficiary. Gomes, 192 Cal. App. 4th at 1157-58. MERS, here, had no such authority under the DOT. The Lender, not MERS, has the right to “invoke the power of sale” under the DOT.

[19] These statutes are: Civil Code sections 2932.5 (assignee of secured debt cannot nonjudicially foreclose without right to payment and a recorded assignment), 2935 (notice of an assignment of a mortgage does not change the borrowers’ obligation to make payments to the holder of the note), 2936 (transfer of a note carries with it an assignment of the debt, not vice versa), and 2937 (borrowers must be notified of transfers of servicing rights).

[20] Civil Code section 2932.5 provides:

Where a power to sell real property is given to a mortgagee, or other encumbrancer, in an instrument intended to secure the payment of money, the power is part of the security and vests in any person who by assignment becomes entitled to payment of the money secured by the instrument. The power of sale may be exercised by the assignee if the assignment is duly acknowledged and recorded.

Civ. Code § 2932.5 (Deering 2011) (emphasis added). While the exact language of Civil Code section 2932.5 mentions mortgages and not deeds of trust, the distinction between the two instruments is obsolete. N. Brand Partners v. Colony GFP Partners, L.P. (In re 240 N. Brand Partners), 200 B.R. 653, 658 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1996) (“The terminology creates a difference without distinction.”); Yulaeva v. Greenpoint Mortg. Funding, Inc., No. S-09-1504, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79094, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 3, 2009) (citing 4 B.E. Witkin, Summary of California Law, ch. VIII, § 5 (10th ed. 2005)); Bank of Italy Nat. Trust & Sav. Assn. v. Bentley, 217 Cal. 644, 656 (1933) (legal title under a deed of trust, though held by the trustee to the extent necessary for execution of the trust, does not carry any “incidents of ownership of the property”); see also 1 Roger Bernhardt, California Mortgages, Deeds of Trust, and Foreclosure Litigation, § 1.35 (4th ed. 2009); Bank of Italy Nat. Trust & Sav. Assn. v. Bentley, 217 Cal. 644, 656 (1933) (legal title under a deed of trust, though held by the trustee to the extent necessary for execution of the trust, does not carry any “incidents of ownership of the property”); 4 Harry D. Miller & Marvin B. Stan, Miller & Starr California Real Estate, § 10:1 n. 9 (3d 2010) (citing Dowarad v. Fisher & Burke, Inc., 270 Cal. App. 2d 543, 553 (1st Dist. 1969)) (mortgages and deeds of trust have the same effect and economic function and are “subject to the same procedures and limitations on judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure”).

[21] Specifically, the Court is unclear as to (1) whether the PSA intended to transfer the Loan to the trust (Was Doble’s Loan listed on the mortgage schedule?); (2) whether, if the PSA did intend to transfer the Loan to the trust, whether it made the transfer and documentation of the transfer was lost or whether the Loan was never transferred at all (Was the mortgage file conveyed to the trustee? Did the trustee certify the receipt of the mortgage file? Did the trustee attempt to exercise the Repurchase Provisions of the trust?); (3) whether, if the PSA intended to transfer the Loan, the parties failed to properly transfer it or whether the Loan was properly transferred but subsequent documentation was lost; and (4) whether, if the PSA did not intend to transfer the Loan to the trust, a subsequent transfer to the trust is valid under the terms of the PSA (Did the trustee receive an REMIC opinion? Did the trustee make other arrangements prior to the subsequent transfer to protect the trust’s REMIC status? Does a violation of the trust’s REMIC status negate the transfer or simply leave the trust vulnerable to an REMIC adverse event for purposes of the Tax Code?)

[22] New York Estate Powers and Trusts Law is not relevant here. Under section 11-1.1(a), New York Estate Powers and Trusts Law explicitly excludes business trusts. The Trust here is registered with the SEC, and the PSA provides for the issuance of certificates and the election of REMIC status with the IRS. Trusts whose shares are traded on the American Stock Exchange and that qualify as “real estate investment trusts” under the Internal Revenue Code are considered business trusts. Prudent Real Estate Trust v. Johncamp Realty, Inc., 599 F.2d 1140, 1141 (C.A.N.Y. 1979). As a business trust, New York’s Estate Powers and Trusts Law does not govern Deutsche Bank’s ownership of the Loan. Rather, the ownership issue is governed by law applicable to trusts generally. See, e.g., Fogelin v. Nordblom, 521 N.E.2d 1007, 1012 (Mass 1988); In re Great Northern Iron Ore Props., 263 N.W.2d 610 (Minn. 1978).

[23] While Doble does not limit the cause of action to just this allegation, and instead states “the actions of [Defendants] as set forth hereinabove” constitute violations of the stay, these allegations are too diffuse to address without more specificity.

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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WSJ | Bank Group’s Chief Expects Elizabeth Warren’s Nomination Soon

WSJ | Bank Group’s Chief Expects Elizabeth Warren’s Nomination Soon


Wall Street Journal-

The White House isn’t saying much about whether Harvard law professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren will be named to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But the head of a key banking industry group believes it will happen soon.

Camden Fine, president and chief executive of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said Monday that he sees a “better than even chance” that President Barack Obama will nominate Ms. Warren to lead the new bureau.


© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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Housing Wire Again Runs PR Masquerading as News on Behalf of Its Big Client, Lender Processing Services

Housing Wire Again Runs PR Masquerading as News on Behalf of Its Big Client, Lender Processing Services


Naked Capitalism- Yves Smith

The very fact that this item “LPS fires back with motion seeking sanctions against Alabama attorney,” was treated as a news story by Housing Wire is further proof that Housing Wire is above all committed to promoting client and mortgage industry interests and only incidentally engages in random acts of journalism.

LPS is desperate to create a shred of positive-looking noise in the face of pending fines under a Federal consent decree, mounting private litigation, and loss of client business under the continued barrage of bad press. Housing Wire, who has LPS as one of its top advertisers, is clearly more than willing to treat a virtual non-event as newsworthy to help an important meal ticket.

If you know anything about litigation, particularly when small fry square off against large companies, it’s standard for the well funded party to engage in a war of attrition against the underdog. One overused device is to threaten or file for sanctions. Even when they are weak or groundless, they still waste opposing counsel’s time and energy.

© 2010-19 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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