Endorsement | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

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

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


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

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

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

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

Excerpts:

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

<SNIP>

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

continue below…

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



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U.S. Bank N A. v Nyarkoha | NYSC “endorsement on the underlying note, however, is undated, and in blank…does not state the actual date of physical delivery of the note.”

U.S. Bank N A. v Nyarkoha | NYSC “endorsement on the underlying note, however, is undated, and in blank…does not state the actual date of physical delivery of the note.”


Decided on February 29, 2012

Supreme Court, Queens County

 

U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee, for CSFB ARMT 2006-2, 3476 Stateview Boulevard, Ft. Mill, SC 29715, Plaintiff,

against

Dorcas Nyarkoha, et al., Defendants.

13409/2009

Appearances of Counsel:

For the Plaintiff:Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, by Allison J. Schoenthal, Danielle Mastriano, & Nicole Schiavo, Esqs., 875 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022

For Defendant Dorcas Nyarkoha: Sumani Lanka, Esq., The Legal Aid Society – – Civil Practice, 120-46 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens, New York 11415-1204

Charles J. Markey, J.

The following papers numbered 1 to 13 read on this motion by defendant Dorcas Nyarkoha, pursuant to CPLR 3012(d), for leave to serve and file a late answer, as proposed.

Papers Numbered

Notice of Motion – Affidavits – Exhibits ……………………………………………………………….1-4

Answering Affidavits – Exhibits …………………………………………………………………………5-10

Reply Affidavits ……………………………………………………………………………………………..11-13

This mortgage foreclosure action raises two controversial issues that will persist in the case law, with incongruent and inconsistent results, until a definitive ruling is eventually made by the New York Court of Appeals. The first issue, especially in the area of mortgage foreclosures, where the statutory framework provides for a conference to all answering defendants in an attempted foreclosure of a residential mortgage (see, CPLR 3408, L 2008, ch 472, § 3), is whether or not a non-answering defendant’s failure to answer timely be excused because he or she relied on ongoing settlement talks, discussions, and negotiations. The second thorny issue is whether or not a plaintiff bank’s alleged lack of standing is a meritorious defense that may be asserted by a defendant seeking permission to file a late answer.

Defendant Nyarkoha, in effect, moves to vacate her default in answering the complaint and for leave to serve a late verified answer as proposed. She claims that her default is excusable, insofar as she believed her engagement in settlement negotiations with plaintiff’s [*2]servicing agent, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc. d/b/a America’s Servicing Company (“ASC”), excused her from taking further action with respect to the suit. Defendant Nyarkoha also claims she has meritorious defenses and counterclaims. The plaintiff opposes the motion.

A defendant who has failed to timely answer the complaint must provide a reasonable excuse for the default and demonstrate a potentially meritorious defense to the action, when moving to compel the acceptance of an untimely answer (see, Palmer Ave. Corp. v. Malick, 91 AD3d 853 [2nd Dept. 2012]; Lipp v Port Auth. of NY & N.J., 34 AD3d 649 [2nd Dept. 2006]; Juseinoski v Board of Educ. of City of NY, 15 AD3d 353, 356 [2nd Dept. 2005]; see also, Rodriguez v Triani, 28 Misc 3d 130(A), 2010 WL 2802747, 2010 NY Slip Op 51256(U) [App T. 2nd Dept. 2010]). The determination of what constitutes a reasonable excuse for a default in answering lies within the sound discretion of the court (see, Adolph H. Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland, Inc. v Needleman, 90 AD3d 791 [2nd Dept. 2011]; Maspeth Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v McGown, 77 AD3d 889 [2nd Dept. 2010]; Grutman v Southgate At Bar Harbor Home Owners’ Assn., 207 AD2d 526, 527 [2nd Dept. 1994]).

Defendant Nyarkoha states that she was out of the country at the time of the service of the copy of the summons and complaint, but after her return on June 28, 2009, contacted ASC, seeking to obtain a modification of the subject mortgage. ASC, which participated in the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”), accepted her application for loan modification under HAMP. Defendant Nyarkoha entered into a three-month Trial Period Plan with ASC through HAMP, commencing October 1, 2009, and attended seven conferences held in the Residential Foreclosure Part, wherein she was represented by the Legal Aid Society for the purpose of the conferences.

While the case was assigned to that Part, defendant Nyarkoha twice moved, in effect, to stop the running of interest on the mortgage debt. Both motions were denied. In addition, defendant Nyarkoha filed, on July 1, 2010, a pro se motion for leave to serve an answer to the complaint, which motion was repeatedly adjourned. The case was released from the Residential Foreclosure Part on December 1, 2010.

On December 28, 2010, the Legal Aid Society served and filed a notice of appearance on behalf of defendant Nyarkoha in this action. On January 27, 2011, defendant Nyarkoha served and filed a notice, indicating her withdrawal of the pro se motion for leave to serve a late answer, without prejudice to her right to refile it. The instant motion was filed six months later.

Regarding defendant Nyarkoha’s argument that she relied on ongoing settlement discussions and negotiations, the cases are mixed. A number of cases show a great reluctance, if not loathing, for such a defense as an excuse for not taking concrete action in a litigation, such as filing an answer (see, e.g., Community Preservation Corp. v Bridgewater Condominiums, LLC, 89 AD3d 784 [2nd Dept. 2011] [reliance on settlement discussions does not constitute reasonable excuse]; Mellon v Izmirligil, 88 AD3d 930 [2nd Dept. 2011] [motion to vacate was properly denied]; Maspeth Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v McGown, 77 AD3d 889, supra [purported reliance [*3]on settlement discussions was unsubstantiated]; Jamieson v Roman, 36 AD3d 861 [2nd Dept. 2007] [upholding denial of motion to vacate default despite party’s claim of ongoing settlement discussions, since party delayed in appearing after being served with a copy of the judgment]; Flora Co. v Ingilis, 233 AD2d 418 [2nd Dept. 1996] [reliance on settlement discussions was questionable at best]; Bank of New York v Jayaswal, 33 Misc 3d 1214(A), 2011 WL 5061626, 2011 NY Slip Op 51922(U) [Sup Ct Suffolk County 2011] [Whelan, J.] [denying motion to file a late answer, court stated that “the mere engagement in discussions aimed at a potential modification of the subject mortgage loan may not serve as a means to open up an otherwise inexcusable default in answering the summons and complaint by the defendant/mortgagor.”; discussing the competing cases and reasoning that defendant’s conversation with the plaintiff bank’s “operations consultant” could not be reasonably characterized as “legal advice” that “allegedly duped defendant . . . into not answering the complaint in a timely manner.”).

The defense or excuse of a party’s abstaining from taking any action in good faith reliance on ongoing settlement discussions and negotiations has, nevertheless, been sustained if the underlying facts and circumstances are substantiated and reasonable (see, e.g., Performance Constr. Corp. v Huntington Bldg., LLC, 68 AD3d 737, 738 [2nd Dept. 2009] [record revealed that party was actively engaged in settlement negotiations, and adversary unfairly and manipulatively failed to disclose plan to enter default judgment]; Scarlett v McCarthy, 2 AD3d 623 [2nd Dept. 2003]; HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Cayo, ____ Misc 3d, 934 NYS2d 792, 794 [Sup Ct Kings County 2011] [party presented meritorious defense and substantiated belief that action was stayed pending settlement talks]; Emigrant Mortgage, Inc. v Abbey, 2011 WL 972555, 2011 NY Slip Op 30600(U) [Sup Ct Queens County 2011] [McDonald, J.]).

This Court, in the present action, concludes that defendant Nyarkoha’s reliance upon settlement negotiations with ASC was reasonable and her participation in the conferences is substantiated and thus constituting a sufficient and reasonable excuse for her failure to serve an answer through at least December 1, 2010.

To the extent Defendant Nyarkoha’s pro se motion for leave to serve a late answer was withdrawn prior to its submission, and the instant motion was not made for another six months, such additional delay may be attributable to her counsel and constitutes, at most, law office failure, which is excusable (see, CPLR 2005). Plaintiff has not demonstrated it has been prejudiced by the additional delay (see, Merchants Ins. Group v. Hudson Valley Fire Protection Co., Inc.,72 AD3d 762, 764 [2nd Dept. 2010]).

Plaintiff made no motion seeking any relief during that six-month period, notwithstanding that the order dated December 1, 2010, permitted it to seek an order of reference, and makes no cross motion for such relief. A strong public policy, furthermore, exists favoring the disposition of matters on their merits (see, Berardo v Guillet, 86 AD3d 459, 459 [1st Dept. 2011]; Yu v Vantage Mgt. Servs., LLC, 85 AD3d 564[1st Dept. 2011]; Billingly v Blagrove, 84 AD3d 848, 849 [2nd Dept. 2011]; Khanal v Sheldon, 74 AD3d 894, 896 [2nd Dept. 2010]; Rakowicz v [*4]Fashion Institute of Technology, 65 AD3d 536, 537 [2nd Dept. 2009]; Reed v Grossi, 59 AD3d 509, 511-512 [2nd Dept. 2009]; Bunch v Dollar Budget, Inc., 12 AD3d 391 [2nd Dept. 2004]).

The motion papers, in the case at bar, adequately demonstrate that the defendant Nyarkoha may have a meritorious defense based upon lack of standing (compare Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corp. v. Randolph Bowling, 25 Misc 3d 1244(A), 2009 WL 4893940, 2009 NY Slip Op 52567(U), slip op at 3 [Sup Ct Kings County 2011] [standing issue was not raised as a last minute gesture to avert sale of property and was thus properly raised on a motion to file a late answer] with Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. v. Young, 66 AD3d 819,819 [2nd Dept. 2009] [upholding lower court’s denial of motion to vacate default in mortgage foreclosure action, Second Department stated that “the Supreme Court did not err in determining that they waived the issue of standing by failing to timely appear or answer”] and HSBC Bank, USA v. Dammond, 59 AD3d 679, 680 [2nd Dept. 2009] [where it was “undisputed that the respondent was personally served” and the defendant did not raise the standing defense until “immediately prior to the date scheduled for the sale of the property,” the Second Department stated: “The respondent waived any argument that HSBC lacked standing to commence the foreclosure action. Having failed to interpose an answer or file a timely pre-answer motion which asserted the defense of standing, the respondent waived such defense pursuant to CPLR 3211(e).”]; and Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. v. Pietranico, 33 Misc 3d 528 [Sup Ct Suffolk County 2011] [Whelan, J.] [alleged lack of standing was untimely asserted on motion to vacate a default in a mortgage foreclosure action]; see, U.S. Bank, N.A. v Collymore, 68 AD3d 752 [2nd Dept. 2009] [upholding denial of plaintiff bank’s motion for summary judgment and appointment of a referee, Second Department stated: “Contrary to the Bank’s contentions, it failed to demonstrate its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law because it did not submit sufficient evidence to demonstrate its standing as the lawful holder or assignee of the subject note on the date it commenced this action.”]).

In the present action, the assignment agreement indicates that the mortgage, “[t]ogether with all moneys . . . owing or that may . . . become due or owing in [r]espect thereof,” were assigned by First United Mortgage Banking Corp. to plaintiff on May 12, 2009. The endorsement on the underlying note, however, is undated, and in blank and without recourse, and the affidavit of Jennifer Robinson, the vice-president of loan documentation for Wells Fargo, indicates that the note was physically delivered to Wells Fargo as custodian for plaintiff “prior to the commencement of this action on May 25, 2009.” The action, however, was commenced on May 21, 2009, and Ms. Robinson does not state the actual date of physical delivery of the note.

The Court holds, under the circumstances of the present action, that the alleged lack of standing of the plaintiff bank may be considered on a motion to vacate a default in a mortgage foreclosure action. Absent express legislation barring a litigant from proving a meritorious defense in an attempt to vacate a default because of an alleged lack of standing, courts should not engraft such a prohibition on the case law of this State.

The Court grants defendant’s motion for leave to serve a late answer is granted, and the [*5]proposed answer annexed to the motion papers shall be deemed served upon service of a copy of this order bearing the date stamp of the County Clerk, with notice of entry. Plaintiff shall serve a reply or move with respect to the answer, within 30 days of the service of a copy of this order with notice of entry. Defendant Nyarkoha shall file a copy of the answer within 20 days of service of a copy of this order with notice of entry.

The foregoing constitutes the decision, opinion, and order of the Court.

______________________________________

J.S.C.

Dated: February 29, 2012

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



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IN RE: BALDERRAMA | 2nd allonge includes an endorsement from RFC (Judy Faber) to Deutsche that did not exist in the first allonge…3 different Promissory Notes

IN RE: BALDERRAMA | 2nd allonge includes an endorsement from RFC (Judy Faber) to Deutsche that did not exist in the first allonge…3 different Promissory Notes


**Judy Faber has a history on this site and named in some important cases…check it out!

 

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
ORLANDO DIVISION

In re
MARIA RENEE BALDERRAMA
Debtor.

CARLA P. MUSSELMAN, TRUSTEE
Plaintiff,

vs.

DEUTSCHE BANK TRSUTE COMPANY
AMERICAS, in trust for Residential
Accredit Loans, Inc. Mortgage Asset-
Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series
2007-QH5,
Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION PARTIALLY GRANTING AND
PARTIALLY DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
AND DENYING PLAINTIFF’S CROSS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

EXCERPT:

In response, the trustee filed her own cross motion for summary judgment arguing the
various documents Deutsche has provided to support its position, including three different
versions of the note and two versions of the allonge, were ineffective to transfer any interest to
Deutsche and evidence Deutsche‘s bad faith in purporting to own the note.17 The trustee‘s
argument primarily is based on the second allonge provided by Deutsche upon the Court‘s order
compelling discovery. The second allonge includes an endorsement from RFC to Deutsche that
did not exist in the first allonge, and, according to the trustee, Deutsche caused this endorsement
to be made fraudulently to meet the needs of litigation.18 The trustee urges the Court to find
Deutsche has not adequately explained the discrepancies between the two allonges, has not met
its burden to prove it is the legitimate owner of the note, and title to the Property should vest in
the trustee.

[…]

Neither version of the allonge, however, includes dates of the alleged transfers as stated
by Ms. Faber. Even assuming she had the authority to endorse the note to Deutsche, Ms. Faber
does not explain why RFC initially failed to produce the second allonge with the RFC
endorsement in its motion to lift stay, even though it allegedly existed at that time. These ?holes?
present substantial questions of fact as to Deutsche‘s good faith and the second allonge‘s
authenticity. The Court cannot avoid suspecting that the second allonge indeed was created
solely to rebut the trustee‘s assertions in this litigation and did not previously exist. If so, the
Court suggests Deutsche and Ms. Faber individually consider the possible consequences of
propounding potentially false evidence and perjured testimony to the Court.

[ipaper docId=81975432 access_key=key-1kab3johohtn0eshfdqc height=600 width=600 /]

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



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

A valentine from Chief United States, Bankruptcy Court Middle Dist. of Florida Judge Karen S. Jennemann on Feburary 14, 2012

A valentine from Chief United States, Bankruptcy Court Middle Dist. of Florida Judge Karen S. Jennemann on Feburary 14, 2012


A valentine from Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge Karen S. Jennemann on Feburary 14, 2012:

The Court cannot avoid suspecting that the second allonge indeed was created solely to rebut the trustee‘s assertions in this litigation and did not previously exist. If so, the Court suggests Deutsche and Ms. Faber individually consider the possible consequences of propounding potentially false evidence and perjured testimony to the Court. Muselman v. Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, Case No. 6:10-bk-07828-KSJ. Document 67, page 8.

As gratifying as this recognition of fraudulent documents may be, it does raise the question: just what are the consequences of propounding false evidence and perjured testimony to the Court. With the exception of a few judges and a few decisions, there have been no consequences whatsoever.

FRAUD DIGEST by Lynn E. Szymoniak, ESQ.

 

NOTE:

I would like to make a note of this because as soon as I posted this IN RE BALDERRAMA | FL BK Court “Deutsche Bank, Not proven to either the trustee or the Court that it holds a validly endorsed promissory note evidencing its purchase of the debt on the disputed property”, it went completely missing from the site! See for yourself and it’s still missing and not sure why some cases go missing.

 

451 B.R. 185 (2011)

In re Maria Renee BALDERRAMA, Debtor.
Carla P. Musselman, as Chapter 7 Trustee, Plaintiff,

v.

Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, in trust for Residential Accredit Loans, Inc. Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-QH5, Defendant.

Bankruptcy No. 6:10-bk-07828-KSJ. Adversary No. 6:10-ap-00245-KSJ.
United States Bankruptcy Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division.
May 4, 2011.
186*186 Seldon J. Childers, Childers Law LLC, Gainesville, FL, for Plaintiff.

Daniel A. Miller, Broad and Cassel, West Palm Beach, FL, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION PARTIALLY GRANTING AND PARTIALLY DENYING TRUSTEE’S AMENDED AND RENEWED MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DEUTSCHE BANK

KAREN S. JENNEMANN, Bankruptcy Judge.

In this adversary proceeding the Chapter 7 trustee, Carla Musselman, seeks to quiet title and to value at zero dollars defendant Deutsche Bank’s alleged secured interest in debtor Maria Balderrama’s non-homestead real property. As part of discovery, the trustee served interrogatories and document production requests seeking information about the bank’s purchase of the promissory note and mortgage on the disputed property.[1] Deutsche Bank resists producing any discovery related to the purchase history of the note and the chain of title of the mortgage arguing that, under Florida law, it has established its secured interest in the property merely by alleging it holds the original promissory note endorsed specially in its favor.[2] The trustee disputes Deutsche Bank’s characterization of Florida law and notes that neither the Court nor the trustee has seen the original endorsed note. She now requests the Court 187*187 compel the bank to produce the requested information.[3]

Although Deutsche Bank is correct that under Florida law if it holds a validly endorsed original note it may be deemed equitably also to own the mortgage, the bank first must establish its actual possession of the original note. As such, the trustee’s discovery requests pertaining to Deutsche Bank’s status as holder of the note, including the authenticity and authority of the signatures endorsing the note, are relevant. All other requests, including any requests for information regarding the prior ownership history of the note or the mortgage, are irrelevant and overbroad under Florida law. Accordingly, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the trustee’s motion and direct Deutsche Bank to respond to interrogatory number 5 and document request numbers 7 and 30 on or before June 3, 2011. The trustee’s motion to compel otherwise is denied, and the objections raised by the bank are sustained as to all other interrogatories and production requests.

On September 28, 2010, the trustee initiated this adversary proceeding to value Aurora Loan Services’ secured claim at $0.00 pursuant to § 506(a) of the Bankruptcy Code[4] and to quiet title in property owned by the debtor located in Rockledge, Florida. Aurora is the servicing agent on the mortgage, and it previously has moved for relief from stay to foreclose on the mortgage,[5] which this Court denied without prejudice for lack of evidentiary support.[6] On October 18, 2010, the trustee served her first set of interrogatories and first requests for production of documents on Aurora. On November 17, 2010, Aurora filed its objections to the trustee’s discovery requests,[7] objecting to certain requests seeking information about the history of the ownership of the subject note and mortgage. Aurora’s objections are based on its position that under Florida law the holder of a promissory note may equitably own and enforce a mortgage, even without a written assignment of the mortgage, and, accordingly, that the trustee’s requests seeking information regarding chain of ownership are irrelevant and overbroad.

On December 16, 2010, at a pretrial conference before this Court, the parties discussed Aurora’s objections to the trustee’s discovery, and the trustee made an ore tenus motion to amend the complaint to name Deutsche Bank as the real defendant in interest as the alleged holder of the original promissory note, which the Court granted.[8] At the hearing, the trustee also agreed to file an amended motion to compel Deutsche Bank to respond to the discovery requests served on Aurora, and Deutsche Bank has agreed for purposes of resolving the amended motion to compel and its/Aurora’s objections to the trustee’s discovery that it will step into Aurora’s position and stipulate for convenience that the discovery served on Aurora properly was served on it.[9]

188*188 Accordingly, on January 4, 2011, the trustee amended her complaint to change the name of the defendant from Aurora to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, in trust for Residential Accredit Loans, Inc. Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-QH5.[10] On January 18, 2011, Deutsche Bank filed its answer to the amended complaint.[11] On January 28, 2011, the trustee filed her amended motion to compel defendant’s response to trustee’s first interrogatories and request for production of documents and an associated memorandum of law.[12] On February 25, 2011, Deutsche Bank filed its memorandum in response to the trustee’s motion to compel.[13]

The trustee’s amended complaint argues Deutsche Bank cannot provide sufficient evidence of its purchase of either the note or the mortgage to assert a secured claim to the disputed property. The trustee now seeks to compel production of information from Deutsche Bank regarding its purchase of the underlying debt and mortgage, and especially whether the note and mortgage were properly assigned.

In response to the motion to compel, Deutsche Bank reiterates Aurora’s previous position, arguing certain interrogatories and production requests regarding chain of title are irrelevant and overbroad because, under Florida law, it need only show it holds the original note evidencing its purchase of the debt underlying the mortgage for it to equitably own the mortgage, too.[14] Essentially, the bank argues that, in Florida, a mortgage travels equitably with the underlying debt in the absence of a formal written assignment of the mortgage. Because the bank allegedly holds the note specially endorsed in its favor, Deutsche Bank maintains it already has established its security interest in the property.

The Court largely agrees with Deutsche Bank’s legal argument. Under applicable Florida law,[15] a mortgage, even without a written assignment, may travel equitably to the holder of the underlying debt, i.e., to the entity holding the original, properly executed and endorsed promissory note. Thus, if Deutsche Bank establishes it is the holder of a validly endorsed note, it, in turn, will establish its equitable ownership of the mortgage securing the note. This general rule of Florida law (the “General Rule”) was stated best in 1938 by the Florida Supreme Court in the seminal case Johns v. Gillian, as follows:

… a mortgage is but an incident to the debt, the payment of which it secures, and its ownership follows the assignment of the debt. If the note or other debt secured by a mortgage be transferred without any formal assignment of the mortgage, or even a delivery of it, the mortgage in equity passes as an incident to the debt, unless there be some plain and clear agreement to the contrary, if that be the intention of the parties.[16] 189*189 Johns goes on to say that “[t]he transfer of the note or obligation evidencing the debt… operates as an assignment of the mortgage securing the debt, and it is not necessary that the mortgage papers be transferred, nor, in order that the beneficial interest shall pass, that a written assignment be made.”[17] Johns concluded that “if there had been no written assignment, Gillian would be entitled to foreclose in equity upon proof of his purchase of the debt.”[18] Finding that Gillian had sufficiently proven his purchase of the debt through his in-court testimony, the court held that Gillian was the “equitable owner of the mortgage” entitled to foreclose, even though no formal assignment of the mortgage was executed.

The General Rule is alive and well in Florida.[19] In Riggs v. Aurora Loan Services, LLC,[20] Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals held Aurora was entitled to summary judgment in a foreclosure action when it produced the original mortgage, a promissory note endorsed in blank, and affidavits that stated Aurora was the proper holder of the note and mortgage. Aurora did not submit a written assignment of the mortgage, and Aurora was not the original mortgagee. Nonetheless, the court found Aurora was the holder of the note entitled to enforce its terms under Fla. Stat. § 673.3011, and thus could foreclose on the mortgage, because it provided sufficient evidence of its purchase of the debt underlying the mortgage: possession of the original note endorsed in blank.[21]

Likewise, in another decision, the Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a dismissal of a foreclosure action because the lower court failed to consider application of the General Rule.[22] In that case, WM Specialty filed a foreclosure complaint on December 3, 2002, and later, in response to a motion to dismiss, filed an assignment of mortgage dated January 3, 2003. The assignment, however, reflected that the mortgage was transferred to WM Specialty prior to the complaint date on November 25, 2002. The lower court found the complaint was void ab initio because WM Specialty did not hold the note and mortgage as of the date of filing the complaint. In reversing the lower court, the appellate court instructed the lower court to consider on remand whether WM Specialty acquired an equitable interest in the mortgage before execution of the written assignment by virtue of the prior transfer of the note and mortgage to WM Specialty. The court quoted Johns favorably at length for the proposition that “the mortgage in equity passes as an incident to the debt,” and indicated the lower court had failed to consider this General Rule.

In reaching its conclusion, WM Specialty Mortgage distinguished the facts before it from Jeff-Ray Corp. v. Jacobson,[23] another Fourth District Court of Appeals case the Chapter 7 trustee relies on in attempting to establish an exception to the General Rule. Jeff-Ray held that a trial court erred in not dismissing a foreclosure complaint for failure to state a cause of 190*190 action because it relied upon an assignment that was not in existence when the complaint was filed. There, the complaint was filed on January 4, 1988, supported by an alleged assignment of mortgage dated in 1986, which was not attached to the complaint. When the plaintiff later produced the assignment, it was dated April 18, 1988, four months after the complaint was filed. The plaintiff’s actions therefore led the appellate court to conclude that plaintiff had lied to the court by stating it held an assignment of mortgage from 1986 when in fact it held no assignment at all. Moreover, the court in Jeff-Ray did not discuss the General Rule or consider whether equitable transfer of the mortgage occurred prior to filing the foreclosure complaint because the plaintiff had not alleged any facts that might have indicated such transfer occurred (e.g. purchase of the underlying debt or any indication the plaintiff held possession of the mortgage in 1986).

These recent Florida appellate court cases all support Deutsche Bank’s position that proof of ownership of the debt underlying a mortgage is sufficient under Florida law to equitably convey the mortgage to the debt holder. Moreover, these cases suggest a note specifically endorsed to a foreclosure plaintiff is sufficient proof of purchase of the debt underlying a mortgage to equitably convey such mortgage. Indeed, Riggs indicates the holder of a note endorsed in blank may hold an equitable interest in the mortgage securing the note.[24]

The trustee disputes this legal analysis and, in response, argues that an exception to the General Rule applies.[25] She interprets Johns[26] to create an exception to the General Rule that if a foreclosure plaintiff lacks a written assignment of the mortgage he must prove his purchase of the debt beyond merely establishing he is the holder of the note underlying the mortgage. The trustee relies on this sentence: “Or if there had been no written assignment, Gillian would be entitled to foreclose in equity upon proof of his purchase of the debt.” Noticeably absent from this sentence and the Johns decision, however, is any statement that a creditor’s proof of its status as holder of a promissory note is not proof of purchase of the debt. The trial court in Johns required testimony of Gillian to establish he purchased the mortgage debt because there were factual issues raised concerning the timing of the purchase of the note.[27] But nothing in Johns or the more recent Florida appellate court cases can credibly be construed as establishing an exception to the General Rule that would require a note holder to prove its purchase of the debt beyond simply establishing that it is indeed the note holder. Proof of a creditor’s status as holder of a note underlying a 191*191 mortgage is proof of purchase of the debt, and the previous ownership history of the note and mortgage is irrelevant.

The trustee’s argument also relies on a decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, applying Massachusetts law, to argue that Florida state courts require more than the original note to convey equitable title to a mortgage.[28] Because Massachusetts law treats the equitable assignment of mortgages very differently than Florida law, a Massachusetts court’s interpretation of the law of their state is irrelevant to this proceeding. Ibanez sums up well how Massachusetts law deals with equitable transfer of mortgages as follows:

In Massachusetts, where a note has been assigned but there is no written assignment of the mortgage underlying the note, the assignment of the note does not carry with it the assignment of the mortgage. [] Rather the holder of the mortgage holds the mortgage in trust for the purchaser of the note, who has an equitable right to obtain an assignment of the mortgage, which may be accomplished by filing an action in court and obtaining an equitable order of assignment.[29]

These procedures are quite different than Florida’s procedures and its General Rule. Unlike Massachusetts, Florida law does allow the assignment of a note to carry with it the implicit assignment of the mortgage. Indeed, Ibanez distinguishes Massachusetts law from such other states’ laws that provide for equitable assignment of a mortgage.[30] Massachusetts law simply differs from Florida law and, as such, cannot create any type of exception to the still valid Florida General Rule. A creditor who holds a validly endorsed promissory note is deemed to hold an equitable lien arising from the related mortgage, without any requirement to have a separate valid assignment of the mortgage.[31]

Deutsche Bank, however, still has not proven to either the trustee or the Court that it holds a validly endorsed promissory note evidencing its purchase of the debt on the disputed property. Therefore, Deutsche Bank cannot rely on the General Rule to avoid responding to the trustee’s discovery requests pertaining to the authenticity of the note. The trustee has raised in her complaint doubts concerning the authenticity and effectiveness of the endorsements on the allonge to the note. The copies of the note and mortgage attached as an exhibit to its response therefore are insufficient to establish Deutsche Bank’s status as holder of the note.

Because the trustee has raised issues concerning the authenticity of and authority to endorse the note and allonge, the Court will overrule Deutsche Bank’s objection and compel its response to interrogatory number 5, seeking the names and addresses of “each person whose signature appears on any endorsements on the Note or any allonge.” The Court similarly will overrule Deutsche Bank’s objections and 192*192 compel its response to requests for production numbers 7 and 30. These requests seek documents and information related to Deutsche Bank’s purchase of the note and the authority of the individual who signed the endorsement. The inquiries are relevant to whether Deutsche Bank is the holder of a properly endorsed note.

The Court will sustain Deutsche Bank’s objections to every other interrogatory[32] and document production request,[33] finding such requests are irrelevant and overbroad in light of the General Rule. In particular, information on the chain of title of the mortgage, which parties have ever held an interest in the note or mortgage, and the electronic records related to this mortgage is irrelevant to the question of whether Deutsche Bank now holds the original validly endorsed note.

Accordingly, the Court will partially grant and partially deny the trustee’s motion to compel and direct defendant Deutsche Bank to respond to certain of the trustee’s first set of interrogatories and document production requests on or before June 3, 2011, as specified above. A further pretrial conference is set in this adversary proceeding for 2:00 p.m. on June 22, 2011.

A separate order consistent with this memorandum opinion will be entered simultaneously.

DONE AND ORDERED.

[1] As discussed below, the trustee’s discovery requests actually were served on Deutsche Bank’s predecessor to this adversary proceeding, Aurora Loan Services. Deutsche Bank has stipulated for purposes of this motion to compel that such requests were served on it, too. The Court similarly assumes that Deutsche Bank is authorized to prosecute the objections to the trustee’s discovery requests previously articulated by Aurora Loan Services and, for purposes of this motion, the interest of Deutsche Bank and Aurora Loan Services are identical.

[2] Defendant’s Response to Trustee’s Amended and Renewed Motion to Compel Defendant’s Response to Trustee’s First Interrogatories and Trustee’s First Request for Production of Documents and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. No. 25). A list of defendant’s specific objections to particular interrogatories and production requests is attached to its Response as Exhibit B.

[3] Trustee’s Amended and Renewed Motion to Compel Defendant’s Response to Trustee’s First Interrogatories and Trustee’s First Request for Production of Documents (Doc. No. 23).

[4] All references to the Bankruptcy Code are to Title 11 of the United States Code.

[5] Doc. No. 22 in the Main Case.

[6] Doc. No. 36 in the Main Case.

[7] Doc. Nos. 7, 8.

[8] Doc. No. 15.

[9] Fn. 4 of Defendant’s Response (Doc. No. 25). Deutsche Bank has adopted Aurora’s objections by incorporating them as Exhibit B to its Response.

[10] Doc. No. 17.

[11] Doc. No. 19.

[12] Doc. Nos. 23, 24.

[13] Doc. No. 25.

[14] Doc. No. 25 and Ex. B thereto set forth the bank’s specific objections.

[15] Paragraph 16 of the copy of the mortgage attached as Exhibit A to Defendant’s Response (Doc. No. 25) states the applicable law is the “law in which the property is located.” The property is located in Rockledge, Florida, and neither party disputes that Florida law applies.

[16] Johns v. Gillian, 134 Fla. 575, 184 So. 140, 143 (1938) (citations omitted).

[17] Id. (quoting 41 C.J., Mortgages, Sec. 686, p. 677) (quotations omitted).

[18] Id. at 143-44 (citing Pease v. Warren, 29 Mich. 9, 18 Am.Rep 58).

[19] Riggs v. Aurora Loan Services, LLC, 36 So.3d 932 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (per curiam); WM Specialty Mortgage, LLC, v. Salomon, 874 So.2d 680, 682-3 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).

[20] 36 So.3d at 933-34.

[21] Id.

[22] WM Specialty Mortgage, 874 So.2d at 682-3.

[23] 566 So.2d 885, 886 (Fla 4th DCA 1990).

[24] 36 So.3d at 933-34.

[25] Doc. No. 24.

[26] 184 So. at 143.

[27] Specifically, one of the main issues in Johns was whether a possibly dissolved corporation properly transferred its ownership of a mortgage. Because factual issues arose as to the timing of the corporation’s assignment of the mortgage, the purported purchaser of the note and mortgage testified in court as to his purchase of the debt. Johns makes no mention of the lack of a written assignment of the mortgage as the reason for the purported note holder’s testimony. The trustee’s interpretation of Johns as establishing a requirement under Florida law that without a written assignment of mortgage a purported note holder must go beyond proof of its status as note holder to establish the purchase of the debt, including chain of title and the entire ownership history of the note, therefore is strained and unsupported by the facts of the case.

[28] U.S. Bank N.A. v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637, 941 N.E.2d 40, 53-4 (2011).

[29] Id. (citations omitted).

[30] Id. (citing Barnes v. Boardman, 149 Mass. 106, 114, 21 N.E. 308 (1889) and quoting within the citation “In some jurisdictions it is held that the mere transfer of the debt, without any assignment or even mention of the mortgage, carries the mortgage with it, so as to enable the assignee to assert his title in an action at law … This doctrine has not prevailed in Massachusetts….”).

[31] The trustee also argues the Florida U.C.C. has abolished the General Rule. This proposition has no support in either the Florida U.C.C. or, as demonstrated by the recent Fourth D.C.A. decisions discussed above, in Florida case law.

[32] In particular, the objections are sustained as to interrogatory numbers: 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17.

[33] In particular, the objections are sustained as to requests for production numbers: 8, 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23.

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SJC of Maine Vacates SJ No Mention of MERS in Note, HSBC failed to include any facts to “properly presented proof of… all assignments and endorsements of the note

SJC of Maine Vacates SJ No Mention of MERS in Note, HSBC failed to include any facts to “properly presented proof of… all assignments and endorsements of the note


MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT

HSBC BANK USA, N.A., AS TRUSTEE UNDER THE POOLING AND
SERVICING AGREEMENT DATED AS OF DECEMBER 1, 2005, FREMONT
HOME LOAN TRUST 2005-E

v.

JANELLE GABAY

EXCERPT:

[¶1] Janelle Gabay appeals from a summary judgment entered in the District
Court (Bridgton, Powers, J.) in favor of HSBC Bank USA, N.A., as Trustee under
the Pooling and Servicing Agreement dated as of December 1, 2005, Fremont
Home Loan Trust 2005-E, on HSBC’s complaint for foreclosure and sale pursuant
to 14 M.R.S. §§ 6321-6325 (2010).1 Gabay argues that HSBC’s motion for
summary judgment should have been denied because HSBC’s statement of
material facts left unresolved genuine issues of material fact as to (1) whether
HSBC is the owner and holder, pursuant to a valid endorsement, of the promissory
note due to HSBC’s failure to present adequate evidence of such; (2) the order of
priority among creditors; (3) the sufficiency of identification of the court costs that
HSBC sought to collect; and (4) the identification of the premises to be foreclosed
upon. Because genuine issues of material fact exist, we vacate the judgment and
remand for further proceedings.

[…]

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

[¶8] We review a grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party to determine “whether
the parties’ statements of material facts and the referenced record evidence reveal a
genuine issue of material fact.” JPMorgan Chase Bank v. Harp, 2011 ME 5, ¶ 15,
10 A.3d 718. In so doing, we consider only the material facts set forth, and the
portions of the record referred to, in the statements of material facts. Salem
Capital Grp., LLC v. Litchfield, 2010 ME 49, ¶ 4, 997 A.2d 720. In summary
judgment practice, the court “is neither required nor permitted to independently
search a record to find support for facts offered by a party.” Levine v. R.B.K. Caly
Corp., 2001 ME 77, ¶ 9, 770 A.2d 653. A party’s motion for summary judgment
may not be granted if that party fails to properly put the material facts before the
court, “regardless of the adequacy, or inadequacy, of the nonmoving party’s
response.” Id. ¶ 5.

[¶9] HSBC contends that it need not properly identify which paragraph of a
supporting record reference is the basis for a particular statement of material fact
when (i) the supporting record is included in its entirety in the summary judgment
record, or (ii) the critical paragraph in the record has been cited to support a
different material fact. However, our rules require that each statement of material
fact must directly refer the court to “the specific portions of the record from which
each fact is drawn.” Id. ¶ 9; M.R. Civ. P. 56(h)(1), (4). We have repeatedly noted
the importance of applying the summary judgment rules strictly in the context of
mortgage foreclosures. See HSBC Mortg. Servs., Inc. v. Murphy, 2011 ME 59, ¶ 9,
19 A.3d 815; JPMorgan Chase Bank, 2011 ME 5, ¶ 15, 10 A.3d 718.

[¶10] “In residential mortgage foreclosure actions, certain minimum facts
must be included in a mortgage holder’s statement of material facts on summary
judgment.” HSBC Mortg. Servs., 2011 ME 59, ¶ 9, 19 A.3d 815; see also M.R.
Civ. P. 56(j). To support a summary judgment motion in a residential mortgage
foreclosure action, the mortgage holder must include, at a minimum, the following
facts in its statement of material facts, each supported by evidence of a quality that
could be admissible at trial:

(1) The existence of the mortgage, including the book and page
number of the mortgage, and an adequate description of the
mortgaged premises, including the street address, if any;

(2) Properly presented proof of ownership of the mortgage note and
the mortgage, including all assignments and endorsements of the note
and the mortgage;

(3) A breach of condition in the mortgage;

(4) The amount due on the mortgage note, including any reasonable
attorney fees and court costs;

(5) The order of priority and any amounts that may be due to other
parties in interest, including any public utility easements;

(6) Evidence of properly served notice of default and mortgagor’s
right to cure in compliance with statutory requirements;

(7) After January 1, 2010, proof of completed mediation (or waiver or
default of mediation), when required, pursuant to the statewide
foreclosure mediation program rules; and

(8) If the homeowner has not appeared in the proceeding, a statement,
with a supporting affidavit, of whether or not the defendant is in
military service in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief
Act.

HSBC Mortg. Servs., 2011 ME 59, ¶ 9 n.6, 19 A.3d 815; Chase Home Fin. LLC v.
Higgins, 2009 ME 136, ¶ 11, 985 A.2d 508; see also M.R. Civ. P. 56(j) (providing,
among other things, that a summary judgment may not be entered in a foreclosure
action unless it is determined that “the plaintiff has properly certified proof of
ownership of the mortgage note and produced evidence of the mortgage note, the
mortgage, and all assignments and endorsements of the mortgage note and the
mortgage”).

[¶11] Our analysis focuses on the first, second, fourth, and fifth
requirements listed above. We begin our discussion with the second requirement.
A. Ownership and Endorsement of the Note

[¶12] As noted above, HSBC is required to include the following
properly-supported facts in its statement of material facts: “properly presented
proof of ownership of the mortgage note . . . , including all assignments and
endorsements of the note . . . .” HSBC Mortg. Servs., 2011 ME 59, ¶ 9 n.6, 19
A.3d 815; Chase Home Fin., 2009 ME 136, ¶ 11, 985 A.2d 508.

[¶13] In its statement of material facts, HSBC asserts that it is the “current
holder of the Note,” citing to paragraph seven of its complaint and to paragraph
four of the Lender affidavit. There are multiple deficiencies in this statement of
material fact as it concerns proof of ownership of the note.

[¶14] First, neither of the citations included to support the bare factual
statement that HSBC is the current holder of the note properly supports that factual
statement. The cited paragraph of the Lender’s affidavit refers only to HSBC’s
being the current holder of the mortgage. The cited paragraph of the complaint
asserts that “[HSBC] is the current holder of the Note and Mortgage by virtue of an
assignment dated on or about December 22, 2008.” However, the assignment
expressly referred to in that averment, which assignment was not attached to the
complaint but which is included in the summary judgment record, did not assign
the note to HSBC. The December 22, 2008, assignment, entitled “ASSIGNMENT
OF MORTGAGE,” assigned MERS’s interest in the mortgage, but not the note, to
HSBC.8

[¶15] While an averment in a complaint that a defendant has failed to deny
is generally deemed admitted, see M.R. Civ. P. 8(d), the statement in HSBC’s
complaint that it is the current holder of the note pursuant to the December 22,
2008, assignment is not sufficiently supported in the context of a residential
mortgage foreclosure proceeding. When, as here, the mortgage-holder must
strictly comply with the requirements of 14 M.R.S. §§ 6321-6325 and M.R. Civ. P.
56(j), the paragraph of HSBC’s complaint cited in support of HSBC’s statement of
material facts providing that it is the current holder of the note does not properly
support that fact.

[¶16] An additional deficiency in HSBC’s statement of material facts is that
HSBC failed to include any facts relating to “properly presented proof of . . . all
assignments and endorsements of the note.” Chase Home Fin., 2009 ME 136,
¶ 11, 985 A.2d 508. HSBC was required to provide such proof, as it is undisputed
that the note was originally executed and delivered to Fremont Investment. HSBC
suggests in its brief, but does not specify in its statement of material facts, that the
summary judgment record contains evidence of a valid endorsement of the note to
HSBC including (1) paragraph two of the Lender’s affidavit, which states that
HSBC holds the note pursuant to a special endorsement, and (2) a copy of the
purported endorsement itself, included in the record as a separate page
accompanying, but not discernably affixed to, a photocopy of the note. Because
the statement of material facts contains no fact concerning properly presented
proof as to any endorsement of the note, however, much less a statement supported
by proper record references, we will not independently search the record to find
such evidence, see id. ¶ 12 n.4; Levine, 2001 ME 77, ¶ 9, 770 A.2d 653, and HSBC
would not be entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

[¶17] Our statement that we will not, and trial courts should not,
independently search a record to find evidence to support a party’s claim when that
claim is insufficiently referenced in that party’s statement of material facts is no
mere technicality to make summary judgment practice more difficult. Certainly in
each individual case it can be argued, as HSBC argues here, that review of the
entire record, with the specific facts now identified in the brief on appeal,
demonstrates that there really is no material fact in dispute. Such arguments
illustrate the need to identify material facts with specific citations to the record in
the statement of material facts filed in the trial court. If an essential fact can be
stated, with a proper record reference, in a brief on appeal, that fact could have and
should have been stated, with a proper record reference, in the statement of
material facts filed in the trial court. Before easy identification by brief on appeal,
the information to make an inadequate statement of material facts complete may
have been locatable only by a search of a record of fifty, one hundred, or more
pages. Placing every material fact in the statement of material facts, with a proper
record citation, as the rules require, avoids the necessity for such a time-consuming
search. Trial courts, who may have to consider multiple motions for summary judgment
at a time, could be considerably burdened searching for facts through
hundreds of pages of records, if the rules requiring complete, properly supported
statements of material facts are not enforced on appeal.

[¶18] Because HSBC’s statement of material facts fails to properly present
proof of ownership of the mortgage note, including all assignments and
endorsements of the note, genuine issues of material fact regarding HSBC’s
ownership of the note exist, precluding entry of judgment as a matter of law.

[…]

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NY Post finds in 92% of NY area foreclosures, banks fail to prove ownership to foreclose

NY Post finds in 92% of NY area foreclosures, banks fail to prove ownership to foreclose


NY POST-

The banks still just don’t get it.

In a staggering 92 percent of the claims brought by creditors asserting the right to foreclose against bankrupt families in New York City and the close-in suburbs, banks and mortgage servicers couldn’t prove they had the right to kick the families out on the street, a three-month probe by The Post has shown.

But that didn’t stop the banks from trying.

By robosigning documents and pressing foreclosures without the proper paperwork, banks have attempted to steamroll their way over sometimes-outgunned homeowners, The Post has uncovered.

But homeowners and the courts are starting to fight back.

Read more:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/house_of_cards_hNdx5fNGt6oOl1U9mTW0HN#ixzz1V3P5SA00

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FREEDOM MTG v. PERRY | OH Appeals Court Affirms Trial Ct “Note Endorsement 2006, MERS Assigned Mortgage 2008, Affidavit Fail”

FREEDOM MTG v. PERRY | OH Appeals Court Affirms Trial Ct “Note Endorsement 2006, MERS Assigned Mortgage 2008, Affidavit Fail”


NOTE: The last name Perry & Petty in this case. Not sure which is correct?

Court of Appeals of Ohio

EIGHTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA


FREEDOM MORTGAGE CORPORATION

vs.

JUANITA PERRY, ET AL.

EXCERPT:

{¶ 26} According to the note, Consumers endorsed it to Freedom on October 23, 2006. According to the assignment, MERS was Consumers’ “nominee,” and MERS had assigned the mortgage to Freedom in November 2008. Nothing indicates the latter was recorded. However, a “final judicial report” appears in the record that states the assignment had been recorded on December 19, 2008.1

[…]

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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.

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

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IN RE BALDERRAMA | FL BK Court “Deutsche Bank, Not proven to either the trustee or the Court that it holds a validly endorsed promissory note evidencing its purchase of the debt on the disputed property”

IN RE BALDERRAMA | FL BK Court “Deutsche Bank, Not proven to either the trustee or the Court that it holds a validly endorsed promissory note evidencing its purchase of the debt on the disputed property”


In re: MARIA RENEE BALDERRAMA, Chapter 7, Debtor.
CARLA P. MUSSELMAN, as Chapter 7, Trustee, Plaintiff,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, in trust for Residential Accredit Loans, Inc. Mortgage Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-QH5, Defendant.

Case No. 6:10-bk-07828-KSJ, Adv. Pro. No. 6:10-ap-00245-KSJ.

United States Bankruptcy Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division.

May 4, 2011.

Seldon J. Childers, ChildersLaw LLC, Gainesville, FL, Plaintiff Attorney.

Carla P. Musselman, Maitland, FL, Plaintiff.

Daniel A. Miller, Broad and Cassel, West Palm Beach, FL, Defendant Attorney.

MEMORANDUM OPINION PARTIALLY GRANTING AND PARTIALLY DENYING TRUSTEE’S AMENDED AND RENEWED MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DEUTSCHE BANK

KAREN S. JENNEMANN, Bankruptcy Judge

In this adversary proceeding the Chapter 7 trustee, Carla Musselman, seeks to quiet title and to value at zero dollars defendant Deutsche Bank’s alleged secured interest in debtor Maria Balderrama’s non-homestead real property. As part of discovery, the trustee served interrogatories and document production requests seeking information about the bank’s purchase of the promissory note and mortgage on the disputed property.[1] Deutsche Bank resists producing any discovery related to the purchase history of the note and the chain of title of the mortgage arguing that, under Florida law, it has established its secured interest in the property merely by alleging it holds the original promissory note endorsed specially in its favor.[2] The trustee disputes Deutsche Bank’s characterization of Florida law and notes that neither the Court nor the trustee has seen the original endorsed note. She now requests the Court compel the bank to produce the requested information.[3]

[…]

Deutsche Bank, however, still has not proven to either the trustee or the Court that it holds a validly endorsed promissory note evidencing its purchase of the debt on the disputed property. Therefore, Deutsche Bank cannot rely on the General Rule to avoid responding to the trustee’s discovery requests pertaining to the authenticity of the note. The trustee has raised in her complaint doubts concerning the authenticity and effectiveness of the endorsements on the allonge to the note. The copies of the note and mortgage attached as an exhibit to its response therefore are insufficient to establish Deutsche Bank’s status as holder of the note.

continue below…

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MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI

MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI


Decided on April 11, 2011

Supreme Court, Kings County

The Bank of New York, as Trustee for the Benefit of the Certificateholders, CWABS, Inc., Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2007-2, Plaintiff,

against

Sameeh Alderazi, Bank of America, NA, New York City Environmental Control Board, new York City Parking Violations Bureau, New York City Transit Adjudication Bureau, and “John Doe No.1″ through “John Doe #10″, Defendants.

21739/2008

Plaintiff Attorney
Hiscock & Barclay
1100 M & T Center
3 Fountain Plaza
Buffalo, New York 14203-1486
Charles C. Martorana, Esq.

Plaintiff Former Attorney –
Frenkel, Lambert, Weiss, Weisman & Gordon, LLP
20 West Main Street
Bayshore, New York 11706 (631) 969-3100
Todd Falasco, Esq.

Wayne P. Saitta, J.

The Plaintiff renews its motion for an appointment of a referee in the underlying foreclosure action.

Upon reading the Notice of Motion and Affirmation of Charles C. Martorana Esq., of counsel to Hiscock and Barclay, LLP attorneys for Plaintiff, dated September 28 2010, and the exhibits annexed thereto; the Affirmation of Charles C. Martorana Esq., dated January 7, 2011; the Affirmation of Todd Falasco Esq., of counsel to Frenkel, Lambert, Weiss, Weisman, & Gordon, LLP,. Former attorneys for Plaintiff and the exhibits annexed thereto; the Affidavit of Jonathan Hyman sworn to February 10, 2011, and the exhibits annexed thereto; and upon all the proceedings heretofore had herein, and after hearing oral argument by Plaintiff’s counsel on March 3, 2011, and after due deliberation thereon, the motion is denied for the reasons set forth below.

The underlying action is a residential foreclosure action on a property located at 639 East 91st St. In Brooklyn. Plaintiff’s original application for the appointment of a referee to compute was denied by order of this court dated April 19, 2010. The Court denied the application because the Plaintiff, could not demonstrate that the original mortgagee, Countrywide Home Loans Inc., (doing business as America’s Wholesale Lender), had authorized the assignment of the mortgage to the Plaintiff.

The assignment to Plaintiff was executed by Mortgage Electronic Reporting System (MERS) as nominee for America’s Wholesale Lender.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a nominee as “[a] person designated to act in place of another, usually in a very limited way”.

In its Memoranda to its original motion , Plaintiff quoted the Court in Schuh Trading Co., v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 95 F.2d 404, 411 (7th Cir. 1938), which defined a nominee as follows:

The word nominee ordinarily indicates one designated to act for another as his representative in a rather limited sense. It is used sometimes to signify an agent or trustee. It has no connotation, however, other than that of acting for another, or as the grantee of another.. Id. ( Emphasis added).

An assignment by an agent without authority from the principal is a nullity. Plaintiff failed to provide any evidence that Countrywide had authorized MERS to assign its mortgage to Plaintiff. The Court denied the application with leave to renew upon a showing that Countrywide had authorized MERS to assign its mortgage to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff has again moved for an order of reference, and submitted in addition to the MERS assignment, what it purports to be an endorsed note and a corporate resolution of MERS showing that MERS had appointed all officers of Countrywide Financial Corporation as assistant secretaries and vice presidents of MERS.

This present motion must fail for the same reason as the prior motion as Plaintiff has failed to provide documentation from the lender that it authorized the assignment.

[*2]The Endorsed Note Plaintiff submits an affidavit from Sharon Mason, a vice president of BAC Home Loan Servicing LP (BAC), a servicer of the loan, in which she asserts, based upon Plaintiff’s, books and records, that at the time the action was commenced the original note bearing the endorsement of Countrywide was in Plaintiff’s possession.

Plaintiff also submits an affidavit from Jonathan Hyman, an officer of BAC, based on BAC’s records. Hyman asserts in his affidavit that the mortgage was assigned to Bank of New York and that “the original note was delivered and endorsed to the plaintiff with endorsement in the name of the plaintiff.” Hyman appends to his affidavit a copy of what purports to be an endorsed note.

The note contains a stamped endorsement which states, “Pay to the Order of * * without recourse Countrywide Home Loans Inc., A New York Corporation Doing Business As America’s Wholesale Lender By: Michele Sjolander Executive Vice President”. Under the stamp is handwritten ” * * The Bank of New York, as Trustee for the Benefit of the Certificate, CWABS, Inc. Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2007-2″. The endorsement is undated.

However, the note that was appended to the summons and complaint filed in court on July 25, 2008 does not bear any endorsement. Plaintiff has offered no explanation, from anyone with knowledge, as to why, had the note had been endorsed and in its possession when it commenced the suit, that the note filed when the suit was commenced did not bear an endorsement.

Significantly, counsel for Plaintiff stated in oral argument before the Court on March 3 2011 that “There is nobody left to speak at to Countrywide”.

The affidavits of Hyman and Mason, which were based on the books and records of the plaintiff and BAC, are insufficient to establish ownership of the note in light of the fact that the note originally submitted bore no endorsement, and the fact that purported endorsement is undated. The affidavits are based on books and records, not on personal knowledge. Yet the affiants did not produce any of the records on which they based their assertion that Plaintiff possessed an endorsed note at the time the action was commenced.

The Mortgage Assignment

In his affidavit Hyman also asserts that, Keri Selman, the person who signed the assignment, served as an officer of both Countrywide and MERS. He appended a copy of a MERS corporate resolution which appointed all officers of Countrywide Financial Corporation as assistant secretaries and vice presidents of MERS.

Even putting aside the fact that there is no evidence that Countrywide Financial Corporation and Countrywide Home Loans Inc., are the same entity, the fact that MERS authorized Countrywide officers to act on its behalf, is not evidence of the converse. It is no evidence that Countrywide authorized MERS officers to act as officers of Countrywide. Further, the fact that Selman may have been an officer of both Countrywide and MERS does not alter the fact that she executed the assignment on behalf of MERS.

The face of the assignment indicates that MERS is assigning the mortgage as nominee of America’s Wholesale Lender (a trade name of Countrywide), and more [*3]importantly that Selman executed the assignment as assistant vice president of MERS.

Hyman’s assertion that the assignment incorrectly lists Selman’s title as assistant vice president of MERS, instead of assistant secretary and vice president of MERS, is of no relevance other than to demonstrate the casual and cavalier manner in which these transactions have been conducted.

While Hyman further asserts in his affidavit that Selman “under her authority as an Assistant Secretary and Vice president of MERS, expedited the Assignment of Mortgage process on behalf of MERS, with the approval and for the benefit of Countrywide,” he provides no evidence that Countrywide in fact approved or authorized the assignment.

Similarly, William C. Hultman, Secretary and Treasurer of MERS, states in a conclusory fashion in paragraph 8 of his affidavit that Countrywide “instructed MERS to assign the Mortgage to Bank of New York” without offering the basis for that assertion, other than it role as nominee.

Plaintiff claims, that by the terms of the mortgage MERS as nominee, was granted the right “(A) to exercise any or all of those rights, including, but not limited to the right to foreclose and sell the Property, and (B) to take any action required of the Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.” However, this language is found on page two of the mortgage under the section “BORROWER’S TRANSFER TO LENDER OF RIGHTS IN THE PROPERTY” and therefore is facially an acknowledgment by the borrower. The fact that the borrower acknowledged and consented to MERS acting as nominee of the lender has no bearing on what specific powers and authority the lender granted MERS as nominee. The problem is not whether the borrower can object to the assignees’ standing, but whether the original lender, who is not before the Court, actually transferred its rights to the Plaintiff.

Furthermore, while the mortgage grants some rights to MERS it does not grant MERS the specific right to assign the mortgage. The only specific rights enumerated in the mortgage are the right to foreclose and sell the Property. The general language “to take any action required of the Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument” is not sufficient to give the nominee authority to alienate or assign a mortgage without getting the mortgagee’s explicit authority for the particular assignment.

The MERS Agreement

Plaintiff also argues that the agreement between MERs and its members grants MERS the authority to assign the mortgages of its members. However a reading of the MERS agreement reveals only that MERS can execute assignments on behalf of its members when directed to do so by the member or its servicer.

Plaintiff cites Rules of MERS membership, Rule 2 section 5. However what that rule requires is that a member to warrant to MERS that the mortgage either names MERS as mortgagee or that they prepare an assignment of mortgage naming MERs as mortgagee.

In this case MERS was named in paragraph (c) of the mortgage as Mortgagee of record for the purpose of recording the mortgage. Being the mortgagee of record for the [*4]purpose of recording the mortgage does not confer the right to assign the mortgage absent an instruction to do so from the lender. Paragraph 2 of the MERS terms and conditions provide that “MERS shall serve as mortgagee of record with respect to all such mortgage loans solely as a nominee in an administrative capacity”, and that “MERS agrees not to assert any rights (other than rights specified in the governing documents) with respect to such mortgage loans or mortgaged properties”. Assigning or alienating a mortgage without an explicit instruction from a lender to do so, is not acting in an administrative capacity.

Further, paragraph 6 of the terms and conditions provides that, “the MERS system is not a vehicle for creating or transferring beneficial interests in mortgage loans.” (emphasis added)

Lastly, Section 6 of the MERS agreement provides that MERS shall comply with the instructions from the holder of the notes and that in the absence of instructions from the holder may rely on instructions from the servicer with respect to transfers of beneficial ownership.

What the MERS agreements and terms and conditions provide, is that MERS may execute an assignment when instructed to do so by the lender or its servicer. This is nothing

more than saying that if granted authority by the lender, or its agent, to assign a mortgage, MERs can assign the mortgage on behalf of the lender.

To read the MERS agreement as granting MERS authority to assign any of the mortgages of its thousands of members, on its own volition, without the instruction or consent of the member would lead to a nonsensical result.

Plaintiff has failed to meet the very basic requirement that proof of an agent’s authority must be shown from the mouth of the principal not from the agent. Lexow & Jenkins, P.C. v. Hertz Commercial Leasing Corp., 122 AD2d 25, 504 N.Y.S.2d 192 (2nd Dept 1986), Siegel v. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Long Island, Inc., 108 AD2d 218, 488 N.Y.S.2d 744 (2nd Dept 1985).

As Plaintiff has not shown that it owned the note and mortgage, it has no standing to maintain this foreclosure action. Therefore the renewed motion for an order of reference must be denied and the action dismissed.

The Court has raised the standing issue sua sponte because, in this case, it goes to the integrity of the entire proceeding. For the court to allow a purported assignee to foreclose, in the absence of some proof that the original lender authorized the assignment of the mortgage to them, would cast doubt upon the validity of the title of any subsequent purchasers, should the original lender or successor challenge the assignment at a future date.

WHEREFORE it is hereby Ordered that Plaintiff’s motion for an Order of Reference is denied and the action is dismissed. This constitutes the decision and order of the Court.

[*5]

J.S.C.

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FL 5th DCA Appeal Reverses “Trial Court Acted Prematurely, Note Endorsed to Non-Plaintiff Wells Fargo” KHAN v. BANK OF AMERICA

FL 5th DCA Appeal Reverses “Trial Court Acted Prematurely, Note Endorsed to Non-Plaintiff Wells Fargo” KHAN v. BANK OF AMERICA


SHAKIL KHAN AND DINA KHAN,
Appellant,

v. Case No. 5D10-3288

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.,
Appellee.

Opinion filed April 8, 2011

Non-Final Appeal from the Circuit Court
for Orange County,
Emerson R. Thompson, Jr., Senior Judge.

Craig R. Lynd, Matthew D. Valdes and
Jonathon C. Blevins, of Kaufman, Englett
& Lynd, PLLC, Orlando, for Appellant.

No Appearance for Appellee.

ORFINGER, J.

Shakil and Dina Khan appeal a final summary judgment of foreclosure entered in favor of Bank of America, N.A. We reverse.

In its amended complaint to foreclose a mortgage on the Khans’ home, Bank of America alleged that it was the owner and holder of the note and mortgage. However, the copy of the note attached to the amended complaint bears an endorsement from Bank of America to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. as trustee for the holders of Banc of America Mortgage Securities, Inc. Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-B.

The Khans correctly raised the issue of Bank of America’s standing to prosecute the foreclosure based on the assignment of the note to Wells Fargo Bank.

The proper party with standing to foreclose a note and mortgage is the holder of the note and mortgage or the holder’s representative. See Taylor v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust. Co., 44 So. 3d 618, 622 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010); BAC Funding Consortium Inc. ISAOA/ATIMA v. Jean-Jacques, 28 So. 3d 936, 938 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010). While Bank of America alleged in its unverified complaint that it was the holder of the note and mortgage, the copy of the note attached to the amended complaint contradicts that allegation. When exhibits are attached to a complaint, the contents of the exhibits control over the allegations of the complaint. See Hunt Ridge at Tall Pines, Inc. v. Hall, 766 So. 2d 399, 401 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Because the exhibit to Bank of America’s amended complaint conflicts with its allegations concerning standing, Bank of America did not establish that it had standing to foreclose the mortgage as a matter of law. As a result, the trial court acted prematurely in entering the final summary judgment of foreclosure in favor of Bank of America. We, therefore, reverse the final summary judgment of foreclosure and remand for further proceedings.

REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.

PALMER and EVANDER, JJ., concur.

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MUST READ | VERMONT BK COURT DENIES SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION OF U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION In Re: PARKER

MUST READ | VERMONT BK COURT DENIES SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION OF U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION In Re: PARKER


In re: Barry Alton Parker, Chapter 13, Debtor.

Barry Alton Parker, Plaintiff,

v.

U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee on behalf of the Holder of the Adjustable Rate Mortgage Trust 2007-1, et al. Defendants.

Case No. 09-10186, Adversary Proceeding No. 09-1022.

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Vermont.

March 18, 2011.

Rebecca A. Rice, Esq., Cohen & Rice Rutland, VT For Barry Alton Parker.
Douglas J. Wolinsky, Esq., Kevin Michael Henry, Esq., Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, Burlington, VT For U.S. Bank National Association

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION OF U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

COLLEEN A. BROWN, Bankruptcy Judge

Barry Alton Parker (the “Debtor”) filed a complaint (doc. # 1) to initiate this adversary proceeding on May 18, 2009. On August 27, 2009, U.S. Bank National Association (the “Bank”) filed its answer (doc. # 3). The Bank filed the instant motion for summary judgment on December 15, 2010 (doc. ## 49, 50, 51), seeking dismissal of the Debtor’s claim that the Bank lacks standing to enforce the mortgage note against the Debtor. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the Bank’s motion.

JURISDICTION
This Court has jurisdiction over this adversary proceeding and the Bank’s motion for summary judgment under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1334 and 157(b)(2)(B).

UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS
Based upon the record in this proceeding, the Court finds the following facts to be material and undisputed:

1. On November 10, 2006, the Debtor executed and delivered to Credit Suisse Financial Corporation (“Credit Suisse”) two promissory notes; the note at issue was made in the original amount of $231,200 (the “Note”) (doc. # 40, ¶ 1; doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 1).
2. Also on November 10, 2006, the Debtor executed a mortgage deed in favor of Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. (“MERS”) as nominee for Credit Suisse, as security for the Note (doc. # 40, ¶ 2; doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 2).
3. The Note was subsequently endorsed in blank by Patrick Brown, Post Closing-Manager for Lydian Data Services, as Attorney-in-Fact for Credit Suisse (doc. # 40, ¶ 7; doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 3).
4. After the Note was endorsed, it was transferred to the Bank, and the Bank is in possession of the original Note (doc. # 40, ¶ 8; doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 6-7).
5. The original Note was received by counsel for the Bank from the Bank with the allonge attached by a staple, and the Note was provided to counsel for the Debtor for review in the same condition (doc. # 51, ¶ 7; doc. # 56).
6. On December 11, 2008, MERS assigned the mortgage to the Bank (doc. # 40, ¶ 9; doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 8; doc. # 51, ¶ 6; doc. # 56).
7. The assignment of mortgage was executed by Bill Koch, acting in the capacity of an officer of MERS, pursuant to a Corporate Resolution dated July 11, 2002 (doc. # 51, ¶ 6; doc. # 56).
8. On December 19, 2008, the Bank filed a foreclosure complaint against the Debtor in Vermont state court (doc. # 40, ¶ 10).
9. On February 25, 2009, the Debtor filed his bankruptcy petition (doc. # 40, ¶ 11).
10. At the time the Debtor filed his petition, no judgment had been entered in the state court action (doc. # 40, ¶ 12).
11. The Bank is trustee to the Adjustable Rate Mortgage Trust 2007-1, Adjustable Rate Mortgage-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-1 (the “Trust”) (doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 4).
12. The Trust is governed by a Pooling and Servicing Agreement dated February 1, 2007 (doc. # 40, ¶
13; doc. # 45, Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 5).
13. On April 13, 2009, the Bank filed a proof of claim in the Debtor’s bankruptcy case, based upon the Note (doc. # 40, ¶ 14).
14. The Note attached to the proof of claim was endorsed by an allonge in blank, even though there was room on the original Note to endorse it, and no original of the Note has been produced (doc. # 40, ¶ 15).
15. Although the allonge was signed by Patrick Brown, post-closing manager for Lydian Data Services, as Attorney-in-Fact for Credit Suisse, no power of attorney is attached to the proof of claim (doc. # 40, ¶ 16).
16. The Bank did not file an assignment of mortgage with its proof of claim (doc. # 40, ¶ 17).
17. On May 28, 2009, the Debtor filed his complaint in this adversary proceeding (doc. # 40, ¶ 18).
18. On December 14, 2010, Credit Suisse ratified the endorsement of Patrick Brown, Post Closing-Manager for Lydian Data Services, as Attorney-in-Fact for Credit Suisse; the Debtor contests the effectiveness of the ratification (doc. # 51, ¶ 8; doc. # 56).

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper if the record shows no genuine issue as to any material fact such that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7056; see also Bronx Household of Faith v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of New York, 492 F.3d 89, 96 (2d Cir. 2007). The moving party bears the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Vermont Teddy Bear Co. v. 1-800 Beargram Co., 373 F.3d 241, 244 (2d Cir. 2004). A genuine issue exists only when “the evidence is such that a reasonable [trier of fact] could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The substantive law identifies those facts that are material; only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary are not material. Id. In making its determination, the court’s sole function is to determine whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial. Id. at 249; see also Palmieri v. Lynch, 392 F.3d 73, 82 (2d Cir. 2004). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, a court must resolve all ambiguities, and draw all inferences, against the moving party. See Beth Israel Med. Ctr. v. Horizon Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc., 448 F.3d 573, 579 (2d Cir 2006). If the nonmoving party does not come forward with specific facts to establish an essential element of that party’s claim on which it has the burden of proof at trial, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-25 (“One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses . . . the burden on the moving party may be discharged by `showing’ — that is, pointing out to the district court — that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case”); see also Tufariello v. Long Island R. Co., 458 F.3d 80, 85 (2d Cir. 2006).

DISCUSSION

In his complaint, the Debtor objects to the Bank’s proof of claim “on the basis of standing” (doc. # 1, ¶ 27). The Bank’s position is that this argument fails as a matter of law because the Bank is the holder of the Note and the assignee of the mortgage (doc. # 50, p. 4).
Bankruptcy law does not specify the requirements for the enforcement of promissory notes. As a result, the legal obligations of parties disputing the validity of a promissory note are determined by applicable non-bankruptcy law, which is usually state law. See Butner v. United States 440 U.S. 48, 54-55 (1979).
Vermont has adopted a version of the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) concerning negotiable instruments that applies to promissory notes. The relevant provision of Article 3, 9A V.S.A. § 3-101, et seq., describes a “[p]erson entitled to enforce” an instrument, in relevant part, as “(i) the holder of the instrument.” 9A V.S.A. § 3-301. The general definitions section of Vermont’s UCC defines a “holder,” in relevant part, as “(A) the person in possession of a negotiable instrument that is payable either to bearer or to an identified person that is the person in possession.” 9A V.S.A. § 1-201(21)(A). The section pertaining to unauthorized signatures provides, in relevant part, that:
(a) Unless otherwise provided in this article or article 4, an unauthorized signature is ineffective except as the signature of the unauthorized signer in favor of a person who in good faith pays the instrument or takes it for value. An unauthorized signature may be ratified for all purposes of this article.
9A V.SA. § 3-403(a).
It is undisputed that the Bank is in possession of the original Note (see Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 4, supra). At issue is whether the endorsement is valid, whether the Note is payable to the Bank as bearer, and thus whether the Bank is a holder under the Vermont UCC entitled to enforce the Note. The Debtor originally executed the Note in favor of Credit Suisse (see Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 1, supra); the Note was subsequently endorsed by an allonge in blank by Patrick Brown, Post Closing-Manager for Lydian Data Services as Attorney-in-Fact for Credit Suisse (see Undisputed Material Facts ¶¶ 3, 14, supra). The Bank did not attach to its proof of claim a copy of the power of attorney authorizing Mr. Brown to endorse the Note (see Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 15, supra), and that power of attorney is not part of the record in this adversary proceeding. On December 14, 2010, nearly twenty-two months after the Debtor filed his bankruptcy petition, Credit Suisse ratified the endorsement of Patrick Brown (see Undisputed Material Facts ¶¶ 9, 18, supra
The Debtor argues that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Mr. Brown was authorized to sign on behalf of Credit Suisse at the time the allonge was endorsed; the Debtor also contests the effectiveness of the ratification to cure the defective endorsement. There is no evidence in the record that Mr. Brown was authorized to sign on behalf of Credit Suisse at the time the allonge was endorsed. However, on December 14, 2010, Credit Suisse expressly ratified Mr. Brown’s endorsement. See Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 18, supra; see also doc. # 51-3 (“Credit Suisse . . . ratifies and approves the indorsement of the Note by Patrick Brown, post Closing Manager for Lydian Data Services as the attorney-in-fact for Credit Suisse”). The leading commercial law treatises shed light on the issue of the effectiveness of ratification. An unauthorized signature may be ratified expressly, thus binding the ratifying principal. See 2 White & Summers, Uniform Commercial Code § 16-4 (5th ed. 2010). A signature by an agent in excess of his or her authority may be ratified. See 4 Hawkland UCC Series § 34-04:2 (2010). Once a signature is ratified, it becomes effective as if authorized at the time made. See id; see also 9A V.S.A. § 3-403, Official Comment 3 (“[r]atification is a retroactive adoption of the unauthorized signature . . .”) (emphasis added). Thus, the Court finds that upon ratification by Credit Suisse, the endorsement by Mr. Brown became effective as if it had been authorized at the time made.
This raises the question of when the allonge was endorsed, as the allonge endorsed by Mr. Brown is not dated. The Bank argues that the timing of the endorsement is immaterial to the question of whether the Bank is the holder of the Note because regardless of when the Note was endorsed, it is now endorsed and in the Bank’s possession. See In re Wilson, 442 B.R. 10, 15, 2010 Bankr. LEXIS 4252, * 9-11 (Bankr. D. Mass. Nov. 29, 2010). However, under relevant Vermont jurisprudence pertaining to foreclosure actions, “[i]n order to enforce a mortgage note, a plaintiff must show that it was the holder of the note at the time the Complaint was filed.U.S. Bank Nat’l Assoc. as Trustee for RASC 2005 AHL1 v. Kimball, No. 6-1-09 Gicv (Vt. Super. Ct. Oct. 27, 2009) (Joseph, J.) (on appeal) (citing In re Gilpin, No. 09-10696 (Bankr. D. Vt. Oct. 7, 2009)) (emphasis added); see also In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F.Supp.2d 650, 653 (S.D. Ohio 2007) (“[t]o show standing . . . the plaintiff must show that it is the holder of the note and the mortgage at the time the complaint was filed”); In re Hwang, 396 B.R. 757 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008), reversed on other grounds, 438 B.R. 661 (C.D. Cal. 2010); U.S. Bank Nat’l Assoc. v. White, 880 N.Y.S.2d 227 (Table), 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 50100(U) (N.Y. Super. Ct. Jan. 23, 2009). Another recent Vermont case addressed the “propositions that a party must have standing at the outset of litigation, and that a defect in standing at that time cannot be cured,” Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Parisella, No. S0758-09, 2010 Vt. Super. LEXIS 59, *5 (Vt. Super. Ct. Oct. 25, 2010) (Toor, J.). There, the state court took great pains to thoroughly articulate the requirements of both constitutional and prudential standing, and concluded that “a plaintiff seeking foreclosure lacks standing unless it can show it was entitled to enforce the mortgage at the time it filed its complaint for foreclosure.” Id. at *6-10. Notably, the Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure governing foreclosure proceedings likewise imposes this requirement:
The plaintiff shall attach to the complaint copies of the original note and mortgage deed and proof of ownership thereof, including copies of all original endorsements and assignments of the note and mortgage deed. The plaintiff shall plead in its complaint that the originals are in the possession and control of the plaintiff or that the plaintiff is otherwise entitled to enforce the mortgage note pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code.
Vt. R. Civ. P. 80.1(b)(1).
Here, the document the creditor has filed to enforce its rights is a proof of claim, rather than a complaint or motion, and the seminal date for analysis and allowance of a proof of claim, including the question of standing, is the date the bankruptcy case was commenced. See Official Form 10. Therefore, the critical inquiry is whether the Bank was the holder of the Note as of the date of Debtor’s bankruptcy filing. Since the date the Note was endorsed is a material fact essential to the determination of whether the Bank is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and since the record of undisputed material facts does not include any information about the date of the endorsement, the Court cannot adjudicate this issue on summary judgment.1

CONCLUSION

For the reasons set forth above, the Bank’s motion for summary judgment is denied. Unless the parties present undisputed evidence showing the date the allonge was executed, the Court will set a trial date to determine whether the Bank had standing to file the proof of claim.

This memorandum of decision constitutes the Court’s findings of facts and conclusions of law.

March 18, 2011…………………………… Colleen A. Brown
Burlington, Vermont……………………. United States Bankruptcy Judge

1 As the Court has denied the Bank’s second motion for summary judgment on the basis that there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the date of the endorsement, there is no need for the Court to consider the Debtor’s additional arguments in opposition to the motion.
[ipaper docId=51232343 access_key=key-1qszqixnym27xql2rbs5 height=600 width=600 /]
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DailyFinance | Why Paperwork Matters: Consider This Mortgage Mess

DailyFinance | Why Paperwork Matters: Consider This Mortgage Mess


D Posted 12:00 PM 01/20/11

Judge Shelley C. Chapman, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, has ordered HSBC and Litton Loan Servicing (a Goldman Sachs subsidiary) to send officers with some juice — and not low-level types — to her Manhattan courtroom on Feb. 10 to explain themselves. More specifically, to explain their failure to provide adequate documentation about a mortgage they claim to own and service. Judge Chapman also ordered the Texas attorney who signed the documents to show up.

At issue is the fact that HSBC (HBC) hasn’t come close to proving it owns the loan, and the documents it has submitted look funny. It also doesn’t appear to have been acting in good faith when it comes to trying to modify the loan (also known as “loss mitigation”). So, the judge wants to talk to people who actually know things and can make decisions.

How Did HSBC Get the Note?

Here’s the story:

[ipaper docId=47202520 access_key=key-vza4t37w3bicrfhw5ga height=600 width=600 /]

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

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


Via: Livinglies

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

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

IN RE WEISBAND

In re: BARRY WEISBAND, Chapter 13, Debtor.

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

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Arizona.

March 29, 2010.

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

MEMORANDUM DECISION

EILEEN W. HOLLOWELL, Bankruptcy Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

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

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. Bankruptcy Events

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

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

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

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

III. ISSUE

Does GMAC have standing to bring the Motion?

IV. JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT

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

V. DISCUSSION

A. Introduction

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

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

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

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

B. GMAC’s Standing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. Debtor’s Other Arguments

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. The Movant Has Not Violated Rule 9011

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

VI. CONCLUSION

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

Accordingly, its motion is DENIED without prejudice.

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


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