PATRICK L. COGSWELL and PATRICK M. O’FLAHERTY, doing business as THE PATRICK GROUP, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
CITIFINANCIAL MORTGAGE COMPANY, INCORPORATED, successor by merger to Associates Finance, Incorporated, Defendant-Appellee.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Argued April 15, 2009. Decided October 5, 2010.
Before FLAUM, RIPPLE, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.
SYKES, Circuit Judge.
CitiFinancial Mortgage assigned its interest in a mortgage to two investors—doing business as “The Patrick Group”—but never delivered the original or a copy of the underlying note. When The Patrick Group tried to foreclose on the mortgage in Illinois state court, its action was dismissed because it could not produce the note. After an unsuccessful appeal, The Patrick Group filed this breach-of-contract lawsuit against CitiFinancial. The suit was removed to federal court, and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of CitiFinancial.
We reverse. The district court based its summary-judgment decision primarily on a determination that CitiFinancial never agreed to deliver the note as part of the parties’ agreement to transfer the mortgage. But whether they agreed on this term is a question of fact, and The Patrick Group presented enough evidence from which a reasonable fact finder could conclude that it was a part of the parties’ agreement. The district court’s alternative basis for summary judgment—that CitiFinancial’s alleged breach did not cause The Patrick Group’s damages—was also erroneous. Under the circumstances of this case, the causation question should have been resolved in The Patrick Group’s favor as a matter of law; the state trial and appellate courts rejected The Patrick Group’s foreclosure action because without a copy of the note, it could not prove it was the holder of the debt the mortgage secured.
In short, as a matter of law, The Patrick Group’s damages were caused by CitiFinancial’s failure to deliver an original or a copy of the note secured by the mortgage. The open factual question is whether the parties’ agreement required CitiFinancial to do so, and on this the evidence is disputed. We therefore REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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