Via MATT WEIDNER
The Court retained this case so that it could give needed guidance to trial courts and other litigants by its answer to a certified question arising from a mortgage foreclosure action. As the Court wrote: The question certified . . . transcends the individual parties to this action because it has the potential to impact the mortgage foreclosure crisis throughout this state and is one on which Florida’s trial courts and litigants need guidance. The legal issue also has implications beyond mortgage foreclosure actions.
Pino v. Bank of New York, 36 Fla. L. Weekly S711 (Fla. Dec. 8, 2011). Florida Land Title Association (“FLTA”) and American Land Title Association (“ALTA”) file this brief to address the need for this Court to give guidance to trial courts and litigants on the importance of protecting the rights of third parties that have justifiably relied on the finality of a prior court action when buying, extending financing on, or insuring title to real property.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
The Court can expressly limit its decision in this case to the setting aside of a voluntary dismissal in a case where no third party interest in real estate is implicated. Should it choose to do so, FLTA and ALTA have no issues to address. However, if the Court decides to write more broadly, we respectfully ask the Court to emphasize the need to protect the rights of affected third parties when collateral attacks are brought against otherwise final court judgments, orders, decrees or proceedings. The residential mortgage foreclosure crisis has caused a host of problems for homeowners, lenders, and Florida’s court system. The Court addressed many of these problems by forming the Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosures in 2009 and by adopting its recommended amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure in 2010. However, unlike some other states, the Court has not adequately addressed the protection of third party interests when otherwise final court proceedings are collaterally attacked, especially the interest of those who have purchased foreclosed real estate.
Respectfully, if the Court is to give guidance to trial courts and litigants regarding collateral attacks against foreclosure actions (whether relief is sought under rule 1.540(b) or the use of inherent judicial powers) beyond the narrow facts of this case, it should give guidance on protecting the interests of third parties that purchase, finance and insure title to foreclosed properties. Recognition and protection of these neglected interests is vital to the integrity of our judicial system and to the ultimate resolution of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
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