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Certification battle in Ohio MERS class action heats up

Certification battle in Ohio MERS class action heats up


Lexology-

On April 23, 2012, the plaintiff in State of Ohio ex rel. David P. Joyce, Prosecuting Attorney of Geauga County Ohio v. MERSCORP, Inc., et al., N.D. Ohio Case No. 1:11-cv-02474, filed its motion seeking an order certifying the action as a class action, appointing Geauga County as class representative, and appointing plaintiff’s counsel, the New York law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP, as class counsel. The plaintiff argues that the case, which the plaintiff is attempting to bring on behalf of all 88 Ohio counties for relief relating to the allegedly unlawful failure of MERS and its member institutions to record millions of mortgages and mortgage assignments throughout Ohio, meets all requirements of Rule 23(a) and that certification is proper under any one of the 3 subsections of Rule 23(b). The plaintiff hopes to persuade the court that the MERS/member institution policy concerning recordation of mortgages and assignments is a “common scheme or course of conduct” that has given rise to claims “ideally suited for class certification.”

[LEXOLOGY]

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HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Sene | NYSC “without further hearings, that a FRAUD has been committed UPON this COURT” – “Two Versions of Assignment of Note”

HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Sene | NYSC “without further hearings, that a FRAUD has been committed UPON this COURT” – “Two Versions of Assignment of Note”


Decided on February 28, 2012

Supreme Court, Kings County

 

HSBC Bank USA, N.A. as Trustee of behalf of ACE Securities Corp. Home Equity Loan Trust And for the Registered Holders of Ace Securities Corp. Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2007-HE4, Asset Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Plaintiff,

against

Marie Sene, et al, Defendants.

18600/09

Plaintiff was represented by Alissa L. Wilson, Esq., Shapiro, DiCaro & Barak, LLC, 250 Mile Crossing Blvd., Rochester, NY 14624. Defendant was represented by Yolande I. Nicholson, PC, 26 Court St., Brooklyn, NY 11242.

Herbert Kramer, J.

The following papers have been read on this motion:

Notice of Motion/Order to Show Cause/Papers Numbered

Petition/Cross Motion and

Affidavits (Affirmations) Annexed _____________________________

Opposing Affidavits (Affirmations) _______ ______________________

Reply Affidavits (Affirmations)______________________________

_______________(Affirmation)______________________________

Other Papers______________________________

Good faith is absent when two versions of the assignment of the note are presented to the Court. Parties are required to come into the court with clean hands despite having instituted the action prior to the effective date of CPLR §3408.[FN1] [*2]

This matter was referred to this Court for a bad faith hearing under the appropriate statutory scheme. See CPLR §3408.

The instant matter illustrated the wild west mentality that was so prevalent in the early part of this past decade, which allowed for practically anyone breathing to obtain a mortgage by signing their name.[FN2] It appears that the process of securitization of mortgages led to major improprieties, this case being a prime example.

However, all of that pales in significance to what follows. During the bad faith hearing, two separate notes with attendant assignments were put into evidence by the plaintiff.

The first was in Exhibit “C.” of plaintiff’s “1.” which is the summons and complaint filed on July 23, 2009.The note itself was endorsed by Marie Sene, only. In addition, there is an allonge, dated July 15, 2009, with the “effective date” of April 30, 2007, signed by Kevin M. Jackson.[FN3]

The allonge is assigned to “HSBC Bank USA, N.A. as Trustee on behalf of Ace Securities Corp. Home Equity Loan Trust and for the Registered Holders of Ace Securities Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2007-HE4, asset backed Pass-Through Certificates, without recourse, representation or warranty express or implied…”

The second note was introduced as Exhibit “E.” of plaintiff’s “1.” labeled as the note and assignment. That note included an endorsement from Marjorie Jorgensen, the Collateral Control Manager or ResMae Mortgage Corporation in addition to Ms. Sene’s signature. There was also a purported allonge which was not permitted into evidence. However, the existence of an allonge does not explain the apparent disparity between the two assignments. Both cannot be accurate.[FN4]

This Court emphatically now joins the judicial chorus who have been wary of the paperwork supplied by plaintiffs and their representatives. There is ample reason for Chief Judge’s requirement for an attorney affirmation in residential foreclosure cases. As stated by [*3]Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman,”we cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially when that process involves basic human needs-such as a family home-during this period of economic crisis.”[FN5]

Furthermore, the form affidavit which is now required by Administrative Order 548/10 states that “numerous and widespread insufficiencies in foreclosure filings in various courts around the nation were reported by major mortgage lenders and other authorities…”. See also, HSBC Bank v. Taher, 932 N.Y.S2d 760 [2011].[FN6]

It is clear in this case, without further hearings, that a fraud has been committed upon this Court. Thus, the only remedy that can be utilized by this Court is to stay these proceedings and any mortgage foreclosure until this matter is cleared up to the satisfaction of this Court.

Further, in connection with this matter, the litigants were directed to submit memorandums of law on issues that arose during the hearing. Plaintiff submitted an affirmation with exhibits. Therein plaintiff attempts to establish Ocwen’s authority to sign as “attorney in fact” for ResMae corporation.

Allegedly, Ocwen’s authority arises from a limited power of attorney attached as exhibit “H.” to Plaintiff’s “1.” The power of attorney between ResMae Mortgage Corporation (the Servicer) and Ocwen, grants the “express power and authority to, for any mortgage loan transferred by the Servicer to Ocwen under that certain Pooling and Servicing Agreement between the Servicer and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company dated March 1, 2006.”

Oddly, the pooling and servicing agreement submitted as plaintiff’s Exhibit “2.” allegedly evidencing Ocwen’s power of attorney is dated April 1, 2007 and is between Ace Securities Corp., Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, GMAC Mortgage, LLC, Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, HSBC Bank USA, NA. These submissions fail to establish that Ocwen was granted authority as ResMae’s attorney-in-fact. Regardless, the defect in the assignments remain.

This Court is further reporting the matter to the District Attorney, Kings County, the Attorney General of the State of New York and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Copies of the two notes are annexed hereto and made a part hereof.

This constitutes the decision and order of the Court.

J.S.C.

Footnotes

 

Footnote 1:The plaintiff asserts that the language of “good faith” contained in CPLR § 3408 does not apply as this action was commenced prior to the February 13, 2010 amendment. Plaintiff does not argue that the remainder of CPLR 3408 is applicable, which directs settlement conferences in residential foreclosure matters. This Court disagrees with plaintiff that its obligation to act in good faith throughout the litigation is dependent upon a statutory mandate. Honeywell International v. National Avionics Sys. Corp., 343 F.Supp.2d 272 [2004]. “A mortgagee who is invoking the aid of foreclosure action, may be required, as condition precedent to relief, to do equity.” Farmers’ & Mechanics’Sav. Bank of City of Lockport v. Eagle Bldg. Co. et al., 271 N.Y.S. 306 [1934]. This Court has purposefully cited a decision from 1934 due to the discussion found therein as to the devastating economic conditions at that time, and unfortunately finds many parallels to the current economic climate.

Footnote 2: This court was prepared to update its decision regarding reverse redlining and whether the rebuttable presumption followed with the assignment of the note and mortgage. See, M & T Mortgage v. Foy, 858 NYS2d 567 [2008]. In this Court’s view, it is unnecessary to delve into the other legal arguments when faced with the conflicting assignments.

Footnote 3:As manager for Resmae Mortgage Corporation by its attorney-in-fact Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC

Footnote 4:It should also be noted that ResMae filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007.

Footnote 5:In regards to the issuance of Administrative Order 548/10

Footnote 6:The decision outlines the numerous and widespread irregularities specific to HSBC Bank USA, NA, the plaintiff in this case. A, NA, the plaintiff in this case.

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Richard v. Schneiderman & Sherman et al – MI SC instead of granting leave to appeal, VACATED the judgment & remanded the case pursuant to Res. Funding v. Saurman

Richard v. Schneiderman & Sherman et al – MI SC instead of granting leave to appeal, VACATED the judgment & remanded the case pursuant to Res. Funding v. Saurman


Michigan Supreme Court
Lansing, Michigan

January 30, 2012

AARON RICHARD,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

v

SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, P.C.,
Defendant-Appellant,

and

GMAC MORTGAGE, and MORTGAGE
ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS,
INC.,
Defendants-Appellees.
_________________________________________/

By order of December 29, 2011, the proceedings in this case were automatically
stayed by the filing of a petition in bankruptcy. On order of the Court, the bankruptcy
stay having been lifted and the case having been reopened, the application for leave to
appeal the August 25, 2011 judgment of the Court of Appeals is considered and, pursuant
to MCR 7.302(H)(1), in lieu of granting leave to appeal, we VACATE the judgment of
the Court of Appeals and we REMAND this case to the Court of Appeals for
reconsideration in light of Residential Funding Co, LLC, f/k/a Residential Funding Corp
v Saurman, 490 Mich ___ (decided November 16, 2011).

MARILYN KELLY, J., would grant leave to appeal.

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Inside The Foreclosure Machine: Homeowners are still fighting servicer mistakes that threaten their homes.

Inside The Foreclosure Machine: Homeowners are still fighting servicer mistakes that threaten their homes.


‘Kafkaesque’ nightmares plague homeowners facing foreclosure

 

iWATCH NEWS-

Like millions of stories from the great recession, this one begins with homeowners struggling to keep up with a mortgage payment they simply couldn’t afford.

By 2009, the adjustable interest rate for Cassandra and Bernard Gray’s Durham, N.C., home loan had spiked to more than 12 percent. “I didn’t know if we were going to be on the street or in a shelter,” Cassandra recalls. “We couldn’t afford groceries. It got pretty bad.”

They were thrilled to sign up for a modification plan with their loan servicer, GMAC Home Mortgage, Cassandra Gray said…

[iWATCH NEWS]

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David J. Stern Sued by DJSP Enterprises and PI Bill Warner While Stern Buys 150 “Five Guys Burger and Fries Franchise’s,” Foreclosure King takes on Burger King.

David J. Stern Sued by DJSP Enterprises and PI Bill Warner While Stern Buys 150 “Five Guys Burger and Fries Franchise’s,” Foreclosure King takes on Burger King.


Oh my, look what we have here…big mistake because I don’t think this is going very far….his franchises that is.

Bill Warner Private Investigator-

My source in Fort Lauderdale tells me that attorney David J. Stern has rolled over his $Millions in foreclosure home profits and the cash he got up front from the DJSP Entreprises Inc. FKA Chardan 2008 China Acquisition Corp deal into at least 150 Five Guys Burger and Fries Franchise’s, will that be fries with your meal sir?

It appears that David J. Stern is buying ”Five Guys Burger and Fries Franchise’s” in bulk, Stern is trying to acquire 500 Burger Joints NATIONWIDE

[BILL WARNER]

image: Bill Warner

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Patterson v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC | Alabama Appeals Court Vacates Judgment “Not assigned mortgage before it initiated foreclosure”

Patterson v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC | Alabama Appeals Court Vacates Judgment “Not assigned mortgage before it initiated foreclosure”


via: Leagle

 PATTERSON v. GMAC MORTGAGE, LLC

 Reginald A. Patterson and Diana V. Patterson, v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC.

 No. 2100490.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

 Decided January 20, 2012.

 PER CURIAM.1

Reginald A. Patterson and Diana V. Patterson appeal from a judgment in favor of GMAC Mortgage, LLC (“GMAC Mortgage”). We vacate the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the appeal.

On September 4, 2007, GMAC Mortgage brought an ejectment action against the Pattersons. GMAC Mortgage alleged that the Pattersons had mortgaged their house located on Southcrest Trail in Bessemer (“the house”) to Option One Mortgage Corporation (“Option One”), that Option One had transferred the mortgage to GMAC Mortgage, that GMAC Mortgage had foreclosed the mortgage on August 7, 2007, and that GMAC Mortgage was the owner of the house by virtue of the foreclosure sale. GMAC Mortgage further alleged that it had made a written demand for possession of the house in accordance with § 6-5-251(a), Ala. Code 1975,2 and that the Pattersons had not vacated the house. As relief, GMAC Mortgage sought possession of the house, damages for wrongful detention of the house, and a determination that the Pattersons had forfeited their right to redeem the house by failing to vacate it within 10 days after GMAC Mortgage demanded possession.3 Answering, the Pattersons asserted, among other things, that the foreclosure was unlawful. They also asserted a counterclaim seeking a determination that the foreclosure was unlawful.

GMAC Mortgage moved for a summary judgment and later supplemented its summary-judgment motion with additional evidence. The Pattersons submitted evidence in opposition to the summary-judgment motion.

The evidence submitted by GMAC Mortgage in support of its summary-judgment motion included the foreclosure deed purporting to convey title to the house to GMAC Mortgage. The foreclosure deed recites that GMAC Mortgage accelerated the debt secured by the mortgage.4 The foreclosure deed also recites that GMAC Mortgage gave notice of the foreclosure of the mortgage in a newspaper of general circulation in Jefferson County on May 19, May 26, and June 2, 2007, and that GMAC Mortgage foreclosed the mortgage on August 7, 2007. The evidence submitted by GMAC Mortgage also included a written assignment executed by Option One on August 6, 2007, in which Option One assigned the mortgage to GMAC Mortgage.

Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order granting GMAC Mortgage’s summary-judgment motion insofar as it sought a determination that the foreclosure was valid but denied the motion in all other respects on the ground that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether the Pattersons had received notice of GMAC Mortgage’s demand for possession of the house after the foreclosure.

Following a bench trial regarding the issue whether the Pattersons had received notice of GMAC Mortgage’s demand for possession, the trial court entered a judgment (1) finding that GMAC Mortgage had given the Pattersons notice of its demand for possession, (2) ordering the Pattersons to deliver possession of the property to GMAC Mortgage, and (3) ruling that the Pattersons had forfeited their right to redeem the property; however, the trial court did not award any damages for wrongful detention of the property. The Pattersons timely appealed to the supreme court, which transferred the appeal to this court pursuant to § 12-2-7(6), Ala. Code 1975.

On appeal, the Pattersons assert, among other things, that the trial court erred in determining that the foreclosure was valid. While the Pattersons’ appeal was pending, this court delivered its decision in Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011). In Sturdivant, BAC Home Loans, LP (“BAC”), initiated foreclosure proceedings on the mortgage encumbering Bessie T. Sturdivant’s house before the mortgage had been assigned to BAC. BAC then held a foreclosure sale at which it purchased Sturdivant’s house, and the auctioneer executed a foreclosure deed purporting to convey title to Sturdivant’s house to BAC. BAC was assigned the mortgage the same day as the foreclosure sale. Thereafter, BAC brought an ejectment action against Sturdivant, claiming that it owned title to her house by virtue of the foreclosure deed. After the trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of BAC, Sturdivant appealed to the supreme court, which transferred her appeal to this court. We held that BAC lacked authority to foreclose the mortgage because it had not been assigned the mortgage before it initiated foreclosure proceedings and that, therefore, the foreclosure and the foreclosure deed were invalid. We further held that, because the foreclosure and the foreclosure deed were invalid, BAC did not acquire legal title to Sturdivant’s house through the foreclosure deed and thus BAC did not own an interest in the house when it commenced its ejectment action. We further held that, because BAC did not own any interest in Sturdivant’s house when it commenced its ejectment action, BAC did not have standing to bring that action and, consequently, the trial court never acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over the ejectment action. Because BAC did not have standing to bring its ejectment action and the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over the ejectment action, we held that the judgment of the trial court was void, and we vacated that judgment. Moreover, because a void judgment will not support an appeal, we dismissed the appeal.

In the case now before us, GMAC Mortgage, like BAC in Sturdivant, had not been assigned the mortgage before it initiated foreclosure proceedings. Consequently, under our holding in Sturdivant, GMAC Mortgage lacked authority to foreclose the mortgage when it initiated the foreclosure proceedings, and, therefore, the foreclosure and the foreclosure deed upon which GMAC based it ejectment claim are invalid. Moreover, under our holding in Sturdivant, because GMAC Mortgage did not own any interest in the house, it lacked standing to bring its ejectment action against the Pattersons. Because GMAC Mortgage lacked standing to bring the ejectment action, the trial court never acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over the ejectment action. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is void and is hereby vacated. Moreover, because a void judgment will not support an appeal, we dismiss this appeal. Id.

JUDGMENT VACATED; APPEAL DISMISSED.

Pittman, Thomas, and Moore, JJ., concur.

Thompson, P.J., concurs in the result, with writing.

Bryan, J., dissents, with writing.

THOMPSON, Presiding Judge, concurring in the result.

Reginald A. Patterson and Diane V. Patterson executed a mortgage, secured by their house, to Option One Mortgage Corporation on January 25, 2006, and they later defaulted on the mortgage. GMAC Mortgage, LLC, initiated foreclosure proceedings, and, in May 2007, GMAC began publishing notice of its intent to conduct a foreclosure sale. On August 6, 2007, Option One assigned the mortgage to GMAC, and the next day, August 7, 2007, GMAC conducted the foreclosure sale and purchased the property at that sale. Also on August 7, 2007, GMAC sent the Pattersons a letter demanding possession of the property.

In their brief on appeal, the Pattersons argue, among other things, that GMAC failed to demonstrate proof of a valid foreclosure. Specifically, the Pattersons argue, as they did before the trial court, that GMAC, which first obtained an interest in the property the day before it conducted its foreclosure sale, did not have an interest in the property at the time it initiated the foreclosure process and that one without an interest in a mortgage may not institute foreclosure proceedings. In support of those arguments, the Pattersons cite § 6-6-280, Ala. Code 1975; Steele v. Federal Nat’l Mortgage Ass’n, 69 So.3d 89, 93 (Ala. 2010) (“[Section 6-6-280(b)] unambiguously states that a complaint seeking ejectment `is sufficient if it alleges that the plaintiff was possessed of the premises or has the legal title thereto, properly designating or describing them, and that the defendant entered thereupon and unlawfully withholds and detains the same.'”); MacMillan Bloedell, Inc. v. Ezell, 475 So.2d 493 (Ala. 1985); Kelly v. Carmichael, 217 Ala. 534, 117 So.2d 67 (1928); and Berry v. Deutche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 57 So.3d 142 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010).

While the Pattersons’ appeal was pending in this court, this court decided Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] So. 3d (Ala. Civ. App. 2011). In Sturdivant, supra, this court considered an appeal from a summary judgment proceeding in which the record demonstrated that in September 2009 BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, had initiated foreclosure proceedings with regard to a mortgage Bessie T. Sturdivant had executed and that was secured by Sturdivant’s house. BAC Home Loans conducted a foreclosure sale on December 1, 2009, and, also on December 1, 2009, it received an assignment from the holder of the mortgage on Sturdivant’s property. BAC Home Loans, relying on the deed it received as a result of the December 1, 2009, foreclosure sale, sought to eject Sturdivant from the property. This court noted that in order to demonstrate a prima facie case in support of its claim in ejectment, BAC Home Loans was required to show, among other things, that it had legal title to the property. Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, So. 3d at (citing § 6-6-280(b), Ala. Code 1975). In that case, BAC Home Loans claimed that it had legal title by virtue of the deed it had received after it had conducted the foreclosure sale. Article 1 of Title 35, Chapter 10, Ala. Code 1975, governs sales conducted to foreclose on a mortgage and, in pertinent part, requires that a power of sale may be executed by “any person … who, by assignment or otherwise, becomes entitled to the money” secured by the mortgage. § 35-10-1, Ala. Code 1975. In Sturdivant, this court, relying on several of the authorities cited in the Pattersons’ brief on appeal in this case, concluded that because BAC Home Loans had no interest in the property at the time it initiated its foreclosure proceedings, the foreclosure sale was invalid. So. 3d at (citing § 35-10-9, Ala. Code 1975). This court held that, because the foreclosure sale was invalid, BAC Home Loans had no legal title on which to base it claim in ejectment and, as a result, that BAC Home Loans lacked standing to assert its ejectment action. Sturdivant, So. 3d at.

In this case, GMAC initiated foreclosure proceedings at least four months before it obtained an interest in the mortgage.5 GMAC was first assigned an interest in the mortgage on August 6, 2007, the day before it conducted its already scheduled August 7, 2007, foreclosure sale. Given the Pattersons’ arguments on appeal, the authorities they cited in support of those arguments, and the holding of Sturdivant, supra, I agree with the Pattersons that GMAC failed to demonstrate that it had standing to prosecute its ejectment action and that the trial court erred in allowing GMAC to prosecute its action. I therefore concur in the result reached by the main opinion.

BRYAN, Judge, dissenting.

In Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011), BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP (“BAC”), brought an ejectment action against Bessie T. Sturdivant, seeking, among other things, possession of her house. BAC based its claim to title to Sturdivant’s house on a foreclosure deed that had resulted from the foreclosure of a mortgage encumbering Sturdivant’s house. BAC had foreclosed the mortgage as the assignee of the mortgagee. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of BAC, and Sturdivant appealed. The main opinion in Sturdivant held that the foreclosure conducted by BAC and the foreclosure deed purporting to convey title to Sturdivant’s house to BAC were invalid because BAC had not been assigned or succeeded to the interest of the mortgagee in the mortgage when BAC commenced the foreclosure proceedings. Moreover, relying on the supreme court’s decision in Cadle v. Shabani, 950 So.2d 277 (Ala. 2006), the main opinion held that, because the foreclosure and the foreclosure deed were invalid, BAC lacked standing to prosecute its ejectment action, the trial court never acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over that action, and, therefore, the judgment of the trial court was void.

I dissented from the main opinion in Sturdivant because, in my opinion, Cadle was distinguishable on its facts from Sturdivant; in Cadle, the ejectment plaintiff did not have paper title to the property that was the subject of the ejectment action when it commenced its ejectment action, whereas BAC, the ejectment plaintiff in Sturdivant, did have paper title to the property that was the subject of the ejectment action when it commenced its ejectment action. It was my opinion that Sturdivant was entitled to assert and prove that the paper title upon which BAC relied, i.e., the foreclosure deed, was invalid as an affirmative defense to BAC’s ejectment action but that Sturdivant’s successfully proving that BAC’s paper title was invalid did not deprive BAC of standing to bring the ejectment action and did not justify the conclusion that the trial court had never acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over the ejectment action. Moreover, because, in my opinion, proof that BAC’s paper title was invalid did not deprive BAC of standing or deprive the trial court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the ejectment action, I disagreed with the main opinion’s basing its decision on a ground that had not been argued to the trial court because of the well-established principle that an appellate court may not base a reversal of the trial court’s judgment on a ground that was not argued to the trial court. See Smith v. Equifax Servs., Inc., 537 So.2d 463, 465 (Ala. 1988). As the supreme court explained in Smith:

 

“An appellee can defend the trial court’s ruling with an argument not raised below, for this Court `will affirm the judgment appealed from if supported on any valid legal ground.’ Tucker v. Nichols, 431 So.2d 1263, 1265 (Ala. 1983). There is a rather obvious fundamental difference in upholding the trial court’s judgment and reversing it; this Court will not reverse the trial court’s judgment on a ground raised for the first time on appeal, Costarides v. Miller, 374 So.2d 1335 (Ala. 1979), even though it affirms judgments on bases not asserted in the trial court, Bank of the Southeast v. Koslin, 380 So.2d 826 (Ala. 1980). This difference is predicated on the `long-standing, well-established rule that [in order to secure a reversal] the appellant has an affirmative duty of showing error upon the record.’ Tucker v. Nichols, supra, at 1264.”

537 So. 2d at 465(emphasis on “affirms” in original; other emphasis added).

In my opinion, Cadle is distinguishable from the case now before us for the same reason it was distinguishable from Sturdivant — the ejectment plaintiff in Cadle did not have paper title to the property when it commenced its ejectment action, whereas GMAC Mortgage, LLC (“GMAC Mortgage”), the ejectment plaintiff in the case now before us, did have paper title to Reginald A. Patterson and Diane V. Patterson’s house when it commenced its ejectment action. Therefore, consistent with my dissent in Sturdivant, I believe that, although the Pattersons were entitled to prove that GMAC’s foreclosure and foreclosure deed were invalid as an affirmative defense to GMAC Mortgage’s ejectment claim, proof that the foreclosure and the foreclosure deed were invalid did not establish that GMAC Mortgage lacked standing to prosecute the ejectment action or that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the ejectment action. Consequently, in my opinion, the Pattersons are subject to the long-standing principle that an appellate court may not base a reversal of the trial court’s judgment on a ground that was not argued to the trial court. See Smith. Although the Pattersons argued to the trial court that the foreclosure and the foreclosure deed were not valid, they did not argue to the trial court that they were invalid on the ground that the mortgage had not been assigned to GMAC Mortgage when it commenced the foreclosure proceedings. Consequently, I dissent from the main opinion because it bases its decision on a ground that was not argued to the trial court. See Smith.


Footnotes


1. Because of the issues involved, this appeal was held in abeyance pending the adjudication of the appeal in Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011).

Back to Reference

2. Section 6-5-251(a) provides:”The possession of the land must be delivered to the purchaser or purchaser’s transferees by the debtor or mortgagor if in their possession or in the possession of anyone holding under them by privity of title, within 10 days after written demand for the possession has been made by, or on behalf of, the purchaser or purchaser’s transferees.”

Back to Reference

3. Section 6-5-251(c), Ala. Code 1975, provides:”Failure of the debtor or mortgagor or anyone holding possession under him or her to comply with the provisions of this section forfeits the right of redemption of the debtor or one holding possession under the debtor.”

Back to Reference

4. The Pattersons deny that they received notice of the acceleration of the debt.

Back to Reference

5. The record indicates that notice of the foreclosure by publication was first made in May 2007 and completed in June 2007. The Pattersons contend that they were not provided notice of the acceleration of the mortgage indebtedness or of foreclosure, and the record does not contain evidence that they received those notices.

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David Stern Investors Admit Foreclosure Documents Were Forged

David Stern Investors Admit Foreclosure Documents Were Forged


Folks, please tweet, forward, whatever. This is a huge story that deserves to be given major coverage in MSM. Local judges need to be aware that they are being handed forged documents.

FDL-

In 2010, the Law Offices of David J. Stern spun off the robo signing document mill part of his business into a separate, publicly traded company.

Stern pocketed some $60 million from that deal. The investors got the company and all its documents, internal procedures and everything you would need in order to find out what really happened within the Stern document mill.

A little after 8 AM EST today, a filing went up on the SEC’s Edgar database. It’s a Complaint in lawsuit, dated yesterday.

[FIRE DOG LAKE]

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Mortgage Fraud:  Law Offices of David J. Stern, ProVest, PTA

Mortgage Fraud: Law Offices of David J. Stern, ProVest, PTA


Mortgage Fraud

Law Offices of David J. Stern
ProVest
PTA

Action Date: January 4, 2012
Location: FT. Lauderdale, FL

In the lawsuit filed by DJSP Enterprises against David J. Stern and the Law Offices of David J. Stern, there are also allegations involving ProVest, the process server used by Stern and most of the other major foreclosure mills hired by Lender Processing Services in over 20 states.

The allegations regarding ProVest are found in paragraphs 36-38:

36. Prior to the Transaction, the Seller Defendants also knowingly and systematically inflated their process of service costs to the Court. Specifically, Seller Defendants engineered a fraudulent scheme whereby they directed their process servicing work to a process servicing company called ProVest. The Seller Defendants caused each file to generate four or five separate fees for service of process regardless of whether service of process on multiple defendants was necessary or appropriate and regardless of whether service of process for multiple defendants could be achieved at the same address.

37. In exchange for receiving these inflated service of process fees, ProVest, in turn, routinely referred back to PTA servicing requests for “skip tracing” to locate defendants for whom ProVest purportedly did not have accurate street address information to effect service of process. ProVest “hired” and paid fees to PTA for “skip tracing” services despite the fact that ProVest had the ability and resources to perform “skip tracing” itself and routinely did so itself.

38. The Seller Defendants’ arrangement with ProVest amounted to a kickback scheme. DS Law padded and inflated its process servicing costs which were billed to its clients and added to the court costs assessed to foreclosure defendants. In exchange for feeding this work to ProVest, PTA earned manufactured “skip tracing” fees which inflated PTA’s revenues and profits and which represented another way in which the Seller Defendants artificially inflated the revenues of the Target Business prior to the Transaction.

 

 

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Mortgage Fraud:  DJSP Enterprises, INC vs. Law Offices of David J. Stern

Mortgage Fraud: DJSP Enterprises, INC vs. Law Offices of David J. Stern


Mortgage Fraud

DJSP Enterprises
Law Offices of David J. Stern

Action Date: January 4, 2012
Location: FT. Lauderdale, FL

DJSP Enterprises, the publicly-traded company that was supposed to make millions for investors from the foreclosure services it provided to The Law Offices of David Stern (“the Stern Firm”), sued David J. Stern and the Law Offices of David Stern.

Stern Law mortgage foreclosure caseload rose from 15,000 in 2006 to 70,400 in 2009.

In 2009, Stern Law handled 20% of all foreclosures in Florida.

Stern Law’s clients included all 10 of the top 10, and 17 of the top 20 mortgage servicers in the U.S. including Fannie, Freddie, Citibank, BOA, Goldman Sachs, GMAC and Wells Fargo.

The non-legal, back room servicers related to foreclosures included REO services: property inspection, valuation, eviction, broker assignment – these were performed by DJSP Enterprises – the sole client was Stern Law.

Here are Paragraphs 29 -35:

29. The Seller Defendants fraudulently induced Plaintiffs DAL and DJSP into entering into the Transaction by fraudulently and artificially inflating the Target Business’ actual revenues, by intentionally failing to disclose that the Target Business and DS Law were not, in fact, operating in accordance with all applicable laws, and by concealing that DS Law was in jeopardy of losing its largest clients due to DS Law’s unlawful conduct. Indeed, before entering into the Transaction, the Seller Defendants knew that DS Law and the Target Business had been systematically falsifying and/or back-dating pertinent legal documents, submitting such documents to the courts, routinely misplacing and losing original key documents, filing foreclosures with inaccurate and/or incomplete documents, prosecuting foreclosure cases without obtaining proper service of process, and were in jeopardy of losing the Seller Defendants’ largest foreclosure clients due to such conduct.

30. By cutting corners in the foreclosure process without following the rule of law, the Defendants artificially reduced the expenses of the Target Business which falsely inflated the profitability of the Target Business.

31. To summarize, the Seller Defendants failed to disclose to DJSP and DAL that DS Law and the Target Business were systematically operating in an unlawful manner. In addition, the Seller Defendants failed to disclose to DJSP and DAL that the Target Business’ reported revenues were not accurate, inflated, and improperly calculated and that the expenses of the business were also distorted due to the systematic practices designed to “shorten” the legal process. The Seller Defendants falsely led DAL and DJSP to believe that they were acquiring a long-term profitable business that operated in accordance with all applicable laws to induce DAL and DJSP to enter into the Transaction.

33. Prior to the Transaction, the Seller Defendants were at all times well aware that DS Law and the Target Business were intentionally perpetuating a fraud on the courts by, inter alia, systematically filing forged documents, forging signatures on such documents, fraudulently backdating documents, improperly notarizing and witnessing documents, fabricating documents, signing affidavits without reviewing or verifying the information contained therein, prosecuting foreclosure cases without obtaining proper service of process, and filing foreclosures with inaccurate and/or incomplete documents.

34. Indeed, the Seller Defendants directed employees of DS Law and the Target Business to purposefully overlook glaring inaccuracies in foreclosure pleadings and to essentially rubber stamp computer generated documents without reviewing or verifying the accuracy of the documents. New attorneys at DS Law were not only encouraged, but were even ordered to sign legal filings and pleadings without reading them. As a result, false and inaccurate documents were routinely executed and filed with the courts in an effort to hasten foreclosure proceedings and illegally obtain final judgments of foreclosure for the Seller Defendants’ clients.

35. The Seller Defendants even incentivized these unscrupulous and unlawful practices by giving their employees bonuses and extravagant gifts for churning out the highest number of foreclosure cases in the least amount of time. The Seller Defendants encouraged contests between DS Law attorneys to see who could jam a foreclosure case through the courts the fastest.

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CITIMORTGAGE, INC. v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., Mich: Court of Appeals “Which Lien Is Superior?”

CITIMORTGAGE, INC. v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., Mich: Court of Appeals “Which Lien Is Superior?”


The irony is that CitiMortgage & GMAC are both shareholders of MERS…Not to mention Freddie Mac is too.

CITIMORTGAGE, INC., and FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., and GMAC MORTGAGE, L.L.C., Defendants-Appellees, and
SHERYLL D. CATTON and GREGORY J. CATTON, Defendants.

 

No. 298004.
Court of Appeals of Michigan. 

December 15, 2011, 9:00 a.m.
Before: MURPHY, C.J., and BECKERING and RONAYNE KRAUSE, JJ.PER CURIAM.

Plaintiffs appeal as of right from the trial court’s order denying plaintiffs’ motion for summary disposition and granting defendants’[1] motion for summary disposition. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

The facts of this case are not in dispute. On September 6, 2000, Sheryll D. Catton and Gregory J. Catton (“the Cattons”) purchased property in Wayne County with a mortgage granted to ABN AMRO Mortgage Group, Inc. (“ABN AMRO”). On May 4, 2001, the Cattons refinanced their loan, discharging the original mortgage in favor of a new mortgage also granted to ABN AMRO. On July 11, 2002, the Cattons obtained a home equity loan from GMAC, granting GMAC a second mortgage on the property. On November 25, 2002, the Cattons refinanced their 2001 loan, discharging the 2001 ABN AMRO mortgage in favor of another mortgage granted to ABN AMRO. There is no dispute that ABN AMRO was unaware of the GMAC mortgage at the time it took the new mortgage although GMAC’s mortgage was recorded. On August 22, 2005, the Cattons filed for bankruptcy and their property was subsequently sold at a foreclosure sale to Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation who sued, along with ABN AMRO’s successor-in-interest Citimortgage, Inc., to quiet title.

The issue in this matter is whether, as between the two lien holders, which of the two mortgage liens is superior. CitiMortgage holds the refinanced mortgage lien, and defendant holds the second mortgage, which would have been the junior lien but for the subsequent refinancing. More specifically, the issue is whether CitiMortgage can place its lien in first priority over defendants’ lien through application of the doctrine of equitable subrogation. The trial court concluded that CitiMortgage cannot, and this appeal followed. We review motions for summary disposition and questions of law de novo. Maiden v Rozwood, 461 Mich 109, 118; 597 NW2d 817 (1999); Chapdelaine v Sochocki, 247 Mich App 167, 169; 635 NW2d 339 (2001).

Under then-existing provisions of Michigan’s race-notice recording statute, MCL 565.25(1) and (4), a first-recorded mortgage has priority over a later-recorded mortgage, and equity—and therefore equitable subrogation—may be used by the courts contrary to the plain language of that statute only in the presence of “`”unusual circumstances”` such as fraud or mutual mistake.'” Ameriquest Mortgage v Alton, 273 Mich App 84, 93-94, 99-100; 731 NW2d 99 (2006), quoting Devillers v Auto Club Ins Ass’n, 473 Mich 562, 590; 702 NW2d 539 (2005). See also, Ameriquest Mortgage, 273 Mich App at 100 (MURPHY, J., concurring). Other “unusual circumstances” might include a “preexisting jumble of convoluted case law through which the plaintiff was forced to navigate” or some sort of misconduct by another party. Devillers, 473 Mich at 590 n 64, n 65. However, MCL 565.25(1) and (4) have been repealed by 2008 PA 357. Consequently, the bulk of Ameriquest Mortgage is no longer valid.

That being the case, we conclude that the case law on point in Michigan is consistent with the Restatement of Property (Mortgages), 3d, § 7.3 (hereafter “the Restatement”), which provides as follows:

(a) If a senior mortgage is released of record and, as part of the same transaction, is replaced with a new mortgage, the latter mortgage retains the same priority as its predecessor, except

(1) to the extent that any change in the terms of the mortgage or the obligation it secures is materially prejudicial to the holder of a junior interest in the real estate, or

(2) to the extent that one who is protected by the recording act acquires an interest in the real estate at a time that the senior mortgage is not of record.

(b) If a senior mortgage or the obligation it secures is modified by the parties, the mortgage as modified retains priority as against junior interests in the real estate, except to the extent that the modification is materially prejudicial to the holders of such interests and is not within the scope of a reservation of right to modify as provided in Subsection (c).

(c) If the mortgagor and mortgagee reserve the right in a mortgage to modify the mortgage or the obligation it secures, the mortgage as modified retains priority even if the modification is materially prejudicial to the holders of junior interests in the real estate, except as provided in Subsection (d).

(d) If a mortgage contains a reservation of the right to modify the mortgage or the obligation as described in Subsection (c), the mortgagor may issue a notice to the mortgagee terminating that right. Upon receipt of the notice by the mortgagee, the right to modify with retention of priority under Subsection (c) becomes ineffective against persons taking any subsequent interests in the mortgaged real estate, and any subsequent modifications are governed by Subsection (b). Upon receipt of the notice, the mortgagee must provide the mortgagor with a certificate in recordable form stating that the notice has been received.

Of particular note, Comment b to the Restatement provides that “[u]nder § 7.3(a) a senior mortgagee that discharges its mortgage of record and records a replacement mortgage does not lose its priority as against the holder of an intervening interest unless that holder suffers material prejudice.” The associated Reporter’s Note, voluminously citing to many cases from other jurisdictions, explains that “courts routinely adhere to the principle that a senior mortgagee who discharges its mortgage of record and takes and records a replacement mortgage, retains the predecessor’s seniority as against intervening lienors unless the mortgagee intended a subordination of its mortgage or `paramount equities’ exist.”

For the reasons we discuss infra, we conclude that the Restatement, limited to the situations described by the quoted commentary—specifically, cases in which the senior mortgagee discharges its mortgage of record and contemporaneously takes a replacement mortgage, such as often occurs in the context of refinancing—is consistent with Michigan precedent. Thus limited, because the Restatement reflects the present state of the law in Michigan, we hereby adopt it. We caution, however, that the lending mortgagee seeking subrogation and priority over an intervening interest relative to its newly recorded mortgage must be the same lender that held the original mortgage before the intervening interest arose; and furthermore, any application of equitable subrogation is subject to a careful examination of the equities of all parties and potential prejudice to the intervening lienholder.

Our Supreme Court discussed what it called the doctrine of equitable mistake in Schanhite v Plymouth United Savings Bank, 277 Mich 33, 39; 268 NW 801 (1936), stating:

It is a general rule that the cancellation of a mortgage on the record is not conclusive as to its discharge, or as to the payment of the indebtedness secured thereby. And where the holder of a senior mortgage discharges it of record, and contemporaneously therewith takes a new mortgage, he will not, in the absence of paramount equities, be held to have subordinated his security to an intervening lien unless the circumstances of the transaction indicate this to have been his intention, or such intention upon his part is shown by extrinsic evidence. [Citations omitted.]

This reflects “the well-settled rule that the acceptance by a mortgagee of a new mortgage and his cancellation of the old mortgage do not deprive the mortgagee of priority over intervening liens.” Washington Mut Bank v ShoreBank Corp, 267 Mich App 111, 126; 703 NW2d 486 (2005).

In Washington Mut Bank, this Court rejected an equitable subrogation argument made by the plaintiff bank, where that bank provided refinancing on real property that had earlier been encumbered by a first mortgage, which was paid off with the proceeds from the refinancing, and then encumbered by two intervening mortgages in favor of other banks prior to the refinancing. Importantly, and distinguishable from the facts here, the plaintiff bank that sought subrogation and made the refinancing loan was not the original lender-mortgagee.[2] After an exhaustive examination of the case law regarding equitable subrogation and citing the “well-settled rule” from Schanhite, the Court stated:

[I]n this case, we are not presented with a new mortgage being accepted by the holder of the old mortgage. That is, had the new mortgage been given to Option One Mortgage [original lender], and Option One was before us rather than plaintiff, Schanhite might provide the authority to revive the original mortgage and give the new mortgage the same priority as the one it replaced. . . .

. . .

[W]e are unaware of any authority regarding the application of the doctrine of equitable subrogation to support the general proposition that a new mortgage, granted as part of a generic refinancing transaction, can take the priority of the original mortgage, which is being paid off, giving it priority over intervening liens. . . . Such bolstering of priority may be applicable where the new mortgagee is the holder of the mortgage being paid off[.] [Washington Mut Bank, 267 Mich App at 127-128 (emphasis added); see also Van Dyk Mtg Corp v United States, 503 F Supp 2d 876 (WD Mich, 2007) (applying Washington Mut Bank and Schanhite in granting equitable subrogation under circumstances comparable to the case at bar).]

Washington Mut Bank does not permit us to extend application of the Restatement to cases in which the new mortgagee was not the holder of the original mortgage being paid off through refinancing, consequently, we cannot adopt the Restatement in its entirety. But it does fully support, along with Schanhite, applying the Restatement where, as here, the new mortgagee seeking priority and subrogation held the original mortgage, and we do so here.

We note also that the refinancing in Schanhite actually worked to the benefit of the second mortgagee, because “the property would have been lost to the tax man” otherwise, so restoring the original lien priority was the equitable outcome for all parties. See Washington Mut Bank, 267 Mich App 126-127. Our Supreme Court then clarified that “[t]he theory of equitable or conventional subrogation is that the junior lienor’s position is left unchanged by the conduct of the party seeking subrogation and that he is not wronged by any acts permitting subrogation.” Lentz v Stoflet, 280 Mich 446, 451; 273 NW 763 (1937). Consistent with the Restatement provision in the limited form in which we adopt it, a refinanced mortgage maintains the priority position of the original mortgage so long as any junior lien holder is not prejudiced as a consequence.

Finally, we find it necessary to address the “mere volunteer” rule, which provides that equitable subrogation cannot be extended to a party that is a mere volunteer. Ameriquest Mortgage, 273 Mich App at 94-95. Underlying the rejection of the plaintiff bank’s equitable subrogation argument in Washington Mut Bank was the Court’s conclusion that the plaintiff was a mere volunteer. Washington Mut Bank, 267 Mich App at 119-120. The Court observed that “the doctrine of equitable subrogation does not allow a new mortgagee to take the priority of the older mortgagee merely because the proceeds of the new mortgage were used to pay off the indebtedness secured by the old mortgage[, and] [i]t is clear to us that . . . plaintiff is a mere volunteer and, therefore, is not entitled to equitable subrogation.” Id. Importantly, Washington Mut Bank reflected that the “mere volunteer” rule has no bearing in the context of a case where the new mortgagee and the old mortgagee are one in the same, even in a standard refinancing transaction, otherwise the panel would not have suggested a different outcome had the plaintiff bank held the original mortgage. Indeed, the Schanhite Court did not indicate that the rule allowing qualifying mortgagees to retain priority could only be employed on a finding that a mortgagee was not a mere volunteer. And the Restatement contains no such restriction or limitation. We hold that the “mere volunteer” rule has no applicability where the new mortgagee was also the original mortgagee.

We conclude that equitable subrogation is available to place a new mortgage in the same priority as a discharged mortgage if the new mortgagee was the original mortgagee and the holders of any junior liens are not prejudiced as a consequence. We further conclude that the Restatement, in the limited form in which we have adopted it, sets forth a reasonable and proper framework for determining whether junior lienholders have been prejudiced and whether the equities ultimately favor equitable subrogation. Because the trial court is the forum best suited to evaluating any prejudice and the competing equities, including making any relevant factual determinations, we remand this matter to the trial court to do so.

Reversed and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We direct that no taxable costs shall be awarded to any party under MCR 7.219. We do not retain jurisdiction.

[1] Defendants, Sheryll D. Catton and Gregory J. Catton, defaulted in this case and are not part of this appeal. References herein to “defendants” are to defendants-appellants, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), as nominee for GMAC Mortgage, L.L.C. (“GMAC”), and GMAC itself.

[2] The descriptor of “original mortgagee” is amenable to confusion and therefore requires clarification. By that, we mean not only the originating mortgagee, but also any bona fide successor in interest. Here, CitiMortgage was not the original mortgagee, nor was it the new mortgagee at the time of the refinancing transaction. However, ABN AMRO was the original and new mortgagee, and CitiMortgage is ABN AMRO’s successor in interest, so CitiMortgage stands in the shoes of ABN AMRO for purposes of the analysis.

[ipaper docId=76263799 access_key=key-23m7x3h6bxsztpmbh6xp height=600 width=600 /]

 

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The Destruction of a Foreclosure Lawyer’s Faith in the Justice System

The Destruction of a Foreclosure Lawyer’s Faith in the Justice System


If the courts can’t address clear instances of fraud and injustice, how can they protect our citizens?

 New Deal 2.0-

It has been exactly 18 months since I deposed GMAC Mortgage’s prolific document signer, Jeffrey Stephan, in a case where I was defending a Maine homeowner in foreclosure. Stephan admitted to signing 8,000 to 10,000 foreclosure documents a month (that is about one a minute, if you do the arithmetic), including summary judgment affidavits used by courts as the basis for entering forclosure judgments. Stephan’s affidavits were sent by GMAC to courts all over the country. Obviously, and as Stephan admitted, he did not bother to read those affidavits. He also admitted that he had no idea as to whether the foreclosure affidavits that he signed were true. He didn’t even trouble himself to appear before a notary to be sworn, even though his affidavits said that he had done so. While Stephan admitted that he understood that judges were relying upon his affidavits to take away the homes of homeowners all over the country, he seemed serene and untroubled by his dishonesty in signing these false affidavits. (Conduct like this has since been awarded the slang term “robo-signing,” but I never use it because it fails to adequately describe the dishonesty and deception involved.)

[NEW DEAL 2.0]

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Maine Supreme Judicial Court upholds ruling in robo-signing foreclosure

Maine Supreme Judicial Court upholds ruling in robo-signing foreclosure


A Denmark woman whose case touched off a national uproar over foreclosures with faulty paperwork may finally lose her home.

KJOnline-

By a 5-1 decision released this morning, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court ruling that allowed loan servicer GMAC Mortgage, despite admittedly flawed practices involved in affadavit signing, to foreclose upon a home in Denmark purchased in 2003 by Nicolle M. Bradbury.

[KJONLINE]

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CAPITAL STRIKE! GMAC stops mortgage lending in MA in response to AG lawsuit

CAPITAL STRIKE! GMAC stops mortgage lending in MA in response to AG lawsuit


SO WHAT WHO CARES… There are credit unions!

Mass AG: “In this state, banks must follow laws. It appears GMAC acknowledges it has a problem following those laws & being held accountable.”

WSJ-

GMAC Mortgage, the mortgage lender of Ally Financial Inc., is exiting the vast majority of its lending in Massachusetts a day after the state sued it over its foreclosure practices.

The nation’s fifth-largest mortgage originator said it “has taken this action because recent developments have led mortgage lending in Massachusetts to no longer be viable,” ratcheting up the high-stakes mortgage fight there.

Attorney General Martha Coakley sued the five biggest mortgage servicers Thursday, in the first government lawsuit targeting all five for alleged improper foreclosure practices including so-called robo-signing. The practice involves people who allegedly signed many foreclosure documents …

[WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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Bond Insurer FGIC Sues Ally Units Over Mortgage Securities

Bond Insurer FGIC Sues Ally Units Over Mortgage Securities


WSJ-

Insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. is suing several Ally Financial Inc. subsidiaries, accusing the government-owned lender of lying about the quality of mortgages it packaged into securities.

Three lawsuits, filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, claim GMAC Mortgage, Residential Capital and other affiliates made “material misrepresentations and omissions” about the “quality of the tens of thousands of mortgage loans” packaged into the securities. FGIC said it issued insurance policies to Ally for the securities based on this information.

[WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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Nichols Kaster PLLP Files Class Action Against GMAC Mortgage and Balboa Insurance Services for Illegally Backdating Insurance Policies and Charging for Worthless Coverage

Nichols Kaster PLLP Files Class Action Against GMAC Mortgage and Balboa Insurance Services for Illegally Backdating Insurance Policies and Charging for Worthless Coverage


Fort Lauderdale, FL (PRWEB) November 14, 2011

On November 14, 2011, Plaintiff Christine Ulbrich filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against GMAC Mortgage, LLC and Balboa Insurance Services, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit alleges that GMAC and Balboa illegally backdated force-placed insurance policies and charged borrowers for insurance coverage that was, in some cases, expired on the day it was purchased. The suit also alleges that GMAC and Balboa charged borrowers inflated premiums that were as much as 14 times the market rate. According to Plaintiff’s attorney, Kai Richter, “The whole point of insurance is to protect against future risks. Forcing borrowers to buy expired insurance at inflated premiums is inexcusable.”

The Complaint alleges that GMAC force-placed a windstorm policy on Ulbrich’s property in March 2011, which was backdated for the period from October 1, 2009 to October 1, 2010, and charged Ulbrich almost $10,000 for this already-expired coverage. The lawsuit further alleges GMAC sent Ulbrich a renewal notice on the very same date, stating that “the windstorm insurance coverage we placed on your account has expired,” and then force-placed a second windstorm policy on her property in April 2011, which was backdated by more than six months and cost more than $9,600. According to the Complaint, Ulbrich’s mortgage payments skyrocketed from $1,227.52 per month to $2,695.59 per month after GMAC purchased this backdated coverage, due to an alleged “shortage” in her escrow account. GMAC is now threatening to foreclose on her home because she cannot afford the increased payments, even though she previously was current on her mortgage.

“It is outrageous to drive homeowners into foreclosure by force-placing backdated insurance coverage on their property and charging them inflated premiums for expired coverage,” said Richter. “GMAC received billions of dollars in bailout money from taxpayers, and this is no way to say ‘thank you,’” continued Richter.

In her class action Complaint, Ulbrich seeks relief on behalf of herself and other similarly-situated GMAC borrowers across the country. Ulbrich asserts claims against GMAC for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. In addition, Ulbrich also asserts an unjust enrichment claim against Balboa, which allegedly accepted premiums for backdated policies and allegedly paid a kickback to GMAC in return.

The case is entitled Ulbrich v.GMAC Mortgage, LLC and Balboa Insurance Services, Inc., No. 0:11-cv-62424 (S.D. Fla.). Plaintiff is represented by Kai Richter, Michelle Drake, and Timothy Selander from Nichols Kaster, PLLP. Nichols Kaster has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California, and is currently pursuing several other cases against major banks for wrongfully force-placing insurance on borrowers, including JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Bank of America, N.A., Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and RBS Citizens, N.A. (also known as Citizens Bank), and U.S. Bank, N.A.. Additional information is located at http://www.nka.com or may be obtained by calling Nichols Kaster, PLLP toll free at (877) 448-0492.

###

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/11/prweb8964133.htm

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In RE: COLLINS | 6th BAP “whether either Litton or BoNY was the holder of a fully and properly indorsed note, MERS assignment day after the debtor filed bankruptcy”

In RE: COLLINS | 6th BAP “whether either Litton or BoNY was the holder of a fully and properly indorsed note, MERS assignment day after the debtor filed bankruptcy”


BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL OF THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

In re: ELIZABETH R. COLLINS,

Debtor.
No. 10-8085

_____________________________________

J. JAMES ROGAN, Trustee,

Appellant,

v.

LITTON LOAN SERVICING, L.P.,
THE BANK OF NEW YORK, MELLON FKA
THE BANK OF NEW YORK AS SUCCESSOR
TO JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., AS
TRUSTEE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE
CERTIFICATE HOLDERS OF POPULAR, ABS,
INC. MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH
CERTIFICATES SERIES 2005-3,

AIG FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK DBA
WILMINGTON FINANCE,

CITIBANK, NA, and

GMAC MORTGAGE LLC,

Appellees.

Appeal from the United States Bankruptcy Court
for the Eastern District of Kentucky
Bankruptcy Case No. 10-50990; Adv. Proceeding No. 10-05065

EXCERPT:

STEVEN RHODES, Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Judge. J. James Rogan, the trustee in this
chapter 7 case, appeals an opinion and order of the bankruptcy court dismissing his complaint. The
complaint sought a declaratory judgment to determine the validity, extent, and priority of liens on
the real property of the debtor, Elizabeth Collins, held by defendants Litton Loan Servicing, Bank
of New York, GMAC Mortgage, and Wilmington Finance. The trustee also appeals an opinion and
order of the bankruptcy court granting a motion to vacate the default judgment entered against
Wilmington Finance.

For the reasons that follow, as to defendants Litton Loan Servicing and Bank of New York,
the Panel vacates the dismissal and remands the matter for further proceedings to determine who was
the holder of the first mortgage on the date of filing, and if it was either Litton Loan Servicing or
Bank of New York, then whether either was the holder of a fully and properly indorsed note.

[…]

On the day after the first mortgage was recorded, February 5, 2005, Wilmington Finance
assigned the mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”). On June 16,
2005, this assignment was recorded. (Addendum to Br. of Bank of New York, February 16, 2011,
app. case no. 10-8085, ex. 2.)

The record also includes an assignment dated March 26, 2010, the day after the debtor filed
bankruptcy. MERS assigned this mortgage to the Bank of New York Mellon f/k/a The Bank of New
York, as successor to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. as trustee for the benefit of the certificate holders
of Popular ABS, Inc. Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Series 2005-3 c/o Litton Loan Servicing.
(bankr. claim 1-1.) On April 7, 2010, which was twelve days after the debtor filed bankruptcy, this
assignment was recorded. Thus, on the day that the debtor filed bankruptcy, it appears that neither
Bank of New York nor Litton Loan Servicing held any interest in the first mortgage. Inexplicably
however, the debtor listed Bank of New York/Litton Loan Servicing on schedule D as the secured
creditor holding the first mortgage. (bankr. dkt. #1.) Schedule D appears to have been filed on the
date of the petition. The record does not provide an explanation for how the debtor would have
known that Bank of New York/Litton Loan Servicing would be the secured creditor prior to the
assignment.

[…]

[ipaper docId=70278657 access_key=key-2vekkki5b1mumnt9ak9 height=600 width=600 /]

 

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COMPLAINT | State of Ohio, Geauga County v. MERSCORP, MERS et al., No. 11-M-001087

COMPLAINT | State of Ohio, Geauga County v. MERSCORP, MERS et al., No. 11-M-001087


IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
GEAUGA COUNTY, OHIO

STATE OF OHIO, ex.rel.
DAVID P. JOYCE
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY OF GEAUGA
COUNTY, OHIO
Courthouse Annex, 231 Main St. Suite 3A
Chardon, Ohio 44024

On behalf of Geauga County and all others similarly
situated,

Plaintiff,

v.

MERSCORP, INC.
1818 Library Street, Suite 300
Reston, Virginia 20190

and

MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC.
1818 Library Street, Suite 300
Reston, Virginia 20190

[…]

[ipaper docId=69166120 access_key=key-9gi3i39l3vj116tff1y height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite

Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite


by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Oct. 4, 2011, 11:26 a.m.

Why has the administration’s flagship foreclosure prevention program been so ineffective in helping struggling homeowners get loan modifications and stay in their homes? One reason: The government’s supervision of the program has apparently ranged from nonexistent to weak.

Documents obtained by ProPublica – government audit reports of GMAC, the country’s fifth largest mortgage servicer – provide the first detailed look at the program’s oversight. They show that the company operated with almost no oversight for the program’s first eight months. When auditors did finally conduct a major review more than a year into the program, they found that GMAC had seriously mishandled many loan modifications – miscalculating homeowner income in more than 80 percent of audited cases, for example. Yet GMAC suffered no penalty. GMAC itself said it hasn’t reversed a single foreclosure as a result of a government audit.

The documents also reveal that government auditors signed off on GMAC loan-modification denials that appear to violate the program’s own rules, calling into question the rigor and competence of the reviews.

Some of the auditors’ mistakes are “appalling,” said Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group. “It suggests the government isn’t taking the auditing process seriously.”

In a written response to ProPublica questions [1], a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which runs the program, denied there were serious flaws in its oversight system, calling it “effective and unprecedented in many ways.”

The audits of GMAC, though revealing, give only a limited view into the program, because the Treasury has refused to release the documents for other servicers. For more than a year, ProPublica has sought the audits for ten of the largest program participants through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Treasury provided only GMAC’s audits, because the company consented to their release. ProPublica continues to seek all of the reports.

Abuses of the foreclosure process, in which banks and mortgage servicers cut corners or even created false documents [2] to move trouble borrowers out of their homes, have been extensively documented [3], along with failures by government [4] to regulate the industry. But the lapses revealed in the documents obtained by ProPublica stand out because they occurred within the government’s main effort to prevent foreclosures, the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.

Oversight Shrouded in Secrecy

For HAMP’s first two years, the government offered very little public detail about its oversight efforts. It was virtually impossible for the public – or even Congress – to know how well the banks and mortgage servicers were complying with the government’s effort to prevent struggling homeowners from losing their homes. Those years were crucial, because that’s when the vast majority of homeowners eligible for a modification – about three million – were evaluated by servicers.

The documents obtained by ProPublica show auditors finding serious problems at a major servicer during that time. Instead of publicly revealing the findings, Treasury chose to privately request that GMAC fix the problems.

“For two years, they’ve known how abysmal servicers were performing and decided to do nothing,” said Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP or the bank bailout, which provided the money for HAMP.

“It demonstrates that if you have a set of rules for which compliance is completely voluntary and no meaningful consequences for those who violate them, having all the audits and reviews in the world are not going to make a bit of difference,” he continued. “It’s why the program has been a colossal failure.”

Treasury continued to release few details about its audits until this June, when it began publishing quarterly reports based on the audits’ results. The public report showed what Treasury called “substantial” problems at four of the ten largest servicers – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Ocwen – and Treasury for the first time [5] withheld taxpayer subsidies from three of them.

Mortgage servicers that signed up for the program agreed to follow strict guidelines on how to evaluate struggling homeowners seeking a reduced mortgage payment. In exchange, they’d receive taxpayer subsidies. But as we’ve reported extensively, the largest servicers haven’t abided by the guidelines [6]. Homeowners have often been foreclosed on in the midst of review for a modification [7] or been denied due to the servicer’s error. For many homeowners, navigating what was supposed to have been a simple, straightforward program has proven a maddening ordeal [6].

Meanwhile, HAMP has fallen dramatically short of the administration’s initial goals to help three to four million homeowners. So far, fewer than 800,000 homeowners have received a loan modification through HAMP, less than one in four of those who applied [8].

Part of the $700 billion TARP, HAMP launched in early 2009 with a $50 billion budget to encourage loan modifications by paying subsidies to servicers, investors, and homeowners. But in another example of how the program has fallen short, only about $1.6 billion has gone out so far [9].

GMAC said it agreed to release its audits under the program because the company “believes in honoring the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act process” and “elected to be transparent on our work with the [modification] program,” spokeswoman Gina Proia said.

GMAC has changed its parent company’s name to Ally Financial, but its mortgage division is still called GMAC. The government owns a majority stake in Ally, because it rescued the company with TARP funds, but both the company and the Treasury said that didn’t factor into the company’s decision to allow the documents to be released.

ProPublica contacted all nine servicers who objected to the reports’ release. All either declined to comment on why they wanted the audits kept secret or defended keeping them out of the public domain by saying the reports contained confidential information. Collectively, these companies have so far been paid more than $471 million in cash – dubbed “servicer incentive payments” – through the program. They are eligible for hundreds of millions more. The country’s four largest banks – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup – are also the largest servicers of mortgage loans.

In its written response, Treasury’s spokeswoman said it agreed to withhold the records in part because they could undermine “frank communications between mortgage servicers and compliance examiners” and hurt the program’s effectiveness. The department declined to provide either redacted versions or an index of the documents.

Early Reviews “Useless” and Flawed

Since the program’s beginning, homeowner advocates have wondered where HAMP’s watchdog was [10] and why it was having so little effect. That watchdog is Freddie Mac, tapped by Treasury in February 2009 and working under a contract worth $116 million and rising. The Freddie Mac unit, now staffed with 121 employees and employing about 150 more through contractors, is supposed to regularly audit servicers in the program to make sure they are following the rules. Treasury is ultimately responsible for deciding whether to punish a servicer, but it relies on auditors’ findings to make that decision.

It took several months for the unit to even get off the ground. In August of 2009, Treasury rejected Freddie Mac’s first reviews of servicers as inadequate [10], because they were “inconsistent and incomplete” and its staff was “unqualified,” according to a report by the TARP’s special inspector general. Freddie Mac promised to improve. That process took several more months.

As a result, for the program’s crucial first eight months there effectively was no watchdog. Nationwide, servicers filed to pursue foreclosure on about two million loans during that time.

Treasury disputed the idea that there was no watchdog for those months, saying that auditors had performed “readiness reviews” of servicers as early as the May of 2009, one month after the program began. The documents obtained by ProPublica show, however, that Freddie Mac’s auditing unit, called Making Home Affordable – Compliance (MHA-C), didn’t issue its first report for GMAC until early December, 2009 [11].

That audit was a modest effort that involved collecting a sample of 323 loans handled by GMAC and determining whether they’d been properly reviewed for the program. Because of the delays in starting the reviews, the report was based on a sample of loans that was five months old [12]. Such delays continued into 2010. Another Freddie Mac review, completed at the end of March 2010, was based on GMAC loans selected in October of the previous year [13].

The delays make those reviews “largely useless to homeowners,” said Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center. If a homeowner lost the house to foreclosure in July, it wouldn’t help to have an auditor notice that several months later, she explained.

The December 2009 audit notes that GMAC might have already foreclosed on loans auditors had flagged as potentially mishandled, but didn’t order remedial steps. It only requests that GMAC not take “further action.” [14]

GMAC said it had never reversed a foreclosure action as a result of a HAMP audit. ProPublica asked the other nine servicers who objected to the audits’ release the same question. American Home Mortgage Servicing, the only other servicer that answered the question, said it had also never reversed a foreclosure action due to a HAMP audit.

American Home handles about 384,000 loans [15], putting it among the ten largest servicers in the program.

A Treasury spokeswoman said that auditors have reviewed more than 50,000 loan files, but did not directly answer whether a servicer had ever reversed a foreclosure action because of a HAMP audit. Where auditors have found problems, she wrote, the department has “required servicers to take steps to tighten controls” and “re-evaluate any borrowers who may have been potentially impacted.”

In early 2010, around the same time that the auditing unit was issuing its first reports, auditors complained that servicers’ lack of responsiveness to their requests was hampering their efforts. Getting the right documents from servicers was “a cumbersome process,” the head of Freddie Mac’s audit team, Paul Heran, said in February 2010 at a mortgage industry conference. It seemed, he added, that servicers often relegated responding to the auditors to low-level staff who didn’t understand the requests. Another manager in the unit, Vic O’Laughlen, said servicers tended to respond with “at best fifty percent of what we’re expecting to see.”

However uncooperative the banks and mortgage services may have been, Freddie Mac’s auditing reports contain errors that call into question their reliability.

Every few months, the auditors examine a sample of the servicer’s loans that have been denied a HAMP modification to check whether the denials are legitimate. In each GMAC report reviewed by ProPublica, auditors found that the servicer had, with very few exceptions, given the homeowner fair and appropriate consideration. But among the justifications listed in the audits are some that violate the program’s rules or simply don’t make sense.

For instance, the December 2009 review says that 35 of the 247 loans auditors reviewed were denied because the homeowner was “less than 60 days delinquent.” [16] In the report, auditors said that was the right decision in all but one case. But being less than 60 days delinquent is never on its own a legitimate reason for a servicer to deny a modification, according to the program rules. Homeowners are eligible for a modification even if they’re current on their loans, as long as they can show they’re in imminent danger of defaulting.

Another example: Auditors agreed that GMAC had correctly denied a homeowner because of a failure to sign a trial modification offer by Dec. 31, 2012, HAMP’s end date [17]. That makes no sense, because the review took place in 2009. Treasury’s spokeswoman said this was a typo and that the homeowner was denied for a completely different reason.

There are several other examples in later reports of auditors signing off on denial reasons that have no apparent basis in the program’s rules. For instance, auditors cited “grandfathered foreclosure” [18] as a legitimate reason for some denials. The spokeswoman said such loans had been in the foreclosure process before GMAC signed up for the program, but the program rules explicitly stated at the time that such loans were eligible.

When ProPublica asked GMAC if it had denied homeowners loan modifications for these reasons, the company said it couldn’t comment because auditors, not GMAC, had generated those descriptions of why homeowners had been denied. In some cases, Proia said, the descriptions were simply wrong: GMAC had never denied homeowners simply because they weren’t 60 days delinquent.

But Treasury defended the questionable denials, and in so doing raised even more questions. For instance, the spokeswoman said HAMP “does not specifically require servicers to evaluate loans that are less than 60 days delinquent.” But Treasury’s official guidance to servicers said such borrowers “must be screened.”

“It makes you wonder if the Treasury even knows the rules for their own program,” said National Consumer Law Center’s Thompson.

A Congressionally-appointed panel, among others, has pointed to a fundamental flaw in the way the oversight was carried out: Auditors have had no direct contact with homeowners. The program has been dogged by servicers’ inadequate document systems. Borrowers have long reported [6] faxing and mailing the same documents over and over, because servicers kept losing them. Servicers have denied about a quarter of all modification applications due to an alleged lack of documentation [19]. Because HAMP’s auditors do not contact borrowers, there’s no way for them to ascertain if a denial for inadequate documentation was correct.

In response to this criticism from the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP last December [20], Treasury said auditors did not contact homeowners to avoid giving them added stress. The panel rejected that reason, saying that contacting borrowers was “critical to assessing the accuracy of a servicer’s determination.”

Instead of talking with borrowers, auditors conduct on-site reviews of mortgage servicing companies, Treasury’s spokeswoman said in her written response to ProPublica. Treasury believes that focusing “on servicer processes and internal controls is the most effective deployment of our compliance efforts,” she wrote.

Detailed Audit Shows Serious Problems

It wasn’t until July 2010, sixteen months after HAMP launched, that the unit performed their first major audit of GMAC. The review included a visit to GMAC’s offices and a detailed review of a sample of loans.

The report enumerated various rule violations, including in how GMAC evaluated homeowners for modifications. GMAC’s practice was to begin the foreclosure process too quickly [21]: The program required the servicer to give the homeowner 30 days to respond to a trial modification offer, but GMAC’s procedure was to wait only 20.

GMAC’s Proia said no homeowners were “negatively impacted by this issue.”

Auditors also found that GMAC was regularly miscalculating the homeowner’s income. In a review of 25 loan files of homeowners who had received a modification, the auditors said 21, or 84 percent, involved a miscalculation of income [22]. Since the borrower’s income is a key factor in whether the homeowner qualifies for a modification, the high error rate raises obvious questions about whether GMAC was accurately evaluating homeowners’ applications.

Asked about this the frequent income miscalculations, GMAC’s Proia said that the “issue was identified in the early stages of the program,” that calculating the borrower’s income is a “complicated process,” and that GMAC has improved since the mid-2010 review – an assertion backed up by recent audit results published by the Treasury.

The July 2010 review also found that GMAC had been aware of certain problems such as “incorrect income and expense calculations,” [23] but had not fixed them. Proia said the company does its best to fix problems when it becomes aware of them.

Penalties: Late and Weak

Typical of the Treasury’s oversight of the program, GMAC was never penalized for any of the rule violations. For the first two years of the program, Treasury officials publicly threatened servicers with the possibility of penalties, but instead followed a cooperative approach [24]. When auditors found problems, servicers were asked to fix them.

The documents illustrate that back and forth. In response to the auditors’ findings, GMAC was required to develop an “action plan.” GMAC refused to provide the action plan to ProPublica and recommended seeking it and other similar documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Treasury.

Treasury has sent mixed messages about its ability to penalize banks over the course of the program [24], threatening “monetary penalties and sanctions” in late 2009, and then later saying it lacked the power to enforce such penalties. Treasury finally departed from its cooperative approach this June, when it withheld incentive payments [5] from three of the top ten servicers. (GMAC was not among them.) The companies would not receive the public subsidies for completing modifications until they made certain changes. The companies were cited for some of the same problems for which auditors had criticized GMAC, such as regularly miscalculating the borrower’s income. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, had erred in estimating income in about a third of the homeowner loan files reviewed.

The punishment hasn’t had much sting to it. Two of the three companies had their incentive payments restored when Treasury’s most recent report [25] declared they’d improved. Only Chase and Bank of America, the country’s largest servicer, would continue to have their incentives withheld, Treasury said.

But while those incentives have slowed, they have not stopped, according to Treasury’s monthly TARP reports [26]. Since June, when Treasury first announced it would be withholding incentives, Bank of America has received $2.5 million in taxpayer incentives. While that’s a steep reduction from the roughly $7.5 million it had been receiving monthly, the bank is supposed to be receiving nothing. Chase received $404,000 during that same time.

Treasury responded that it has programs to encourage modifications on both first and second mortgages, and that the payments Bank of America and Chase received were related to second mortgages. “Current system limitations” meant the Treasury couldn’t withhold these payments, according to the Treasury spokeswoman. Treasury is working to fix the problem, she said.

 

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11th Circuit Reversed/Remands “the federal court lacked jurisdiction because although the petition referenced federal laws, none of the claims relied on federal law”

11th Circuit Reversed/Remands “the federal court lacked jurisdiction because although the petition referenced federal laws, none of the claims relied on federal law”


IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

WEKESA O. MADZIMOYO,
Plaintiff-Appellant,

versus

THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON TRUST COMPANY, N.A., f.k.a. The Bank of New York Trust Company, N.A.,
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.,
GMAC MORTGAGE, LLC,
MCCURDY & CANDLER, LLC,
ANTHONY DEMARLO, Attorney,
Defendants-Appellees.
________________________
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Georgia
________________________
(September 7, 2011)

Before TJOFLAT, CARNES and KRAVITCH, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

Wekesa Madzimoyo, proceeding pro se, appeals the district court’s
judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendants. Because we conclude that
the district court lacked removal jurisdiction, we vacate and remand.

In July 2009, Madzimoyo filed an emergency petition in state court seeking
a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop foreclosure proceedings on his home
by defendants Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, JP Morgan Chase Bank,
McCurdy & Candler, and attorney Anthony DeMarlo. According to the petition,
none of the defendants was the original lender and there was no evidence that the
original lender had transferred its rights to any defendant. In support of his
petition, Madzimoyo submitted correspondence sent to the defendants in which he
sought to verify their rights over the mortgage. Some of the correspondence
referenced the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) and Regulation Z, the
Truth-in-Lending regulations. The state court issued the TRO and scheduled a
hearing on the petition to stop the foreclosure.

The day before the scheduled hearing in state court, the defendants removed
the petition to federal district court in the Northern District of Georgia, asserting
federal-question jurisdiction because Madzimoyo had alleged violations of the
FDCPA and Regulation Z. Madzimoyo moved to remand to state court, disputing
that he raised any basis for federal jurisdiction.

The magistrate judge denied the motion to remand, finding that
Madzimoyo’s petition raised federal questions under the FDCPA and Regulation
Z. The defendants then moved for judgment on the pleadings. In a brief in
support of the motion, the defendants argued that the FDCPA and Regulation Z
claims failed because Madzimoyo had not alleged any violation of these statutes.
The magistrate judge recommended that the motion for judgment on the
pleadings be granted. The district court adopted the recommendation, over
Madzimoyo’s objections, and granted judgment on the pleadings. This appeal
followed.

On appeal, both parties address the merits of the order granting judgment on
the pleadings, and there is no discussion of the district court’s jurisdiction over
Madzimoyo’s action. Nevertheless, we are “obliged to notice any lack of
jurisdiction regardless of whether the question is raised by the parties themselves.”
Edge v. Sumter Cnty. Sch. Dist., 775 F.2d 1509, 1513 (11th Cir. 1985).

We review questions of subject-matter jurisdiction de novo. Romero v.
Drummond Co., 552 F.3d 1303, 1313 (11th Cir. 2008). We consider sua sponte
whether the district court had removal jurisdiction. Cotton v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins.
Co., 402 F.3d 1267, 1280 (11th Cir. 2005).

Under the removal statute:
Any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction
founded on a claim or right arising under the Constitution, treaties or
laws of the United States shall be removable without regard to the
citizenship or residence of the parties. Any other such action shall be
removable only if none of the parties in interest properly joined and
served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is
brought.

28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). In other words, to be removable on federal-question
jurisdiction grounds, the case must arise under federal law. See Merrell Dow
Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 807-08 (1986). The “well-pleaded
complaint” rule instructs that a case does not arise under federal law unless a
federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff’s complaint. Id. at 808;
Kemp v. Int’l Bus. Mach. Corp., 109 F.3d 708, 712 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing
Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 11 (1983)).

A federal question is presented by the complaint when the suit relies on a
federal cause of action or where “the vindication of a right under state law
necessarily turned on some construction of federal law.” See Merrell Dow, 478
U.S. at 808. Under this latter analysis, federal question jurisdiction should be
narrowly construed. See id. at 810-14. “[T]he mere presence of a federal issue in
a state cause of action does not automatically confer federal-question jurisdiction,”
even where the interpretation of federal law may constitute an element of the state
cause of action. Id. at 813. More recently, the Supreme Court fashioned another
test for deciding whether federal courts should exercise federal question
jurisdiction over removed state court proceedings: “does a state-law claim
necessarily raise a stated federal issue, actually disputed and substantial, which a
federal forum may entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved
balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.” Grable & Sons Metal
Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng’g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314 (2005). “If the plaintiff
elects to bring only state law causes of action in state court, no federal question
will appear in the complaint that could satisfy the well-pleaded complaint rule, and
the case may not be removed to federal court.” Kemp, 109 F.3d at 712.

Upon review of the record, we conclude that the district court should not
have exercised federal-question jurisdiction upon the removal of this case.
Although Madzimoyo’s petition referenced federal laws in passing, none of his
causes of action relied on even the interpretation of federal law. Rather,
Madzimoyo merely asserted that he requested his loan information from the
mortgage companies in accordance with federal law to show that he had acted
diligently and merited state relief. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the
district court and remand with instructions that the district court remand the
proceeding to the state court.

VACATED AND REMANDED.

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Jeffrey Stephan, the first bank employee outed as a “robo-signer,” still works at GMAC (not as a robo-signer)

Jeffrey Stephan, the first bank employee outed as a “robo-signer,” still works at GMAC (not as a robo-signer)


For some these are documents and for others it represents families.

 

WSJ-

GMAC Mortgage LLC, the mortgage servicer that vaulted “robo-signing” into the headlines, says it has overhauled its foreclosure procedures.

The unit of Ally Financial Inc. has put each employee who works on foreclosures through an additional 40 hours of training, testing them on what they learned. Outside law firms that handle foreclosures for GMAC must answer questions about their own practices and are subject to on-site reviews.

The changes came after GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephan said in a deposition last year that he had signed off on as many as 10,000 foreclosure documents without proper review.

[WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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Maine Appeal pushes for sanctions in foreclosure

Maine Appeal pushes for sanctions in foreclosure


Portland Press Herald-

PORTLAND – The “robo-signing” foreclosure case of a Denmark woman represents such a serious attack on the integrity of the state’s judicial system that an investigation of the mortgage servicer’s practices is warranted, the woman’s lawyer argued before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday.

Nicolle Bradbury’s attorney, Thomas Cox, also said a lower court erred when it failed to find GMAC Mortgage in contempt because one of its employees signed a sworn document in support of foreclosure on her home without reviewing the relevant records. Cox, who discovered the flawed process, argued that it was part of a pattern and that the trial court should have considered remedial or punitive action against GMAC.

Cox said such affidavits affect all of the 1,152 foreclosure actions brought in Maine by GMAC over the past six years. He said GMAC was sanctioned in Florida for the same problems in 2006, but failed to reform its practices.

[PORTLAND PRESS]

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Richard v. SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, PC | MI Appeals Court Vacates, Reversed/Remands “MERS is not entitled to utilize foreclosure by advertisement where it does not own the underlying note”

Richard v. SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, PC | MI Appeals Court Vacates, Reversed/Remands “MERS is not entitled to utilize foreclosure by advertisement where it does not own the underlying note”


AARON RICHARD, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

SCHNEIDERMAN & SHERMAN, P.C., GMAC MORTGAGE and MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 297353.

Court of Appeals of Michigan.

August 11, 2011, 9:00 a.m.

Before: BORRELLO, P.J., and METER and SHAPIRO, JJ.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiff, Aaron Richard, appeals as of right an order granting summary disposition in favor of defendants, Schneiderman & Sherman, P.C. (Schneiderman), GMAC Mortgage (GMAC), and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS). We reverse the trial court’s grant of summary disposition, vacate the foreclosure proceeding, and remand further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

This case arises from plaintiff’s attempts to challenge the foreclosure and sale of property he owned located at 19952 Hubbell in Detroit. Plaintiff purchased the property in part through a $50,000 loan, executed on May 4, 2006, from Homecomings Financial Network, Inc. The loan was secured by a May 4, 2006, mortgage with MERS, as the nominee of Homecomings.

It is not clear from the record when plaintiff fell behind on his mortgage payments. However, on October 9, 2009, Schneiderman, acting as GMAC’s agent, mailed plaintiff a notice stating that his mortgage was in default and informing him of his rights, including to request mediation. The outstanding debt owed to GMAC was listed as $50,267.78. Ultimately, MERS began non-judicial foreclosure by advertisement under MCL 600.3201, et seq., and purchased the property at the subsequent sheriff’s sale.

Plaintiff filed suit, in pro per, during the redemption period, alleging that the sheriff’s sale was “flawed” on numerous grounds and asserted that MERS did not hold any rights to the debt. Defendants filed for summary disposition, asserting, among other things, that the sheriff’s sale was “not only legal, but also valid, as all required procedures were followed.” The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of defendants and dismissed plaintiff’s claim.

Although many of plaintiff’s claims are without merit, it is clear that the sheriff’s sale was invalid because, although MERS was only a mortgagee, MERS foreclosed on plaintiff’s property utilizing non-judicial foreclosure by advertisement. This Court has held that MERS is not entitled to utilize foreclosure by advertisement where it does not own the underlying note. Residential Funding Co, Inc v Saurman, ___ Mich App ___; ___ NW2d ___ (Docket Nos. 290248, 291443; April 21, 2011), slip op at 11. Under such circumstances, “MERS’ inability to comply with the statutory requirements rendered the foreclosure proceedings . . . void ab initio.Id. Because the application of Saurman is dispositive, we must determine whether Saurman is retroactive and, if so, whether to assign it full or limited retroactivity.

“[T]he general rule is that judicial decisions are to be given complete retroactive effect.” Hyde v Univ of Mich Bd of Regents, 426 Mich 223, 240; 393 NW2d 847 (1986). “Complete prospective application has generally been limited to decisions which overrule clear and uncontradicted case law.” Id.

Rules determined in opinions that apply retroactively apply to all cases “still open on direct review and as to all events, regardless of whether such events predate or postdate our announcement of the rule[s].” Harper v Virginia Dep’t of Taxation, 509 US 86, 97, 113 S Ct 2510, 125 L Ed 2d 74 (1993). Rules determined in opinions that apply prospectively only, on the other hand, not only do not apply to cases still open on direct review, but do not even apply to the parties in the cases in which the rules are declared. See Pohutski v City of Allen Park, 465 Mich 675, 699, 641 NW2d 219 (2002). [McNeel v Farm Bureau Ins, 289 Mich App 76, 94; 795 NW2d 205 (2010).]

Given that this Court applied its holding to the cases in Saurman, it is clear that the holding in Saurman has been afforded at least limited retroactivity.[1] However, cases given limited retroactivity apply “in pending cases where the issue had been raised and preserved,” Stein v Southeastern Mich Family Planning Project, Inc, 432 Mich 198, 201; 438 NW2d 876 (1989), while cases with full retroactivity apply to all cases then pending. This distinction makes a difference because, although plaintiff contested the foreclosure, he did not specifically raise and preserve the issue of whether MERS has the authority to foreclose by advertisement. Thus, Saurman is only applicable to this case if it is granted full retroactivity.

“The threshold question is whether `the decision clearly established a new principle of law.'” Rowland v Washtenaw Co Rd Comm, 477 Mich 197, 220; 731 NW2d 41 (2007) (citation omitted). Our Supreme Court has held that cases that properly interpret statutes, even if prior caselaw has held differently, “restore[] legitimacy to the law” and, thus, are “not a declaration of a new rule, but . . . a vindication of controlling legal authority.” Id. at 222 (quotation marks and citation omitted). In Saurman, this Court interpreted MCL 600.3204(1)(d). There was no existing caselaw and, therefore, it did not overrule any law or reconstrue a statute. See Hyde, 426 Mich at 240. Consequently, this Court’s decision in Saurman was not “tantamount to a new rule of law,” see Rowland, 477 Mich at 222 n 17, and, therefore should be given full retroactive effect.[2] Hence, Saurman is applicable to the instant case, rendering the foreclosure proceedings void ab initio. Saurman, ___ Mich App at ___, slip op at 11.

Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary disposition, vacate the foreclosure proceeding, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We do not retain jurisdiction.

[1] In addition, “there is a serious question as to whether it is constitutionally legitimate for this Court to render purely prospective opinions, as such ruling are, in essence, advisory opinions.” Rowland v Washtenaw Co Rd Comm, 477 Mich 197, 221; 731 NW2d 41 (2007), quoting Wayne Co v Hathcock, 471 Mich 445, 485 n 98; 684 NW2d 765 (2004).

[2] We reiterate the general rule that a retroactive decision cannot serve to reopen those cases that are already closed. Thus, where the time to oppose the foreclosure by advertisement, the time to oppose the resulting eviction, and the time to appeal from those actions have run, a party may not rely on Saurman in an attempt to reopen those cases to recover possession or ownership.

[ipaper docId=62409203 access_key=key-1dg3grocmbnrusk3fz4 height=600 width=600 /]

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GARY DUBIN LAW OFFICES FORECLOSURE DEFENSE HAWAII and CALIFORNIA
Chip Parker, www.jaxlawcenter.com
Kenneth Eric Trent, www.ForeclosureDestroyer.com
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