MERS ‘QUIET TITLE’ FAIL
NY SUPREME COURT: SUFFOLK COUNTY
INDEX NO. 09-3 1067
MERS alleges that the mortgage was never recorded, and upon information and belief, has been lost or inadvertantly destroyed. MERS commenced this action on August 1 1, 2009, with the filing of the summons, verified complaint, and notice of pendency.
Also, in support of its cross motion, MERS submits, inter alia, copies of the alleged note and mortgage, and the affidavit of John Burnett ( “Burnett”), a Vice President of Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee for the MLMI Trust Series 2007-MLNI (“Deutsche Bank”) who alleges that Deutsche Bank is the current owner and holder of the mortgage that is the subject of this action. Burnett claims that MERS’ mortgage has been assigned to Deutsche Bank by an unrecorded assignment of the mortgage acknowledged on September 4,2009, a copy of which has been submitted to the court. Burnett states that the assignment will be recorded once the mortgage has been established of record. Further, Burnett alleges that out of the loan proceeds that were secured by the mortgage, $641,441.54 was paid to Downey Savings and Loan to satisfy a prior mortgage Torr had given on the property, and the amount of $34,833.22 was paid directly to Torr. Burnett submits a copy of the alleged HUD- 1 A Settlement Statement from Torr’s closing.
Additionally, Burnett asserts that it has been discovered that the original mortgage was never recorded, cannot be located, and is presumed to be lost or inadvertantly destroyed. He claims that the original mortgage is not in Deutsche Bank’s files, and only a copy has been located. Burnett states that Interactive Abstract (“Interactive”) a title abstract company, presided over the November 17, 2006 closing of the mortgage and took the executed original for the purpose of recording it in the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office. He states that, upon information and belief, the mortgage was lost, misplace or destroyed while in Interactive‘s possession or after it had been submitted to the Clerk’s Office for recording. Burnett alleges that he has been advised that Interactive has ceased operating as a title abstract company and is out of business.
MERS alleges that by submitting the affidavit of Burnett, and copies of the affidavits of service, together with the relevant documentary evidence, it has satisfied the proof required by CPLR 321 5 setting forth the facts constituting the claim against Torr and establishing his default. Moreover, MERS alleges that the relief sought herein, a declaratory judgment, is necessary to enable it to realize the security interest in the property that was bargained for when MLN made its $695,000.00 loan to Torr and Torr gave the mortgage to secure the loan. MERS requests that the court render a judgment declaring that the plaintiff is the holder of a mortgage encumbering the premises under the terms and conditions set forth in the unrecorded plaintiffs mortgage, and directing the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office to record such a declaratory judgment, together with a copy of the plaintiffs mortgage.
As to Torr’s motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, MERS has established that such motion is untimely. Torr was served by two different methods of service. One of the affidavits of service submitted indicates that Torr was served pursuant to CPLR 308(2) on September 2, 2009, by leaving the summons and verified complaint with a person of suitable age and discretion; mailing them to Torr’s residence on September 8,2009; and then filing proof of service with the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office on September 18, 2009. Therefore, under this method of service, Torr would have had to have served an answer or a notice of appearance by October 28,2009 (see CPLR 308; CPLR 320; and CPLR 3012). The other affidavit of service submitted indicates that Torr was served pursuant to CPLR 308( 1) on September 2,2009, by personal delivery of the summons and verified complaint, and then fiIing proof of service with the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office on September 10, 2009. Thus, under this method of service, Torr would have had to have served an answer or a notice of appearance by September 22, 2009 (see CPLR 320 and CPLR 30 12). Furthermore, this motion to dismiss the complaint was made by Torr on December 2 1,2009, the date upon which it was served (see CPLR 221 1). Inasmuch as this motion was not interposed within the time required for service of responsive pleadings (see CPLR 32 1 1 [e]), no matter which of the two afl’ldavits of service submitted herein is used, the motion is untimely. Therefore, Torr’s motion to dismiss is denied.
As to MERS’ cross motion, it is well settledl that when applying for a default judgment, a plaintiff must submit evidence sufficient to demonstrate a prima facie case (see CPLR 32 lS[fl; Silberstein v Presbyterinn Hosp. in the City of New York, 96 AD2d 1096,463 NYS2d 254 ). Thus, if a court finds that the allegations in a complaint or affidavit of facts fail to establish a prima facie case, a movant is not entitled to the requested relief; even on default (Dyno v Rose, 260 AD2d 694,687 NYS2d 497 ; Green v Dolplzy Construction Co., Inc., 187 AD2d 635, 590 NYS2d 238 ). Consistent with the foregoing, and upon review of t.he papers submitted, the court finds MERS’ application for a default judgment to be deficient.
An action to compel the determination of a claim to real property may be maintained where a plaintiff claims an estate or interest in real property (RPAPL § 150 I [ 11). Although the interest had by a mortgagee of real property or its successor in interest is an “interest in real property”(RPAPL tj 150 1 [ 5 ] ) , here MERS has failed to meet its burden by demonstrating that it has standing to maintain this action to quiet title (see Soscin v Soscin, 35 AD3d 841, 829 NYS2d 543 ). MERS has failed to make a prima facie showing that it was the owner or holder of the note and the mortgage at the time this action was commenced (cc Mortgnge Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. v Conkley, 41 AD3d 674, 838 NYS2d 622 ). In addition, the purported mortgage describes MERS as the nominee of MLN, and that for purposes of recording the mortgage, MERS is the mortgagee of record. Thus, MERS as nominee, is the agent of MLN, for limited purposes, “and has only those powers which are conferred to it and authorized by” MLN (Bank of New York v Aldernzi, 201 0 NE’ Slip Op. 20 167,900 NYS2d 82 1, 823 [Sup Ct, Kings County, 20101). There is no evidence that MLN, who is not a party herein, authorized MERS to bring this action’.
Moreover, the effectiveness of the assignment dated September 4, 2009, is unclear as there is no evidence that MLN ever directly assigned the note to MERS or expressly gave MERS the authority to act as MLN’s authorized agent to assign the subject note to Deutsche Bank (see In re Stralern, 303 AD2d 120, 758 NYS2d 345 ; Teitz v Goettler, 191 AD 924, 181 NYS 956 ).Without an effective transfer of MLN’s interest in the note to MERS or express authorization from MLN for MERS to assign the note on its behalf, the assignment of the mortgage is a nullity (see Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 536 NYS2d 92 ). Thus, it is also iinclear whether Deutche Bank’s Vice President had the authority to act in terms of satisfying the proof of facts constituting this claim (see CPLR 3215[fl; Wells Fargo Barzk, NA v Davilmar, 16 Misc3d 1 13 3A, 847 NYS2d 906 ).
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