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Foreclosure mill getting peppered, Linked to the first criminal case brought against alleged robo-signers

Foreclosure mill getting peppered, Linked to the first criminal case brought against alleged robo-signers


In case you wish to read the transcripts from this story check it out: FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES “LPS” SCOTT A. WALTER PART 1 &

FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES SCOTT A. WALTER PART 2 “STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.”, “O. MAX GARDNER”, “US TRUSTEE”

NY POST-

The stink is growing around the state’s largest foreclosure mill.

The Steven J. Baum law firm, which last month agreed to pay a $2 million fine to settle a federal probe into bogus foreclosure case filings, has now been barred by federal mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from getting any more referrals of home loan defaults owned by either company.

In addition, the 70-lawyer firm is linked to the first criminal case brought against alleged robo-signers.

The criminal case was brought by the Nevada attorney general against two title officers — Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard — charged with forging signatures on 606 foreclosure-related mortgage documents.

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CA Appeal Court Reverses Judgment “CRC VP Deborah Brignac Affidavit Fail” | Herrera v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust

CA Appeal Court Reverses Judgment “CRC VP Deborah Brignac Affidavit Fail” | Herrera v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust


UPDATE: Filed 5/31/11; partial pub. cert. & mod. 6/28/11 (see end of opn.)

The opinion in the above-entitled matter filed on May 31, 2011, was not certified for publication in the Official Reports. For good cause it now appears that the opinion should be partially published in the Official Reports and it is so ordered.

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT
(El Dorado)
—-

ROBERT HERRERA et al.,
Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
DEUTSCHE1 BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY
et al.,
Defendants and Respondents.

EXCERPT:

Defendants also relied on Brignac’s declaration, which declared that the 2003 deed of trust permitted the beneficiary to appoint successor trustees. Brignac, however, did not simply declare the identity of the beneficiary and the new trustee under the 2003 deed of trust. Instead, she declared that an Assignment of Deed of Trust and a Substitution of Trustee were recorded on February 27, 2009. These facts add nothing to the judicially noticed documents; they establish only that the documents were recorded.

Brignac further declared that “[t]he Assignment of Deed of Trust indicates that JPMorgan Bank [sic], successor in interest to Washington Mutual Bank, successor in interest to Long Beach Mortgage Company, transfers all beneficial interest in connection with the [deed of trust] to Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2003-4.” (Italics added.) This declaration is insufficient to show the Bank is the beneficiary under the 2003 deed of trust. A supporting declaration must be made on personal knowledge and “show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (d).) Brignac’s declaration does not affirmatively show that she can competently testify the Bank is the beneficiary under the 2003 deed of trust. At most, her declaration shows she can testify as to what the Assignment of Deed of Trust “indicates.” But the factual contents of the assignment are hearsay and defendants offered no exception to the hearsay rule prior to oral argument to make these factual matters admissible.

At oral argument, defendants contended that the recorded documents were actually business records and admissible under the business record exception. We note that Brignac did not provide any information in her declaration establishing that the sources of the information and the manner and time of preparation were such as to indicate trustworthiness.

….

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PT. 2 “NO TRUST LOAN TRANSFER” DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES

PT. 2 “NO TRUST LOAN TRANSFER” DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES


Affidavit Included

Excerpt: Pg 168

Q. To the best of your knowledge, did Chase ever own Ms. Nuer’s loan?

A. No.

Q.  To the best of your knowledge, was Ms. Nuer’s loan ever transferred out of this trust?

A. No.

Q.  Does the trust continue to own Ms. Nuer’s loan today?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible that this loan, Ms. Nuer’s loan, somehow transferred to the trust by Chase in November 2008?

A. No.

[…]

Down Load PDF of This Case

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DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES

DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES


Be prepared to blown away with April Charney and Linda Tirelli!

THEY DO NOT BACK DOWN!

Be sure to go down to the “related depos” down below…

Down Load PDF of This Case

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FDIC to sue 3 former WAMU executives for $1 Billion

FDIC to sue 3 former WAMU executives for $1 Billion


FDIC to seek $1B from former WaMu execs

Puget Sound Business Journal – by Kirsten Grind
Date: Friday, February 18, 2011, 2:41pm PST – Last Modified: Friday, February 18, 2011, 5:15pm PST

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. plans to file a civil suit against at least three former Washington Mutual executives, including former chief executive Kerry Killinger, seeking to collect more than $1 billion in damages, according to people familiar with the pending suit.

Killinger, former president and chief operating officer Steve Rotella and David Schneider, former president of the failed bank’s home loan division, all recently received legal notices informing them of the pending litigation, these people say.

The three executives were the highest-level officials in charge of WaMu’s mortgage operations. It’s unclear when or where the FDIC will file its suit.

Continue reading…Puget Sound Business Journal

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FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF CHRISTIAN S. HYMER 1ST VP OF OPERATIONS FOR LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES (LPS) MINNESOTA

FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF CHRISTIAN S. HYMER 1ST VP OF OPERATIONS FOR LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES (LPS) MINNESOTA


Courtesy of Legal Services of New Jersey

EXCERPT:

17 Q. Okay. And how is LPS paid? Are they paid by
18 the attorney? Are they paid by the servicer who’s
19 asked the attorney to perform that service?
20 A. It depends on the service. For many
21 services, they are — the model that we operate under
22 is a vendor supportive model, “vendor” meaning the
23 attorney office would pay for that service. There are
24 some support services that the servicer pays for
25 directly.

Page 22
1 Q. So in your scenario that you just gave me a
2 few minutes ago, a law firm drafts a document, and it’s
3 sent on to LPS to see whether or not it’s appropriate
4 for LPS to sign the document. The law firm then pays
5 LPS for that service? That’s considered a support
6 service?
7 A. That’s — that’s part of the — Yeah.
8 Correct. That would be one of the support services it
9 would provide, and part of what the fee they would pay
10 would include that activity.

11 Q. Okay. And are there also payments made for
12 using the software and the platform?
13 A. There are payments made. That’s part of the
14 technology agreement. There is a technology fee
15 assessed for each, we call it a referral, but it,
16 essentially, would be a legal action of some sort or an
17 action. It’s not always a legal action. But for every
18 referral type there is a fee, and that fee ranges
19 between $5 and $75, depending on the activity to be
20 performed and the technology in play or processes in
21 play to track it.

22 Q. Okay. So, for example, is LPS paid when a
23 servicer makes a referral to a law firm within the
24 network to do — perform some service?
25 A. Yes. LPS is paid upon referral.

Read full depo below…

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FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES SCOTT A. WALTER PART 2 “STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.”, “O. MAX GARDNER”, “US TRUSTEE”

FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES SCOTT A. WALTER PART 2 “STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.”, “O. MAX GARDNER”, “US TRUSTEE”


EXCERPT:

Q. So this doesn’t necessarily mean
3 that someone physically picked up the file
4 from LPS; correct?
5 A. My understanding is that this is
6 a note that automates when the attorney
7 has confirmed receipt through new image.
8 Whether that’s manual or not, I couldn’t
9 say based on the notes. And then new
10 image stamps into the LPS Desktop
11 confirming that NIE ID number 0966 and on
12 was pulled in, those documents were
13 received by the attorney.
14 Q. Does LPS have any employees at
15 the Steven J. Baum law firm?
16 A. Not that I’m aware of.

<SNIP>

Q. This is from the Steven J. Baum
law firm; correct?
3 A. It appears to be.
4 Q. Would you have any reason to
5 doubt that?
6 A. No.
7 Q. And could you tell me what this
8 entry represents.
9 A. To the best of my understanding,
10 they have user has completed a POA
11 requisite data form, exactly what it says.
12 I guess I couldn’t give you a full answer.
13 I don’t manage this process, but it
14 appears they are requesting something.
15 Q. So just start me off, POA
16 underscore requisite, what does that stand
17 for?
18 A. I could guess.
19 Q. Is that a category or a type of
20 document?
21 A. Again, I could guess.
22 Q. I don’t want you to guess, but
23 can you make an educated guess?
24 A. Power of attorney.
25 Q. Who at LPS would have a better
understanding of this process? You said
3 it’s not really you.
4 A. I don’t know.
5 Q. Let’s go to entry two hundred
6 fifty-one dated 11/4/08. User has updated
7 the system for the following. Power of
8 attorney requested, completed on 11/4/08.
9 Do you see that?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Can you tell me what that entry
12 is.
13 A. I could give you an educated
14 guess.
15 Q. Go ahead.
16 A. My educated guess would be the
17 attorney has requested a power of
18 attorney.
19 Q. From whom?
20 A. From that note, I couldn’t say
21 for certain. But below the secondary
22 note, it seems to indicate JP Morgan to
23 Scott Walter.
24 Q. Who is asking for that? It’s
25 kind of written in the passive.
Who’s actually asking for the
3 power of attorney?

4 A. Appears to me from the notes
5 that Steven J. Baum’s office is making
6 this request.

<SNIP>

A. It appears to be Steven J. Baum
3 noting the file, memorializing that they
4 have prepared an assignment, they have
5 uploaded it into the LPS Desktop to be
6 reviewed and executed, and that it isn’t
7 back yet.

8 Q. What does it mean assignment was
9 received not signed, who’s receiving that?
10 A. I wouldn’t know.
11 Q. Well, do you read this as the
12 assignment is not signed?

13 A. I read it as an assignment is
14 not signed or, let me better state what I
15 meant to say, is that a signed assignment
16 hasn’t been received by Steven J. Baum.

17 Which assignment though I couldn’t tell
18 from this note.

19 Q. Would this assignment be signed
20 by LPS; is that what this is saying?

21 A. It appears that the attorney is
22 stating that.
However, I can’t tell you
23 whether LPS would have signed this
24 document or not without seeing the
25 document that the note’s referencing.

Continue below…

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FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES “LPS” SCOTT A. WALTER PART 1

FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES “LPS” SCOTT A. WALTER PART 1


EXCERPT:

Q. Okay. Do you know how many — on behalf of
2 how many entities you are authorized to sign documents?
3 A. I don’t have the exact number in my head.
4 Q. Can you give me your best estimate?
5 A. More than 20.
6 Q. Okay. And how often on a daily basis do you
7 execute documents?
8 A. Once a day.
9 Q. And how many do you typically sign a day?
10 A. Less than three.
11 Q. Okay. And can you describe to me the process
12 by which you receive these documents for signature?

13 A. Sure. I am delivered, via an LPS employee
14 courier, a document, and I’m advised that it is to be
15 executed. The group that receives the document request
16 from the agent reviews the document per our protocols
17 and procedures. That document is then determined that
18 LPS can execute the document.
19 Based on the various signing authorities, it
20 will be determined that I will be the one authorized to
21 sign it. It will be delivered to me. I will review
22 the document. I will ensure that I do have signing
23 authority for the document. I will verify that the
24 document is what it says it is. Then while they’re
25 watching me, I will execute the document. It is put
back — it is put into a manila envelope, and it is
2 taken away from me.
3 Q. And when you were signing the document in
4 front of this messenger, is that person the notary?

5 A. I’m unaware if they are the notary or not,
6 but they are within the same department.

7 Q. Okay. Do you ever sign a notary log?
8 A. I don’t recall ever signing one.
9 Q. Do you ever keep track of the documents that
10 you sign?
11 A. No.
12 Q. And I meant personally.

Continue reading below…

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2-4-1 CT Appeals Court Reversals: LaSalle v. BIALOBRZESKI, DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, v. PAUL BIALOBRZESKI

2-4-1 CT Appeals Court Reversals: LaSalle v. BIALOBRZESKI, DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, v. PAUL BIALOBRZESKI


DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, TRUSTEE,
v.
PAUL BIALOBRZESKI.

(AC 29884).

Appellate Court of Connecticut.
Argued January 13, 2010.
Officially released September 21, 2010.

Paul Bialobrzeski, pro se, the appellant (defendant).

Andrew P. Barsom, for the appellee (plaintiff).

Flynn, C. J., and Bishop and Robinson, Js.[*]

Opinion

ROBINSON, J.

In this foreclosure action, the pro se defendant, Paul Bialobrzeski, claims that the plaintiff[1] lacked standing to bring the action because it was not in possession of the subject note and mortgage at the time the action was commenced. The resolution of that claim is predicated on a finding of fact that is not part of the record. Our rules of practice require the appellant to provide an adequate record for review. See Practice Book §§ 60-5 and 61-10. Because the record is devoid of a factual finding as to when the plaintiff came into possession of the note, we are unable to review the claim as to the court’s subject matter jurisdiction. We therefore reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

The following procedural history is relevant to the defendant’s appeal. On October 22, 2007, the plaintiff caused a writ of summons and complaint to be served on the defendant to foreclose the mortgage on real property located at 254 Slater Road in New Britain. The defendant filed a pro se appearance on November 19, 2007. On December 4, 2007, the plaintiff filed a motion for default for failure to plead, which was granted by the clerk. On December 13, 2007, the defendant filed an answer[2] and a motion for a continuance to retain counsel. On December 17, 2007, the court, Domnarski, J., opened the default in view of the answer filed by the defendant. On January 22, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that “there are no genuine issues as to any material facts, and therefore moves for [s]ummary [j]udgment as to liability only.”[3] The defendant did not file an objection thereto. Summary judgment as to the defendant’s liability was granted summarily by the court, Dunnell, J., on February 11, 2008.[4]

On March 17, 2008, the defendant filed a motion for a continuance in which he represented that he had retained counsel, who was out of the state on business, and that counsel was necessary to articulate the defendant’s defenses and to “press forward” his motion for permission to amend his answer and to file special defenses.[5] The plaintiff objected to the motion to amend.[6] On March 27, 2008, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action. In a memorandum of law in support of the motion, he stated: “The plaintiff . . . commenced this foreclosure action on October 19, 2007. The plaintiff claims ownership of the mortgage through an assignment dated November 8, 2007 and recorded November 28, 2007. The note submitted as an exhibit contains no endorsement and no date.” Judge Domnarski denied the motion to dismiss and sustained the plaintiff’s objection thereto. On April 21, 2008, Judge Domnarski rendered judgment of foreclosure by sale, setting a sale date of August 2, 2008. The defendant filed this appeal on May 6, 2008,[7] and thereafter a motion for articulation.

In response to the defendant’s motion for articulation seeking the basis of the court’s denial of his motion to dismiss, Judge Domnarski articulated: “(1) Summary judgment as to liability had previously been entered against the defendant on February 11, 2008, Dunnell, J. [and] (2) The plaintiff alleged in paragraph 4 of the complaint that it is the holder of the note and mortgage. See Villager Pond, Inc. v. [Darien], 54 Conn. App. 178 [734 A.2d 1031 (1999)].” The defendant did not seek further articulation or file a motion for review in this court. See Practice Book § 66-7.

On appeal, the defendant claims that Judge Domnarski erred “in denying the defendant’s [m]otion to [d]ismiss a mortgage foreclosure action in which the [writ of] summons, and complaint had been initiated by a plaintiff which did not own either the note or the mortgage at the time the action was initiated, lacked standing to pursue the foreclosure action, and the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to grant the [m]otion for [f]oreclosure.”

We begin by setting forth the appropriate standard of review. “A motion to dismiss . . . properly attacks the jurisdiction of the court, essentially asserting that the plaintiff cannot as a matter of law and fact state a cause of action that should be heard by the court. . . . [O]ur review of the trial court’s ultimate legal conclusion and resulting [denial] of the motion to dismiss will be de novo. . . . Factual findings underlying the court’s decision, however, will not be disturbed unless they are clearly erroneous. . . . The applicable standard of review for the denial of a motion to dismiss, therefore, generally turns on whether the appellant seeks to challenge the legal conclusions of the trial court or its factual determinations.” (Citations omitted; emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Bonner, 290 Conn. 468, 477-78, 964 A.2d 73 (2009).

We first look to the relevant allegations of the plaintiff’s complaint. At paragraph 4, the plaintiff alleged, in part, “The Plaintiff, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3, is the holder of said Note and Mortgage.” In answering the complaint, the defendant left the plaintiff to its proof as to that allegation. When the plaintiff filed its motion for summary judgment on January 22, 2008, it attached copies of the subject note and mortgage and an assignment of the mortgage. The defendant failed to object to the motion for summary judgment or to submit any evidence that would create a genuine issue of material fact as to when the plaintiff acquired the note. See Practice Book § 17-45. Judge Dunnell granted the motion for summary judgment as to the defendant’s liability on February 11, 2008. The defendant did not file a motion to reargue but instead, on March 17, 2008, filed a motion for permission to amend his answer and to file special defenses, including a special defense that the plaintiff did not own the mortgage at the time the action was commenced. On March 27, 2008, the defendant also filed a motion to dismiss the action and in the memorandum of law in support thereof stated that the note submitted in support of the motion for summary judgment contained no endorsement and no date.

Although our review of the file demonstrates that the copy of the note submitted with the motion for summary judgment does not contain an endorsement and is not dated, the defendant has not claimed on appeal that Judge Dunnell improperly granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.[8] Rather, the defendant attacks Judge Domnarski’s reliance on Judge Dunnell’s ruling on the motion for summary judgment. The substance of the defendant’s appellate claim is that the mortgage was not assigned to the plaintiff until sometime after the action was commenced, and the plaintiff did not own the note at the time it commenced the action.[9] The defendant, however, cannot rely on the date the mortgage was assigned to the plaintiff as proof that the plaintiff did not own the note on the date the action was commenced.

“General Statutes § 49-17 permits the holder of a negotiable instrument that is secured by a mortgage to foreclose on the mortgage even when the mortgage has not yet been assigned to him. . . . The statute codifies the common-law principle of long standing that the mortgage follows the note, pursuant to which only the rightful owner of the note has the right to enforce the mortgage. . . . Our legislature, by adopting § 49-17, has provide[d] an avenue for the holder of the note to foreclose on the property when the mortgage has not been assigned to him.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Chase Home Finance, LLC v. Fequiere, 119 Conn. App. 570, 576-77, 989 A.2d 606, cert. denied, 295 Conn. 922, 991 A.2d 564 (2010).

The key to resolving the defendant’s claim is a determination of when the note came into the plaintiff’s possession. We cannot review the claim because Judge Domnarski made no factual finding as to when the plaintiff acquired the note. Without that factual determination, we are unable to say whether Judge Domnarski improperly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.[10] Although it is the appellant’s responsibility to provide an adequate record for review; see Practice Book §§ 60-5 and 61-10; that cannot be the end of the matter because it concerns the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction.

“[S]ubject matter jurisdiction involves the authority of the court to adjudicate the type of controversy presented by the action before it . . . and a judgment rendered without subject matter jurisdiction is void. . . . Further, it is well established that a reviewing court properly may address jurisdictional claims that neither were raised nor ruled on in the trial court. . . . Indeed, [o]nce the question of lack of jurisdiction of a court is raised, [it] must be disposed of no matter in what form it is presented. . . . The court must fully resolve it before proceeding further with the case.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re DeLeon J., 290 Conn. 371, 376, 963 A.2d 53 (2009). The burden of demonstrating that a party has standing to bring an action is on the plaintiff. Seymour v. Region One Board of Education, 274 Conn. 92, 104, 874 A.2d 742, cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1016, 126 S. Ct. 659, 163 L. Ed. 2d 526 (2005).

“Trial courts addressing motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to [Practice Book] § 10-31 (a) (1) may encounter different situations, depending on the status of the record in the case. As summarized by a federal court discussing motions brought pursuant to the analogous federal rule [i.e., Fed. R. Civ. P. (12) (b) (1)], [l]ack of subject matter jurisdiction may be found in any one of three instances: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court’s resolution of disputed facts. . . . Different rules and procedures will apply, depending on the state of the record at the time the motion is filed.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Conboy v. State, 292 Conn. 642, 650-51, 974 A.2d 669 (2009).

“[I]f the complaint is supplemented by undisputed facts established by affidavits submitted in support of the motions to dismiss . . . the trial court, in determining the jurisdictional issue, may consider these supplementary undisputed facts and need not conclusively presume the validity of the allegations of the complaint.. . . [W]here a jurisdictional determination is dependent on the resolution of a critical factual dispute, it cannot be decided on a motion to dismiss in the absence of an evidentiary hearing to establish jurisdictional facts.” (Citations omitted; emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 651-52.

In this case, the defendant questioned the plaintiff’s standing to bring the foreclosure action at the time the action was commenced. The defendant’s motion to dismiss was inspired by the exhibits attached to the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. The affidavit of Peter Read, an assistant vice president of Washington Mutual Bank, attests to the plaintiff being the holder of the note, but it does not resolve the factual issue as to when the plaintiff acquired the note.[11] See footnote 3 of this opinion. When the question regarding the plaintiff’s standing was raised, the court should have held a hearing to determine whether the plaintiff was the owner or holder of the note at the time the action was commenced. See Conboy v. State, supra, 292 Conn. 651-52. It is fundamental that appellate courts do not make findings of fact. Stevenson v. Commissioner of Correction, 112 Conn. App. 675, 683 n.1, 963 A.2d 1077 (when record on appeal devoid of factual findings, improper for appellate court to make its own findings), cert. denied, 291 Conn. 904, 967 A.2d 1221 (2009). The case, therefore, must be remanded to the trial court for a hearing to determine whether the plaintiff was the owner or holder of the subject note at the time the action was commenced. See Cross v. Hudon, 27 Conn. App. 729, 734, 609 A.2d 1021 (1992) (court improperly failed to conduct evidentiary hearing because jurisdiction hinged on factual determination).

The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for a hearing on the motion to dismiss.

In this opinion the other judges concurred.

[*] The listing of judges reflects their seniority status on this court as of the date of oral argument.

[1] The plaintiff is Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3.

[2] In his answer, the pro se defendant admitted that he owned the property at 254 Slater Road in New Britain and that on February 28, 2006, he executed and delivered to Long Beach Mortgage Company a note for a loan in the principal amount of $220,000. He also admitted that he is the owner of the equity of redemption in the property and is in possession of the property. The defendant left the plaintiff to its proof as to the remaining allegations of the complaint.

[3] Our review of the file demonstrates that the plaintiff attached copies of the following documents as exhibits to its motion for summary judgment: the defendant’s answer, an affidavit signed by Peter Read, an assistant vice president of Washington Mutual Bank, the subject fixed-adjustable rate note—payable to Long Beach Mortgage Company without an endorsement, the subject mortgage, the assignment of the mortgage and the notice of intent to accelerate.

In his affidavit, Read attested, among other things, as to the plaintiff’s ownership of the mortgage and note as follows: “Said mortgage was thereafter assigned to Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3 by virtue of an assignment of mortgage recorded in Volume 1725 at Page 1024 of the New Britain Land Records. A true and accurate copy of said assignment is attached hereto as Exhibit C. Plaintiff in this action, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3, is the owner and holder of said note and mortgage.” Significantly, Read does not attest in the affidavit to the date the plaintiff acquired the note.

[4] The defendant did not file a motion asking Judge Dunnell to articulate the basis on which she made the factual determination that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that the plaintiff was entitled to judgment as a matter of law; see Practice Book § 17-49; including the issue of the ownership of the note and mortgage and to whom the defendant was liable.

[5] The defendant proposed two special defenses. His first special defense is that the plaintiff did not own the mortgage at the time the action was commenced and his second special defense is that Washington Mutual Bank mailed the notice of intent to accelerate to the defendant but had no authority to do so as Long Beach Mortgage Company owned the mortgage at the time.

[6] According to the record, the court never ruled on the motion for permission to amend and the objection thereto.

[7] In its brief, the plaintiff argues that the defendant failed to preserve the issue presented or timely file his appeal because the appeal was not filed within twenty days of the date the trial court denied the motion to dismiss. Generally, the denial of a motion to dismiss is an interlocutory ruling. Conboy v. State, 292 Conn. 642, 645 n.5, 974 A.2d 669 (2009); but see Ware v. State, 118 Conn. App. 65, 79, 983 A.2d 853 (2009) (denial of motion to dismiss based on colorable claim of sovereign immunity immediately appealable). The defendant timely filed his appeal within twenty days of the court rendering the judgment of foreclosure by sale. See Glenfed Mortgage Corp. v. Crowley, 61 Conn. App. 84, 88, 763 A.2d 19 (2000) (foreclosure by sale appealable final judgment).

[8] Even if the defendant had claimed that Judge Dunnell improperly granted the motion for summary judgment, there is no record that Judge Dunnell found that there is no genuine issue of material fact that the plaintiff became the owner of the note prior to the commencement of the action.

[9] The defendant also notes correctly that the copy of the note attached to the motion for summary judgment lacked an endorsement. We have no way of knowing if Judge Dunnell inquired about that before ruling on the motion for summary judgment. In its brief to this court, the plaintiff states that the “original Note bearing endorsement was produced to the trial court at the hearing on April 21, 2008.” On April 21, 2008, judgment was rendered. It was not the date on which the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment was decided. Moreover, the endorsement is not proof of the date on which the plaintiff acquired the note.

[10] The defendant did not file any exhibits or transcripts of proceedings in the trial court, if any. We do not know whether any evidence other than the attachments to the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment were presented to either court at the time the motion for summary judgment and the motion to dismiss were decided. The defendant has not claimed that the plaintiff submitted insufficient evidence to determine its ownership of the note.

[11] On appeal, the plaintiff has argued, supported by citations to authority, that the holder of a note rightly may foreclose the mortgage. That argument, however, is beside the point. The relevant question is when the plaintiff became the holder.

___________________________________________________________


LASALLE BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIAT-ION (TRUSTEE),
v.
PAUL S. BIALOBRZESKI ET AL.

(AC 30911).

Appellate Court of Connecticut.
Argued January 13, 2010.
Officially released September 21, 2010.

Paul S. Bialobrzeski, pro se, the appellant (defendant).

Andrew P. Barsom, for the appellee (plaintiff).

Flynn, C. J., and Bishop and Robinson, Js.[*]

Opinion

ROBINSON, J.

The pro se defendant Paul S. Bialobrzeski[1] appeals from the judgment of strict foreclosure rendered in favor of the plaintiff, LaSalle Bank, National Association, as trustee for WMABS Series 2006-HE[2] Trust.2 On appeal, the defendant claims that it was improper for the trial court to deny his motion to dismiss the action because the plaintiff lacked standing. Because the record is devoid of a factual finding as to when the plaintiff acquired the note, we are unable to review the claim as to the court’s subject matter jurisdiction. See Practice Book §§ 60-5 and 61-10. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

The following procedural history is relevant to the defendant’s appeal. On October 29, 2007, the plaintiff caused a writ of summons and complaint to be served on the defendant to foreclose the mortgage on real property at 121 Colonial Avenue in Middlebury. The defendant filed a pro se appearance on November 16, 2007. On December 14, 2007, the defendant filed an answer to the complaint in which he admitted that (1) he owned the real property at 121 Colonial Avenue in Middlebury, (2) on March 16, 2006, he executed and delivered to Long Beach Mortgage Corporation a note in the original principal amount of $350,000, and (3) he was the owner of the equity of redemption in the property and was in possession of the property. As to the remaining counts of the complaint, the defendant left the plaintiff to its proof. On that same date, the defendant filed a motion for a continuance in order to retain counsel to defend against the motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure that had been filed by the plaintiff.

On January 24, 2008, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment as to the defendant’s liability and attached his answer; an affidavit of Peter Read, an assistant vice president of Washington Mutual Bank, attesting that the plaintiff was the owner of the note and mortgage,[3] and that the debt was in default and the balance due; and copies of the note,[4] mortgage, assignment of the mortgage[5] and notice of intent to accelerate. The court granted the motion for summary judgment as to liability on February 11, 2008, noting that the motion had been unopposed.[6] Thereafter the defendant retained counsel, who filed a motion for permission to amend the defendant’s answer and to allege special defenses. The first proposed special defense alleged that the assignment of the mortgage from Long Beach Mortgage Company to LaSalle Bank was executed subsequent to the commencement of the action. The second proposed special defense alleged that Washington Mutual Bank allegedly mailed a notice of intent to accelerate to the defendant on May 6, 2007, and on that date the owner of the note and mortgage was Long Beach Mortgage Company and that Washington Mutual Bank lacked authority to act on behalf of Long Beach Mortgage Company. Moreover, the defendant alleged that the notice of intent to accelerate was void and the plaintiff is not entitled to a judgment of foreclosure.[7] The plaintiff objected to the defendant’s motion for permission to amend his answer and to file special defenses.[8]

On March 20, 2008, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action. In his memorandum of law in support of his motion to dismiss, the defendant stated that the action was filed on November 1, 2007, but the subject mortgage was assigned to the plaintiff on November 27, 2007, and therefore the plaintiff was not the owner of the mortgage on the date the action was commenced and lacked standing to bring it. The plaintiff objected to the motion to dismiss and argued that it was in possession of the subject note and mortgage at the time the action was commenced and that the court could take notice of the endorsement of the note by Long Beach Mortgage Company.[9] The plaintiff also cited General Statutes § 49-17 for the proposition that the statute provides an avenue for the holder of a note to obtain a judgment of foreclosure on the accompanying mortgage deed even if it had not been or never was formally assigned. On March 31, 2008, the defendant filed a supplemental memorandum of law in support of his motion to dismiss in which he contended that the burden was on the plaintiff to demonstrate that it possessed the note on the date the action was commenced and that the operation of § 49-17 does not provide proof of when the plaintiff came into possession of the note.[10]

On January 5, 2009, the court sustained the plaintiff’s objection to the motion to dismiss stating that “[t]he issue is moot, as the court has already ruled on the summary judgment motion.”[11] On March 2, 2009, the court rendered judgment of strict foreclosure and set the law day as July 28, 2009. The defendant appealed, claiming that it was improper for the court to deny his motion to dismiss because the plaintiff did not own either the note or the mortgage at the time it commenced the action and, thus, lacked standing, thereby depriving the court of subject matter jurisdiction.[12]

The standard of review applicable to a motion to dismiss is well established. “A motion to dismiss . . . properly attacks the jurisdiction of the court, essentially asserting that the plaintiff cannot as a matter of law and fact state a cause of action that should be heard by the court. . . . [O]ur review of the trial court’s ultimate legal conclusion and resulting [denial] of the motion to dismiss will be de novo. . . . Factual findings underlying the court’s decision, however, will not be disturbed unless they are clearly erroneous. . . . The applicable standard of review for the denial of a motion to dismiss, therefore, generally turns on whether the appellant seeks to challenge the legal conclusions of the trial court or its factual determinations.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Bonner, 290 Conn. 468, 477-78, 964 A.2d 73 (2009).

We first look to the relevant allegations of the plaintiff’s complaint. At paragraph 4, the plaintiff alleged, in part: “The [p]laintiff, LaSalle Bank, National Association as trustee for WMABS Series 2006-HE2 Trust, is the holder of said Note and Mortgage.” In answering the complaint, the defendant left the plaintiff to its proof as to that allegation. When the plaintiff filed its motion for summary judgment on January 24, 2008, it attached copies of the subject note and mortgage and an assignment of the mortgage. At the time the court granted the motion for summary judgment as to liability, it noted that the motion had been unopposed. The defendant did not file a motion for reargument but sought to amend his answer to include a special defense that the plaintiff did not own the mortgage at the time the action was commenced. The defendant also filed a motion to dismiss the action.

Although our review of the file demonstrates that the copy of the note submitted with the motion for summary judgment does not contain a dated endorsement, the defendant has not claimed on appeal that the court improperly granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.[13] Rather, the defendant challenges the court’s denial of his motion to dismiss. The substance of the defendant’s appellate claim is that the plaintiff did not own the note at the time it commenced the action, and the mortgage was not assigned to the plaintiff until sometime after the action was commenced. The defendant, however, cannot rely on the date the mortgage was assigned to the plaintiff as proof that the plaintiff did not own the note on the date the action was commenced.

“[Section] § 49-17 permits the holder of a negotiable instrument that is secured by a mortgage to foreclose on the mortgage even when the mortgage has not yet been assigned to him. . . . The statute codifies the common-law principle of long standing that the mortgage follows the note, pursuant to which only the rightful owner of the note has the right to enforce the mortgage. . . . Our legislature, by adopting § 49-17, has provide[d] an avenue for the holder of the note to foreclose on the property when the mortgage has not been assigned to him.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Chase Home Finance, LLC v. Fequiere, 119 Conn. App. 570, 576-77, 989 A.2d 606, cert. denied, 295 Conn. 922, 991 A.2d 564 (2010).

The key to resolving the defendant’s claim is a determination of when the note came into the plaintiff’s possession. We cannot review this claim because the court made no factual finding as to when the plaintiff acquired the note. Without that factual determination, we are unable to say whether the court improperly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.[14] Although the defendant did not file a motion asking the court to articulate its reason for denying the motion to dismiss, that cannot be the end of the matter because it concerns the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction.

“[S]ubject matter jurisdiction involves the authority of the court to adjudicate the type of controversy presented by the action before it . . . and a judgment rendered without subject matter jurisdiction is void. . . . Further, it is well established that a reviewing court properly may address jurisdictional claims that neither were raised nor ruled on in the trial court. . . . Indeed, [o]nce the question of lack of jurisdiction of a court is raised, [it] must be disposed of no matter in what form it is presented. . . . The court must fully resolve it before proceeding further with the case.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re DeLeon J., 290 Conn. 371, 376, 963 A.2d 53 (2009). The burden of demonstrating that a party has standing to bring an action is on the plaintiff. Seymour v. Region One Board of Education, 274 Conn. 92, 104, 874 A.2d 742, cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1016, 126 S. Ct. 659, 163 L. Ed. 2d 526 (2005).

“Trial courts addressing motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to [Practice Book] § 10-31 (a) (1) may encounter different situations, depending on the status of the record in the case. As summarized by a federal court discussing motions brought pursuant to the analogous federal rule [i.e., Fed. R. Civ. P. (12) (b) (1)], [l]ack of subject matter jurisdiction may be found in any one of three instances: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court’s resolution of disputed facts. . . . Different rules and procedures will apply, depending on the state of the record at the time the motion is filed.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Conboy v. State, 292 Conn. 642, 650-51, 974 A.2d 669 (2009).

“[I]f the complaint is supplemented by undisputed facts established by affidavits submitted in support of the motions to dismiss . . . the trial court, in determining the jurisdictional issue, may consider these supplementary undisputed facts and need not conclusively presume the validity of the allegations of the complaint.. . . [W]here a jurisdictional determination is dependent on the resolution of a critical factual dispute, it cannot be decided on a motion to dismiss in the absence of an evidentiary hearing to establish jurisdictional facts.” (Citations omitted; emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 651-52.

In this case, the defendant questioned the plaintiff’s standing to bring the foreclosure action when it was commenced. The defendant’s motion to dismiss was inspired by the exhibits the plaintiff attached to its motion for summary judgment. Read’s affidavit attests to the plaintiff being the holder of the note, but it does not resolve the factual issue as to when the plaintiff acquired the note.[15] When the question regarding the plaintiff’s standing was raised, the court should have held a hearing to determine whether the plaintiff was the owner or holder of the note at the time the action was commenced. It is fundamental that appellate courts do not make findings of fact. Stevenson v. Commissioner of Correction, 112 Conn. App. 675, 683 n.1, 963 A.2d 1077 (when record on appeal devoid of factual findings, improper for appellate court to make its own findings), cert. denied, 291 Conn. 904, 967 A.2d 1221 (2009). The case, therefore, must be remanded to the trial court for a hearing to determine whether the plaintiff was the owner or holder of the subject note at the time the action was commenced. See Cross v. Hudon, 27 Conn. App. 729, 734, 609 A.2d 1021 (1992) (court improperly failed to conduct evidentiary hearing because jurisdiction hinged on factual determination).

The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for a hearing on the motion to dismiss.

In this opinion the other judges concurred.

[*] The listing of judges reflects their seniority status on this court as of the date of oral argument.

[1] At trial, Robert Fishman, trustee for C & F Associates #2, also was a defendant, but he is not a party to this appeal. In this opinion, we refer to Bialobrzeski as the defendant.

[2] On March 2, 2009, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to substitute LaSalle Bank NA as trustee for Washington Mutual Asset-Backed Certificates WMABS Series 2006-HE2 Trust as the plaintiff. We will refer to the plaintiff and the substitute plaintiff as the plaintiff for purposes of this opinion.

[3] Significantly, Read did not attest as to the date the plaintiff acquired the note.

[4] The copy of the note attached to the motion for summary judgment indicates that the debt is payable to Long Beach Mortgage Company and contains no endorsement. We note that in his answer to the complaint the defendant indicated that the note was held by Long Beach Mortgage Corporation.

[5] The assignment of mortgage attached to the motion for summary judgment states that Long Beach Mortgage Company assigned the mortgage to LaSalle Bank, National Association as Trustee for WMABS Series 2006-HE2 Trust on November 27, 2007.

[6] The defendant filed an objection to the motion for summary judgment on March 20, 2008. In his objection, the defendant stated that the assignment of the mortgage was dated twenty-seven days after the foreclosure action was commenced and therefore the plaintiff did not own the mortgage when the action was served. He attached a copy of the assignment of the mortgage to the objection to the motion for summary judgment.

[7] Copies of the assignment of the mortgage and the notice of intent to accelerate were attached to the proposed amended answer and special defenses.

[8] It appears that no action was taken on the defendant’s motion for permission to amend his answer and the objection thereto.

[9] No note or endorsement was attached to the plaintiff’s objection.

[10] The defendant attempted to file a request for production that complied with the rules of practice to obtain evidence that the plaintiff possessed the subject note on the date the action was commenced. The court agreed with the plaintiff that there was “no valid discovery request for the court to determine if it has been complied with by the plaintiff.”

[11] It is not clear to us how the motion to dismiss could have been moot, as subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time and the court must address the issue before it may proceed with the case. See, e.g., O’Donnell v. Waterbury, 111 Conn. App. 1, 5, 959 A.2d 163, cert. denied, 289 Conn. 959, 961 A.2d 422 (2008).

[12] In its brief, the plaintiff argues that the defendant failed to preserve the issue presented or timely file his appeal because the appeal was not filed within twenty days of the date the court denied the motion to dismiss. Generally, the denial of a motion to dismiss is an interlocutory ruling, which is not an appealable final judgment. Conboy v. State, 292 Conn. 642, 645 n.5, 974 A.2d 669 (2009); but see Ware v. State, 118 Conn. App. 65, 79, 983 A.2d 853 (2009) (denial of motion to dismiss based on colorable claim of sovereign immunity immediately appealable). The defendant timely filed his appeal within twenty days of the court’s rendering the judgment of strict foreclosure. See Glenfed Mortgage Corp. v. Crowley, 61 Conn. App. 84, 88, 763 A.2d 19 (2000) (foreclosure appealable final judgment).

[13] Even if the defendant had claimed that the court improperly granted the motion for summary judgment, there is no record as to the basis of the court’s finding that there were no genuine issues of material fact, including the date the subject note was endorsed to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff owned the note prior to the commencement of the foreclosure action. The defendant did not file a motion for articulation. See Practice Book § 66-5.

[14] The defendant did not file any exhibits or transcripts of the proceedings in the trial court, if any. We do not know whether there was evidence in addition to the exhibits attached to the motion for summary judgment presented to the court at the time it considered the motion for summary judgment and the motion to dismiss. The defendant has not claimed that the plaintiff submitted insufficient evidence to determine its ownership of the note.

[15] On appeal, the plaintiff has argued, supported by citations to authority, that the holder of a note rightly may foreclose the mortgage. That argument, however, is beside the point. The relevant question is when the plaintiff became the holder of the subject note.

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