Nominee | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Tag Archive | "nominee"

The Magic of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System: It Is and It Isn’t

The Magic of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System: It Is and It Isn’t


“Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”1

Excerpt:

While MERS may be named as the actual mortgagee
or its equivalent on the security instrument, in
substance its role is that of a nominee or agent.23
The language in the mortgage generally states:
“‘MERS’ is Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. MERS is a separate corporation that
is acting solely as nominee for Lender and
Lender’s successors and assigns. MERS is the
mortgagee under this Security Instrument.”24 Here
then begins the magic that is MERS—the dual claim
that it is both a principal (mortgagee) and
nominee/agent of the lender/factual mortgagee.25
MERS undertakes these roles but never lends
money and never gives value for the mortgage, nor
does it benefit from the proceeds of foreclosure
and/or collection actions.26 Were MERS’s
involvement in the mortgage market insignificant,
it might not pose much of a legal problem;however,
MERS appears to be involved in sixty
million loans—roughly half of all U.S. home
mortgages.27 The legal role MERS attempts to fill
and MERS’s argument as to standing is: 1) provide
a mortgage clearinghouse and eliminate recording
obligations by having MERS itself act as mortgagee
of record;28 2) allow the promissory note
evidencing the debt to be transferred freely among
MERS members ad infinitum; and 3) when default
occurs, act as the nominee of the current note
holder and mortgagee of record (rejoining the two
interests) even though the current “lender” did
not appoint MERS as mortgagee and may never have
had the right to do so. Ultimately, the argument
is something akin to a merger argument where MERS
claims that the severed interests, that of
security interest and note, are recombined in MERS
at a later date even though it received those
interests from separate entities. As others have
pointed out, MERS is attempting to derive powers
as an agent greater than the sum of the powers of
its principals.29

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

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


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

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

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

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

Excerpts:

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

<SNIP>

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

continue below…

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AURORA v. TOLEDO | NJ SC  “We question whether Lehman’s designation of MERS as its nominee remained in effect after Lehman filed its bankruptcy”

AURORA v. TOLEDO | NJ SC “We question whether Lehman’s designation of MERS as its nominee remained in effect after Lehman filed its bankruptcy”


NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
APPELLATE DIVISION
DOCKET NO. A-0804-10T3

AURORA LOAN SERVICES, LLC,
Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

BERNICE TOLEDO,
Defendant-Appellant,

and

MR. TOLEDO, Husband of
BERNICE TOLEDO, MORTGAGE
ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC., As Nominee
For LEHMAN BROTHERS BANK FSB;
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
SYSTEMS, INC., As Nominee For
AURORA LOAN SERVICES LLC,
Defendants.
_________________________________________________________

Submitted September 26, 2011 – Decided October 18, 2011

Before Judges Alvarez and Skillman.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey,
Chancery Division, Passaic County, Docket
No. F-10005-09.

Kenneth C. Marano, attorney for appellant.

Victoria E. Edwards (Akerman Senterfitt),
attorney for respondent.

PER CURIAM

Defendant appeals from an order entered on August 31, 2010,
which granted a summary judgment in this mortgage foreclosure
action declaring that defendant’s answer “sets forth no genuine
issue as to any material fact challenged and that [plaintiff] is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” There is no
indication in the record before us that plaintiff ever secured a
final judgment of foreclosure. Therefore, the appeal appears
interlocutory. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Garner, 416 N.J.
Super. 520, 523-24 (App. Div. 2010). However, because defendant
did not move to dismiss on that basis and the appeal has been
pending for a substantial period of time, we grant leave to
appeal as within time and address the merits. See R. 2:4-
4(b)(2).

The record before us is rather sparse and disjointed.
However, the following facts may be gleaned from that record.
Defendant owns a home in the Borough of Prospect Park. On
July 24, 2006, defendant executed two promissory notes payable
to Lehman Brothers Bank, the first for $320,000, which was
payable on August 1, 2036, and the second for $60,000, which was
payable on August 1, 2021. Both notes were secured by mortgages
on defendant’s home.

On September 1, 2006, plaintiff began servicing the notes
on behalf of Lehman.

Sometime in 2008, defendant went into default in the
payment of her obligations under the notes.

On January 30, 2009, plaintiff purportedly obtained an
assignment of the $320,000 note from Lehman and the mortgage
securing that note.1 This assignment was signed by a person
named Joann Rein, with the title of Vice-President of Mortgage
Electronic Systems, Inc. (MERS). MERS was described in the
assignment document as a “nominee for Lehman Brothers Bank.”

This document is discussed in greater detail later in the
opinion.

On February 23, 2009, plaintiff filed this mortgage
foreclosure action. The parties subsequently engaged in
negotiations to resolve the matter. Those negotiations were
unsuccessful and are not relevant to our disposition of this
appeal.

Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment to strike
defendant’s answer on the ground there was no contested issue of
fact material to plaintiff’s right to foreclose upon defendant’s
property. In support of this motion, plaintiff relied primarily
on an affidavit by Laura McCann, one of its vice-presidents,
and exhibits attached to that affidavit, which are discussed
later in this opinion. Defendant submitted an answering
certification.

After hearing oral argument, the trial court issued a brief
written opinion and order granting plaintiff’s motion. This
appeal followed.

To have standing to foreclose a mortgage, a party generally
must “own or control the underlying debt.” Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A. v. Ford, 418 N.J. Super. 592, 597 (App. Div. 2011) (quoting
Bank of N.Y. v. Raftogianis, 418 N.J. Super. 323, 327-28 (Ch.
Div. 2010)). If the debt is evidenced by a negotiable
instrument, such as the promissory notes executed by defendant,
the determination whether a party owns or controls the
underlying debt “is governed by Article III of the Uniform
Commercial Code (UCC), N.J.S.A. 12:3-101 to -605, in particular
N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301.” Ibid. Under this section of the UCC, the
only parties entitled to enforce a negotiable instrument are
“[1] the holder of the instrument, [2] a nonholder in possession
of the instrument who has the rights of the holder, or [3] a
person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to
enforce the instrument pursuant to [N.J.S.A.] 12A-3-309 or
subsection d. of [N.J.S.A.] 12A:3-418.” N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301
(brackets added).

In this case, it is clear for the same reasons as in Ford,
418 N.J. Super. at 598, that plaintiff is neither a “holder” of
the promissory notes executed by defendant nor a “person not in
possession” of those notes who is entitled to enforce them
pursuant to N.J.S.A. 12A:3-309 or N.J.S.A. 12A:3-418(d).

Therefore, as in Ford, plaintiff’s right to foreclose upon the
mortgages defendant executed to secure those notes depends upon
whether plaintiff established that it is “a nonholder in
possession of the instrument[s] who has the rights of a holder.”
N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301; see Ford, supra, 418 N.J. Super. at 498-99.

To establish its right to foreclose upon the mortgage
defendant executed to secure her $320,000 note to Lehman,
plaintiff relied upon an affidavit by Laura McCann, a vicepresident
of plaintiff. McCann’s affidavit states that she has
“custody and control of the business records of [plaintiff] as
they relate to [defendant’s] loans.” Regarding each of the
copies of defendant’s notes and mortgages attached to her
certifications, McCann asserts that it is a “true and correct
copy.” However, McCann does not state that she personally
confirmed that those attachments were copies of originals in
plaintiff’s files.

McCann’s affidavit also has attached a copy of a document
that purports to be a “Corporate Assignment of Mortgage” from
MERS, as Lehman’s nominee, to plaintiff. Again, McCann’s
affidavit asserts that this document “is a true and correct copy
of the instrument assigning the Mortgage and Note to
[plaintiff],” but does not state that she personally confirmed
that it was a copy of the original.

A certification in support of a motion for summary judgment
must be based on “personal knowledge.” Ford, supra, 418 N.J.
Super. at 599 (quoting R. 1:6-6); see also Deutsche Bank Nat’l
Trust Co. v. Mitchell, ___ N.J. Super. ___, ___ (App. Div. 2011)
(slip op. at 17-19). Our Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed
the need for strict compliance with this requirement in mortgage
foreclosure actions by adopting, effective December 20, 2010, a
new court rule which specifically states that an affidavit in
support of a judgment in a mortgage foreclosure action must be
“based on a personal review of business records of the plaintiff
or the plaintiff’s mortgage loan servicer.” R. 4:64-2(c)(2).
McCann’s affidavit does not state that she conducted such a
“personal review of [plaintiff’s] business records” relating to
defendant’s notes and mortgages.

Furthermore, even if plaintiff had presented adequate
evidence that the purported assignment of the mortgages and
notes attached to McCann’s affidavit was a copy of the original
in plaintiff’s files, this would not have been sufficient to
establish the effectiveness of the alleged assignment. This
document was signed by a JoAnn Rein, who identifies herself as a
vice-president of MERS, as nominee for Lehman Brothers, and was
notarized in Nebraska. Plaintiff’s submission in support of its
motion for summary judgment did not include a certification by
Rein or any other representative of MERS regarding her authority
to execute the assignment or the circumstances of the
assignment. In the absence of such further evidence, we do not
view the purported assignment of the mortgages and notes to be a
self-authenticating document that can support the summary
judgment in plaintiff’s favor. N.J.R.E. 901; see 2 McCormick on
Evidence § 221 (6th ed. 2006).

There is an additional potential problem with this
purported assignment. The assignment was not made by Lehman, as
payee of the promissory notes secured by the mortgage, but
rather by MERS, “as nominee for Lehman.” Although the notes and
mortgages appointed MERS as Lehman’s nominee, Lehman filed a
petition for bankruptcy protection in September 2008, see Andrew
Ross Sorkin, Lehman Files for Bankruptcy; Merrill is Sold, N.Y.
Times (Sept. 14, 2008), which was before the purported
assignment of defendant’s mortgage and note on January 30, 2009.

Therefore, we question whether Lehman’s designation of MERS as
its nominee remained in effect after Lehman filed its bankruptcy
petition, absent ratification of that designation by the
bankruptcy trustee. On remand, the trial court should address
the question whether MERS was still Lehman’s nominee as of the
date of its purported assignment of defendant’s note and
mortgage to plaintiff.

Accordingly, we reverse the August 31, 2010 order granting
plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and remand to the trial
court for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

In foreclosure? Can’t be found? More Twisted, Conflicts of Interest.

In foreclosure? Can’t be found? More Twisted, Conflicts of Interest.


As if it hasn’t been a conflict when MERS is the nominee for the plaintiff but is also named or is the mortgagee for the defendant…what a total state of confusion.

Oh wait there’s more, and who signs and notarizes these documents entered as evidence in most cases?

TBO.com

TAMPA – When a lender fails to find a homeowner to notify them of a foreclosure lawsuit, a judge often appoints a guardian ad item. That attorney is supposed to represent the property owner’s interests.

But guess who typically picks the guardian? The lender’s attorney.


© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

MERS ‘Nominee’ or ‘Beneficiary’ That is The Question

MERS ‘Nominee’ or ‘Beneficiary’ That is The Question


“The parties appear to have defined the word [nominee] in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant-their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time.” Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2010).

 

We’re all having some issues here as far as selecting or choosing which is what or whom… so lets take a close look at the following cases that spell out the who’s what below. Perhaps its a figment of bankers imagination?

BAIN vs METROPOLITAN / SELKOWITZ vs LITTON

EXCERPT:

CHAMBERS, J. – In the 1990s, the Mortgage Electronic Registration
System Inc. (MERS) was established by several large players in the mortgage
industry. MERS and its allied corporations maintain a private electronic
registration system for tracking ownership of mortgage-related debt. This system
allows its users to avoid the cost and inconvenience of the traditional public
recording system and has facilitated a robust secondary market in mortgage backed
debt and securities. Its customers include lenders, debt servicers, and financial
institutes that trade in mortgage debt and mortgage backed securities, among
others. MERS does not merely track ownership; in many states, including our
own, MERS is frequently listed as the “beneficiary” of the deeds of trust that
secure its customers’ interests in the homes securing the debts. Traditionally, the
“beneficiary” of a deed of trust is the lender who has loaned money to the
homeowner (or other real property owner). The deed of trust protects the lender by
giving the lender the power to nominate a trustee and giving that trustee the power
to sell the horne if the homeowner’s debt is not paid. Lenders, of course, have long
been free to sell that secured debt, typically by selling the promissory note signed
by the homeowner. Our deed of trust act, chapter 61.24 RCW, recognizes that the
beneficiary of a deed of trust at any one time might not be the original lender. The
act gives subsequent holders of the debt the benefit of the act by defining
“beneficiary” broadly as “the holder of the instrument or document evidencing the
obligations secured by the deed of trust.” RCW 61.24.005(2).

Judge John C. Coughenour of the Federal District Court for the Western
District of Washington has asked us to answer three certified questions relating to
two home foreclosures pending in King County. In both cases, MERS, in its role
as the beneficiary of the deed of trust, was informed by the loan servicers that the
homeowners were delinquent on their mortgages. MERS then appointed trustees
who initiated foreclosure proceedings. The primary issue is whether MERS is a
lawful beneficiary with the power to appoint trustees within the deed of trust act if
it does not hold the promissory notes secured by the deeds of trust. A plain reading
of the statute leads us to conclude that only the actual holder of the promissory
note or other instrument evidencing the obligation may be a beneficiary with the
power to appoint a trustee to proceed with a nonjudicial foreclosure on real
property. Simply put, if MERS does not hold the note, it is not a lawful
beneficiary.


NIDAY vs GMAC, MERS

Excerpt:

The question before us–and one that homeowners and MERS are litigating
under similar state laws1–is whether MERS and its members can
avail themselves of Oregon’s statutory, nonjudicial foreclosure process for trust deeds.
Plaintiff is a homeowner who, like many other borrowers, executed a trust deed that
named MERS as the “beneficiary.” After plaintiff defaulted on her loan repayment
obligation, she received a notice of trustee’s sale that identified MERS as the
“beneficiary” of the sale and that asserted a power of sale under the trust deed. Plaintiff
then filed this declaratory judgment and injunctive relief action to stop the trustee’s sale,
arguing that, notwithstanding the labels used in the trust deed, MERS is not the
“beneficiary” of the trust deed for purposes of Oregon’s nonjudicial foreclosure laws.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of MERS and the other
defendants (the loan servicer and the trustee), ruling that MERS was the designated
“beneficiary” of the trust deed and that each statutory requirement for nonjudicial
foreclosure had been met–including the requirement that any assignments of the trust
deed must be recorded in the county mortgage records, ORS 86.735(1). Plaintiff now
appeals, again arguing that the “Oregon legislature intended the ‘beneficiary’ to be the one
for whose benefit the [deed of trust] is given, which is the party who lent the money,”
rather than MERS. We agree and hold that the “beneficiary” of a trust deed under the
Oregon Trust Deed Act is the person designated in that trust deed as the person to whom
the underlying loan repayment obligation is owed. The trust deed in this case designates
the lender, GreenPoint Mortgage Funding, Inc., as the party to whom the secured
obligation is owed. And, because there is evidence that GreenPoint assigned its
beneficial interest in the trust deed but did not record that assignment, the trial court erred
in granting summary judgment in favor of defendants.

 


BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI

Excerpt:

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

The Mortgage Assignment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MERS Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In Re: FERREL L. AGARD

Excerpt:

In LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute, No. 41583/07, 2010 WL 3359552, at *2 (N.Y. Sup. Aug. 26, 2010), the court analyzed the relationship between MERS and the original lender and concluded that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves. The court stated:

MERS… recorded the subject mortgage as “nominee” for FFFC. The word “nominee” is defined as “[a] person designated to act in place of another, usu. in a very limited way” or “[a] party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 1076 [8th ed 2004]). “This definition suggests that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves.” (Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 289 Kan 528, 538 [2009]). The Supreme Court of Kansas, in Landmark National Bank, 289 Kan at 539, observed that:

The legal status of a nominee, then, depends on the context of the relationship of the nominee to its principal. Various courts have interpreted the relationship of MERS and the lender as an agency relationship. See In re Sheridan, 2009 WL631355, at *4 (Bankr. D. Idaho, March 12, 2009) (MERS “acts not on its own account. Its capacity is representative.”); Mortgage Elec. Registrations Systems, Inc. v. Southwest, 2009 Ark. 152 -, 301 SW3d 1, 2009 WL 723182 (March 19, 2009) (“MERS, by the terms of the deed of trust, and its own stated purposes, was the lender’s agent”); La Salle Nat. Bank v. Lamy, 12 Misc.3d 1191[A], at *2 [Sup Ct, Suffolk County 2006])… (“A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee.”). LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute, No. 41583/07, 2010 WL 3359552, at *2; see also Bank of New York v. Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d 821, 823 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (nominee is “‘[a] person designated to act in place of another, usually in a very limited way.’”) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary)).

In LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute the court concluded that MERS must have some evidence of authority to assign the mortgage in order for an assignment of a mortgage by MERS to be effective. Evidence of MERS’s authority to assign could be by way of a power of attorney or some other document executed by the original lender. See Bouloute, 2010 WL 3359552, at *1; Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d at 823 (“‘To have a proper assignment of a mortgage by an authorized agent, a power of attorney is necessary to demonstrate how the agent is vested with the authority to assign the mortgage.’”) (quoting HSBC Bank USA, NA v. Yeasmin, 866 N.Y.S.2d 92 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2008)).

Other than naming MERS as “nominee”, the Mortgage also provides that the Borrower transfers legal title to the subject property to MERS, as the Lender’s nominee, and acknowledges MERS’s rights to exercise certain of the Lender’s rights under state law. This too, is insufficient to bestow any authority upon MERS to assign the mortgage. In Bank of New York v. Alderazi, the court found “[t]he fact that the borrower acknowledged and consented to MERS acting as nominee of the lender has no bearing on what specific powers and authority the lender granted MERS.” Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d at 824. Even if it did bestow some authority upon MERS, the court in Alderazi found that the mortgage did not convey the specific right to assign the mortgage.

The Court agrees with the reasoning and the analysis in Bouloute and Alderazi, and the other cases cited herein and finds that the Mortgage, by naming MERS a “nominee,” and/or “mortgagee of record” did not bestow authority upon MERS to assign the Mortgage.

The MERS membership rules

According to MERS, in addition to the alleged authority granted to it in the Mortgage itself, the documentation of the Assignment of Mortgage comports with all the legal requirements of agency when read in conjunction with the overall MERS System. MERS’s argument requires that this Court disregard the specific words of the Assignment of Mortgage or, at the very least, interpret the Assignment in light of the overall MERS System of tracking the beneficial interests in mortgage securities. MERS urges the Court to look beyond the four corners of the Mortgage and take into consideration the agency relationship created by the agreements entered into by the lenders participating in the MERS System, including their agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions of membership.

MERS has asserted that each of its member/lenders agrees to appoint MERS to act as its agent. In this particular case, the Treasurer of MERS, William C. Hultman, declared under penalty of perjury that “pursuant to the MERS’s Rules of Membership, Rule 2, Section 5… First Franklin appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee on First Franklin’s behalf, and on behalf of First Franklin’s successors and assigns.” (Affirmation of William C. Hultman, ¶7).

However, Section 5 of Rule 2, which was attached to the Hultman Affirmation as an exhibit, contains no explicit reference to the creation of an agency or nominee relationship. Consistent with this failure to explicitly refer to the creation of an agency agreement, the rules of membership do not grant any clear authority to MERS to take any action with respect to the mortgages held by MERS members, including but not limited to executing assignments. The rules of membership do require that MERS members name MERS as “mortgagee of record” and that MERS appears in the public land records as such. Section 6 of Rule 2 states that “MERS shall at all times comply with the instructions of the holder of mortgage loan promissory notes,” but this does not confer any specific power or authority to MERS.

State law

Under New York agency laws, an agency relationship can be created by a “manifestation of consent by one person to another that the other shall act on his behalf and subject to his control, and the consent by the other to act.” Meisel v. Grunberg, 651 F.Supp.2d 98, 110 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (citing N.Y. Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Tradeline, L.L.C., 266 F.3d 112, 122 (2d Cir.2001)).

‘Such authority to act for a principal may be actual or apparent.’… Actual authority arises from a direct manifestation of consent from the principal to the agent…. The existence of actual authority ‘depends upon the actual interaction between the putative principal and agent, not on any perception a third party may have of the relationship.’

Meisel v. Grunberg, 651 F.Supp.2d at 110 (citations omitted).

Because MERS’s members, the beneficial noteholders, purported to bestow upon MERS interests in real property sufficient to authorize the assignments of mortgage, the alleged agency relationship must be committed to writing by application of the statute of frauds. Section 5-703(2) of the New York General Obligations Law states that:

An estate or interest in real property, other than a lease for a term not exceeding one year, or any trust or power, over or concerning real property, or in any manner relating thereto, cannot be created, granted, assigned, surrendered or declared, unless by act or operation of law, or by a deed or conveyance in writing, subscribed by the person creating, granting, assigning, surrendering or declaring the same, or by his lawful agent, thereunto authorized by writing.

See N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-703(1) (McKinney 2011); Republic of Benin v. Mezei, No. 06 Civ. 870 (JGK), 2010 WL 3564270, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 9, 2010); Urgo v. Patel, 746 N.Y.S.2d 733 (N.Y. App. Div. 2002) (finding that unwritten apparent authority is insufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds) (citing Diocese of Buffalo v. McCarthy, 91 A.D.2d 1210 (4th Dept. 1983)); see also N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501 (McKinney 2011) (“‘agent’ means a person granted authority to act as attorney-in-fact for the principal under a power of attorney…”). MERS asks this Court to liberally interpret the laws of agency and find that an agency agreement may take any form “desired by the parties concerned.” However, this does not free MERS from the constraints of applicable agency laws.

The Court finds that the record of this case is insufficient to prove that an agency relationship exists under the laws of the state of New York between MERS and its members. According to MERS, the principal/agent relationship among itself and its members is created by the MERS rules of membership and terms and conditions, as well as the Mortgage itself. However, none of the documents expressly creates an agency relationship or even mentions the word “agency.” MERS would have this Court cobble together the documents and draw inferences from the words contained in those documents. For example, MERS argues that its agent status can be found in the Mortgage which states that MERS is a “nominee” and a “mortgagee of record.” However, the fact that MERS is named “nominee” in the Mortgage is not dispositive of the existence of an agency relationship and does not, in and of itself, give MERS any “authority to act.” See Steinbeck v. Steinbeck Heritage Foundation, No. 09-18360cv, 2010 WL 3995982, at *2 (2d Cir. Oct. 13, 2010) (finding that use of the words “attorney in fact” in documents can constitute evidence of agency but finding that such labels are not dispositive); MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (designation as the ‘mortgagee of record’ does not qualify MERS as a “mortgagee”). MERS also relies on its rules of membership as evidence of the agency relationship. However, the rules lack any specific mention of an agency relationship, and do not bestow upon MERS any authority to act. Rather, the rules are ambiguous as to MERS’s authority to take affirmative actions with respect to mortgages registered on its system.

In addition to casting itself as nominee/agent, MERS seems to argue that its role as “mortgagee of record” gives it the rights of a mortgagee in its own right. MERS relies on the definition of “mortgagee” in the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 1921 which states that a “mortgagee” when used in the context of Section 1921, means the “current holder of the mortgage of record… or their agents, successors or assigns.” N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. L. § 1921 (McKinney 2011). The provisions of Section 1921 relate solely to the discharge of mortgages and the Court will not apply that definition beyond the provisions of that section in order to find that MERS is a “mortgagee” with full authority to perform the duties of mortgagee in its own right. Aside from the inappropriate reliance upon the statutory definition of “mortgagee,” MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best.

Adding to this absurdity, it is notable in this case that the Assignment of Mortgage was by MERS, as nominee for First Franklin, the original lender. By the Movant’s and MERS’s own admission, at the time the assignment was effectuated, First Franklin no longer held any interest in the Note. Both the Movant and MERS have represented to the Court that subsequent to the origination of the loan, the Note was assigned, through the MERS tracking system, from First Franklin to Aurora, and then from Aurora to U.S. Bank. Accordingly, at the time that MERS, as nominee of First Franklin, assigned the interest in the Mortgage to U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank allegedly already held the Note and it was at U.S. Bank’s direction, not First Franklin’s, that the Mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank. Said another way, when MERS assigned the Mortgage to U.S. Bank on First Franklin’s behalf, it took its direction from U.S. Bank, not First Franklin, to provide documentation of an assignment from an entity that no longer had any rights to the Note or the Mortgage. The documentation provided to the Court in this case (and the Court has no reason to believe that any further documentation exists), is stunningly inconsistent with what the parties define as the facts of this case.

However, even if MERS had assigned the Mortgage acting on behalf of the entity which held the Note at the time of the assignment, this Court finds that MERS did not have authority, as “nominee” or agent, to assign the Mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.

This Court finds that MERS’s theory that it can act as a “common agent” for undisclosed principals is not support by the law. The relationship between MERS and its lenders and its distortion of its alleged “nominee” status was appropriately described by the Supreme Court of Kansas as follows: “The parties appear to have defined the word [nominee] in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant-their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time.” Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2010).



BAIN v. ONEWEST

Excerpt:

MERS asserts that Plaintiff has not shown an unfair or deceptive practice on its part, has not shown how any act of MERS impacts the public interest, and presents nothing showing injuries caused by an unfair or deceptive practice by MERS. The Court disagrees. Like her other claims arising under the Deed of Trust Act, Plaintiff’s CPA claims depend on whether MERS may be the beneficiary (or nominee of the beneficiary) under Washington state law. MERS’s attempt to serve as the beneficiary may have been improper under state law and it may have led to widespread confusion regarding home ownership, payment delivery, and negotiable positions. If MERS violated state law, its conduct may very well be classified as “unfair” under the CPA. There is no doubt that MERS’s conduct impacts the public interest. See Hangman Ridge Training Stables, Inc. v. Safeco Title Ins. Co., 719 P.2d 531, 537-38 (Wash. 1986) (listing factors for determining public interest); Peterson, supra, at 1362 (“Although MERS is a young company, 60 million mortgage loans are registered on its system.”); R. K. Arnold, Yes, There Is Life on MERS, 11 Prob. & Prop. 32, 33 (1997) (“Some have called MERS the most significant event for the mortgage industry since the formation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Others have compared it to the creation of uniform mortgage instruments, which have become standard throughout the residential mortgage industry. This suggests that the journey to MERS will have a tremendous effect on the mortgage industry.”). And the harm Plaintiff may have suffered because of MERS’s conduct may include expending resources to avert an unlawful foreclosure and preventing Plaintiff from identifying the real beneficiary and negotiating a new arrangement to avoid foreclosure.

<SNIP>

III. CONCLUSION

Plaintiff admits that she has been delinquent in her mortgage payments. A ruling favorable to Plaintiff in this case and others like it cannot and should not create a windfall for all homeowners to avoid upholding their end of the mortgage bargain—paying for their homes. But a homeowner’s failure to make payments cannot grant lenders, trustees, and so-called beneficiaries like MERS license to ignore state law and foreclose using any means necessary. Whether these and similar defendants complied with Washington state law remains unclear.

IN RE: SALAZAR

Excerpt:

Gomes also relied upon the borrower’s acknowledgement of MERS’ authority to foreclose as nominal beneficiary. Gomes, 192 Cal. App. 4th at 1157-58; see also Pantoja, 640 F. Supp. 2d at 1189- 90. Even if US Bank had not replaced MERS as the foreclosing beneficiary by the time of the foreclosure here, MERS still had no authority to nonjudicially foreclose under Salazar’s DOT under its express terms. The Lender, not MERS, had the right to “invoke the power of sale” under the DOT, ‘l[ 13 22, here. This acknowledgement of MERS’ authority also did not extend so far as to permit it to foreclose. Salazar’s acknowledgement was limited to the situation where MERS’ enforcement actions were “necessary to comply with law or custom” (emphasis added). Whatever “necessary to comply with law or custom” means, and there is no evidence in the record to explain it, it should not mean that US Bank or MERS can contract away their obligations to comply with the foreclosure statutes.12

<SNIP>

MERS System is not an Alternative to Statutory Foreclosure Law

The Court also rejects US Bank’s invitation to overlook the statutory foreclosure mandates of California law, and rely upon MERS as an extra-judicial commercial alternative.14 The full scope of California’s nonjudicial foreclosure law, found at Civil Code sections 2020-2955, exhaustively covers every aspect of the real estate foreclosure process and must be respected. I. E. Associates v. Safe co Title Ins. Co., 39 Cal. 3d 281, 285 (1985) (refusing to supplement the notice requirements found in Civil Code section 2924); Dimock, 81 Cal. App. 4th at 874 (holding a sale under a deed of trust by former trustee void as failing to comply with Civil Code section 2934); Moeller v. Lien, 25 Cal. App.4th 822, 834 (1994) (holding Civil Code section 2924 includes a myriad of rules relating to notice and right to cure, but no relief from forfeiture under Civil Code section 3275). To overlook statutory foreclosure requirements would require legislative action, of which the Court is not capable. Westside Apts., LLC v. Butler (In re Butler), 271 B.R. 867, 873 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2002). This Court instead  joins the courts in other states that have rejected MERS’ offer of an alternative to the public recording system. In re Agard, No. 10-77338-reg, 2011 Bankr. LEXIS 488, at *58-*59 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2011); In re McCoy, No. J0-63814-fra13, 2011 Bankr. LEXIS 534, at *10 (Bankr. Or. Feb. 7, 2011); MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010); LaSalle Bank Nat’/ Ass’n v. Lamy, No. 030049/2005, 2006 NY Slip Op 51534U, slip op. 2 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2006).

US Bank as the foreclosing assignee was obligated to record its interest before the sale despite MERS’ initial role under the DOT, and this role cannot be used to bypass Civil Code section 2932.5.

Since US Bank failed to record its interest, Salazar has a valid property interest in his residence that is entitled to protection through the automatic stay.


Some Side Info:


The Nature of MERS’ Business

  • MERS does not take applications for, underwrite or negotiate mortgage loans.
  • MERS does not make or originate mortgage loans to consumers.
  • MERS does not extend any credit to consumers.
  • MERS has no role in the origination or original funding of the mortgages or deeds of trust for which it serves as “nominee”.
  • MERS does not service mortgage loans.
  • MERS does not sell mortgage loans.
  • MERS is not an investor who acquires mortgage loans on the secondary market.
  • MERS does not ever receive or process mortgage applications.
  • MERS simply holds mortgage liens in a nominee capacity and through its electronic registry, tracks changes in the ownership of mortgage loans and servicing rights related thereto.
  • MERS© System is not a vehicle for creating or transferring beneficial interests in mortgage loans.
  • MERS is not named as a beneficiary of the alleged promissory note.

Ownership of Promissory Notes or Mortgage Indebtedness

  • MERS is never the owner of the promissory note for which it seeks foreclosure.
  • MERS has no legal or beneficial interest in the promissory note underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.
  • MERS has no legal or beneficial interest in the loan instrument underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”
  • MERS has no legal or beneficial interest in the mortgage indebtedness underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.
  • MERS has no interest at all in the promissory note evidencing the mortgage indebtedness.
  • MERS is not a party to the alleged mortgage indebtedness underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.
  • MERS has no financial or other interest in whether or not a mortgage loan is repaid.
  • MERS is not the owner of the promissory note secured by the mortgage and has no rights to the payments made by the debtor on such promissory note.
  • MERS does not make or acquire promissory notes or debt instruments of any nature and therefore cannot be said to be acquiring mortgage loans.
  • MERS has no interest in the notes secured by mortgages or the mortgage servicing rights related thereto.
  • MERS does not acquire any interest (legal or beneficial) in the loan instrument (i.e., the promissory note or other debt instrument).
  • MERS has no rights whatsoever to any payments made on account of such mortgage loans, to any servicing rights related to such mortgage loans, or to any mortgaged properties securing such mortgage loans.
  • The note owner appoints MERS to be its agent to only hold the mortgage lien interest, not to hold any interest in the note.
  • MERS does not hold any interest (legal or beneficial) in the promissory notes that are secured by such mortgages or in any servicing rights associated with the mortgage loan.
  • The debtor on the note owes no obligation to MERS and does not pay MERS on the note.

Beneficial Interest in the Mortgage Indebtedness

  • MERS holds legal title to the mortgage for the benefit of the owner of the note.
  • The beneficial interest in the mortgage (or person or entity whose interest is secured by the mortgage) runs to the owner and holder of the promissory note and/or servicing rights thereunder.
  • MERS has no interest at all in the promissory note evidencing the mortgage loan.
  • MERS does not acquire an interest in promissory notes or debt instruments of any nature.
  • The beneficial interest in the mortgage (or the person or entity whose interest is secured by the mortgage) runs to the owner and holder of the promissory note (NOT MERS).

MERS’ Rights To Control the Foreclosure

  • MERS must all times comply with the instructions of the holder of the mortgage loan promissory notes.
  • MERS only acts when directed to by its members and for the sole benefit of the owners and holders of the promissory notes secured by the mortgage instruments naming MERS as nominee owner.
  • MERS’ members employ and pay the attorneys bringing foreclosure actions in/via MERS’ name.
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MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI

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


Decided on April 11, 2011

Supreme Court, Kings County

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

against

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

21739/2008

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

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

Wayne P. Saitta, J.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mortgage Assignment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MERS Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*5]

J.S.C.

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NO EXCUSE | Why MERS Should’ve Been Stopped Long Time Ago!

NO EXCUSE | Why MERS Should’ve Been Stopped Long Time Ago!


SFF took a challenge and wanted to see if there were any cases in past years identical to what is plaguing the court systems today. Sure enough the following cases below are ONLY a fraction of what was in store. Just imagine if someone was paying any attention to these cases, perhaps something could have changed the way the lending industry used an electronic device that without a doubt bifurcated the mortgage (deed of trust) from the note!

Same players, same tricks, years later…

Excerpt from MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC. v. DUVAL 2004

The moving papers reflect that the plaintiff is not the owner of the subject mortgage nor the note for which said mortgage was given as security. Nor is the plaintiff the lender named in the note and mortgage attached the moving papers. In addition, there is no evidence that the plaintiff was the owner of the note and mortgage at the time this action was commenced by reason of assignment or otherwise. The failure to establish the plaintiff’s ownership of the note and mortgage at the time of the commencement of this action precludes the granting of the instant motion since the plaintiff is unable to establish “the facts constituting the claim(s)” against the known defendants as required by CPLR 3215(f) (Kluge u Fugaqy, 145 AD2d 537,53 6 NYS2d 92; cJ, Federal National Mortgage Association v Yonkelsone, 303 AD2d 546,755 NYS2d 730).

2004

AURORA v. FITZGERALD 2004

MERS v. BAXTER 2004

MERS v. DUVAL 2004

MERS v. EDWARDS 2004

MERS v. PALERMO 2004

MERS v. PARKER 2004

MERS v. POBLETE 2004

MERS v. SCHOENSTER 2004

Excerpt from MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC. v. DELZATTO 2005

The moving papers reflect that the above named plaintiff, a/k/a MERS, is not the owner of the subject mortgage nor the note for which said mortgage was given as security. The plaintiff was not the named as the lender in either the note or mortgagee sought to be foreclosed herein. Instead, the plaintiff is identified in the mortgage indenture as a “separate corporation acting solely as nominee for the Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns” and “FOR PURPOSES OF RECORDING THIS MORTGAGE, MERS IS THE MORTGAGEE OF RECORD”

Nor is there any proof that the plaintiff was the owner of the note and mortgage at the time this action was commenced by reason of assignment or otherwise. The failure to establish the plaintiffs ownership of the note and mortgage at the time of the commencement of this action precludes the granting of the instant motion since the plaintiff is unable to establish “the facts constituting the claim(s)” against the defaulting defendants as required by CPLR 3215(f) (Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 5 37,536 NYS2d 92; a:, Federal National MortgageAssociation v Youkelsone, 303 AD2d 546,755 NYS2d 730).

2005

Aurora v. Fitzgerald 2005

MERS v. DELZATTO 2005

MERS v. GARCIA 2005

MERS v. ROMERO 2005

MERS v. Trapani 2005

Excerpt from MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC. v. RAMDOOLAR 2006

As indicated in a prior order dated December 6, 2005 (Burke, J.), the plaintiff, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., was not the owner of the note and mortgage at the titme this action was commenced. The court thus found that the plaintiffs complaint failed to state cognizable claims against the defendants (Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 536 NYS2d 92; see, also, Katz v East-Ville Realty Company, 249 AD2d 243, 672 NYS2d 308) and that the plaintiff was thus not entitled to the default judgment it demanded on is prior application (CPLR 3215[f1).

On the instant application, the plaintiff purportedly assigned its interest in this subject note and mortgage to an entity known as HSBC Bank USA, National Association as Trustee for MLMI Series 2005-WMC. Since, however, the plaintiff, Mortgage Electronic Services, Inc. was not the owner of the note and mortgage at the time of the purported assignment, the named assignee, HSBC Bank USA, National Association as Trustee for MLMI Series 2005-WMC, acquired no title thereto. The plaintiffs demand for substitution of said entity as the plaintiff in this action is thus denied.

In addition, a substitution of a party plaintiff, such as that demanded here, may not be accomplished by a mere caption amendment. Rather, the substitution of a new party plaintiff would require its participation by its consent andor its formal joinder in this action as contemplated by CPLR 1003 and the filing of an amended complaint by the proposed new plaintiff wherein it alleges facts which constitute cognizable claims against the defendants. Since there was no joinder of the proposed new plaintiff, by consent or service, nor was that any demand by it for leave to serve an amended complaint, the substitution of HSBC Bank USA, National Association as Trustee for MLMI‘ Series 2005-WMC as a party plaintiff would have been precluded even if a valid and recorded assignment by the owner of the note and mortgage had been attached to the moving papers.

2006

MERS v. BIAS 2006

MERS v. Hatwood 2006

MERS v. LONG 2006

MERS v. MORRIS 2006

MERS v. RAMDOOLAR 2006

MERS v. SANFILIPPO 2006

MERS v. WELLS 2006

Excerpt from MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC. v. WILLIAMS 2007

The claimant, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank as Trustee for the Home Equity Trust Series 2004- 3, purports to be the assignee, pursuant to a corporate assignment of mortgage/deed of trust executld by Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), as nominee for Decision One Mortgage Company, LLC, of a certain mortgage executed by defendant-mortgagor JULIA WILLIAMS and delivered to MERS as nominee for Intervale Mortgage Corp., which mortgage is alleged to be a subordinate lien to the mortgage previously foreclosed in this action. The claimant’s submissions do not establish the chain of assignments from the original mortgagee, Intervale Mortgage Corp., and the proofs submitted by the claimant are insufficient to establish that it .s the current owner and holder of the note and mortgage that purportedly entitle it to the surplus monics deposited with the Suffolk County Treasurer. The Court notes that even if MERS has authority to assign the subject mortgage (which is not apparent from the submissions), there is no prod2fof its authority to assign the underlying note, which it apparently does not own. Since a mortgage may not be separated from the underlying debt (Merritt v. Bartholick, 36 N.Y. 44,45, 34 HOW. Pr. 129 (1 867), the issue of the claimant’s standing to claim the surplus monies is not established by the record before the Court.

2007

EMC v. WINK-THILMAN 2007

MERS v. WILLIAMS 2007

U.S. BANK v. MOSS 2007

WELLS FARGO v. GISONDA 2007

WELLS FARGO v. GOLDEN 2007

WHOA! Don’t stop here the image below will take you to 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 cases…

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Utah’s “Quiet Title Law” Bypasses MERS, Awards Homes Free and Clear; One Homeowner Had $417,000 Debt Erased

Utah’s “Quiet Title Law” Bypasses MERS, Awards Homes Free and Clear; One Homeowner Had $417,000 Debt Erased


Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Monday, January 17, 2011 1:33 AM

The Salt Lake Tribune has an interesting article on Utah’s “Quiet Title Laws”, MERS, clouded titles, and record keeping. Several people won titles free and clear to their houses or condos when debts as great as $417,000 were dismissed in court. Here are a few snips.

A Utah court case in which the owner of a Draper townhouse got clear title to the property, even though he still owed $132,000 on it, raises new legal and financial questions about a property-records database created by mortgage bankers.

The award of a title free of liens means that whoever owns the promissory note on the Draper property — likely a group of faraway investors — no longer has the right to foreclose to collect on a delinquent loan. Indeed, the townhouse owner has sold the property and kept the money. Those who own the promissory note probably don’t even know what occurred.

Last year, the owner of the Draper property contacted attorney Walter T. Keane to help him deal with lenders, though Keane won’t say what the problem was and the owner declined an interview request.

The lawsuit over the title to the townhouse named Garbett Mortgage and Citibank FSB as the holders of promissory notes as recorded on trust deeds filed with the recorder’s office. Integrated Title Services was listed as trustee of the Garbett Mortgage trust deed, while First American Title was the trustee of the CitiBank trust deed.

But there also was another entity listed on the trust deeds called the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). The Mortgage Bankers Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents major mortgage lenders, created MERS in the mid-1990s.

Under the state’s quiet title laws, Keane said he did not have to name MERS or serve it legal papers in the lawsuit because it was not the legal owner of title to the property. Those were title companies. In addition, attorneys contend, MERS cannot be the “beneficiary” or holder of the promissory note because it readily has admitted it has no financial interest in any notes or mortgages.

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[VIDEO] Highlights of Maine Attorney Thomas Cox: “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis” Pt 2

[VIDEO] Highlights of Maine Attorney Thomas Cox: “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis” Pt 2


Thomas A. Cox is a retired bank lawyer in Portland, Maine who serves as the Volunteer Program Coordinator for the Maine Attorney’s Saving Homes (MASH) program. He represents homeowners in foreclosure, and assists and consults with other volunteer lawyers in providing pro bono legal services to these Maine homeowners.

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[VIDEO TRUTH] ATTY VANESSA G. FLUKER “WHY YOU WON’T GET A MODIFICATION”

[VIDEO TRUTH] ATTY VANESSA G. FLUKER “WHY YOU WON’T GET A MODIFICATION”


Another Super Tremendous Job! Listen to her carefully for those of you who may not be aware of the secrets behind the modification game. She tells exactly how it’s playing out.

“Moratorium Now”

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[VIDEO] POWERFUL FORECLOSURE TESTIMONY: Sandra Hines Tells House of Reps What Many Feel

[VIDEO] POWERFUL FORECLOSURE TESTIMONY: Sandra Hines Tells House of Reps What Many Feel


SANDRA HINES the voice of foreclosed America! Sandra is a Detroit resident who lost her home that was in her family for 37 years to foreclosure.

Watch this in it’s entirety! It gets explosive and will leave you either in tears or leave you wanting more!

“I came to tell the

Story of The People”

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[VIDEO] WITNESSES “MERS DECEPTION”: Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis PT 2

[VIDEO] WITNESSES “MERS DECEPTION”: Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis PT 2


United States House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
Hearing on: “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis” Pt 2

Witness List

Panel I

Hon. Sheldon Whitehouse
U.S. Senate
D-RI

Panel II

James A. Kowalski, Jr.
Law Offices of James A. Kowalski, Jr., PL
Jacksonville, FL

Vanessa G. Fluker
Vanessa G. Fluker, Esq., PLLC
Detroit, MI

Thomas A. Cox
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Main Attorneys Saving Homes Project
Portland, ME

Tom Deutsch
Executive Director
American Securitization Forum
New York, NY

Sandra Hines
Former Homeowner
Detroit, MI

Christopher L. Peterson
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs/Professor of Law
S.J. Quinney College of Law
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
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National Association of Independent Land Title Agents (NAILTA) White Paper on MERS, H.R. 6460

National Association of Independent Land Title Agents (NAILTA) White Paper on MERS, H.R. 6460


Per a tip SFF received: This Bill should boil it down to where the GSE’s should only accept loans where there is a proper Chain of Title recorded in Public Records and a Chain of Indorsements showing a proper Chain of Negotiation to the GSE’s where both chains match from Origination to final purchase by the GSE’s.

The National Association of Independent Land Title Agents (NAILTA) has released a white paper on the recent troubles with the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) mortgage registry and a position statement in favor of the premise behind a bill sponsored by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) known as H.R. 6460, or the “Transparency and Security Mortgage Registration Act of 2010”.

——————

——————


111TH CONGRESS
2D SESSION

H. R. 6460


To prohibit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae from owning or guaranteeing any mortgage that is assigned to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems or for which MERS is the mortgagee of record.

Continue Below…

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Testimony of Christopher L. Peterson “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis

Testimony of Christopher L. Peterson “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis


United States House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
Hearing on: “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis”

Written Testimony of
Christopher L. Peterson

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law
University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law
Salt Lake City, Utah
December 2, 2010
10:00 a.m.

It is an honor to appear today before this Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts on our national foreclosure crisis. My name is Christopher Peterson and I am the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Law at the University of Utah where I teach contract and commercial law classes. I commend you, Chairman Conyers, Representative Smith, and other members of the Committee for organizing these hearings and for providing an opportunity to discuss this important and timely national issue.

The foreclosure crisis is an extremely complex problem. With so many fundamental changes, opportunities for moral hazard, agency cost problems, consumer abuses, and impending lawsuits, it is easy to lose track of some of the basic legal and business practice problems that departed from past traditions and helped bring us to our present situation. In particular, it is somewhat perplexing that relatively little attention has been paid to the one company that has been a party in more problematic mortgage loans than any other institution. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., commonly known as MERS, is a corporation registered in Delaware and headquartered in Reston, Virginia.1 MERS operates a computer database that includes some information on servicing and ownership rights of mortgage loans.2 Originators, servicers, and other financial institutions pay membership dues and per?transaction fees to MERS in exchange for the right to use and access MERS records.3 In addition to operating its computer database, MERS also pretends to own mortgage loans in order to help its members avoid paying fees to county governments.

My testimony is largely derived from two scholarly articles I have written on this topic which I invite the committee to review for further information.4 My prepared statement today will: (1) discuss the Origin and Business Practices of MERS; (2) explore the problematic legal foundation of MERS; (3) suggest that MERS is a deceptive and anti?democratic institution designed to deprive county governments of revenue; (4) explain how MERS is undermining mortgage loan and land title record keeping; (5) argue that MERS was a contributing factor in the foreclosure crisis and has made resolving foreclosures more difficult; and (6) propose some solutions for the committee to consider.

Continue below…

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F. DANA WINSLOW NYS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis

F. DANA WINSLOW NYS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis


F. DANA WINSLOW
NYS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE

Before the House of Representatives
DECEMBER 2,2010
ON
CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
FORECLOSED JUSTICE:
CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS
Hon. F. Dana Winslow
December 2, 2010

Excerpts:

3.2.4 Robo·signing. Questionable validity of signatures on assignments and affidavits
attesting to ownership of the Note and Mortgage. Examples:

3.2.4.1 Signed by: “Duly Authorized Officer,” “Authorized Signer,” “Attomey·in·
Fact” or “Authorized Agent.” What do these titles mean? What is the function
afthe person signing the documents, and what is the basis of their personal
knowledge?

3.2.4.2 Same person signs several documents, in several different capacities: e.g.,
“Vice President of [Assignor Mortgagee)” is also the “Assistant Secretary of
the Servicer” for the Plaintiff Mortgagee, and an employee of the law firm
bringing the foreclosure action.

3.2.5 Validity of notary stamps on assignments.

3.2.5.1 Assignment documents notarized several months after the assignment was
purportedly effected.

3.2.5.2 Notarized in blank – name of the person whose signature was purportedly
witnessed is omitted.

Continue Below…

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Testimony of James A. Kowalski, Jr., Esquire “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis

Testimony of James A. Kowalski, Jr., Esquire “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis


Written Testimony of
James A. Kowalski, Jr., Esquire

Law Offices of James A. Kowalski, Jr., PL
Jacksonville, FL

Before the
Committee On The Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis

Excerpt:

The focus on speed is part of the business model for the servicers. As those of us
who have litigated these cases for years now, and as all of us now know as a result of the
robo-signing scandals, most of the servicers use “Signing Officers” – rows of individuals
who sit before reams of documents prepared by others, with not even a modest wink at
the business records exception to the hearsay rule, and who sign the documents only to
have the document transported across the business campus to rows of notaries, who attest
to the signatures without ever complying with the basics of their state’s notary laws.

Some of the mill firms now employ their own “Signing OffIcers” – individuals
who will sign Assignments of Mortgage on behalf of the owners of the pool, supposedly
authorized by the servicer pursuant to the Pooling and Servicing Agreement which
applies to the particular securitized trust. The documents are prepared entirely by the
servicer.

On occasion, the law fIrm employees also sign the AffIdavits in support of
motions for summary judgment fIled by the law fIrms – here, the lawyer’s offIce staff
becomes the material witness for the lawyer’s client.

Continue reading below…

[ipaper docId=44593724 access_key=key-r8depdmlv6a3blz9a5u height=600 width=600 /]

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ALLY TOLD FREDDIE AND FANNIE OF FAULTY FORECLOSURE AFFIDAVITS WEEKS AGO!

ALLY TOLD FREDDIE AND FANNIE OF FAULTY FORECLOSURE AFFIDAVITS WEEKS AGO!


This all makes sense now since the Obama administration was about to hold a conference on what to do with both Fannie and Freddie around this same time.

Ally Said to Tell Freddie Mac of Faulty Foreclosures Weeks Ago

By Lorraine Woellert and Dakin Campbell – Sep 24, 2010 12:01 AM ET

Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit told Freddie Mac that foreclosures by the auto and home lender might have been faulty weeks before halting its own evictions, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Ally informed Freddie Mac on Aug. 25 that affidavits for court proceedings might not be valid, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. By Sept. 1, Freddie Mac had notified its network of lawyers and stopped related foreclosures and evictions, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter hasn’t been formally disclosed. GMAC told agents to halt evictions in 23 states on Sept. 17.

Fannie Mae, the largest government-backed mortgage firm, said it notified lawyers of flaws in GMAC documentation after it was alerted. Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith declined to say when GMAC contacted the company, and Gina Proia, the spokeswoman for Detroit-based Ally, said she couldn’t comment.

“We are obviously dismayed by reports of document problems,” Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German said in an interview. “The practices described in these reports are clearly not in compliance with Freddie Mac guidelines and servicer directives.” German wouldn’t say how many of the McLean, Virginia-based firm’s holdings were affected by the freeze.

Servicers ‘Accountable’

Fannie Mae said in a statement that its servicers must adhere to all legal requirements. “It is their responsibility to put processes in place that ensure they are fulfilling this requirement, and they are accountable for rectifying any issues that may arise in this regard.”

Continue Reading… BLOOMBERG

.

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, fannie mae, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, forgery, Freddie Mac, investigation, jeffrey stephan, jpmorgan chase, Law Offices Of David J. Stern P.A., law offices of Marshall C. Watson pa, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., notary fraud, note, robo signers, shapiro & fishman pa, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

IN ‘DEED’ | ROBO-SIGNER JEFFREY STEPHAN & MERS HAVE “PATTERN OF CONDUCT” HISTORY TOGETHER

IN ‘DEED’ | ROBO-SIGNER JEFFREY STEPHAN & MERS HAVE “PATTERN OF CONDUCT” HISTORY TOGETHER


SUPREME COURT – STATE OF NEW YORK
I.A.S. PART XXXVI SUFFOLK COUNTY
PRESENT:
HON. PAUL J. BAISLEY, JR., J.S.C.

GMAC v. JOSEPH A. REMKUS

The note itself reflects that it was executed and delivered by the mortgagor to E*Trade. MERS is not mentioned in the note and is given no rights therein. Accordingly, the court is unable to discern from the submissions a factual or legal basis for MERS’ purported assignment of‘the underlying note to plaintiff. Moreover, even if the purported assignment were valid in all respects, plaintiffs submissions establish that at the time of the commencement of this action plaintiff was not the owner of the mortgage and note sued upon.

The Court notes that the questionable validity of the purported assignment is further reflected by the fact that it appears to have been executed on behalf of MERS by the same person, Jeffrey Stephan, who executed the “affidavit of merit” on behalf of the plaintiff in this action.

In light of the foregoing, the motion to appoint a referee is denied.

Proposed ex-parte order marked “not signed.”

Dated: July 28, 2008

Contiune reading the NY Case below…I have others similar

[ipaper docId=37996746 access_key=key-279npgf582mdsw8wg1g9 height=600 width=600 /]

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, bifurcate, chain in title, conflict of interest, CONTROL FRAUD, deed of trust, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, GMAC, investigation, jeffrey stephan, mbs, MERS, MERSCORP, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., note, robo signers, securitization, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, stopforeclosurefraud.com, Supreme Court, TrustsComments (3)

Hmmm LETS SEE…WHO’s NEXT?…OH YEA LINDA GREEN, ‘BOGUS’ AND LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES

Hmmm LETS SEE…WHO’s NEXT?…OH YEA LINDA GREEN, ‘BOGUS’ AND LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES


The Washington Post just keeps putting more and more out! Now they exposed Linda Green, Lender Processing Services (LPS)…and pending “Criminal Investigations

Amid mountain of paperwork, shortcuts and forgeries mar foreclosure process

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Brady Dennis

Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 9:22 PM

The nation’s overburdened foreclosure system is riddled with faked documents, forged signatures and lenders who take shortcuts reviewing borrower’s files, according to court documents and interviews with attorneys, housing advocates and company officials.

Continue reading …WASHINGTON POST

.

LETS NOT FORGET HER MULTIPLE SIGNATURE PERSONALITIES

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, Beth Cottrell, bogus, chain in title, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, DOCX, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, forgery, geithner, investigation, jeffrey stephan, jpmorgan chase, judge arthur schack, Law Offices Of David J. Stern P.A., Lender Processing Services Inc., linda green, LPS, MERS, MERSCORP, Moratorium, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, notary fraud, note, robo signers, stopforeclosurefraud.com, Supreme CourtComments (7)

MERS is a “defective” product, should MERS be recalled nationwide?

MERS is a “defective” product, should MERS be recalled nationwide?


This is not a GMAC thing… this is a MERS thing!

THE GOVERNMENT KNOWS THIS IS A MERS THING!

THIS IS A 65 MILLION LOAN THING!

I know if I purchased a stroller for my kid and later knew it these strollers are all defective …I hope the government would kick in and do a nationwide RECALL!!

GMAC stops some evictions, foreclosed home sales

By JANNA HERRON (AP) –

NEW YORK — GMAC Mortgage LLC said Monday it halted certain evictions and sales of foreclosed homes as it corrects “a potential issue” in its foreclosure process.

The action highlights what is becoming a larger problem for lenders and servicers that may have illegally driven homeowners out of their houses. The issue is threatening to clog up an already overloaded foreclosure process.

Lenders took back more homes in August than in any month since the start of the U.S. mortgage crisis, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said last week. Banks have been stepping up repossessions to clear out their backlog of bad loans.

GMAC, which is owned by Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc., did not identify the specific internal issue that prompted the moratorium in its statement, but it has been linked to lawsuits this year surrounding the alleged falsification of a key foreclosure document.

The Florida attorney general is investigating three law firms for allegedly providing fraudulent affidavits that identify who holds the original mortgage note in foreclosure cases. In Florida and in other states, this document allows lenders to bypass a costly trial and proceed with a foreclosure.

Two of the three firms being investigated — the Law Office of Marshall C. Watson and the Law Offices of David J. Stern PA — have represented GMAC in foreclosure proceedings. And the person who signed many of these allegedly false affidavits was an employee of GMAC.

In a deposition taken in December, GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephan said he signed 10,000 affidavits or similar documents a month without personally verifying who the mortgage holder was. That means many foreclosures could have taken place based on false documentation. Stephan could not be located for comment.

“That’s hundreds of thousands of cases,” said Ice Legal PA attorney Christopher Immel who took the deposition. “And there are other people at other places who sign these kinds of documents as well.”

GMAC did not address how many homeowners would be affected by its suspension of evictions and foreclosure sales. It expects the issues to be resolved within a few weeks or, at latest, by year-end. The company didn’t respond to questions beyond its statement.

The issue of documenting who holds the mortgage is not unique to GMAC. Judges and lawyers nationwide are taking a second look at foreclosure affidavits. Many mortgages have been sliced up and sold to many investors as securities and that makes it harder to determine who is the ultimate mortgage holder.

In August, a judge in Duval County, Fla., ruled that JPMorgan Chase could not foreclose upon two homeowners because Fannie Mae carried the mortgage on its books and JPMorgan Chase only serviced the loan. JPMorgan Chase had identified itself as the owner of the loan. Similar cases across the country are pending.

The law firm that represented JPMorgan Chase in that case — Shapiro & Fishman — is the third law firm being investigated by the Florida state attorney.

Related:

MERS101


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Posted in assignment of mortgage, chain in title, concealment, conflict of interest, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, forgery, investigation, jeffrey stephan, Law Offices Of David J. Stern P.A., law offices of Marshall C. Watson pa, MERS, MERSCORP, Moratorium, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, notary fraud, QUI TAM, quiet title, racketeering, RICO, robo signers, shapiro & fishman pa, signatures, Wall StreetComments (0)

BLOOMBERG| GMAC STOPS FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE IN 23 STATES

BLOOMBERG| GMAC STOPS FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE IN 23 STATES


This bombshell just hit the wires….EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY GMAC HAS SUSPENDED ALL FORECLOSURES IN 23 STATES!

HMMMM could this have something to do with this?? Key word JEFFREY STEPHAN

Ally’s GMAC Mortgage Halts Home Foreclosures in 23 States

By Denise Pellegrini – Sep 20, 2010 9:43 AM ET

Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit told brokers and agents to halt evictions tied to foreclosures on homeowners in 23 states including Florida, Connecticut and New York.

GMAC Mortgage may “need to take corrective action in connection with some foreclosures” in the affected states, according to a two-page memo dated Sept. 17 marked “urgent.” Ally Financial spokesman James Olecki confirmed the contents of the memo. Brokers were told to immediately stop evictions, cash- for-key transactions and lockouts, according to the document, addressed to GMAC preferred agents.

The lender will also suspend sales of properties on which it has already taken possession. The letter tells brokers to notify buyers that the company will extend closing dates by 30 days. Buyers will be able to cancel their agreement to purchase and get their deposit back, according to the letter.

Continue Reading…. BLOOMBERG

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Following is a table of the affected states.

Connecticut
Florida
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Nebraska
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
South Dakota
Vermont
Wisconsin

To contact the reporter on this story: Denise Pellegrini in New York at dpellegrini@bloomberg.net.

Image credit: The office complex of GMAC Mortgage, located in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Photographer: Bradley C. Bower/Bloomberg

Related articles:

JEFFREY STEPHAN: MANY CORPORATE HATS

—————————————————–

HIGHLIGHTS FROM A DEPOSITION OF JEFFREY STEPHAN |By Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq. Ed., Fraud Digest

—————————————————-

DEPOSITION OF JEFFREY STEPHAN

Deposition_of_Jeffrey_Stephan

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Posted in chain in title, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, deed of trust, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, GMAC, jeffrey stephan, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Real Estate, servicers, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

Judge Bufford, Judge Ayers, MERS & The UCC Committee

Judge Bufford, Judge Ayers, MERS & The UCC Committee


UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE COMMITTEE

WHERE’S THE NOTE, WHO’S THE HOLDER: ENFORCEMENT OF PROMISSORY NOTE SECURED BY REAL ESTATE

HON. SAMUEL L. BUFFORD
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY JUDGE
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

(FORMERLY HON.) R. GLEN AYERS
LANGLEY & BANACK
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

AMERICAN BANKRUPTCY INSTUTUTE
APRIL 3, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C.

WHERE’S THE NOTE, WHO’S THE HOLDER

INTRODUCTION

In an era where a very large portion of mortgage obligations have been securitized, by assignment to a trust indenture trustee, with the resulting pool of assets being then sold as mortgage backed securities, foreclosure becomes an interesting exercise, particularly where judicial process is involved.  We are all familiar with the securitization process.  The steps, if not the process, is simple.  A borrower goes to a mortgage lender.  The lender finances the purchase of real estate.  The borrower signs a note and mortgage or deed of trust.  The original lender sells the note and assigns the mortgage to an entity that securitizes the note by combining the note with hundreds or thousands of similar obligation to create a package of mortgage backed securities, which are then sold to investors.

Unfortunately, unless you represent borrowers, the vast flow of notes into the maw of the securitization industry meant that a lot of mistakes were made.  When the borrower defaults, the party seeking to enforce the obligation and foreclose on the underlying collateral sometimes cannot find the note.  A lawyer sophisticated in this area has speculated to one of the authors that perhaps a third of the notes “securitized” have been lost or destroyed.  The cases we are going to look at reflect the stark fact that the unnamed source’s speculation may be well-founded.

UCC SECTION 3-309

If the issue were as simple as a missing note, UCC §3-309 would provide a simple solution.  A person entitled to enforce an instrument which has been lost, destroyed or stolen may enforce the instrument. If the court is concerned that some third party may show up and attempt to enforce the instrument against the payee, it may order adequate protection.  But, and however, a person seeking to enforce a missing instrument must be a person entitled to enforce the instrument, and that person must prove the instrument’s terms and that person’s right to enforce the instrument.  §3-309 (a)(1) & (b).

WHO’S THE HOLDER

Enforcement of a note always requires that the person seeking to collect show that it is the holder.  A holder is an entity that has acquired the note either as the original payor or transfer by endorsement of order paper or physical possession of bearer paper.  These requirements are set out in Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which has been adopted in every state, including Louisiana, and in the District of Columbia.  Even in bankruptcy proceedings, State substantive law controls the rights of note and lien holders, as the Supreme Court pointed out almost forty (40) years ago in United States v. Butner, 440 U.S. 48, 54-55 (1979).

However, as Judge Bufford has recently illustrated, in one of the cases discussed below, in the bankruptcy and other federal courts, procedure is governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy and Civil Procedure.  And, procedure may just have an impact on the issue of “who,” because, if the holder is unknown, pleading and standing issues arise.

BRIEF REVIEW OF UCC PROVISIONS

Article 3 governs negotiable instruments – it defines what a negotiable instrument is and defines how ownership of those pieces of paper is transferred.  For the precise definition, see § 3-104(a) (“an unconditional promise or order to pay a fixed amount of money, with or without interest . . . .”)  The instrument may be either payable to order or bearer and payable on demand or at a definite time, with or without interest.

Ordinary negotiable instruments include notes and drafts (a check is a draft drawn on a bank).  See § 3-104(e).

Negotiable paper is transferred from the original payor by negotiation.  §3-301.  “Order paper” must be endorsed; bearer paper need only be delivered.  §3-305.  However, in either case, for the note to be enforced, the person who asserts the status of the holder must be in possession of the instrument.  See UCC § 1-201 (20) and comments.

The original and subsequent transferees are referred to as holders.  Holders who take with no notice of defect or default are called “holders in due course,” and take free of many defenses.  See §§ 3-305(b).

The UCC says that a payment to a party “entitled to enforce the instrument” is sufficient to extinguish the obligation of the person obligated on the instrument.  Clearly, then, only a holder – a person in possession of a note endorsed to it or a holder of bearer paper – may seek satisfaction or enforce rights in collateral such as real estate.

NOTE:  Those of us who went through the bank and savings and loan collapse of the 1980’s are familiar with these problems.  The FDIC/FSLIC/RTC sold millions of notes secured and unsecured, in bulk transactions.  Some notes could not be found and enforcement sometimes became a problem.  Of course, sometimes we are forced to repeat history.  For a recent FDIC case, see Liberty Savings Bank v. Redus, 2009 WL 41857 (Ohio App. 8 Dist.), January 8, 2009.

THE RULES

Judge Bufford addressed the rules issue this past year.  See In re Hwang, 396 B.R. 757  (Bankr. C. D. Cal. 2008).  First, there are the pleading problems that arise when the holder of the note is unknown.  Typically, the issue will arise in a motion for relief from stay in a bankruptcy proceeding.

According F.R.Civ. Pro. 17, “[a]n action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest.”  This rule is incorporated into the rules governing bankruptcy procedure in several ways.  As Judge Bufford has pointed out, for example, in a motion for relief from stay, filed under F.R.Bankr.Pro. 4001 is a contested matter, governed by F. R. Bankr. P. 9014, which makes F.R. Bankr. Pro. 7017 applicable to such motions.  F.R. Bankr. P. 7017 is, of course, a restatement of F.R. Civ. P. 17.  In re Hwang, 396 B.R. at 766.  The real party in interest in a federal action to enforce a note, whether in bankruptcy court or federal district court, is the owner of a note.  (In securitization transactions, this would be the trustee for the “certificate holders.”) When the actual holder of the note is unknown, it is impossible – not difficult but impossible – to plead a cause of action in a federal court (unless the movant simply lies about the ownership of the note).  Unless the name of the actual note holder can be stated, the very pleadings are defective.

STANDING

Often, the servicing agent for the loan will appear to enforce the note.   Assume that the servicing agent states that it is the authorized agent of the note holder, which is “Trust Number 99.”   The servicing agent is certainly a party in interest, since a party in interest in a bankruptcy court is a very broad term or concept.  See, e.g., Greer v. O’Dell, 305 F.3d 1297, 1302-03 (11th Cir. 2002).  However, the servicing agent may not have standing: “Federal Courts have only the power authorized by Article III of the Constitutions and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto. … [A] plaintiff must have Constitutional standing in order for a federal court to have jurisdiction.”  In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F.Supp. 3d 650, 653 (S.D. Ohio, 2007) (citations omitted).

But, the servicing agent does not have standing, for only a person who is the holder of the note has standing to enforce the note.  See, e.g., In re Hwang, 2008 WL 4899273 at 8.

The servicing agent may have standing if acting as an agent for the holder, assuming that the agent can both show agency status and that the principle is the holder.  See, e.g., In re Vargas, 396 B.R. 511 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008) at 520.

A BRIEF ASIDE: WHO IS MERS?

For those of you who are not familiar with the entity known as MERS, a frequent participant in these foreclosure proceedings:

MERS is the “Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc.  “MERS is a mortgage banking ‘utility’ that registers mortgage loans in a book entry system so that … real estate loans can be bought, sold and securitized, just like Wall Street’s book entry utility for stocks and bonds is the Depository Trust and Clearinghouse.” Bastian, “Foreclosure Forms”, State. Bar of Texas 17th Annual Advanced Real Estate Drafting Course, March 9-10, 2007, Dallas, Texas. MERS is enormous.  It originates thousands of loans daily and is the mortgagee of record for at least 40 million mortgages and other security documents. Id.

MERS acts as agent for the owner of the note.  Its authority to act should be shown by an agency agreement.  Of course, if the owner is unknown, MERS cannot show that it is an authorized agent of  the owner.

RULES OF EVIDENCE – A PRACTICAL PROBLEM

This structure also possesses practical evidentiary problems where the party asserting a right to foreclose must be able to show a default.  Once again, Judge Bufford has addressed this issue.   At In re Vargas, 396 B.R. at 517-19.  Judge Bufford made a finding that the witness called to testify as to debt and default was incompetent.  All the witness could testify was that he had looked at the MERS computerized records.  The witness was unable to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence, particularly Rule 803, as applied to computerized records in the Ninth Circuit.  See id. at 517-20.  The low level employee could really only testify that the MERS screen shot he reviewed reflected a default.  That really is not much in the way of evidence, and not nearly enough to get around the hearsay rule.

FORECLOSURE OR RELIEF FROM STAY

In a foreclosure proceeding in a judicial foreclosure state, or a request for injunctive relief in a non-judicial foreclosure state, or in a motion for relief proceeding in a bankruptcy court, the courts are dealing with and writing about the problems very frequently.

In many if not almost all cases, the party seeking to exercise the rights of the creditor will be a servicing company.  Servicing companies will be asserting the rights of their alleged principal, the note holder, which is, again, often going to be a trustee for a securitization package.  The mortgage holder or beneficiary under the deed of trust will, again, very often be MERS.

Even before reaching the practical problem of debt and default, mentioned above, the moving party must show that it holds the note or (1) that it is an agent of the holder and that (2) the holder remains the holder.  In addition, the owner of the note, if different from the holder, must join in the motion.

Some states, like Texas, have passed statutes that allow servicing companies to act in foreclosure proceedings as a statutorily recognized agent of the noteholder.  See, e.g., Tex. Prop. Code §51.0001.  However, that statute refers to the servicer as the last entity to whom the debtor has been instructed to make payments.  This status is certainly open to challenge.  The statute certainly provides nothing more than prima facie evidence of the ability of the servicer to act.   If challenged, the servicing agent must show that the last entity to communicate instructions to the debtor is still the holder of the note.  See, e.g., HSBC Bank, N.A. v. Valentin, 2l N.Y.  Misc. 3d 1123(A), 2008 WL 4764816 (Table) (N.Y. Sup.), Nov. 3, 2008.  In addition, such a statute does not control in federal court where Fed. R. Civ. P. 17 and 19 (and Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7017 and 7019) apply.

SOME RECENT CASE LAW

These cases are arranged by state, for no particular reason.

Massachusetts

In re Schwartz, 366 B.R.265 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2007)

Schwartz concerns a Motion for Relief to pursue an eviction. Movant asserted that the property had been foreclosed upon prior to the date of the bankruptcy petition.  The pro se debtor asserted that the Movant was required to show that it had authority to conduct the sale.  Movant, and “the party which appears to be the current mortgagee…” provided documents for the court to review, but did not ask for an evidentiary hearing.  Judge Rosenthal sifted through the documents and found that the Movant and the current mortgagee had failed to prove that the foreclosure was properly conducted.

Specifically, Judge Rosenthal found that there was no evidence of a proper assignment of the mortgage prior to foreclosure.  However, at footnote 5, Id. at 268, the Court also finds that there is no evidence that the note itself was assigned and no evidence as to who the current holder might be.

Nosek v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company (In re Nosek), 286 Br. 374 (Bankr D Mass. 2008).

Almost a year to the day after Schwartz was signed, Judge Rosenthal issued a second opinion.  This is an opinion on an order to show cause.  Judge Rosenthal specifically found that, although the note and mortgage involved in the case had been transferred from the originator to another party within five days of closing, during the five years in which the chapter 13 proceeding was pending, the note and mortgage and associated claims had been prosecuted by Ameriquest which has represented itself to be the holder of the note and the mortgage.  Not until September of 2007 did Ameriquest notify the Court that it was merely the servicer.  In fact, only after the chapter 13 bankruptcy had been pending for about three years was there even an assignment of the servicing rights.  Id. at 378.

Because these misrepresentations were not simple mistakes:  as the Court has noted on more than one occasion, those parties who do not hold the note of mortgage do not service the mortgage do not have standing to pursue motions for leave or other actions arising form the mortgage obligation.  Id at 380.

As a result, the Court sanctioned the local law firm that had been prosecuting the claim $25,000.  It sanctioned a partner at that firm an additional $25,000.  Then the Court sanctioned the national law firm involved $100,000 and ultimately sanctioned Wells Fargo $250,000.  Id. at 382-386.

In re Hayes, 393 B.R. 259 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2008).

Like Judge Rosenthal, Judge Feeney has attacked the problem of standing and authority head on.  She has also held that standing must be established before either a claim can be allowed or a motion for relief be granted.

Ohio

In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F.Supp. 2d (S.D. Ohio 2007).

Perhaps the District Court’s orders in the foreclosure cases in Ohio have received the most press of any of these opinions.  Relying almost exclusively on standing, the Judge Rose has determined that a foreclosing party must show standing.  “[I]n a foreclosure action, the plaintiff must show that it is the holder of the note and the mortgage at the time that the complaint was filed.”  Id. at 653.

Judge Rose instructed the parties involved that the willful failure of the movants to comply with the general orders of the Court would in the future result in immediate dismissal of foreclosure actions.

Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Steele, 2008 WL 111227 (S.D. Ohio) January 8, 2008.

In Steele, Judge Abel followed the lead of Judge Rose and found that Deutsche Bank had filed evidence in support of its motion for default judgment indicating that MERS was the mortgage holder.  There was not sufficient evidence to support the claim that Deutsche Bank was the owner and holder of the note as of that date.  Following In re Foreclosure Cases, 2007 WL 456586, the Court held that summary judgment would be denied “until such time as Deutsche Bank was able to offer evidence showing, by a preponderance of evidence, that it owned the note and mortgage when the complaint was filed.”  2008 WL 111227 at 2.  Deutsche Bank was given twenty-one days to comply.  Id.

Illinois

U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Cook, 2009 WL 35286 (N.D. Ill. January 6, 2009).

Not all federal district judges are as concerned with the issues surrounding the transfer of notes and mortgages.  CookId. at 3.  In fact, a review of the evidence submitted by U.S. Bank showed only that it was the alleged trustee of the securitization pool.  U.S. Bank relied exclusively on the “pooling and serving agreement” to show that it was the holder of the note.  Id. is a very pro lender case and, in an order granting a motion for summary judgment, the Court found that Cook had shown no “countervailing evidence to create a genuine issue of facts.”

Under UCC Article 3, the evidence presented in Cook was clearly insufficient.

New York

HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Valentin, 21 Misc. 3D 1124(A), 2008 WL 4764816 (Table) (N.Y. Sup.) November 3, 2008.  In Valentin, the New York court found that, even though given an opportunity to, HSBC did not show the ownership of debt and mortgage.  The complaint was dismissed with prejudice and the “notice of pendency” against the property was cancelled.

Note that the Valentin case does not involve some sort of ambush. The Court gave every HSBC every opportunity to cure the defects the Court perceived in the pleadings.

California

In re Vargas, 396 B.R. 511 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008)

and

In re Hwang, 396 B.R. 757 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008)

These two opinions by Judge Bufford have been discussed above.  Judge Bufford carefully explores the related issues of standing and ownership under both federal and California law.

Texas

In re Parsley, 384 B.R. 138 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2008)

and

In re Gilbreath, 395 B.R. 356 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2008)

These two recent opinions by Judge Jeff Bohm are not really on point, but illustrate another thread of cases running through the issues of motions for relief from stay in bankruptcy court and the sloppiness of loan servicing agencies.  Both of these cases involve motions for relief that were not based upon fact but upon mistakes by servicing agencies.  Both opinions deal with the issue of sanctions and, put simply, both cases illustrate that Judge Bohm (and perhaps other members of the bankruptcy bench in the Southern District of Texas) are going to be very strict about motions for relief in consumer cases.

SUMMARY

The cases cited illustrate enormous problems in the loan servicing industry.  These problems arise in the context of securitization and illustrate the difficulty of determining the name of the holder, the assignee of the mortgage, and the parties with both the legal right under Article 3 and the standing under the Constitution to enforce notes, whether in state court or federal court.

Interestingly, with the exception of Judge Bufford and a few other judges, there has been less than adequate focus upon the UCC title issues.  The next round of cases may and should focus upon the title to debt instrument.  The person seeking to enforce the note must show that:

(1)               It is the holder of this note original by transfer, with all necessary rounds;

(2)               It had possession of the note before it was lost;

(3)               If it can show that title to the note runs to it, but the original is lost or destroyed, the holder must be          prepared to post a bond;

(4)               If the person seeking to enforce is an agent, it must show its agency status and that its principal is the holder of the note (and meets the above requirements).

Then, and only then, do the issues of evidence of debt and default and assignment of mortgage rights become relevant.


MORE INFO LINK

UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE AND NOTE TRANSFERS AND DEED OF TRUST-1


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Posted in conflict of interest, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deed of trust, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, Judge R. Glen Ayers, judge samuel bufford, mbs, MERS, MERSCORP, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., note, rmbs, securitization, servicers, trustee, Trusts, ucc, uniform commercial code committeeComments (1)

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