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BANK OF AMERICA, NA v. KABBA | OK Supreme Court: Only presented evidence of an indorsed-in-blank note and an ‘Assignment of Mortgage'” With nothing more

BANK OF AMERICA, NA v. KABBA | OK Supreme Court: Only presented evidence of an indorsed-in-blank note and an ‘Assignment of Mortgage'” With nothing more


BANK OF AMERICA, NA v. KABBA
2012 OK 23
Case Number: 109660
Decided: 03/06/2012

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA

NOTICE: THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE PERMANENT LAW REPORTS. UNTIL RELEASED, IT IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL.

 

BANK OF AMERICA, NA, Plaintiff/Appellee,

v.

MOMODU AHMED KABBA, Defendant/Appellant,
and
HUMU HAWAH KABBA, JOHN DOE and JANE DOE, Defendants.

ON APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT
OF CLEVELAND COUNTY
HONORABLE TOM A. LUCAS, DISTRICT JUDGE

¶0 Appeal of a June 13, 2011, summary judgment granted in favor of Bank of America, NA, against Momodu Ahmed Kabba (hereinafter Kabba) and his wife Humu Hawah Kabba (defendant below). This Court retained the matter on August 18, 2011. Kabba appeals the granting of Summary Judgment asserting Bank of America, NA, did not have standing to bring the action.

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

A. Grant Schwabe, KIVELL, RAYMENT AND FRANCIS, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.
James P. Cates, BAER TIMBERLAKE COULSON & CATES, PC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.
J.R. Matthews, J R MATTHEWS LLC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellants.

COMBS, J.

FACTUAL AND PROCURAL HISTORY

¶1 In a petition filed on March 11, 2010, Bank of America, NA, claiming to be the present holder of the note (hereinafter Bank of America) initiated a foreclosure action against Kabba and his wife. Bank of America claimed, at that time, to hold the note and mortgage as Successor by Merger to LaSalle Bank National Association, as Trustee under the Trust agreement for the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust Series 2004-BNC2. A review of the note shows a blank indorsement. This blank indorsement was filed with the lower court for the first time in the motion for summary judgment. The blank indorsement was not mentioned or referenced in the original petition.

BNC Mortgage, Inc., was the original lender. Bank of America filed with the Court Clerk of Cleveland County, a document entitled “Assignment of Real Estate Mortgage” on January 17, 2011, therein claiming the assignment to be effective as of February 9, 2010. This was nine months after the filing of the petition to foreclose. Additionally, this “Assignment of Mortgage,” signed by Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc. (hereinafter MERS), as nominee for BNC Mortgage, Inc., and its successors and assigns, merely named Bank of America as Successor by Merger to LaSalle Bank National Association, as Trustee under the Trust agreement for the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust Series 2004-BNC2. There was no mention of the note in this “Assignment of Mortgage”. On June 13, 2011, Summary judgment was granted and memorialized by a Final Journal Entry of Judgment order in Bank of America’s favor, against Kabba and his wife. Kabba appeals this summary judgment asserting Bank of America failed to demonstrate standing.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶2 An appeal on summary judgment comes to this court as a de novo review. Carmichael v. Beller, 1996 OK 48, ¶2, 914 P.2d 1051, 1053. All inferences and conclusions are to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in the record and are to be considered in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment. Rose v. Sapulpa Rural Water Co., 1981 OK 85, 621 P.2d 752. Summary judgment is improper if, under the evidentiary materials, reasonable individuals could reach different factual conclusions. Gaines v. Comanche County Medical Hospital, 2006 OK 39, ¶4, 143 P.3d 203, 205.

ANALYSIS

¶3 Appellant argues Appellee does not have standing to bring this foreclosure action. Although Appellee has argued it holds the note, there is nothing in the record that shows when Appellee became the holder. The face of the note indicates it was indorsed in blank. However, this indorsement was not filed with the petition but with the motion for summary judgment. The purported “Assignment of Mortgage” was filed after the filing of the foreclosure proceedings and was signed by MERS, and not BNC Mortgage, Inc. The “Assignment of Mortgage” at no time mentioned the note.

¶4 The issue presented to this Court is standing. This Court has previously held:

Standing, as a jurisdictional question, may be correctly raised at any level of the judicial process or by the Court on its own motion. This Court has consistently held that standing to raise issues in a proceeding must be predicated on interest that is “direct, immediate and substantial.” Standing determines whether the person is the proper party to request adjudication of a certain issue and does not decide the issue itself. The key element is whether the party whose standing is challenged has sufficient interest or stake in the outcome.

Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶7, 727 P.2d 574, 576. In Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234, this Court also held:

Respondent challenges Petitioner’s standing to bring the tendered issue. Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. It may be raised as an issue at any stage of the judicial process by any party or by the court sua sponte. (emphasis original)

Furthermore, in Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, footnote 19, 163 P.3d 512, 519, this Court stated “[s]tanding may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” Additionally in Fent, this Court stated:

Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. The three threshold criteria of standing are (1) a legally protected interest which must have been injured in fact- i.e., suffered an injury which is actual, concrete and not conjectural in nature, (2) a causal nexus between the injury and the complained-of conduct, and (3) a likelihood, as opposed to mere speculation, that the injury is capable of being redressed by a favorable court decision. The doctrine of standing ensures a party has a personal stake in the outcome of a case and the parties are truly adverse.

Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, ¶7, 163 P.3d 512, 519-520. In essence, a plaintiff who has not suffered an injury attributable to the defendant lacks standing to bring a suit. And, thus, “standing [must] be determined as of the commencement of suit; . . .” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 570, n.5, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2142, 119 L.Ed. 351 (1992).1

¶5 To commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note and, absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing. Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Oklahoma City, 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.2 An assignment of the mortgage, however, is of no consequence because under Oklahoma law, “[p]roof of ownership of the note carried with it ownership of the mortgage security.” Engle v. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n, 1956 OK 176, ¶7, 300 P.2d 997, 999. Therefore, in Oklahoma it is not possible to bifurcate the security interest from the note. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. v. White, 2011 OK CIV APP 35, ¶ 10, 256 P.3d 1014, 1017. Because the note is a negotiable instrument, it is subject to the requirements of the UCC. A foreclosing entity has the burden of proving it is a “person entitled to enforce an instrument” by showing it was “(i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 12A-3-309 or subsection (d) of Section 12A-3-418 of this title.” 12A O.S. 2001 §3-301.

¶6 To demonstrate you are the “holder” of the note you must establish you are in possession of the note and the note is either “payable to bearer” (blank indorsement) or to an identified person that is the person in possession (special indorsement).3 Therefore, both possession of the note and an indorsement on the note or attached allonge4 are required in order for one to be a “holder” of the note.

¶7 To be a “nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder” you must be in possession of a note that has not been indorsed either by special indorsement or blank indorsement. Negotiation is the voluntary or involuntary transfer of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201. Transfer occurs when the instrument is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203. Delivery of the note would still have to occur even though there is no negotiation. Delivery is defined as the voluntary transfer of possession. 12A O.S. 2001, § 1-201(b)(15). The transferee would then be vested with any right of the transferor to enforce the note. 12A O.S. 2001, 3-203(b). Some jurisdictions have held, without holder status and therefore the presumption of a right to enforce, the possessor of the note must demonstrate both the fact of the delivery and the purpose of the delivery of the note to the transferee in order to qualify as the person entitled to enforce. In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 912 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011). See also, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203.

¶8 In the present case, Appellee has only presented evidence of an indorsed-in-blank note and an “Assignment of Mortgage.” Appellee must prove that it is the holder of the note or the nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder prior to the filing of the foreclosure proceeding. In the present matter the timeliness of the transfer is in question. Since Bank of America did not file the blank indorsement until it filed its motion for summary judgment it is impossible to determine from the record when Bank of America acquired its interest in the underlying note.

¶9 The assignment of a mortgage is not the same as an assignment of the note. If a person is trying to establish they are a nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder they must bear the burden of establishing their status as a nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder. Appellee must establish delivery of the note as well as the purpose of that delivery. In the present case, it appears Appellee is trying to use the “Assignment of Mortgage” in order to establish the purpose of delivery. The “Assignment of Mortgage” purports to transfer “[f]or value received, the undersigned, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for BNC Mortgage, Inc., and its successors and assigns does hereby assign, transfer and set over unto Bank of America, National Association as Successor by Merger to LaSalle Bank National Association, as Trustee under the Trust Agreement for the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust Series 2004-BNC2, that certain real estate mortgage dated August 30, 2004, granted by Momodu Ahmed Kabba and Humu Hawah Kabba, husband and wife….” This language has been determined by other jurisdictions to not effect an assignment of a note but to be useful only in identifying the mortgage. Therefore, this language is neither proof of transfer of the note nor proof of the purpose of any alleged transfer. See, In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 905 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011).

¶10 Appellee must show it became a “person entitled to enforce” prior to the filing of the foreclosure proceeding. In the present case, there is a question of fact as to when and if this occurred and summary judgment is not appropriate. Therefore, we reverse the granting of summary judgment by the trial court and remand back for further determinations. If it is determined Bank of America became a person entitled to enforce the note, as either a holder or nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder after the foreclosure action was filed, then the case may be dismissed without prejudice and the action may be re-filed in the name of the proper party.

CONCLUSION

¶11 It is a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the note, and to have the proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit, showing the history of the note, so that the defendant is duly apprised of the rights of the plaintiff. This is accomplished by showing the party is a holder of the instrument or a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-309 or 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-418. Likewise, for the homeowners, absent adjudication on the underlying indebtedness, the dismissal cannot cancel their obligation arising from an authenticated note, or insulate them from foreclosure proceedings based on proven delinquency and therefore, this Court’s decision in no way releases or exonerates the debt owed by the defendants on this home. See, U.S. Bank National Association v. Kimball 27 A.3d 1087, 75 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 100, 2011 VT 81 (VT 2011); and Indymac Bank, F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 78 A.D.3d 895, 912 N.Y.S.2d 239 (2010).

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

¶12 CONCUR: TAYLOR, C.J., KAUGER, WATT, EDMONDSON, REIF, COMBS, JJ.

¶13 DISSENT: WINCHESTER (JOINS GURICH, J.), GURICH (BY SEPARATE WRITING), JJ.

¶14 RECUSED: COLBERT, V.C.J.

FOOTNOTES

1 The dissenting opinion in this matter relies upon Justice Opala’s concurring opinion in Toxic Waste Impact Group, Inc. v. Leavitt, 1994 OK 148, 890 P.2d 906, for the proposition that standing is not a jurisdictional question. Justice Opala’s concurring opinion was not the majority opinion of this Court and as such “a minority opinion has no binding, precedential value.” 20 Am.Jur. 2d Courts §138.

2 This opinion was promulgated prior to the enactment of the UCC. It is, however, possible for the owner of the note not to be the person entitled to enforce the note if the owner is not in possession of the note. (See the REPORT OF THE PERMANENT EDITORIAL BOARD FOR THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, APPLICATION OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE TO SELECTED ISSUES RELATING TO MORTGAGE NOTES (NOVEMBER 14, 2011)).

3 12A O.S. 2001, §§ 1-201(b)(21), 3-204 and 3-205.

4 According to Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) an allonge is “[a] slip of paper sometimes attached to a negotiable instrument for the purpose of receiving further indorsements when the original paper is filled with indorsements.” See, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-204(a).

 

GURICH, J., with whom WINCHESTER, J. joins dissenting:

¶1 I respectfully dissent. In this case, the record indicates that attached to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment was an indorsed-in-blank note, an assignment of mortgage, and an affidavit verifying Plaintiff was the holder of the note and mortgage.1 Because the Plaintiff was the proper party to pursue the foreclosure and because the Plaintiff presented the proper documentation at summary judgment to prove such, I would affirm the trial court.

¶2 The majority states that “[t]o commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note, and absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing,” citing Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co., 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.2 See Majority Op. ¶ 5. I agree that in any foreclosure action a party must demonstrate it is the proper party to request adjudication of the issues. However, the issue of whether a party is the proper party to request adjudication of the issues is a real-party-in-interest issue, not an issue of “standing,” as the majority frames it. See Toxic Waste Impact Group, Inc. v. Leavitt, 1994 OK 148, 890 P.2d 906 (Opala, J., concurring). Justice Opala framed the issue correctly in Toxic Waste Impact Group:

Standing in the federal legal system is imbued with a constitutional/jurisdictional dimension, while in the body of state law it fits under the rubric of ordinary procedure. The U.S. Constitution, Article III, has long been held to require that a “case” or “controversy” is essential to invoke federal judicial jurisdiction and that a person’s competence to bring an action is a core component of standing in a case-or-controversy inquiry. It is for this reason that standing is an integral part of the mechanism for invoking the federal judiciary’s power.

Oklahoma’s fundamental law places no restraint on the judiciary’s power analogous to the federal case-or-controversy requirement. Under the earlier Code of Civil Procedure the suit had to be brought by the real party in interest. That requirement has always been non-jurisdictional. If a state court proceeded to adjudicate a claim pressed by one not in that status, its decision was not fraught with jurisdictional infirmity but rather regarded as erroneous for want of proof to establish an important element of the claim. An error in this category is waivable at the option of the defendant; and, if not asserted on appeal, the reviewing court may reach the merits of the case despite a plaintiff’s apparent lack of standing at nisi prius.

Toxic Waste Impact Group, Inc. v. Leavitt, 1994 OK 148, 890 P.2d 906 (Opala, J., concurring, ¶¶ 2-3) (emphasis added); see also Black Hawk Oil Co. v. Exxon, 1998 OK 70, ¶ 24, 969 P.2d 337, 344 (“Using the term ‘standing’ to designate real-party-in-interest issues tempts courts to apply standing principles outside the context in which they were developed. . . . A defendant is entitled to have the suit against him prosecuted by the ‘real party in interest’ but ‘his concern ends when a judgment for or against the nominal plaintiff would protect defendant from any action on same demand by another.”) (Watt, J., Majority Op.)

¶3 The majority in this case cites Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234 and Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, n.19, 163 P.3d 512, 519 for the proposition that “standing may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” See Majority Op. ¶ 4. Those cases cite Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶ 7, 7272 P.2d 574, as authority for this proposition. Arguably, however, Doan misstates the law:

Ever since the Code of Civil Procedure was replaced in 1984 by the Pleading Code, our nomenclature for identifying the party entitled to sue, which began to follow that of federal jurisprudence, has used “standing” as if it were a functional equivalent of the earlier procedural terms of art–real party in interest, one with appealable interest, one occupying the aggrieved-party or pecuniary-interest status. It was during this transition that one of our opinions inadvertently referred to “standing” in terms of a jurisdictional requirement, thus creating the misimpression that the term has a jurisdictional dimension. Oklahoma’s constitution has no case-or-controversy clause. Standing is hence to be viewed as an adjective-law concept. The inadvertent reference to the contrary should be treated as ineffective to alter standing’s true character in the body of our procedural law.

. . . .

I concur in today’s opinion and in the disposition of the cause. If I were writing for the court, I would additionally declare that Doan’s inadvertent reference to federal law is to be viewed as withdrawn. Lujan’s tripartite standing test, which we adopt today, must be treated as having been received sans its federal jurisdictional baggage.

See Toxic Waste Impact Group, 1994 OK 148 (Opala, J., concurring ¶ 4).

¶4 Additionally, both Hendrick and Fent were original actions in this Court. As such, “standing” could have been raised at any point by this Court sua sponte. However, in a proceeding in District Court, because it is a non-jurisdictional issue, failure to assert that the Plaintiff is not the real party in interest may be waived. See Liddell v. Heavner, 2008 OK 6, n.5, 180 P.3d 1191 (Opala, J., Majority Op.); see also 12 O.S. 2012 § 2008(D).

¶5 In this case, the facts demonstrate that the Defendant argued below that Plaintiff did not have a stake in the foreclosure and was not the real party in interest. As such, the issue was properly appealed. However, the facts also demonstrate that the Plaintiff was in fact the real party in interest and was the proper party to pursue the foreclosure. 12 O.S. 2012 § 2017. As such, I would affirm the trial court.

¶6 The majority also holds that a foreclosing party must have the “proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit.” See Majority Op. ¶ 10 (emphasis added). Oklahoma pleading procedure does not require a plaintiff to have all evidence necessary to prevail on its claim at the time of the filing. Rather, what is required is a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” 12 O.S. 2012 § 2008(A)(1). Additionally, 12 O.S.2012 § 2011(B)(3) provides that an attorney filing anything with the court certifies that to “the best of the person’s knowledge, information and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances . . . the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.” 12 O.S. 2012 § 2011(B)(3) (emphasis added).3

¶7 Mortgage foreclosures, like other civil actions, allow the parties to continue to investigate and discover evidence up until the time of judgment. In this case, the Plaintiff continued to investigate its claim up until the time of summary judgment. At the time of summary judgment it offered sufficient proof to the trial court that it had the right to foreclose on the mortgage.4

¶8 Plaintiff satisfied its burden of proof, and the trial court was correct in sustaining the motion and granting judgment to the Plaintiff. On appeal where no evidence indicates otherwise, there is a presumption that the judgment of the trial court conforms to the proof present at the trial. Gilkes v. Gilkes, 1964 OK 28, 389 P.2d 503. I cannot agree with the majority’s holding that the plaintiff must have the “proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit” because no authority states such and the Oklahoma pleading code requires otherwise. The procedure imposed by the majority in this case will result in delay, will not affect the inevitable outcome of foreclosure, and will increase the homeowner’s debt. 5

FOOTNOTES

1 The record also indicates that the Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim pro se, but was later represented by counsel who filed a Combined Response and Objections to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment and a Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment. At the hearing on the motions, the trial judge considered arguments of Counsel for the parties and reviewed the evidentiary materials offered, including the original note, the original mortgage, the assignment of the mortgage, and the affidavit.

2 In Gill, the plaintiff brought an action to foreclose a mortgage on real property. There was no discussion in the case of whether the plaintiff had standing to bring the action or whether the plaintiff was the real party in interest. In fact, the case was tried to the Court, and the appeal turned on the sufficiency of evidence presented at trial. The Gill decision stands for the proposition that the assignment of the note carries with it an assignment of the mortgage. It is not relevant to the standing analysis, nor does it stand for the proposition that the plaintiff must prove at the time of filing that it has a right to enforce the note.

3 Likewise, while I agree that the UCC applies in this case because the note is a negotiable instrument, the UCC does not require that a foreclosing entity prove at the time of filing that it is the person entitled to enforce the instrument.

4 Rule 13 of the Rules for District Courts permits a party to file evidentiary material with a motion for summary judgment. In this case, Plaintiff offered an indorsed-in-blank note, an assignment of mortgage, and an affidavit verifying Plaintiff as the holder of the note and mortgage.

5 On remand, rather than dismiss the petition, the trial court may allow the Plaintiff to amend its petition. HSBC Bank USA v. Lyon, 2012 OK 10, ¶ 1, __ P.3d __.

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Oregon foreclosures stopped by judges’ rulings

Oregon foreclosures stopped by judges’ rulings


Published: Saturday, March 05, 2011, 7:34 PM     Updated: Saturday, March 05, 2011, 7:47 PM

By Brent Hunsberger, The Oregonian

The sales of hundreds of foreclosed homes in Oregon have been halted or withdrawn in recent weeks after federal judges repeatedly questioned their legality, according to a number of real estate attorneys in the state.

Lenders have withdrawn more than 300 foreclosure sales since February in Deschutes County alone, one of the state’s hardest hit by the housing collapse. About 130 of those notices were filed in the past week, attorneys say.

Dozens of foreclosure listings by ReconTrust Co., the foreclosure arm of Bank of America Corp., have disappeared from its website, attorneys say. A BofA spokeswoman declined comment late Friday.

Continue reading … Oregon Live

  1. Brown Order -Barnett v.BAC Home Loan Servicing LP, Federal National Mortgage Association fka Fannie Mae, ReconTrust Co.
  2. Burgett Case -Burgett v. MERS, et al.
  3. EkersonTRO -Ekerson v. MERS, CitiMortgage Inc., et al
  4. King_ruling -Rinegard-Guirma v. Bank of America, et al
  5. McCoy -McCoy v. BNC Mortgage Inc., MERS, U.S. Bank, Finance America LLC, et al.
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Oregon BK Court “Un-Recorded Assignments”,”Non-Judicial Requires All Beneficial Interest Transfers Recorded” McCOY v. BNC Mortgage

Oregon BK Court “Un-Recorded Assignments”,”Non-Judicial Requires All Beneficial Interest Transfers Recorded” McCOY v. BNC Mortgage


In re: DONALD E. McCOY, III, Debtor.
DONALD E. McCOY, III, Plaintiff,
v.
BNC MORTGAGE, INC; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATIONS SYSTEMS, INC; US BANK, NA; FINANCE AMERICA, LLC; LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS, INC; and IMPACT ONE MORTGAGE SVCS, Defendants.

Bankruptcy Case No. 10-63814-fra13, Adversary Proceeding No. 10-6224-fra.

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Oregon.

February 7, 2011.

Memorandum Opinion

FRANK R. ALLEY, III, Chief Bankruptcy Judge

Plaintiff filed a complaint with claims for wrongful foreclosure and to quiet title in real property. Defendants Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc. (MERS) and U.S. Bank N.A. filed a motion to dismiss the complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).[1] For the reasons that follow, Defendants’ motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff received a loan in 2005 from Defendant BNC Mortgage in the amount of $320,000, secured by a deed of trust against real property in Central Point, Oregon, in Jackson County, which the Plaintiff and his wife were purchasing as their residence. BNC Mortgage was listed on the trust deed as “Lender” and Defendant MERS was listed as “Grantee” of the security instrument. Page 2 of the deed of trust document defines MERS as a “separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns.” Page 3 of the document describes the “Beneficiary” of the deed of trust as “MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns) and the successors and assigns of MERS.” The “Trustee” is designated as First American Title Insurance Co. The adjustable rate promissory note disclosed BNC Mortgage as the “Lender,” and did not name any other party other than the borrowers.

The Complaint alleges that BNC Mortgage received funds from Defendant Lehman Brothers Holdings, which had obtained the funds from investors, to make the loan to the Plaintiff. After the loan was funded, the Complaint further alleges that the beneficial interest in the loan was sold to Lehman Brothers Holdings which in turn sold it to its subsidiary Structured Asset Securities Corp, which in turn sold the loan to the Structured Asset Securities Corporation Loan Trust Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 20051-0 (Defendant US Bank NA Trustee), which then transferred the loan and others it had acquired into a loan pool. All these transfers, the Complaint alleges, were made without recording any documents in the official records of Jackson County, Oregon.

On September 11, 2007, MERS, through Vice President Kathy Taggart, executed and filed in the Jackson County records: 1) An Appointment of Successor Trustee, naming Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. as successor trustee, and 2) An Assignment of Trust Deed, assigning the beneficial interest in the Trust Deed from MERS to US Bank NA. Also on that same day, Northwest Trustee Services, Inc., Trustee, executed and filed a Notice of Default and Election to Sell the Plaintiff’s Central Point property. It was also signed by Kathy Taggart.

On February 6, 2008, a Rescission of Notice of Default was executed and filed by Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. and a second Notice of Election to Sell was executed and filed. Thereafter, Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. executed and filed documents required under Oregon’s Trust Deed Statutes found in ORS Chapter 86, including an Affidavit of Mailing, a Trustee’s Notice of Sale, Proof of Service, and an Affidavit of Publication.

Plaintiff filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on March 5, 2010, thereby activating the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a),[2] preventing any action by Defendants to foreclose their interest in the trust deed. Defendant US Bank NA obtained a default order granting relief from the automatic stay on May 6, 2010 to foreclose its interest in the trust deed. On June 28, 2010, Plaintiff was granted a discharge of debts. On June 24, 2010, Plaintiff filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and maintains the chapter 13 bankruptcy even though informed by the court that he is ineligible for a discharge of debts due to the discharge received in the previously filed chapter 7 case. See § 1328(f)(1). The automatic stay was again in place. US Bank NA filed an objection to confirmation of Plaintiff’s chapter 13 Plan and again filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay which was granted at a hearing on August 26, 2010. The lawsuit originally filed by Plaintiff for wrongful foreclosure and to quiet title in Jackson County Circuit Court was removed to the U.S. District Court on September 17, 2010, and thereafter transferred to Bankruptcy Court to be litigated in this forum.

MOTION TO DISMISS

Review of a complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is based on the contents of the complaint, the allegations of which are accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. North Slope Borough v. Rogstad (In Re Rogstad), 126 F.3d 1224, 1228 (9th Cir. 1997)(citations omitted). “[O]nce a claim has been adequately stated, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 (2007)(internal citation omitted). This standard requires “enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence [supporting the cause of action].” Id. at 556. However, the court need not accept as true unreasonable inferences or conclusory legal allegations cast in the form of factual allegations. Naert v. Daff, (In Re Washington Trust Deed Service Corp.), 224 B.R. 109, 112 (9th Cir. BAP 1998). “[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

In considering the motion, the court may not consider any material “beyond the pleadings.” Hal Roach Studios. Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co. Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered. Id. Exhibits submitted with the complaint may also be considered. Durning v. The First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987). Further, a document whose contents are alleged in the complaint, or which is crucial to the complaint, and whose authenticity no party questions, but which is not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 453-454 (9th Cir. 1994),Parrino v. FHP, Inc., 146 F.3d 699, 705-706 (9th Cir. 1998)(not specifically alleged and unattached, but integral to plaintiffs claims). Finally, matters that may be judicially noticed may be considered, Mack v. South Bay Beer Distributors, Inc., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986), abrogated on other grounds, Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Ass’n v. Solimino, 501 U.S. 104 (1991), including court records in related or underlying cases. In re American Continental Corp./ Lincoln Sav. & Loan Securities Litigation, 102 F.3d 1524, 1537 (9th Cir. l996), rev’d on other grounds sub nom., Lexecon Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes and Lerach, 523 U.S. 26 (1998). cert. den. 119 S. Ct. 510(l998)(contents alleged in, but not attached to, complaint);

DISCUSSION

A. Claim to Quiet Title

The Complaint alleges that the only entities who were ever owed money were the investors of the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust, Series 2005-10 and that those investors have all been paid in full. They were paid, according to the Complaint, by one or more of the following: income from the trust, credit default swaps, TARP money, or federal bailout funds. Accordingly, since no party is owed any money, title to the real property should rest exclusively in the Plaintiff, free of any encumbrances.

The Complaint fails to assert “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. It merely asserts, without any actual assertion of fact, that the debt has been paid from one or more sources. The allegation that nobody is owed any money based on Plaintiff’s promissory note and deed of trust is a conclusory legal allegation which the court is not required to accept. Accordingly, Defendants’ motion to dismiss the claim to quiet title in Plaintiff will be granted. B. Wrongful Foreclosure

ORS 86.735 Foreclosure by advertisement and sale. The trustee may foreclose a trust deed by advertisement and sale in the manner provided in ORS 86.740 to 86.755 if:

(1) The trust deed, any assignments of the trust deed by the trustee or the beneficiary and any appointment of a successor trustee are recorded in the mortgage records in the counties in which the property described in the deed is situated; . . .

The Complaint alleges that there were one or more assignments of the Lender’s interest that were not recorded. If the Lender is the beneficiary, it follows that foreclosure by advertisement and sale is not authorized under ORS 86.735. On the other hand, non-judicial foreclosure may be authorized if (a) MERS is the beneficiary, and (b) there have been no unrecorded assignments of MERS’s interest.

MERS claims to be the beneficiary because the Trust Deed declares it the beneficiary. The term “Beneficiary,” however, is defined at ORS 86.705(1) not merely as the person named as such, but as “the person named or otherwise designated in the trust deed as the person for whose benefit a trust deed is given, or the person’s successor in interest. . . .” [italics added]. In the deed of trust described in and attached to the Complaint, that person is not MERS, but BNC Mortgage, the Lender. BNC Mortgage is the entity that loaned the money to Plaintiff and to whom the Plaintiff was obligated under the promissory note. Moreover, the deed of trust provides that MERS is acting solely as the nominee of the Lender.

A deed of trust may authorize delegation of the beneficiary’s powers to a separate nominee, as appears to have been the case here. However, the powers accorded to MERS by the Lender — with the borrowers’ consent — cannot exceed the powers of the beneficiary. The beneficiary’s right to require a non-judicial sale is limited by ORS 86.735. A non-judicial sale may take place only if any assignment by BNC Mortgage has been recorded. As the Complaint sets out a plausible claim that one or more assignments from BNC Mortgage were unrecorded, the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the claim for wrongful foreclosure will be denied.[3]

It should be noted that ORS 86.735 applies only to non-judicial foreclosures and does not act to limit judicial foreclosures. Judicial foreclosure of trust deeds is authorized by ORS 86.710; when foreclosed judicially, trust deeds are treated as mortgages. Read together, the two provisions make it clear that Oregon law permits foreclosure without the benefit of a judicial proceeding only when the interest of the beneficiary is clearly documented in a public record. When the public record is lacking, the foreclosing beneficiary must prove its interest in a judicial proceeding.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons given, the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants MERS and US Bank NA will be denied as to Claim 1 for wrongful foreclosure and granted as to Claim 2 to quiet title, with leave to replead. An order will be entered by the court consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.

[1] Made applicable by Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7012.

[2] Unless otherwise specified, all statutory references herein refer to the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.

[3] The Complaint also alleges that any actions taken by MERS in Oregon are a legal nullity because MERS is not authorized to do business in the state. However, as Defendant points out, even if MERS’s activities in the state were not excepted at ORS 60.701(2) from the requirement that an entity be authorized by the Secretary of State to do business in the Oregon (although it appears that they are in this case), ORS 60.704(5) provides that “the failure of a foreign corporation to obtain authority to transact business in this state does not impair the validity of its corporate acts or prevent it from defending any proceeding in this state.”

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

New MERS Standing Case Splits Note and Mortgage: Bellistri v Ocwen Loan Servicing, Mo App.20100309

New MERS Standing Case Splits Note and Mortgage: Bellistri v Ocwen Loan Servicing, Mo App.20100309


Source: Livinglies

From Max Gardner – QUIET TITLE GRANTED

Mortgage Declared Unenforceable in DOT Case: NOTE DECLARED UNSECURED

“When MERS assigned the note to Ocwen, the note became unsecured and the deed of trust became worthless”

Editor’s Note:

We know that MERS is named as nominee as beneficiary. We know that MERS is NOT named on the note. This appellate case from Missouri, quoting the Restatement 3rd, simply says that the note was split from the security instrument, and that there is no enforcement mechanism available under the Deed of Trust. Hence, the court concludes, quiet title was entirely appropriate and the only remedy to the situation because once the DOT and note are split they is no way to get them back together.

NOTE: THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE NOTE WAS INVALIDATED. BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT IN ORDER TO PROVE A CLAIM UNDER THE NOTE OR TO VERIFY THE DEBT, THE HOLDER MUST EXPLAIN HOW IT ACQUIRED ANY RIGHTS UNDER THE NOTE AND WHETHER IT IS ACTING IN ITS OWN RIGHT OR AS AGENT FOR ANOTHER.

The deed of trust, …did not name BNC [AN AURORA/LEHMAN FRONT ORGANIZATION TO ORIGINATE LOANS] as the beneficiary, but instead names Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), solely as BNC’s nominee. The promissory note does not make any reference to MERS. The note and the deed of trust both require payments to be made to the lender, not MERS.

a party “must have some actual, justiciable interest.” Id. They must have a recognizable stake. Wahl v. Braun, 980 S.W.2d 322 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998). Lack of standing cannot be waived and may be considered by the court sua sponte. Brock v. City of St. Louis, 724 S.W.2d 721 (Mo. App. E.D. 1987). If a party seeking relief lacks standing, the trial court does not have jurisdiction to grant the requested relief. Shannon, 21 S.W.3d at 842.

A Missouri appellate court, without trying, may have drawn a map to a defense to foreclosures-if borrowers can figure it out before the Missouri Supreme Court overturns the decision in Bellistri v Ocwen. The opinion shows how an assignment of a loan to a servicing company for collection can actually make the loan uncollectible from the mortgaged property.

This case concerns the procedures of MERS, which is short for Mortgage Electronic Registration Service, created to solve problems created during the foreclosure epidemic of the 1980s, when it was sometimes impossible to track the ownership of mortgages after several layers of savings and loans and banks had failed without recording assignments of the mortgages. The MERS website contains this explanation:

MERS is an innovative process that simplifies the way mortgage ownership and servicing rights are originated, sold and tracked. Created by the real estate finance industry, MERS eliminates the need to prepare and record assignments when trading residential and commercial mortgage loans.

MERS is the named mortgage holder in transactions having an aggregate dollar value in the hundreds of billions, and its service of providing a way to trace ownership of mortgages has played a large role in the securitization of mortgages and the marketability of derivative mortgage-backed securities, because it seemed to eliminate the necessity of recording assignments of mortgages in county records each time the ownership of a mortgage changed, allowing mortgage securities (packages of many mortgages) to be traded in the secondary market, with less risk.

This case began as a routine quiet title case on a collector’s deed, also known as a tax deed. Following the procedure by which people can pay delinquent property taxes and obtain the ownership of the delinquent property if the owner or lien holder fails after notice to redeem, Bellistri obtained a deed from the Jefferson County (Mo.) collector.

Because of the possibility of defects in the procedures of the county collectors and in the giving of proper notices, the quality of title conferred by a collector’s deed is not insurable.

A suit to cure the potential defects (called a “quiet title suit”) is required to make title good, so that the property can be conveyed by warranty deed and title insurance issued to new lenders and owners. The plaintiff in a quiet title suit is required to give notice of the suit to all parties who had an interest in the property identified in the collector’s deed.

A borrower named Crouther had obtained a loan from BCN Mortgage. The mortgage document (called a deed of trust) named MERS as the holder of the deed of trust as BCN’s nominee, though the promissory note secured by the deed of trust was payable to BCN Mortgage and didn’t mention MERS.

Crouther failed to pay property taxes on the mortgaged property.

Bellistri paid the taxes for three years, then sent notice to Crouther and  BNC that he was applying for a collector’s deed. After BNC failed to redeem (which means “pay the taxes with interest and penalties,” so that Bellistri could be reimbursed), the county collector issued a collector’s deed to Bellistri, in 2006.

Meanwhile, MERS assigned the promissory note and deed of trust to Ocwen Servicing, probably because nobody was making mortgage payments, so that Ocwen would be in a position to attempt to (a) get Crouther to bring the loan payments up to date or (b) to foreclose, if necessary. But this assignment, as explained below, eliminated Ocwen’s right to foreclose and any right to the property.

Bellistri filed a suit for quiet title and to terminate any right of Crouther to possess the property. After discovering the assignment of the deed of trust to Ocwen, Bellistri added Ocwen as a party to the quiet title suit, so that Ocwen could have an opportunity to prove that it had an interest in the property, or be forever silenced.

Bellistri’s attorney Phillip Gebhardt argued that Ocwen had no interest in the property, because the deed of trust that it got from MERS could not be foreclosed. As a matter of law, the right to foreclose goes away when the promissory note is “split”  from the deed of trust that it is supposed to secure. The note that Crouther signed and gave to BNC didn’t mention MERS, so MERS had no right to assign the note to Ocwen. The assignment that MERS made to Ocwen conveyed only the deed of trust, splitting it from the note.

When MERS assigned the note to Ocwen, the note became unsecured and the deed of trust became worthless. Ironically, the use of MERS to make ownership of the note and mortgage easier to trace also made the deed of trust unenforceable. Who knows how many promissory notes are out there that don’t mention MERS, even though MERS is the beneficiary of the deed of trust securing such notes?

O. Max Gardner III

Gardner & Gardner PLLC

PO Box 1000

Shelby NC 28151-1000

704.418.2628 (C)

704.487.0616 (O)

888.870.1647 (F)

704.475.0407 (S)

maxgardner@maxgardner.com
max@maxinars.com
www.maxgardnerlaw.com
www.maxbankruptcybootcamp.com
www.maxinars.com
www.governoromaxgardner.com
Next Boot Camp:  May 20 to May 24, 2010

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© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, forensic mortgage investigation audit, livinglies, Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, neil garfieldComments (4)


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