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STEWART TITLE BULLETIN: RE: Recent Oklahoma Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Foreclosures

STEWART TITLE BULLETIN: RE: Recent Oklahoma Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Foreclosures


Dear Associates:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has recently issued several opinions:

Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3 {Approved for Publication}

Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Byrams, 2012 OK 4

HSBC Bank USA v. Lyon, 2012 OK 10

Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Matthews, 2012 OK 14

Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Richardson, 2012 OK 15

CPT Asset Backed Certificates; Series 2004-EC1 v. Kham, 2012 OK 22

Bank of America, N.A. v. Kabba, 2012 OK 23

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Eldridge, 2012 OK 24

(It is important to note that only one of the opinions, Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3, has been approved for publication so far.)

These opinions hold that to commence a foreclosure action, the plaintiff must show that it has the right to enforce the promissory note, and in the absence of such showing, the plaintiff lacks standing to bring the lawsuit.  The fact patterns in each of the cases vary slightly (seven are based on appeals from orders granting summary judgment entered by the trial court, and one is based upon a default judgment), but the basic fact pattern is as follows:  Plaintiff files a foreclosure action either without attaching a copy of the promissory note or attaching the note without proper indorsement(s) by the original lender.  Defendant raises the issue that Plaintiff does not have standing to sue, either in response to a Motion for Summary Judgment or by pleadings filed after the Journal Entry of Judgment.  Motions are denied after Plaintiff provides documentation showing indorsement or allonge.  Defendant appeals.

[STEWART VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER]

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U.S. BANK v. MOORE | Oklahoma SC “a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the Note”

U.S. BANK v. MOORE | Oklahoma SC “a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the Note”


U.S. BANK v. MOORE
2012 OK 32

Case Number: 109763
Decided: 04/10/2012

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA


Cite as: 2012 OK 32, __ P.3d __


NOTICE: THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE PERMANENT LAW REPORTS. UNTIL RELEASED, IT IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL.

 


U.S. BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, NOT IN ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY BUT SOLELY AS TRUSTEE ON BEHALF OF GSAA HOME EQUITY TRUST 2006-6, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
DAVID F. MOORE, a/k/a DAVID F. MOORE and BARBARA MOORE a/k/a BARBARA K. MOORE, Defendants/Appellants.

ON APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY
HONORABLE BRYAN C. DIXON
DISTRICT JUDGE

¶0 Appeal of a summary judgment granted on May 13, 2011, in favor of Chase Home Finance, LLC, and against David F. and Barbara Moore. In a Journal Entry of Judgment, filed on August 26, 2011, the trial court found the Appellant was the undisputed owner and holder of the Note and Mortgage. The Moores appealed on September 23, 2011, arguing standing, and this Court retained the matter on November 18, 2011.

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

Gary L. Blevins, GARY L. BLEVINS & ASSOCIATES, PC, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, for Defendants/Appellants.
Bryan Miles Harrington and A. Grant Schwabe, KIVELL, RAYMENT AND FRANCIS, PC, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.

COMBS, J.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶1 On October 21, 2005, David F. Moore and Barbara Moore, husband and wife (hereinafter “Appellants”), executed a Note and Mortgage in favor of Colonial Bank, N.A. (hereinafter “Lender”), for property located in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (hereinafter “MERS”), was designated as the nominee for the lender pursuant to subsection (C) of the Mortgage.1 Within the Mortgage was a security interest provision with the following granting clause:

Borrower understands and agrees that MERS holds only legal title to the interests granted by Borrower in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns) has the right: to exercise any or all of those interests, including. . .the right to foreclose and sell the Property.

¶2 Also contained in the Mortgage was a provision entitled “Sale of Note; Change of Loan Servicer.” Per the terms of this provision:

The Note or a partial interest in the Note (together with this Security Instrument) can be sold one or more times without prior notice to Borrower.

Thus, the borrower may have difficulty in determining who holds the note and mortgage, and to whom the payment is due.

¶3 Appellants defaulted on the Note during August of 2008. U.S. Bank, National Association, commenced foreclosure proceedings on December 24, 2008, not in its individual capacity, but solely as trustee on behalf of GSAA Home Equity Trust 2006-6 (hereinafter “Appellee”). According to the verified petition, the Appellee was “the present holder of said Note and Mortgage having received due assignment through mesne assignments of record or conveyance via mortgaging servicing transfer.” The original petition did not attach a copy of the note in question sued upon. Appellants answered, pro se, on May 20, 2009. Appellants disputed all allegations and requested that the Appellee’s “submit additional documentation to prove their claims including the representation that they were the “present holder of said Note.” Appellee subsequently filed an amended petition and a second amended petition to add additional defendants. Neither of these amendments included a copy of the note sued upon.

¶4 Appellee submitted its Motion for Summary Judgment (hereinafter the “Motion”) to the court on November 20, 2009. Again, the Appellee represented that it was the holder of the Note. Documentation attached to the Motion attempted tosupport this representation: it included the Mortgage, the Note, an Assignment of Mortgage, and an Affidavit in Support of Appellee’s Motion for Summary Judgment. For the first time, Appellee submitted the Note and Mortgage to the trial court. The note was indorsed in blank and contained no date for the indorsement.

¶5 Executed on October 21, 2005, the Note designated the Appellants as the Borrowers and Colonial Bank, N.A., as the Lender. The following agreement, inter alia, was made:

I [Appellants] understand that the Lender may transfer this Note. The Lender or anyone who takes this Note by transfer and who is entitled to receive payments under this Note is called the ‘Note Holder.’

An Assignment of Mortgage (hereinafter the “Assignment”) was attached to the motion. MERS, again as nominee for the Lender, assigned the Mortgage, which secured “the payment of a certain promissory note” described therein, to the Appellee.2 The Assignment was executed and notarized on February 11, 2009; it was recorded one week later, but made effective “11/27/2008.” In other words, the Assignment was executed after the foreclosure suit commenced, but made effective before the filing of the petition as well as any subsequent amendments to the petition.

¶6 Appellants did not respond to Appellee’s Motion, and the trial court entered a default judgment against them. The trial court entered a final judgment, on December 17, 2009, (hereinafter “Judgment”) in favor of the Appellee. The judgment concluded that Appellee was the owner and holder of the Note and Mortgage; the court then approved an Order of Sale. Approximately six (6) weeks later, on January 31, 2010, the Appellants filed for protection under Chapter 7 of Title XI of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which stayed the proceedings. On March 2, 2011, the bankruptcy court granted Appellee’s Motion to Lift the Automatic Stay. Shortly thereafter, on March 18, 2011, with the assistance of counsel, the Appellants filed a Petition to Vacate the Judgment. The trial court subsequently dismissed the Appellants Petition to Vacate the Judgment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶7 The standard of review3for a trial court’s ruling either vacating or refusing to vacate a judgment is abuse of discretion. Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. v. Webb Enterprises, Inc., 2000 OK 78, ¶ 5, 13 P.3d 480, 482; Hassell v. Texaco, Inc., 1962 OK 136, 372 P.2d 233. A clear abuse-of-discretion standard includes appellate review of both fact and law issues. Christian v. Gray, 2003 OK 10, ¶ 43, 65 P.3d 591, 608. An abuse of discretion occurs when a court bases its decision on an erroneous conclusion of law, or where there is no rational basis in evidence for the ruling. Fent v. Oklahoma Natural Gas Co., 2001 OK 35, ¶12; 27 P.3d 477, 481.

ANALYSIS

¶8 The Appellants have questioned the standing of the Appellee to commence foreclosure proceedings against them. “Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum.” Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, ¶ 7, 163 P.3d 512, 519-520. Foremost, the party seeking relief must prove that they suffered an actual and concrete injury. Absent an injury of this nature, the party lacks standing. Whether or not such an injury exists is determined at the commencement of the lawsuit. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 570, n. 5, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 2142, 119 L.Ed. 351 (1992).

¶9 Countering, Appellee argues that Appellants have forfeited the opportunity to question enforcement of the Note. However, a review of the record reveals the Appellants, in their pro se Answer, clearly questioned the ability of the Appellee to enforce the Note.4 It is settled law in Oklahoma that standing “may be raised at any stage of the judicial process by any party or by the court sua sponte.” Hendrick v Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234 (emphasis original). Therefore, this issue is properly before the Court.

¶10 Article III of the Uniform Commercial Code (hereinafter “U.C.C.”) governs negotiable instruments and is codified in the Oklahoma Statutes. Promissory notes are negotiable instruments. See, 12A OS 2001, § 3-104. The Appellee has the burden of showing that it is entitled to enforce the instrument. See Reserve Loan Life Ins. Co. v. Simmons, 1929 OK 669, ¶ 9, 282 P. 279, 281. Unless the Appellee was able to enforce the Note at the time the suit was commenced, it cannot maintain its foreclosure action against the Appellants.

¶11 Ownership of the note determines ownership of the mortgage. Engle v. Federal Nat’l. Mortg. Ass’n, 1956 OK 176, ¶ 7, 300 P.2d 997, 999. Oklahoma law does not permit the bifurcation of the security interest from the note. Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3, ___P.3d ___; BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. v. White, 2011 OK CIV APP 35, ¶ 10, 256 P.3d 1014, 1017. A party which is assigned a mortgage without the accompanying promissory note holds no rights of enforcement. Id. Plainly, a party must properly acquire rights to both instruments before such party is able to enforce their terms.

¶12 In the present case, the only instrument attached to Appellee’s petition was the Mortgage. Appellee did not produce the Note until the summary disposition stage. Under the U.C.C., both holders and non-holders in possession of a negotiable instrument are permitted to enforce the instrument. 12A OS 2001, § 3-301. A “holder” is “(A) the person in possession of a negotiable instrument that is payable either to bearer5 or to an identified person that is the person in possession. 12A OS 2001, § 1-201(21).6 The evidence in the present matter is not clear as to whether the Appellee held the Note as a “holder” or as a “non-holder in possession with the ability to enforce the Note.

¶13 To enforce a negotiable instrument as a non-holder in possession, the moving party must show (i) that the party possessed the negotiable instrument when suit was filed; (ii) how possession was achieved; and (iii), if necessary, that the purpose of the transfer was to transfer rights of enforcement. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-301. The Appellee has not demonstrated its possession of the Note at the time it commenced foreclosure proceedings against Appellants.

¶14 Appellants contend Appellee lacks standing to commence this foreclosure action. Appellants further allege the validity of the affidavit offered in support of Appellees Motion for Summary Judgment. The dispositive issue is whether or not Appellee has standing. Appellants’ argument is based on the failure of Appellee to establish Appellee was a person entitled to enforce the Note at the commencement of the action and the inability to establish the effectiveness of the indorsements attached to the Note when the Note was ultimately produced as an exhibit to the Appellees Motion for Summary Judgment.

¶15 This Court has previously held:

Standing, as a jurisdictional question, may be correctly raised at any level of the judicial process or by the Court on its own motion. This Court has consistently held that standing to raise issues in a proceeding must be predicated on interest that is “direct, immediate and substantial.” Standing determines whether the person is the proper party to request adjudication of a certain issue and does not decide the issue itself. The key element is whether the party whose standing is challenged has sufficient interest or stake in the outcome.

Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶7, 727 P.2d 574, 576. In Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234, this Court also held:

Respondent challenges Petitioner’s standing to bring the tendered issue. Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. It may be raised as an issue at any stage of the judicial process by any party or by the court sua sponte. (Emphasis original)

¶16 Furthermore, in Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, footnote 19, 163 P.3d 512, 519, this Court stated “[s]tanding may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” Additionally in Fent, this Court stated:

Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. The three threshold criteria of standing are (1) a legally protected interest which must have been injured in fact- i.e., suffered an injury which is actual, concrete and not conjectural in nature, (2) a causal nexus between the injury and the complained-of conduct, and (3) a likelihood, as opposed to mere speculation, that the injury is capable of being redressed by a favorable court decision. The doctrine of standing ensures a party has a personal stake in the outcome of a case and the parties are truly adverse.

Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, ¶7, 163 P.3d 512, 519-520. In essence, a plaintiff who has not suffered an injury attributable to the defendant lacks standing to bring a suit. And, thus, “standing [must] be determined as of the commencement of suit; . . .” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 570, n.5, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2142, 119 L.Ed. 351 (1992).

¶17 To commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note and, absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing. Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Oklahoma City, 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.7An assignment of the mortgage, however, is of no consequence because under Oklahoma law, “[p]roof of ownership of the note carried with it ownership of the mortgage security.” Engle v. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n, 1956 OK 176, ¶7, 300 P.2d 997, 999. Therefore, in Oklahoma it is not possible to bifurcate the security interest from the note.” Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3, ___P.3d ___; BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. v. White, 2011 OK CIV APP 35, ¶ 10, 256 P.3d 1014, 1017. Because the note is a negotiable instrument, it is subject to the requirements of the UCC. Thus, a foreclosing entity has the burden of proving it is a “person entitled to enforce an instrument” by showing it was “(i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 12A-3-309 or subsection (d) of Section 12A-3-418 of this title.” 12A O.S. 2001 §3-301.

¶18 To show you are the “holder” of the Note you must prove you are in possession of the note and the note is either “payable to bearer” (blank indorsement) or to an identified person that is the person in possession (special indorsement).8 Therefore, both possession of the note and an indorsement on the note or attached allonge9 are required in order for one to be a “holder” of the Note.

¶19 Negotiation is the voluntary or involuntary transfer of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201. Transfer occurs when the instrument is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203. Delivery of the note would still have to occur even though there is no negotiation. Delivery is defined as the voluntary transfer of possession. 12A O.S. 2001, § 1-201(b) (15). The transferee would then be vested with any right of the transferor to enforce the note. 12A O.S. 2001, 3-203(b). Some jurisdictions have held, without holder status and therefore the presumption of a right to enforce, the possessor of the note must demonstrate both the fact of the delivery and the purpose of the delivery of the Note to the transferee in order to qualify as the person entitled to enforce. In re Veal, 50 B.R. 897, 912 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011). See also, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203.

¶20 Appellee must also demonstrate it became a “person entitled to enforce” prior to the filing of the foreclosure proceeding. We find there is no evidence in the record establishing Appellee had standing to commence this foreclosure action. The trial court’s granting of a default judgment in favor of Appellee could not have been rationally based upon the evidence or Oklahoma law. Therefore, we find that the trial court abused its discretion by dismissing the Appellants Petition to Vacate the default judgment. Because this issue is dispositive, we will not address the remaining issues on appeal. The order denying Appellant’s petition and motion to vacate should be reversed and remanded back for further proceedings to determine whether Appellee is a person entitled to enforce the Note consistent with this opinion.

CONCLUSION

¶21 It is a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the Note, and to have the proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit, showing the history of the Note, so that the defendant is duly apprised of the rights of the plaintiff. This is accomplished by showing the party is a holder of the instrument or a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-309 or 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-418. Likewise, for the homeowners, absent adjudication on the underlying indebtedness, today’s decision to reverse the dismissal of the petition and motion to vacate cannot cancel their obligation arising from an authenticated Note, or insulate them from foreclosure proceedings based on proven delinquency. This Court’s decision in no way releases or exonerates the debt owed by the defendants on this home. See, U.S. Bank National Association v. Kimball, 27 A.3d 1087, 75 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 100, 2011 VT 81 (VT 2011); and Indymac Bank, F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 78 A.D.3d 895, 912 N.Y.S.2d 239 (2010).

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

¶22 CONCUR: TAYLOR, C.J., KAUGER, WATT, EDMONDSON, REIF, COMBS, JJ.

¶23 DISSENT: WINCHESTER (JOINS GURICH, J.), GURICH (BY SEPARATE WRITING), JJ.

¶24 RECUSED: COLBERT, V.C.J.

FOOTNOTES

1 Subsection (C) of the Mortgage reads as follows: “‘MERS’ is Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. MERS is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns. MERS is the mortgagee under this security instrument.”

2 Specifically, the assignment was made to “U.S. Bank National Association, not in its individual capacity, but solely as trustee on behalf of GSAA Home Equity Trust 2006-6.”

3 Summary judgment decisions are reviewed de novo, Carmichael v. Beller, 1996 OK 48, ¶ 2, 914 P.2d 1051, 1053, whereas orders denying or granting a petition to vacate are reviewed for an abuse of discretion, Patel v. OMH Medical Center, Inc. , 1999 OK 33 at ¶ 20.

4 In relevant part, the Answer states: “The defendants hereby dispute the cause and information within the petition and hereby request that the plaintiff provide proper documentation of any and all allegations” including the allegation that the Appellee was present holder of the Note and Mortgage and thereby entitled to enforce its terms.

5 Bearer” means…a person in possession of an instrument, negotiable tangible document of title, or certificated security payable to bearer or endorsed in blank. 12A, O.S. 2001§ 1-201(5).

6 Documents of title are not at issue. Therefore, this is the only relevant U.C.C. definition of “holder.”

7 This opinion occurred prior to the enactment of the UCC. It is, however, possible for the owner of the note not to be the person entitled to enforce the note if the owner is not in possession of the note. (See the REPORT OF THE PERMANENT EDITORIAL BOARD FOR THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, APPLICATION OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE TO SELECTED ISSUES RELATING TO MORTGAGE NOTES (NOVEMBER 14, 2011)).

812A O.S. 2001, §§ 1-201(b)(21), 3-204 and 3-205

9 According to Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) an allonge is “[a] slip of paper sometimes attached to a negotiable instrument for the purpose of receiving further indorsements when the original paper is filled with indorsements.” It should be noted that under 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-204(a) and its comments in paragraph 2, it is no longer necessary that an instrument be so covered with previous indorsements that additional space is required before an allonge may be used. An allonge, however, must still be affixed to the instrument.


GURICH, J., with whom WINCHESTER, J. joins dissenting:

¶1 I respectfully dissent. In this case, the record indicates that attached to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment was an indorsed-in-blank note, the mortgage, an assignment of mortgage, and an affidavit in support of the motion for summary judgment. Because the Plaintiff was the proper party to pursue the foreclosure and because the Plaintiff presented the proper documentation at summary judgment to prove such, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants’ Petition to Vacate. I would affirm the trial court for the reasons stated in my dissenting opinions in Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Matthews, 2012 OK 14, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. dissenting) and Bank of America, NA v. Kabba, 2012 OK 23, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. dissenting).1

FOOTNOTES

1 Although I originally concurred in the majority opinion in Deutsche Bank National Trust v. Brumbaugh, 2012 OK 3, ___P.3d___, which the majority now cites as authority in this case, after further consideration, I disagree with the majority’s analysis in that case, and my views on the issues in these cases are accurately reflected in J.P. Morgan Chase Bank N.A. v. Eldridge, 2012 OK 24, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. concurring in part and dissenting in part); Kabba, 2012 OK 23, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. dissenting); CPT Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2004-EC1 v. Kham, 2012 OK 22, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. dissenting); Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Richardson, 2012 OK 15, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. concurring in part and dissenting in part); and Matthews, 2012 OK 14, ___P.3d___ (Gurich, J. dissenting).

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ELSTON / LEETSDALE vs CWCAPITAL | FL 4DCA “did not file any evidence, affidavits or other documents, supporting…it was authorized …on behalf of the trust”

ELSTON / LEETSDALE vs CWCAPITAL | FL 4DCA “did not file any evidence, affidavits or other documents, supporting…it was authorized …on behalf of the trust”


DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
FOURTH DISTRICT

January Term 2012

ELSTON/LEETSDALE, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company,
Appellant,

v.

CWCAPITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT LLC, solely in its capacity as
Special Servicer on behalf of U.S. BANK, N.A., Successor to STATE
STREET BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, as Trustee for the registered
holders of J.P. MORGAN CHASE COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE
SECURITIES CORP., MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES,
SERIES 2001-C1BC1,
Appellee.

No. 4D11-3151

[April 4, 2012]

POLEN, J.

Elston/Leetsdale, LLC (Elston) appeals the trial court’s non-final
order, requiring it to make payments to CWCapital Asset Management
LLC, solely in its capacity as special servicer on behalf of U.S. Bank,
N.A., successor to State Street Bank and Trust Company, as trustee for
the Registered Holders of J.P. Morgan Chase Commercial Mortgage
Securities Corp., Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2001-
C1BC1 (CW) during the pendency of the action. Because CW did not
properly plead standing, we reverse.

The facts are as follows. Elston executed a promissory note as
evidence of a loan made by First Union National Bank; to secure
payment, Elston executed a mortgage and security agreement, along with
an assignment of leases and rents. First Union assigned its rights in the
loan documents to Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, which
then assigned its right, title and interest in the loan to State Street Bank
and Trust Company, as Trustee for J.P. Morgan Chase Commercial
Mortgage Securities Corp., Series 2001-C1BC1 (the trust). Presently, the
trust is the current owner and holder of all the loan documents subject
to this appeal.

CW, the special servicer for the trust, filed a verified complaint, in its
own name, for foreclosure. The complaint alleged that Elston defaulted
on the loan, and the trust elected to accelerate and declare immediately
due and owing the entire unpaid principal balance together with accrued
interest. In response to CW’s motions, the trial court ordered Elston to
show cause as to why payments should not b e ma d e during the
pendency of the foreclosure action. Elston then moved to dismiss the
complaint, arguing that CW failed to properly allege standing to pursue
enforcement of the security instruments. CW argued that it had
standing to bring the foreclosure action because it is duly authorized by
the trust to do so and, as special servicer for the loan, it is entitled to
take all required action to protect the interests of the trust. After a
hearing,1 the trial court entered a payment order, requiring Elston to pay
CW $42,404.91 per month during the pendency of the action. This
appeal followed.

Elston argues that the trial court erred b y ordering it to make
payments to CW because CW failed to properly allege standing. CW
argues that Elston has not furnished a sufficient record for this court to
review the trial court’s ruling.2 On the merits, CW argues that, as agent
and special servicer to the trust, which owns the loan documents at
issue, it has standing to foreclose.

“Whether a party is the proper party with standing to bring an action
is a question of law to be reviewed de novo.” FCD Dev., LLC v. S. Fla.
Sports Comm., Inc., 37 So. 3d 905, 909 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (quoting
Westport Recovery Corp. v. Midas, 954 So. 2d 750, 752 (Fla. 4th DCA
2007)).

Every action may be prosecuted in the name of the real party
in interest, but a personal representative, administrator,
guardian, trustee of an express trust, a party with whom or
in whose name a contract has been made for the benefit of
another, or a party expressly authorized by statute may sue
in that person’s own name without joining the party for
whose benefit the action is brought.

Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.210(a). “In its broadest sense, standing is no more than
having, or representing one who has, ‘a sufficient stake in an otherwise
justiciable controversy to obtain judicial resolution of that controversy.’”
Kumar Corp. v. Nopal Lines, Ltd., 462 So. 2d 1178, 1182 (Fla. 3d DCA
1985) (quoting Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 731 (1972)).

In the mortgage foreclosure context, “standing is broader than just
actual ownership of the beneficial interest in the note.” Mortgage Elec.
Registration Sys., Inc. v. Azize, 965 So. 2d 151, 153 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007).
“The Florida real party in interest rule, Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.210(a), permits
an action to be prosecuted in the name of someone other than, but
acting for, the real party in interest.” Id. (quoting Kumar, 462 So. 2d at
1183). “Thus, where a plaintiff is either the real party in interest or is
maintaining the action on behalf of the real party in interest, its action
cannot be terminated on the ground that it lacks standing.” Kumar, 462
So. 2d at 1183. See also BAC Funding Consortium Inc. ISAOA/ATIMA v.
Jean-Jacques, 28 So. 3d 936, 938 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) (“The proper party
with standing to foreclose a note and/or mortgage is the holder of the
note and mortgage or the holder’s representative.”).

In securitization cases, a servicer may b e considered a party in
interest to commence legal action as long as the trustee joins or
ratifies its action. In re Rosenberg, 414 B.R. 826, 842 (Bankr. S.D. Fla.
2009) (emphasis added). In CWCapital Asset Management, LLC v.
Chicago Properties, LLC, 610 F.3d 497 (7th Cir. 2010), the Seventh
Circuit found that CW, as a special servicer to a loan, had standing to
bring an action in its own name against a mortgagor and landlord for
money paid by a tenant in settlement of a suit for unpaid rent. Id. at
499-500. Significantly, however, in opposition to the defendant’s motion
for judgment on the pleadings (based on CW’s lack of standing), CW filed
an affidavit of the trustee, which was not contradicted, ratifying the
servicer’s (CW’S) commencement of the lawsuit. Id. at 502 (emphasis
added). Additionally, the pooling and servicing agreement was placed in
evidence as additional evidence that CW’s principal granted CW authority
to enforce the debt instruments that CW neither owned nor held. Id. at
501.

In Juega v. Davidson, 8 So. 3d 488 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009), relied on by
the trial court, the Third District reversed an order of dismissal for lack
of standing, finding that because the plaintiff was an agent who had been
granted full authority to act for the real party in interest, there was no
violation of rule 1.210(a). Id. at 489. However, in Juega, there was
evidence in the trial court that the agent/plaintiff had been granted full
authority to act on the real party in interest’s behalf: The real party in
interest filed an affidavit in opposition to the motion to dismiss for lack of
standing, averring that Juega was pursuing the litigation for the real
party in interest’s benefit and ratifying all actions taken by Juega since
the inception of the lawsuit. Id. at 489. Finding the affidavit filed by the
real party in interest to be indistinguishable from the affidavit filed by the
principal in Kumar, the Third District held that “the facts stated in [the
affidavit] establish that the agent, Juega, has standing.” Id. at 490
(emphasis added).

Here, the caption of the verified complaint states that the underlying
action is brought by CW “solely in its capacity as special servicer on
behalf of U.S. Bank, N.A.” In the complaint, CW alleges, and verifies as
true, that it “has been and is duly authorized by the Trust to prosecute
this action as agent and special servicer for the Trust.” However, CW did
not file any evidence, affidavits or other documents, supporting its
allegation that it was authorized to prosecute the action on behalf of the
trust, as was done in Kumar, Juega and Chicago Properties. Although
CW’s complaint is verified, it is verified by the “SVP” for CW – not by the
real party in interest, the trust. CW relies on nothing more than its own
allegations and affidavit to support its argument that it has standing to
sue on behalf of the trust. This is insufficient evidence to prove that it is
authorized to sue on the trust’s behalf.

We affirm on the other issue raised by Elston, as we find that the trial
court properly determined that CW was not required to register as a
commercial collection agency or as a licensed mortgage broker under
Chapters 559 and 494, Florida Statutes.

Reversed and Remanded.

TAYLOR and HAZOURI, JJ., concur.
* *

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SHOUP vs. McCurdy & CANDLER, LLC | 11th Cir. Court of Appeals “MERS is NOT a CREDITOR, The complaint states a plausible claim for relief under the FDCPA”

SHOUP vs. McCurdy & CANDLER, LLC | 11th Cir. Court of Appeals “MERS is NOT a CREDITOR, The complaint states a plausible claim for relief under the FDCPA”


IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
_________________________
No. 10-14619
__________________________
D.C. Docket No. 1:09-cv-02598-JEC

JONI LEE SHOUP,
on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated,
Plaintiff – Appellant,

versus

MCCURDY & CANDLER, LLC,
Respondent – Appellee.
__________________________
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Georgia

___________________________
(March 30, 2012)

Before DUBINA, Chief Judge, CARNES, Circuit Judge, and FORRESTER,*
District Judge.

*Honorable J. Owen Forrester, United States District Judge for the Northern District of
Georgia, sitting by designation.

PER CURIAM:

Joni Shoup filed a lawsuit against McCurdy & Candler, LLC alleging a
violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. The
district court dismissed her complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and Shoup appeals, contending that her
complaint stated a valid claim for statutory damages under the FDCPA because
McCurdy & Candler’s initial communication letter falsely said that its client,
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), was Shoup’s “creditor.”

I.

Shoup bought a home in Georgia in 2003. To finance her new home, she
entered into a mortgage contract with America Wholesale Lender. The contract
stated that America Wholesale Lender was the “Lender,” but it also described
MERS as “the grantee under” the mortgage contract and as “a separate corporation
that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns.”
Shoup defaulted on her mortgage, and MERS’ law firm, McCurdy &
Candler, sent Shoup an initial communication letter. That letter was entitled,
“NOTICE PURSUANT TO FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT 15
USC 1692,” and stated that its purpose was “an attempt to collect a debt.” The
letter identified MERS as “the creditor on the above referenced loan.” (Emphasis
added.)

Soon after receiving that letter, Shoup filed a complaint against McCurdy &
Candler under the FDCPA. She alleged that MERS is not a “creditor” as defined
in the FDCPA because it did not offer or extend credit to Shoup and she does not
owe MERS a debt. Instead, according to the complaint, MERS is “a company that
tracks, for its clients, the sale of promissory notes and servicing rights.” Shoup,
therefore, alleged that McCurdy & Candler violated the FDCPA by falsely stating
in the initial communication letter that MERS was Shoup’s “creditor.”1
McCurdy & Candler filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), which
the district court granted. Finding that MERS was a “creditor” under the FDCPA,
the court concluded that Shoup’s complaint did not state a claim for statutory
damages under the FDCPA. The court also concluded that, even if MERS was not
a “creditor,” calling MERS one was harmless. This is Shoup’s appeal.

II.

We review de novo the grant of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim, “accepting the allegations in the complaint as true and
construing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Belanger v. Salvation
Army, 556 F.3d 1153, 1155 (11th Cir. 2009). “A complaint must state a plausible
claim for relief, and ‘a claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.’” Sinaltraninal v. Coca-Cola Co.,
578 F.3d 1252, 1261 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)) (alteration omitted). We also review de novo
matters of statutory interpretation. Belanger, 556 F.3d at 1155.

Under the FDCPA, “[a] debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or
misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt,”
15 U.S.C. § 1692e, which includes “[t]he use of any false representation or
deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information
concerning a consumer,” id. § 1692e(10). The statute defines “creditor” as “any
person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is owed, but
such term does not include any person to the extent that he receives an assignment
or transfer of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating collection of
such debt for another.” Id. § 1692a(4). And “[t]he FDCPA provides that ‘any
debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of this subchapter with
respect to any person is liable to such person’ for [actual and statutory] damages
and costs.” Bourff v. Lublin, __ F.3d __, slip op. at 6, No. 10-14618 (11th Cir.
Mar. 15, 2012) (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)).

Our decision in this case is controlled by our recent decision in Bourff. In
that case a law firm sent a letter to the plaintiff in “AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT
A DEBT.” Id. at __, slip op. at 3 (quotation marks omitted). That letter identified
a loan servicer as “the creditor on the above-referenced loan.” Id. at __, slip op. at
3 (quotation marks omitted). The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the loan
servicer was not a “creditor” under the FDCPA, id., and that the law firm violated
the FDCPA’s “prohibition on false, deceptive or misleading representations by
falsely stating in its collection notice that [the servicer] was the ‘creditor’ on [the
plaintiff’s] loan,” id. at __, slip op. at 5 (some quotation marks omitted). The
allegation that the loan servicer was not a “creditor” was enough to state a
plausible claim for relief under the FDCPA. Id. at __, slip op. at 6–7.

Here, viewing the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to
Shoup, she has alleged that MERS did not offer or extend credit to her and that she
does not owe a debt to MERS. Because the FDCPA defines a “creditor” as “any
person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is owed,” 15
U.S.C. § 1692a(4), Shoup has alleged that MERS is not a “creditor” under the
FDCPA. Finally, because the complaint alleges that McCurdy & Candler’s initial
communication letter falsely identified MERS as her “creditor,” the complaint
states a plausible claim for relief under the FDCPA. See Bourff, __ F.3d at __,
slip op. at 6–7. And because the FDCPA provides a claim for statutory damages
based on any violation of the statute, see 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(a)(2), McCurdy &
Candler’s alleged violation of the FDCPA is not harmless. See Muha v. Encore
Receivable Mgmt., Inc., 558 F.3d 623, 629 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Were the plaintiffs
seeking actual damages rather than just statutory damages, they would have to
present some evidence that they were misled to their detriment.”); Baker v. G.C.
Servs. Corp., 677 F.2d 775, 780 (9th Cir. 1982) (“The statute clearly specifies the
total damage award as the sum of the separate amounts of actual damages,
statutory damages and attorney fees. There is no indication in the statute that
award of statutory damages must be based on proof of actual damages.”). The
district court erred in dismissing Shoup’s complaint under Rule 12(b)(6).

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

footnote:

1 Shoup also brought her claim on behalf of a putative class and sought class certification.
The district court did not rule on that issue, so it is not before us on appeal.

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GUERRERO v. CHASE HOME FINANCE, LLC. | FL 3rd DCA – Chase tries to re-establish a lost note without a lost note count in its original complaint.

GUERRERO v. CHASE HOME FINANCE, LLC. | FL 3rd DCA – Chase tries to re-establish a lost note without a lost note count in its original complaint.


H/T Alina

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District

Juan Luis Guerrero and Patricia Guerrero, Appellants,
v.
Chase Home Finance, LLC., Appellee.
 No. 3D11-1404.

Opinion filed March 21, 2012.
An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Eugene J.
Fierro, Judge.

Carrillo & Carrillo and Felix R. Carrillo, for appellants.

Marshall C. Watson and Robert R. Edwards, (Ft. Lauderdale), for appellee.

Before WELLS, C.J., and RAMIREZ, and LAGOA, JJ.

WELLS, Chief Judge.

Juan Luis Guerrero and Patricia Guerrero appeal from a final judgment of foreclosure complaining of a number of technical deficiencies in the record below. Faced with a record that may best be described as a “mess,” we conclude that at least one of these “technicalities” mandates reversal.

This action was commenced by Chase Home Finance, LLC as the “present designated holder of [a] note and mortgage” executed by the Guerreros. Copies of the promissory note at issue in the amount of $316,000 made payable to Freedom Mortgage Corporation and the mortgage securing that note in favor of “`MERS’ [Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.] . . . acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns,” were attached to the complaint.1 The Guerreros filed their Answer and Affirmative Defenses, admitting to entering into the loan and to defaulting, but indicating they were without knowledge of the relationship between Chase and the original lender, and demanding “strict proof thereof.”

On April 27, 2011, this matter came on for trial. When the proceedings began, Chase’s counsel informed the court that the original note and mortgage at issue could not be located but that his law firm’s records custodian was present with an affidavit regarding these lost documents. The Guerreros objected arguing that no lost note claim had been alleged. The court reserved ruling on the Guerreros’ objection and proceeded to take testimony on the foreclosure claim.

As to this claim, Chase called a representative from IBM, Lender Business Process Services Company, who testified that IBM was now the servicing agent for Fannie Mae, the most recent assignee of the Guerrero note and mortgage. According to this witness, because no payments had been made by the Guerreros since August 1, 2007 on the $316,000 note and mortgage at issue, the Guerreros were in default thereby entitling Chase/IBM/Fannie Mae (for convenience “Chase” throughout) to a foreclosure judgment.

The second witness called by Chase was the records custodian/document supervisor at the law firm now representing Chase in the foreclosure action. The Guerreros promptly objected to this witness because he was not listed on Chase’s witness list. When Chase’s counsel advised the court that this witness was going to testify that the mortgage and note were missing for the purpose of reestablishing them, the Guerreros objected again, arguing that “there is no lost note count.”

At this juncture, Chase’s counsel asked the court to permit it to amend its pleadings to conform to the evidence it was going to present, to which the court responded:

THE COURT: That we would do at the conclusion of the case, not as a preemptive motion.

The records custodian was permitted to testify.

According to this witness, the original note and mortgage had been delivered to the law firm where he worked (the firm representing Chase) and had been placed in a limited access safe. He also testified that despite these precautions, when he went to look for the mortgage and note the day before the trial began, they were not in the safe and search as he might he had not been able to locate them.

In conjunction with this testimony, this witness proffered an affidavit in which he represented that “[Chase] . . . holds the Defend[ants] obligor (s) of the note harmless and agrees to indemnify them from any loss they may incur by reason of a claim by any other person/entity to enforce the lost note.” However, on cross examination the witness admitted that he neither knew what this representation meant nor knew if Chase (much less IBM/Fannie Mae) agreed to it:

Q. [BY COUNSEL FOR CHASE]: Is it true that, according to this affidavit . . . the plaintiff is willing to indemnify . . . ?

A. I’m not sure what you mean by that.

. . . .

THE COURT: Counselor’s cross examination was getting right to the heart of it. If this note is found, and after this proceeding . . . would the plaintiff be in a position to indemnify anybody for that note that was lost, now found? . . .

[A.]: I apologize, I’m not sure what the word “indemnify” means.

. . . .

Q. [BY COUNSEL FOR THE GUERREROS]: By the way, are you authorized to indemnify the defendants by the servicer or the holder of this note? Can you make that statement in this courtroom?

A. Again, I don’t really understand exactly.

. . . .

Q. Did you understand what you were signing?

A. I understood the parts about the — that have to do with the searches that we did and when the notes came in. I guess my answer is, No. [This statement] is not completely understood.

The affidavit was stricken. There was no other testimony on the subject of indemnification.

At the close of the testimony, the Guerreros unsuccessfully requested entry of judgment in their favor claiming that Chase could not prevail (1) because Chase could not surrender the original mortgage and note and (2) because Chase could not reestablish the mortgage and note without having asserted a lost note claim and without having introduced sufficient evidence to satisfy the requirements of such a claim. See § 673.3091 (2), Fla. Stat. (2010) (stating “[t]he court may not enter judgment in favor of the person seeking enforcement [of a lost, destroyed, or stolen instrument] unless it finds that the person required to pay the instrument is adequately protected against loss that might occur by reason of a claim by another person to enforce the instrument”). A final judgment of foreclosure nonetheless was entered.

The Guerreros repeat the same arguments they made below here. We agree with their argument that in this case no foreclosure could be ordered unless the mortgage and note were reestablished. See Emerald Plaza West v. Salter, 466 So.2d 1129, 1129 (Fla. 3d DCA 1985) (“Agreeing with appellant that the trial court erred in granting foreclosure of a mortgage without requiring either production of the original promissory note and assignment of mortgage or reestablishment of those documents.”) (Citations omitted). We cannot, however, agree that the court below was without authority to allow Chase to amend to assert a lost note claim. While it is well established that a trial court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate matters outside the pleadings, Rule 1.190(b) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure expressly authorizes amendments to conform to the evidence when an unpled matter has been tried—even over objection—when “the merits of the cause are more effectually presented thereby and the objecting party fails to satisfy the court that the admission of such evidence will prejudice the objecting party in maintaining an action or defense upon the merits.” Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(b); Instituto Partiotico Y Docente San Carlos, Inc. v Cuban Am. Nat’l Found., 667 So.2d 490,492 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996) (“[T]he law in Florida is well established that a trial court lacks jurisdiction to entertain and adjudge matters which have not been the subject of proper pleadings and notice.”); see also Cortina v. Cortina, 98 So.2d 334, 337 (Fla. 1957) (same); Freshwater v. Vetter, 511 So.2d 1114, 1115 (Fla. 2d DCA 1987) (same).

The sole purpose of the instant action was to foreclose a mortgage securing a promissory note (copies of which were attached to the complaint) on which the Guerreros concededly had made no payment for years. The undisputed testimony was that IBM was the current servicing agent for Fannie Mae the current owner and holder of these instruments and that the Guerreros were in default. Since the evidence confirmed the current owner/holder’s entitlement to foreclose the mortgage attached to the complaint, submission of the original documents or alternatively reestablishment of them was all that remained. In light of the undisputed testimony that the originals of these documents had been received by the law firm representing Chase, stored carefully by that firm, but ultimately misplaced, we see no error in allowing Chase to amend to state a claim to reestablish these lost documents.

We cannot, however, agree that the burden of reestablishing these documents was met. Other than representations made in the records custodian’s stricken affidavit, there is no evidence that the Guerreros will be “adequately protected against loss that might occur by reason of a claim by another person to enforce the[se] instrument[s]” as required by section 673.3091 of the Florida Statutes. See § 673.3091(2), Fla. Stat. (2010)2.

We therefore reverse the final judgment of foreclosure and remand for reestablishment of the lost mortgage and note, this time on a proper pleading, naming the appropriate parties, and upon competent evidence—all of which we believe may be accomplished expeditiously. We do not, by virtue of this determination, invite frivolous claims or the addition of frivolous defenses and do not preclude imposition of sanctions authorized by section 57.105 of the Florida Statutes, as a consequence of same, if appropriate.

Reversed and remanded with instructions.

Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

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Byrd v. MorEQUITY, INC., Ala: Court of Civil Appeals | “The conflict as to the date of (MERS) assignment materially impacts the standing issue”

Byrd v. MorEQUITY, INC., Ala: Court of Civil Appeals | “The conflict as to the date of (MERS) assignment materially impacts the standing issue”


 

Stephen A. Byrd and Cynthia B. Byrd,
v.
MorEquity, Inc.

No. 2100734.
Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama.
Decided March 16, 2012.
MOORE, Judge.

Stephen A. Byrd and Cynthia B. Byrd appeal from a summary judgment entered by the Mobile Circuit Court (“the trial court”) in an ejectment action filed by MorEquity, Inc. We reverse.

Procedural History

On April 20, 2010, MorEquity filed an action seeking possession of certain real property that was in the possession of the Byrds, who were using it as their residence. MorEquity alleged that it had acquired title to the real property through a foreclosure sale and that the Byrds had unlawfully detained the real property following the termination of their possessory interest in the property and a written demand to vacate the premises. The Byrds filed a pro se answer generally denying the allegations in the complaint and asserting that “we can show that our property was foreclosed on without just cause.”

On June 8, 2010, MorEquity filed a motion for a summary judgment with supporting materials. The Byrds thereafter retained attorneys, who filed an amended answer on the Byrds’ behalf on August 25, 2010. In the amended answer, the Byrds denied that MorEquity had a right to possession of the property, asserting, among other affirmative defenses, that MorEquity had conducted a foreclosure sale without first acquiring any ownership interest in the mortgage covering the property. The Byrds’ attorneys subsequently filed documents in opposition to MorEquity’s summary-judgment motion, to which MorEquity replied, attaching supplemental materials.

On December 9, 2010, the Byrds moved to strike some of the evidence submitted by MorEquity in support of its motion for a summary judgment. The trial court conducted a hearing on the motions on December 10, 2010. Following the hearing, MorEquity filed a supplemental evidentiary submission. On December 17, 2010, the trial court denied the motion to strike and entered a summary judgment in favor of MorEquity. The trial court entered a writ of possession in favor of MorEquity on January 5, 2011. The Byrds filed a timely motion to alter, amend, or vacate the summary judgment, which the trial court denied on March 15, 2011. The trial court stayed enforcement of its judgment on April 6, 2011, and the Byrds appealed on April 22, 2011.

Analysis

The threshold and dispositive issue on appeal is whether MorEquity had standing to prosecute the ejectment action. See Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011); see also Cadle Co. v. Shabani, 950 So. 2d 277, 279 (Ala. 2006) (accord). MorEquity filed its action under the authority of § 6-6-280(b), Ala. Code 1975. See EB Invs., L.L.C. v. Atlantis Dev., Inc., 930 So. 2d 502 (Ala. 2005) (holding that § 6-6-280(b) applied when the complainant alleged that it was entitled to possession of land through foreclosure deed and that the defendant was unlawfully detaining the land); Muller v. Seeds, 919 So. 2d 1174 (Ala. 2005) (same), overruled on other grounds by Steele v. Federal Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n, 69 So. 3d 89 (Ala. 2010); and Earnest v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n of Alabama, 494 So. 2d 80 (Ala. Civ. App. 1986) (same). Under § 6-6-280(b), a complaint in an ejectment action must be “commenced in the name of the real owner of the land or in the name of the person entitled to the possession thereof,” and a complaint is sufficient if, among other things, it alleges “that the plaintiff was possessed of the premises or has the legal title thereto.”

Like any other fact essential to recovery, the plaintiff has the burden of proving standing. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). At the summary-judgment stage, a plaintiff asserting standing cannot rest on mere allegations in the complaint, see Dover Historical Soc’y v. City of Dover Planning Comm’n, 838 A.2d 1103 (Del. 2003), but must prove standing through specific facts set forth by affidavit or other evidence. Grayson v. AT & T Corp., 15 A.3d 219 (D.C. 2011). To prevail on a motion for a summary judgment, the plaintiff must present a prima facie case that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the plaintiff is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Armstrong v. McGee, 579 So. 2d 1310, 1312 (Ala. 1991). In making a determination whether the plaintiff has satisfied that burden, this court, de novo, reviews the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmovant, Robinson v. Alabama Cent. Credit Union, 964 So. 2d 1225, 1228 (Ala. 2007), and “entertains such reasonable inferences as the jury would have been free to draw.” Bell v. T.R. Miller Mill Co., 768 So. 2d 953, 956 (Ala. 2000). “`”The burden does not shift to the opposing party to establish a genuine issue of material fact until the moving party has made a prima facie showing that there is no such issue of material fact.”‘” McClendon v. Mountain Top Indoor Flea Market, Inc., 601 So. 2d 957, 958 (Ala. 1992) (quoting Berner v. Caldwell, 543 So. 2d 686, 688 (Ala. 1988), quoting in turn Schoen v. Gulledge, 481 So. 2d 1094, 1096 (Ala. 1985)).

In this case, MorEquity asserts that it had standing to maintain the ejectment action against the Byrds because, it says, it held a foreclosure deed to the property, which it submitted to the trial court. The Byrds maintain, however, that the foreclosure deed is void because it was procured through foreclosure proceedings that were conducted by MorEquity without authority. In Sturdivant, supra, this court held that a foreclosure deed was void, ___ So. 3d at ___ (quoting § 35-10-9, Ala. Code 1975, which provides that “[a]ll sales of real estate, made under powers contained in mortgages or deeds of trust contrary to the provisions of [statutory law governing the power of sale pursuant to the terms of a mortgage], shall be null and void….”), and would not sustain an ejectment action when the evidence showed that the foreclosure proceedings had been initiated by the plaintiff without a valid assignment of the power of sale. Under Sturdivant, the vendee to a void foreclosure deed would not be considered a “real owner of the land” with “legal title thereto” within the meaning of § 6-6-280(b). ___ So. 3d at ___.

MorEquity submitted evidence indicating that the Byrds executed a promissory note in favor of Wilmington Finance, Inc., in the principal amount of $85,000 on July 19, 2007. That same date, to secure the note, the Byrds entered into a mortgage covering the subject property. Section 22 of that mortgage provides that, in the event of a default and failure to cure, and after appropriate notices are provided to the Byrds,

“Lender at its option may require immediate payment in full of all sums secured by this Security Instrument without further demand and may invoke the power of sale and any other remedies permitted by Applicable Law.”

“Lender” is defined in the mortgage solely as Wilmington Finance, Inc.; however, the mortgage provides that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), is the nominee for Wilmington Finance, Inc., and that MERS is the designated mortgagee with all legal rights of a mortgagee, including “the right … to foreclose and sell the Property.”

Pursuant to § 35-10-12, Ala. Code 1975,

“[w]here a power to sell lands is given in any mortgage, the power is part of the security and may be executed by any person, or the personal representative of any person who, by assignment or otherwise, becomes entitled to the money thus secured.”

MorEquity submitted evidence indicating that MERS assigned the mortgage, complete with its power of sale,[1] to MorEquity so that it could execute that power under § 35-10-12. We agree with the Byrds, however, that MorEquity’s evidence is conflicting as to the date of the assignment.

MorEquity attached to the affidavit of Kenneth Scheller, an assistant vice president of MorEquity, a document entitled “ASSIGNMENT OF MORTGAGE” (capitalization and italics in original), which states:

“FOR VALUE RECEIVED, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (`MERS’) as Nominee for WILMINGTON FINANCE, INC., its successors and assigns, hereby assign and transfer to MOREQUITY, INC., 7116 EAGLE CREST BLVD., EVANSVILLE, IN 47715, its successors and assigns, all its right, title and interest in and to a certain MORTGAGE executed by: STEPHEN A. BYRD AND CYNTHIA B. BYRD, in the original principal amount of $85,000.00 and bearing the date of … 07/19/2007 and recorded on 07/25/2007 in the office of the Recorder of MOBILE County, State of ALABAMA in Instrument Number XXXXXXXXXX in BOOK 6227 and PAGE 205.”

(Capitalization and underlining in original.) A notary certified that that document was signed on April 20, 2009. On the other hand, MorEquity attached to the affidavit of Jeff Schutte, its associate director, a document entitled “NOTIFICATION OF SALE, TRANSFER OR ASSIGNMENT OF YOUR MORTGAGE LOAN,” (capitalization and bold typeface in original), indicating that MorEquity had acquired the mortgage via a sale effective December 30, 2009.[2]

The conflict as to the date of assignment materially impacts the standing issue. In Sturdivant, this court held that, in order to conduct a foreclosure sale, a party must have the power to foreclose and sell the property as of the date of the initiation of the foreclosure proceedings, ___ So. 3d at ___, which is the date the party “accelerates the maturity date of the indebtedness and publishes notice of a foreclosure sale,” Perry v. Federal Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n, [Ms. 2100235, Dec. 30, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011), impliedly overruled on other grounds by Ex parte Secretary of Veterans Affairs, [Ms. 1101171, Feb. 10, 2012] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2012). The undisputed evidence in this case shows that the debt had been accelerated as of December 11, 2009, and that the notice of the foreclosure sale was first published on December 15, 2009, which was long after the alleged April 20, 2009, assignment date but over two weeks before the alleged December 30, 2009, assignment date. If the latter date is accurate, MorEquity would not have had authority to initiate the foreclosure proceedings; only Wilmington Finance, Inc., or MERS could have started foreclosure proceedings at that time. Pointedly, two December 11, 2009, letters submitted by MorEquity, notifying the Byrds individually of the acceleration of the debt,[3] and the notices of foreclosure sale published beginning on December 15, 2009,[4] all indicate that Wilmington Finance, Inc., had invoked the foreclosure process, implying that the assignment had not yet occurred by mid-December, as the document attached to Schutte’s affidavit reflects.

MorEquity did not present a prima facie case of standing because its own evidence creates a genuine issue of material fact as to whether it had the power to foreclose and sell the property when the foreclosure proceedings were initiated on December 15, 2009.

The Byrds seek reversal of the summary judgment on numerous other grounds, including the alleged failure of MorEquity to provide notice of default and acceleration of the debt, see Jackson v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., [Ms.1100594, Feb. 17, 2012] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. 2012) (holding that failure of notice of default and acceleration of debt may invalidate foreclosure sale); the alleged failure of MorEquity to prove that it provided contractual notice of the foreclosure sale, see Thompson v. Wachovia Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, 39 So. 3d 1153 (Ala. Civ. App. 2009), overruled on other grounds by Steele v. Federal Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n, 69 So. 3d 89 (Ala. 2010) (genuine issue of material fact existed where borrowers denied receipt of notice of the foreclosure sale and mortgagee failed to submit admissible evidence indicating that it sent required notice), and Kennedy v. Wells Fargo Home Mtg., 853 So. 2d 1009 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003) (accord); the existence of alleged irregularities in the published notice of the foreclosure sale, see § 35-10-8, Ala. Code 1975 (establishing contents of notice of foreclosure sale); the alleged agreement of MorEquity to forego foreclosure while the Byrds participated in its loss-mitigation program, but see Coleman v. BAC Servicing, [Ms. 2100453, Feb. 3, 2012] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2012) (holding that oral agreements to forebear foreclosure are not valid under the Statute of Frauds); the alleged failure of MorEquity to comply with the loss-mitigation regulations of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1701x(c)(5); and MorEquity’s alleged breach of its fiduciary duty by underbidding on the property at the foreclosure sale. See Berry v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 57 So. 3d 142, 147-48 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010). Without commenting on the merits of those grounds, we note that they all may be characterized as affirmative defenses to an ejectment action pertaining to the proper exercise of the power of sale or irregularities in the manner of the sale itself, which errors may render a foreclosure deed voidable. See Sturdivant, ___ So. 3d at ___ (Moore, J., concurring specially). Because we are reversing the trial court’s judgment on a more fundamental issue — a genuine dispute as to the lack of MorEquity’s authority to initiate the foreclosure proceedings, which would render the foreclosure deed void — we pretermit discussion of those issues.

For the foregoing reasons, the summary judgment entered by the trial court in favor of MorEquity is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Thomas, J., concurs.

Pittman and Bryan, JJ., concur in the rationale in part and concur in the result, with writings.

Thompson, P.J., concurs in the result, without writing.

PITTMAN, Judge, concurring in the rationale in part and concurring in the result.

I agree that the summary judgment in favor of MorEquity, Inc., is due to be reversed and the cause remanded because MorEquity failed to establish that there was no factual dispute as to whether it was the assignee of the mortgage before it initiated the foreclosure proceedings against the Byrds. In my judgment, that failure simply means that MorEquity did not make a prima facie showing that it could satisfy one of the elements of its ejectment claim, not that MorEquity failed to demonstrate that it had standing to sue.

I believe that this case and others like it, see, e.g., Ex parte McKinney, [Ms. 1090904, May 27, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2011); Cadle Co. v. Shabani, 950 So. 2d 277 (Ala. 2006); and Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011), present questions of an ejectment plaintiff’s inability to prove the allegations of its complaint rather than questions of standing. See Ex parte McKinney, ___ So. 3d at ___ (Murdock, J., dissenting); and Sturdivant, ___ So. 3d at ___ (Pittman, J., dissenting).

“As [our supreme court] recently observed: `[O]ur courts too often have fallen into the trap of treating as an issue of “standing” that which is merely a failure to state a cognizable cause of action or legal theory, or a failure to satisfy [an] element of a cause of action.’ Wyeth, Inc. v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama, 42 So. 3d 1216, 1219 (Ala. 2010). Compare Steele v. Federal Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n, 69 So. 3d 89, 91 n.2 (Ala. 2010) (citing Wyeth as authority for rejecting the appellant’s suggestion that a plaintiff’s failure to have made a demand for possession before bringing an ejectment action presented an issue of standing).”

Ex parte McKinney, ___ So. 3d at ___ (Murdock, J., dissenting).

Our supreme court has determined that standing “implicates [a trial court’s] subject-matter jurisdiction.” Ex parte Howell Eng’g & Surveying, Inc., 981 So. 2d 413, 418 (Ala. 2006); see also Hamm v. Norfolk Southern Ry Co., 52 So. 3d 484, 499 (Ala. 2010) (Lyons, J., concurring specially) (citing Riley v. Pate, 3 So. 3d 835, 838 (Ala. 2008), and State v. Property at ` Rainbow Drive, 740 So. 2d 1025, 1028 (Ala. 1999)). That court has also explained that subject-matter jurisdiction “concerns a court’s power to decide certain types of cases,” Ex parte Seymour, 946 So. 2d 536, 538 (Ala. 2006), which power is derived from the constitution and statutes of Alabama. Id. Can it seriously be doubted that a circuit court derives its power to decide an ejectment case from § 6-6-280, Ala. Code 1975, rather than from the allegations of the plaintiff who seeks relief pursuant to that statute?

BRYAN, Judge, concurring in the rationale in part and concurring in the result.

I agree that the summary judgment in favor of MorEquity, Inc. (“MorEquity”), is due to be reversed and the cause remanded because there was evidence establishing a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether MorEquity had been assigned the mortgage before it initiated the foreclosure proceedings. However, I disagree with the main opinion’s conclusion regarding the significance of that disputed factual issue. As indicated by my dissent in Sturdivant v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, [Ms. 2100245, Dec. 16, 2011] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2011), I am of the opinion that, when an ejectment-action plaintiff bases his or her claim to legal title to the property on a foreclosure deed, evidence tending to prove that the foreclosing party had not been assigned the mortgage before he or she initiated the foreclosure proceedings does not implicate the ejectment-action plaintiff’s standing to bring the ejectment action. Rather, such evidence tends to prove an affirmative defense to the ejectment-action plaintiff’s claim. See Berry v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 57 So. 3d 142, 149-50 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010) (holding that, when an ejectment-action plaintiff bases his or her claim to legal title on a foreclosure deed, evidence tending to prove that the foreclosure sale and resulting foreclosure deed were invalid tends to prove an affirmative defense to the ejectment claim rather than tending to prove that the ejectment-action plaintiff lacked standing to bring the ejectment action). Thus, in the present case, I am of the opinion that the evidence tending to prove that MorEquity had not been assigned the mortgage before it initiated the foreclosure proceedings established the existence of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to Stephen A. Byrd and Cynthia B. Byrd’s affirmative defense asserting that MorEquity was not entitled to prevail on its ejectment claim because, they said, the foreclosure was invalid, but it did not establish a genuine issue of material fact with respect to MorEquity’s standing to bring the ejectment action.

[1] The Byrds contend in their brief to this court that any assignment of the mortgage did not convey the underlying note, which serves as the basis for the power of sale. See Coleman v. BAC Servicing, [Ms. 2100453, Feb. 3, 2012] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2012) (holding that, under § 35-10-12, Ala. Code 1975, power of sale resides in the party with the right to the money secured by the mortgage, which would be the note holder). However, the Byrds did not raise that issue at or before the summary-judgment hearing, instead asserting it for the first time in one sentence in their postjudgment motion. Because a trial court need not consider a legal argument raised for the first time in a postjudgment motion, Green Tree Acceptance, Inc. v. Blalock, 525 So. 2d 1366, 1369-70 (Ala. 1988), and considering further the sparse nature of the argument below, we decline to address the Byrds’ now fully formed legal argument on appeal.

[2] The Byrds raise issues regarding the admissibility of both the alleged April 20, 2009, assignment and Schutte’s affidavit testimony relating to the alleged December 30, 2009, assignment. The Byrds also argue that the trial court erred in considering new evidence regarding the notarization of the alleged April, 20, 2009, assignment submitted by MorEquity after the summary-judgment hearing. Because of our disposition of the standing issue, we find no need to address those issues.

[3] Those letters both state: “Re: Wilmington Finance, Inc. v. Stephen A. Byrd and Cynthia B. Byrd, Husband and Wife.” The letters also state “cc: MorEquity Inc.” MorEquity does not explain why the caption indicates Wilmington Finance, Inc., is pursuing the Byrds for the mortgage debt, but the letter is copied to MorEquity.

[4] The notice of foreclosure sale states:

“Default having been made in the payment of the indebtedness secured by that certain mortgage executed to [MERS], acting solely as Nominee for Wilmington Finance Inc. on July 19, 2007, by Stephen A. Byrd and Cynthia B. Byrd, Husband and Wife, and recorded in Book 6227 Page 205; said mortgage transferred and assigned to Wilmington Finance Inc. et seq., in the Office of the Judge of Probate of Mobile County, Alabama, the undersigned, as Mortgagee or Transferee, under and by virtue of the power of sale contained in the said mortgage will sell at public outcry to the highest bidder for cash in front of the main entrance of the Mobile County, Alabama, Courthouse in the City of Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, on January 14, 2010 ….”

The “undersigned” is designated as “Wilmington Finance, Inc., its successors and assigns, Mortgagee or Transferee.” MorEquity is not mentioned.

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Ruiz v. 1st FIDELITY LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Minn: Court of Appeals “foreclosure by advertisement is void for failure to strictly comply with sections 580.02 and 580.032”

Ruiz v. 1st FIDELITY LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Minn: Court of Appeals “foreclosure by advertisement is void for failure to strictly comply with sections 580.02 and 580.032”


Doris Ruiz, Appellant,
v.
1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC, Respondent.

No. A11-1081.
Court of Appeals of Minnesota.
Filed March 12, 2012.
 

Jonathan L. R. Drewes, Michael J. Wang, Drewes Law, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellant.

David R. Mortensen, Christina Weber, Wilford, Geske & Cook, P.A., Woodbury, Minnesota, for respondent.

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Larkin, Judge; and Cleary, Judge.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

LARKIN, Judge.

Appellant challenges the district court’s award of summary judgment for respondent, arguing that the district court erroneously concluded that respondent’s foreclosure by advertisement was valid despite respondent’s failure to strictly comply with certain statutory requirements. Because Minnesota Supreme Court precedent requires strict compliance with statutory requirements in a foreclosure by advertisement and because there are genuine issues of material fact regarding appellant’s unlawful-eviction claim, we reverse and remand.

FACTS

On June 30, 2005, appellant Doris Ruiz executed a mortgage on a duplex located in Minneapolis. By September 2008, appellant had failed to make payments on the underlying debt and defaulted on the mortgage. On September 21, 2009, the mortgage was assigned to respondent 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC. Respondent recorded the mortgage assignment on November 17. But the recording identified respondent as 1st Fidelity instead of 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC. Later, respondent initiated a foreclosure by advertisement.

Beginning on May 18, 2010, respondent published a notice of foreclosure sale for six consecutive weeks in a designated legal newspaper. On that same day, respondent filed a foreclosure-pendency notice with the Hennepin County Recorder and re-recorded the September 2009 mortgage assignment to accurately state respondent’s legal name as 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing, LLC. A foreclosure sale was held on November 30,[1] and respondent purchased the property. Appellant failed to redeem the property, and the redemption period expired on January 4, 2011.

After the redemption period expired, a real estate agent visited the property at respondent’s request. The agent concluded that although appellant continued to occupy the lower unit of the duplex, the upper unit was vacant. The agent executed an affidavit stating that the upper unit was dark and free of typical signs of occupancy, such as items in the window.

Based on the agent’s representations, respondent hired a handyman to change the locks to the upper unit. The handyman executed an affidavit stating that he changed the locks on the front and back doors. The affidavit states that he only saw a chair, a plant stand, and a few miscellaneous items in the unit; he did not observe a television, entertainment center, dishes in the kitchen, or any of the “usual items one would see in an occupied residence”; the items that were in the unit were disorganized; the counters were clear of items associated with residency such as soap dispensers; and no mail or newspapers were visible in the unit. Based on his observations, he concluded that no one resided in the upper unit.

After discovering that the locks to the upper unit had been changed, appellant called the real estate agent. The agent asserts that appellant was “quite angry” and would not allow him “to get a word in to the conversation.” The agent called appellant back and left her a voicemail, offering to provide her with a key to the upper unit. Appellant did not respond to the voicemail. Instead, appellant forcibly entered the upper unit, damaging the door and doorframe in the process.

Appellant filed suit against respondent on February 3, seeking a declaration that the foreclosure sale was “null and void” because respondent failed to strictly comply with the statutes that govern a foreclosure by advertisement. Appellant asserted three instances of inadequate compliance: failure to accurately record the September 2009 mortgage assignment prior to publication of the foreclosure notice; failure to record the foreclosure-pendency notice prior to publication of the foreclosure notice; and failure to provide appellant with a pre-foreclosure counseling notice. Appellant also asserted wrongful-eviction and quiet-title claims, seeking monetary damages on the wrongful-eviction claim and “[j]udgment quieting title to the Subject Property in [appellant]’s name” on the quiet-title claim. Respondent moved to dismiss, or in the alternative for summary judgment, all of appellant’s claims. Appellant moved for summary judgment on her invalid-foreclosure and quiet-title claims. The district court denied appellant’s motion but awarded summary judgment for respondent, dismissing all of appellant’s claims with prejudice. This appeal follows.

DECISION

“A motion for summary judgment shall be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993). “[T]here is no genuine issue of material fact for trial when the nonmoving party presents evidence which merely creates a metaphysical doubt as to a factual issue and which is not sufficiently probative with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case to permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions.” DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 71 (Minn. 1997). “[T]he party resisting summary judgment must do more than rest on mere averments.” Id.

“[Appellate courts] review a district court’s summary judgment decision de novo. In doing so, we determine whether the district court properly applied the law and whether there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment.” Riverview Muir Doran, LLC v. JADT Dev. Grp., LLC, 790 N.W.2d 167, 170 (Minn. 2010) (citation omitted). “On appeal, the reviewing court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was granted.” Fabio, 504 N.W.2d at 761.

I.

Appellant argues that the foreclosure is void because respondent failed to strictly comply with certain statutory requirements. Respondent argues, and the district court agreed, that respondent substantially complied with the statutes and that substantial compliance is sufficient. We disagree.

In 1910, the Minnesota Supreme Court adopted a strict-compliance standard in foreclosure-by-advertisement proceedings, stating:

Foreclosure by advertisement is purely a statutory creation. One who avails himself of its provisions must show an exact and literal compliance with its terms; otherwise he is bound to profess without authority of law. If what he does failed to comply with the requirements of the statute, it is void.

Moore v. Carlson, 112 Minn. 433, 434, 128 N.W. 578, 579 (1910). The supreme court has recently reiterated this strict-compliance requirement, citing Moore for the principle that “[u]nder Minnesota law, a foreclosure by advertisement—non-judicial mortgage foreclosure—is only valid if the party seeking to foreclose the mortgage meets certain statutory requirements.” Jackson v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 770 N.W.2d 487, 492 (Minn. 2009). The legal question in Jackson was “what constitutes an assignment of a mortgage within the meaning of Minnesota’s foreclosure by advertisement statutory scheme.” Id. at 489. In resolving this question, the supreme court reviewed the history of Minnesota’s foreclosure-by-advertisement statutes and explained that:

Foreclosure by advertisement was developed as a non-judicial form of foreclosure designed to avoid the delay and expense of judicial proceedings. Because foreclosure by advertisement is a purely statutory creation, the statutes are strictly construed. We require a foreclosing party to show exact compliance with the terms of the statutes. If the foreclosing party fails to strictly comply with the statutory requirements, the foreclosure proceeding is void.

Id. at 494 (emphasis added) (quotations and citations omitted).

Jackson concluded with a statement that “[a]s a court that reviews and interprets the laws of this state, we must apply the foreclosure by advertisement statutes as they have been written by the legislature and as they have been applied and interpreted in the past.” Id. at 502-03. The supreme court’s statements regarding the strict-compliance standard, although dicta, are entitled to “great weight.” In re Wylde, 454 N.W.2d 423, 425 (Minn. 1990); see Simons v. Shiltz, 741 N.W.2d 907, 910 (Minn. App. 2007) (relying on dicta in a supreme court opinion), review denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 2008). Moreover, the statements provide no indication that the court is willing to depart from the standard that it adopted in 1910.

Despite the supreme court’s recent reiteration of the strict-compliance requirement, the district court accepted respondent’s arguments that substantial compliance with foreclosure-by-advertisement statutory requirements is nonetheless sufficient. The district court reasoned: “Although [appellant]’s reading of Jackson is technically correct, [appellant] does not take into account the entire context of decisions concerning foreclosure and real property, and that minor errors should not and do not invalidate a foreclosure.”

In concluding that substantial compliance is sufficient, the district court relied on Hudson v. Upper Mich. Land Co., 165 Minn. 172, 206 N.W. 44 (1925), Sieve v. Rosar, 613 N.W.2d 789 (Minn. App. 2000), and State by Spannaus v. Dangers, 368 N.W.2d 384 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1985). This reliance was misplaced. Although language in Hudson is inconsistent with the strict-compliance standard, see Hudson, 165 Minn. at 174, 206 N.W. at 45 (“Whether a sale on the foreclosure of a mortgage pursuant to a power of sale is void or voidable by reason of an irregularity in the proceedings depends upon the nature of the irregularity.”), Hudson does not provide a basis to reject the supreme court’s much more recent reiteration of the strict-compliance standard in Jackson. And Rosar and Dangers are factually distinguishable and therefore not on point. See Rosar, 613 N.W.2d at 793 (requiring only substantial compliance to effect a valid redemption after a foreclosure sale); Dangers, 368 N.W.2d at 386 (requiring only substantial compliance in condemnation proceedings).

The district court also reasoned that “[i]n the foreclosure and real property context, [appellant]’s reliance on Jackson and the standard of strict compliance is inflexible and does not correspond to the reality of the foreclosure process.” But the supreme court clearly requires strict compliance with the foreclosure-by-advertisement statutes, and “[t]he district court, like this court, is bound by supreme court precedent.” State v. M.L.A., 785 N.W.2d 763, 767 (Minn. App. 2010), review denied (Minn. Sept. 21, 2010). We therefore review respondent’s foreclosure by advertisement for strict compliance with the relevant statutory requirements.

Recording of the Mortgage Assignment

Minn. Stat. § 580.02 (2010) requires that all assignments of a mortgage be recorded as “a condition precedent to the right to foreclose by advertisement.” Jackson, 770 N.W.2d at 497. “[P]roceedings to foreclose a real estate mortgage by advertisement shall be deemed commenced on the date of the first publication of the notice of sale.” Minn. Stat. § 541.03, subd. 2 (2010).

The mortgage in this case was assigned to respondent in September 2009, and the assignment was recorded on November 17. But this recording inaccurately stated respondent’s legal name. The notice of foreclosure sale was published on May 18, 2010. On May 18, respondent once again recorded the September 2009 mortgage assignment to correct the inaccuracy in the first recording. Appellant argues that because respondent did not accurately record the mortgage assignment prior to publishing the notice of sale, the foreclosure is invalid. Respondent counters that the November 2009 recording was sufficient and that it only re-recorded the assignment “out of an abundance of caution.” But respondent offers no legal argument or authority indicating that the first recording was legally sufficient even though it inaccurately stated the assignee’s legal name. And the second recording was untimely under Minn. Stat. § 580.02. Because respondent failed to strictly comply with section 580.02, “the foreclosure proceeding is void.” Jackson, 770 N.W.2d at 494.

Recording of the Notice of Pendency

A person foreclosing a mortgage by advertisement shall record a notice of the pendency of the foreclosure with the county recorder or registrar of titles in the county in which the property is located before the first date of publication of the foreclosure notice but not more than six months before the first date of publication.

Minn. Stat. § 580.032, subd. 3 (2010).

Appellant argues that respondent failed to satisfy this requirement, because it recorded the notice of pendency on the first date of publication. The district court disagreed, relying on a substantial-compliance standard. The district court reasoned that “[respondent] sent the Notice of Pendency for recording on May 14, 2010 by personal courier and attempted to have the Notice of Pendency recorded prior to the first date of publication.” But the date that respondent attempted to record the notice is irrelevant. See Jackson, 770 N.W.2d at 494 (stating that the supreme court requires “a foreclosing party to show exact compliance with the terms of the statutes” (quotation omitted)). Because respondent failed to strictly comply with section 580.032, subd. 3, “the foreclosure proceeding is void.” Id.

Having concluded that respondent’s foreclosure by advertisement is void for failure to strictly comply with sections 580.02 and 580.032, we reverse the district court’s summary-judgment dismissal of appellant’s claims under these sections. And we remand for entry of judgment for appellant on these claims, as well as on her quiet-title claim. It is therefore unnecessary to review the district court’s dismissal of appellant’s claim that the foreclosure is void because respondent did not provide appellant with a pre-foreclosure counseling notice under Minn. Stat. § 580.021, subd. 2 (2010).

II.

Appellant argues that respondent wrongfully evicted her from the upper unit of the property, asserting that because the upper unit was not vacant, respondent was not authorized to change the locks to the unit. See Minn. Stat. § 582.031, subd. 1(a) (2010) (“If premises described in a mortgage or sheriff’s certificate are vacant or unoccupied, the holder of the mortgage or sheriff’s certificate or the holder’s agents and contractors may enter upon the premises to protect the premises from waste and trespass, until the holder of the mortgage or sheriff’s certificate receives notice that the premises are occupied.”). The district court granted summary judgment because “[a]lthough [appellant] denies that the Upper Unit was vacant, she does not adequately rebut [respondent]’s evidence. Essentially, [appellant]’s evidence is conclusory in nature, and she has not pointed to any specific, admissible facts in the record to overcome [respondent]’s assertions or the standard for summary judgment.” We disagree.

Appellant’s affidavit states: “When speaking with [respondent’s real estate agent] . . . in January 2011, I specifically told him that my family occupies both units in the duplex. . . . Upon the contractor’s entry into the property, furniture, clothes, and all normal items demonstrating occupancy would have been readily apparent to the intruding contractor.” Appellant also submitted utility bills showing gas and electricity usage at the unit. Appellant’s affidavit is no more conclusory than the affidavits that respondent submitted in support of summary judgment. Moreover, the real estate agent’s affidavit acknowledges that appellant informed him, before respondent changed the locks, that “her family had a right to have access to both upper and lower units.” On this record, there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the upper unit was “vacant or unoccupied” under Minn. Stat. § 582.031, subd. 1(a).

The district court also reasoned that “even if . . . there remains a genuine issue of material fact that is in dispute,” it could not “ignore the actions of [appellant] in this matter” in re-entering the upper unit because neither party is entitled to self-help. In arriving at this conclusion, the district court appears to have weighed the evidence, which is not permitted on summary judgment. See Fairview Hosp. & Health Care Servs. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 535 N.W.2d 337, 341 (Minn. 1995) (“It is axiomatic that on a summary judgment motion a court may not weigh the evidence or make factual determinations, but must take the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.”). We therefore reverse the district court’s award of summary judgment to respondent on appellant’s wrongful-eviction claim and remand for further proceedings on this claim.

Reversed and remanded.

[1] The foreclosure sale was originally scheduled for June 30, 2010, but appellant filed an affidavit to postpone the sale for five months in exchange for reduction of the redemption period from six months to five weeks.

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BANK OF AMERICA, NA v. KABBA | OK Supreme Court: Only presented evidence of an indorsed-in-blank note and an ‘Assignment of Mortgage'” With nothing more

BANK OF AMERICA, NA v. KABBA | OK Supreme Court: Only presented evidence of an indorsed-in-blank note and an ‘Assignment of Mortgage'” With nothing more


BANK OF AMERICA, NA v. KABBA
2012 OK 23
Case Number: 109660
Decided: 03/06/2012

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA

NOTICE: THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE PERMANENT LAW REPORTS. UNTIL RELEASED, IT IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL.

 

BANK OF AMERICA, NA, Plaintiff/Appellee,

v.

MOMODU AHMED KABBA, Defendant/Appellant,
and
HUMU HAWAH KABBA, JOHN DOE and JANE DOE, Defendants.

ON APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT
OF CLEVELAND COUNTY
HONORABLE TOM A. LUCAS, DISTRICT JUDGE

¶0 Appeal of a June 13, 2011, summary judgment granted in favor of Bank of America, NA, against Momodu Ahmed Kabba (hereinafter Kabba) and his wife Humu Hawah Kabba (defendant below). This Court retained the matter on August 18, 2011. Kabba appeals the granting of Summary Judgment asserting Bank of America, NA, did not have standing to bring the action.

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

A. Grant Schwabe, KIVELL, RAYMENT AND FRANCIS, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.
James P. Cates, BAER TIMBERLAKE COULSON & CATES, PC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.
J.R. Matthews, J R MATTHEWS LLC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellants.

COMBS, J.

FACTUAL AND PROCURAL HISTORY

¶1 In a petition filed on March 11, 2010, Bank of America, NA, claiming to be the present holder of the note (hereinafter Bank of America) initiated a foreclosure action against Kabba and his wife. Bank of America claimed, at that time, to hold the note and mortgage as Successor by Merger to LaSalle Bank National Association, as Trustee under the Trust agreement for the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust Series 2004-BNC2. A review of the note shows a blank indorsement. This blank indorsement was filed with the lower court for the first time in the motion for summary judgment. The blank indorsement was not mentioned or referenced in the original petition.

BNC Mortgage, Inc., was the original lender. Bank of America filed with the Court Clerk of Cleveland County, a document entitled “Assignment of Real Estate Mortgage” on January 17, 2011, therein claiming the assignment to be effective as of February 9, 2010. This was nine months after the filing of the petition to foreclose. Additionally, this “Assignment of Mortgage,” signed by Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc. (hereinafter MERS), as nominee for BNC Mortgage, Inc., and its successors and assigns, merely named Bank of America as Successor by Merger to LaSalle Bank National Association, as Trustee under the Trust agreement for the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust Series 2004-BNC2. There was no mention of the note in this “Assignment of Mortgage”. On June 13, 2011, Summary judgment was granted and memorialized by a Final Journal Entry of Judgment order in Bank of America’s favor, against Kabba and his wife. Kabba appeals this summary judgment asserting Bank of America failed to demonstrate standing.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶2 An appeal on summary judgment comes to this court as a de novo review. Carmichael v. Beller, 1996 OK 48, ¶2, 914 P.2d 1051, 1053. All inferences and conclusions are to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in the record and are to be considered in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment. Rose v. Sapulpa Rural Water Co., 1981 OK 85, 621 P.2d 752. Summary judgment is improper if, under the evidentiary materials, reasonable individuals could reach different factual conclusions. Gaines v. Comanche County Medical Hospital, 2006 OK 39, ¶4, 143 P.3d 203, 205.

ANALYSIS

¶3 Appellant argues Appellee does not have standing to bring this foreclosure action. Although Appellee has argued it holds the note, there is nothing in the record that shows when Appellee became the holder. The face of the note indicates it was indorsed in blank. However, this indorsement was not filed with the petition but with the motion for summary judgment. The purported “Assignment of Mortgage” was filed after the filing of the foreclosure proceedings and was signed by MERS, and not BNC Mortgage, Inc. The “Assignment of Mortgage” at no time mentioned the note.

¶4 The issue presented to this Court is standing. This Court has previously held:

Standing, as a jurisdictional question, may be correctly raised at any level of the judicial process or by the Court on its own motion. This Court has consistently held that standing to raise issues in a proceeding must be predicated on interest that is “direct, immediate and substantial.” Standing determines whether the person is the proper party to request adjudication of a certain issue and does not decide the issue itself. The key element is whether the party whose standing is challenged has sufficient interest or stake in the outcome.

Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶7, 727 P.2d 574, 576. In Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234, this Court also held:

Respondent challenges Petitioner’s standing to bring the tendered issue. Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. It may be raised as an issue at any stage of the judicial process by any party or by the court sua sponte. (emphasis original)

Furthermore, in Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, footnote 19, 163 P.3d 512, 519, this Court stated “[s]tanding may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” Additionally in Fent, this Court stated:

Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. The three threshold criteria of standing are (1) a legally protected interest which must have been injured in fact- i.e., suffered an injury which is actual, concrete and not conjectural in nature, (2) a causal nexus between the injury and the complained-of conduct, and (3) a likelihood, as opposed to mere speculation, that the injury is capable of being redressed by a favorable court decision. The doctrine of standing ensures a party has a personal stake in the outcome of a case and the parties are truly adverse.

Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, ¶7, 163 P.3d 512, 519-520. In essence, a plaintiff who has not suffered an injury attributable to the defendant lacks standing to bring a suit. And, thus, “standing [must] be determined as of the commencement of suit; . . .” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 570, n.5, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2142, 119 L.Ed. 351 (1992).1

¶5 To commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note and, absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing. Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Oklahoma City, 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.2 An assignment of the mortgage, however, is of no consequence because under Oklahoma law, “[p]roof of ownership of the note carried with it ownership of the mortgage security.” Engle v. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n, 1956 OK 176, ¶7, 300 P.2d 997, 999. Therefore, in Oklahoma it is not possible to bifurcate the security interest from the note. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. v. White, 2011 OK CIV APP 35, ¶ 10, 256 P.3d 1014, 1017. Because the note is a negotiable instrument, it is subject to the requirements of the UCC. A foreclosing entity has the burden of proving it is a “person entitled to enforce an instrument” by showing it was “(i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 12A-3-309 or subsection (d) of Section 12A-3-418 of this title.” 12A O.S. 2001 §3-301.

¶6 To demonstrate you are the “holder” of the note you must establish you are in possession of the note and the note is either “payable to bearer” (blank indorsement) or to an identified person that is the person in possession (special indorsement).3 Therefore, both possession of the note and an indorsement on the note or attached allonge4 are required in order for one to be a “holder” of the note.

¶7 To be a “nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder” you must be in possession of a note that has not been indorsed either by special indorsement or blank indorsement. Negotiation is the voluntary or involuntary transfer of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201. Transfer occurs when the instrument is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203. Delivery of the note would still have to occur even though there is no negotiation. Delivery is defined as the voluntary transfer of possession. 12A O.S. 2001, § 1-201(b)(15). The transferee would then be vested with any right of the transferor to enforce the note. 12A O.S. 2001, 3-203(b). Some jurisdictions have held, without holder status and therefore the presumption of a right to enforce, the possessor of the note must demonstrate both the fact of the delivery and the purpose of the delivery of the note to the transferee in order to qualify as the person entitled to enforce. In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 912 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011). See also, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203.

¶8 In the present case, Appellee has only presented evidence of an indorsed-in-blank note and an “Assignment of Mortgage.” Appellee must prove that it is the holder of the note or the nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder prior to the filing of the foreclosure proceeding. In the present matter the timeliness of the transfer is in question. Since Bank of America did not file the blank indorsement until it filed its motion for summary judgment it is impossible to determine from the record when Bank of America acquired its interest in the underlying note.

¶9 The assignment of a mortgage is not the same as an assignment of the note. If a person is trying to establish they are a nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder they must bear the burden of establishing their status as a nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder. Appellee must establish delivery of the note as well as the purpose of that delivery. In the present case, it appears Appellee is trying to use the “Assignment of Mortgage” in order to establish the purpose of delivery. The “Assignment of Mortgage” purports to transfer “[f]or value received, the undersigned, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for BNC Mortgage, Inc., and its successors and assigns does hereby assign, transfer and set over unto Bank of America, National Association as Successor by Merger to LaSalle Bank National Association, as Trustee under the Trust Agreement for the Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust Series 2004-BNC2, that certain real estate mortgage dated August 30, 2004, granted by Momodu Ahmed Kabba and Humu Hawah Kabba, husband and wife….” This language has been determined by other jurisdictions to not effect an assignment of a note but to be useful only in identifying the mortgage. Therefore, this language is neither proof of transfer of the note nor proof of the purpose of any alleged transfer. See, In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 905 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011).

¶10 Appellee must show it became a “person entitled to enforce” prior to the filing of the foreclosure proceeding. In the present case, there is a question of fact as to when and if this occurred and summary judgment is not appropriate. Therefore, we reverse the granting of summary judgment by the trial court and remand back for further determinations. If it is determined Bank of America became a person entitled to enforce the note, as either a holder or nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder after the foreclosure action was filed, then the case may be dismissed without prejudice and the action may be re-filed in the name of the proper party.

CONCLUSION

¶11 It is a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the note, and to have the proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit, showing the history of the note, so that the defendant is duly apprised of the rights of the plaintiff. This is accomplished by showing the party is a holder of the instrument or a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-309 or 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-418. Likewise, for the homeowners, absent adjudication on the underlying indebtedness, the dismissal cannot cancel their obligation arising from an authenticated note, or insulate them from foreclosure proceedings based on proven delinquency and therefore, this Court’s decision in no way releases or exonerates the debt owed by the defendants on this home. See, U.S. Bank National Association v. Kimball 27 A.3d 1087, 75 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 100, 2011 VT 81 (VT 2011); and Indymac Bank, F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 78 A.D.3d 895, 912 N.Y.S.2d 239 (2010).

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

¶12 CONCUR: TAYLOR, C.J., KAUGER, WATT, EDMONDSON, REIF, COMBS, JJ.

¶13 DISSENT: WINCHESTER (JOINS GURICH, J.), GURICH (BY SEPARATE WRITING), JJ.

¶14 RECUSED: COLBERT, V.C.J.

FOOTNOTES

1 The dissenting opinion in this matter relies upon Justice Opala’s concurring opinion in Toxic Waste Impact Group, Inc. v. Leavitt, 1994 OK 148, 890 P.2d 906, for the proposition that standing is not a jurisdictional question. Justice Opala’s concurring opinion was not the majority opinion of this Court and as such “a minority opinion has no binding, precedential value.” 20 Am.Jur. 2d Courts §138.

2 This opinion was promulgated prior to the enactment of the UCC. It is, however, possible for the owner of the note not to be the person entitled to enforce the note if the owner is not in possession of the note. (See the REPORT OF THE PERMANENT EDITORIAL BOARD FOR THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, APPLICATION OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE TO SELECTED ISSUES RELATING TO MORTGAGE NOTES (NOVEMBER 14, 2011)).

3 12A O.S. 2001, §§ 1-201(b)(21), 3-204 and 3-205.

4 According to Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) an allonge is “[a] slip of paper sometimes attached to a negotiable instrument for the purpose of receiving further indorsements when the original paper is filled with indorsements.” See, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-204(a).

 

GURICH, J., with whom WINCHESTER, J. joins dissenting:

¶1 I respectfully dissent. In this case, the record indicates that attached to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment was an indorsed-in-blank note, an assignment of mortgage, and an affidavit verifying Plaintiff was the holder of the note and mortgage.1 Because the Plaintiff was the proper party to pursue the foreclosure and because the Plaintiff presented the proper documentation at summary judgment to prove such, I would affirm the trial court.

¶2 The majority states that “[t]o commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note, and absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing,” citing Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co., 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.2 See Majority Op. ¶ 5. I agree that in any foreclosure action a party must demonstrate it is the proper party to request adjudication of the issues. However, the issue of whether a party is the proper party to request adjudication of the issues is a real-party-in-interest issue, not an issue of “standing,” as the majority frames it. See Toxic Waste Impact Group, Inc. v. Leavitt, 1994 OK 148, 890 P.2d 906 (Opala, J., concurring). Justice Opala framed the issue correctly in Toxic Waste Impact Group:

Standing in the federal legal system is imbued with a constitutional/jurisdictional dimension, while in the body of state law it fits under the rubric of ordinary procedure. The U.S. Constitution, Article III, has long been held to require that a “case” or “controversy” is essential to invoke federal judicial jurisdiction and that a person’s competence to bring an action is a core component of standing in a case-or-controversy inquiry. It is for this reason that standing is an integral part of the mechanism for invoking the federal judiciary’s power.

Oklahoma’s fundamental law places no restraint on the judiciary’s power analogous to the federal case-or-controversy requirement. Under the earlier Code of Civil Procedure the suit had to be brought by the real party in interest. That requirement has always been non-jurisdictional. If a state court proceeded to adjudicate a claim pressed by one not in that status, its decision was not fraught with jurisdictional infirmity but rather regarded as erroneous for want of proof to establish an important element of the claim. An error in this category is waivable at the option of the defendant; and, if not asserted on appeal, the reviewing court may reach the merits of the case despite a plaintiff’s apparent lack of standing at nisi prius.

Toxic Waste Impact Group, Inc. v. Leavitt, 1994 OK 148, 890 P.2d 906 (Opala, J., concurring, ¶¶ 2-3) (emphasis added); see also Black Hawk Oil Co. v. Exxon, 1998 OK 70, ¶ 24, 969 P.2d 337, 344 (“Using the term ‘standing’ to designate real-party-in-interest issues tempts courts to apply standing principles outside the context in which they were developed. . . . A defendant is entitled to have the suit against him prosecuted by the ‘real party in interest’ but ‘his concern ends when a judgment for or against the nominal plaintiff would protect defendant from any action on same demand by another.”) (Watt, J., Majority Op.)

¶3 The majority in this case cites Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234 and Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, n.19, 163 P.3d 512, 519 for the proposition that “standing may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” See Majority Op. ¶ 4. Those cases cite Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶ 7, 7272 P.2d 574, as authority for this proposition. Arguably, however, Doan misstates the law:

Ever since the Code of Civil Procedure was replaced in 1984 by the Pleading Code, our nomenclature for identifying the party entitled to sue, which began to follow that of federal jurisprudence, has used “standing” as if it were a functional equivalent of the earlier procedural terms of art–real party in interest, one with appealable interest, one occupying the aggrieved-party or pecuniary-interest status. It was during this transition that one of our opinions inadvertently referred to “standing” in terms of a jurisdictional requirement, thus creating the misimpression that the term has a jurisdictional dimension. Oklahoma’s constitution has no case-or-controversy clause. Standing is hence to be viewed as an adjective-law concept. The inadvertent reference to the contrary should be treated as ineffective to alter standing’s true character in the body of our procedural law.

. . . .

I concur in today’s opinion and in the disposition of the cause. If I were writing for the court, I would additionally declare that Doan’s inadvertent reference to federal law is to be viewed as withdrawn. Lujan’s tripartite standing test, which we adopt today, must be treated as having been received sans its federal jurisdictional baggage.

See Toxic Waste Impact Group, 1994 OK 148 (Opala, J., concurring ¶ 4).

¶4 Additionally, both Hendrick and Fent were original actions in this Court. As such, “standing” could have been raised at any point by this Court sua sponte. However, in a proceeding in District Court, because it is a non-jurisdictional issue, failure to assert that the Plaintiff is not the real party in interest may be waived. See Liddell v. Heavner, 2008 OK 6, n.5, 180 P.3d 1191 (Opala, J., Majority Op.); see also 12 O.S. 2012 § 2008(D).

¶5 In this case, the facts demonstrate that the Defendant argued below that Plaintiff did not have a stake in the foreclosure and was not the real party in interest. As such, the issue was properly appealed. However, the facts also demonstrate that the Plaintiff was in fact the real party in interest and was the proper party to pursue the foreclosure. 12 O.S. 2012 § 2017. As such, I would affirm the trial court.

¶6 The majority also holds that a foreclosing party must have the “proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit.” See Majority Op. ¶ 10 (emphasis added). Oklahoma pleading procedure does not require a plaintiff to have all evidence necessary to prevail on its claim at the time of the filing. Rather, what is required is a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” 12 O.S. 2012 § 2008(A)(1). Additionally, 12 O.S.2012 § 2011(B)(3) provides that an attorney filing anything with the court certifies that to “the best of the person’s knowledge, information and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances . . . the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.” 12 O.S. 2012 § 2011(B)(3) (emphasis added).3

¶7 Mortgage foreclosures, like other civil actions, allow the parties to continue to investigate and discover evidence up until the time of judgment. In this case, the Plaintiff continued to investigate its claim up until the time of summary judgment. At the time of summary judgment it offered sufficient proof to the trial court that it had the right to foreclose on the mortgage.4

¶8 Plaintiff satisfied its burden of proof, and the trial court was correct in sustaining the motion and granting judgment to the Plaintiff. On appeal where no evidence indicates otherwise, there is a presumption that the judgment of the trial court conforms to the proof present at the trial. Gilkes v. Gilkes, 1964 OK 28, 389 P.2d 503. I cannot agree with the majority’s holding that the plaintiff must have the “proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit” because no authority states such and the Oklahoma pleading code requires otherwise. The procedure imposed by the majority in this case will result in delay, will not affect the inevitable outcome of foreclosure, and will increase the homeowner’s debt. 5

FOOTNOTES

1 The record also indicates that the Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim pro se, but was later represented by counsel who filed a Combined Response and Objections to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment and a Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment. At the hearing on the motions, the trial judge considered arguments of Counsel for the parties and reviewed the evidentiary materials offered, including the original note, the original mortgage, the assignment of the mortgage, and the affidavit.

2 In Gill, the plaintiff brought an action to foreclose a mortgage on real property. There was no discussion in the case of whether the plaintiff had standing to bring the action or whether the plaintiff was the real party in interest. In fact, the case was tried to the Court, and the appeal turned on the sufficiency of evidence presented at trial. The Gill decision stands for the proposition that the assignment of the note carries with it an assignment of the mortgage. It is not relevant to the standing analysis, nor does it stand for the proposition that the plaintiff must prove at the time of filing that it has a right to enforce the note.

3 Likewise, while I agree that the UCC applies in this case because the note is a negotiable instrument, the UCC does not require that a foreclosing entity prove at the time of filing that it is the person entitled to enforce the instrument.

4 Rule 13 of the Rules for District Courts permits a party to file evidentiary material with a motion for summary judgment. In this case, Plaintiff offered an indorsed-in-blank note, an assignment of mortgage, and an affidavit verifying Plaintiff as the holder of the note and mortgage.

5 On remand, rather than dismiss the petition, the trial court may allow the Plaintiff to amend its petition. HSBC Bank USA v. Lyon, 2012 OK 10, ¶ 1, __ P.3d __.

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PHH MTGE. CORP. v. Ramsey | OH Appeals Court “affidavits and exhibits submitted in connection with plaintiff’s SJ motion reveal genuine issues of material fact”

PHH MTGE. CORP. v. Ramsey | OH Appeals Court “affidavits and exhibits submitted in connection with plaintiff’s SJ motion reveal genuine issues of material fact”


2012 Ohio 672

PHH Mortgage Corporation fka Cendent Mortgage Corporation dba Coldwell Banker Mortgage, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Andrew Ramsey et al., Defendants-Appellants.

 

No. 11AP-559.
Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District, Franklin County. 

Rendered on February 21, 2012.
Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss, and Patricia K. Block, for appellee.Goldman & Rosenthal, and Lee S. Rosenthal, for appellants.

DECISION

BRYANT, J.

{¶ 1} Defendants-appellants, Andrew Ramsey and Precision Real Estate Group, LLC, appeal from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas that granted the summary judgment motion of plaintiff-appellee, PHH Mortgage Corporation fka Cendent Mortgage Corporation dba Coldwell Banker Mortgage, entered judgment for plaintiff in the principal balance of $53,956.13 plus interest, determined plaintiff to be the first lien on the property subject of the mortgage, and ordered foreclosure on the subject premises. Defendants assign a single error:

The Trial Court committed error when it granted Summary Judgment to Appellee because Appellants presented evidence of genuine issues of material fact to be litigated.

Because genuine issues of material fact preclude granting summary judgment to plaintiff, we reverse.

I. Facts and Procedural History

{¶ 2} Plaintiff filed a complaint on November 10, 2009 against, among others, defendant Andrew Ramsey. Count One of the complaint alleged defendant owed plaintiff $53,956.13, together with interest at the rate of 7.00500 percent per year from July 1, 2009 as a result of his default on a note of which plaintiff was the holder. Count Two sought to reform the mortgage securing the note to correct a scrivener’s error, and Count Three asked the court not only to declare plaintiff to be the first lien on the property but to foreclose on the mortgage.

{¶ 3} After Precision Real Estate Group, LLC was added as a defendant, both defendants filed a joint answer to plaintiff’s complaint on April 27, 2010. Plaintiff responded to their answer with a motion for summary judgment filed on July 16, 2010; on the same date, plaintiff sought default judgment against those parties who had not filed an answer to the complaint. Before responding to plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, defendants sought and were granted leave to file a counterclaim against plaintiff. They followed the counterclaim with a memorandum opposing plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

{¶ 4} On November 18, 2010, the trial court referred the case to mediation and vacated the scheduled trial date pending the outcome of mediation. When mediation proved unsuccessful, the court rescheduled the matter for trial. With leave of court, plaintiff filed a renewed motion for summary judgment on its complaint and defendants’ counterclaim.

{¶ 5} After the parties briefed the motion, the trial court filed an entry on May 27, 2011, determining no genuine issue of material fact existed and plaintiff was entitled to judgment and foreclosure as a matter of law. Accordingly, the trial court granted plaintiff summary judgment, entered a decree in foreclosure, reformed plaintiff’s mortgage and deed, and dismissed with prejudice defendants’ counterclaim.

II. Summary Judgment—Genuine Issues of Material Fact

{¶ 6} Defendants’ single assignment of error asserts the trial court wrongly granted plaintiff summary judgment because genuine issues of material fact exist to be resolved at trial.

A. Applicable Law

{¶ 7} An appellate court’s review of summary judgment is conducted under a de novo standard. Coventry Twp. v. Ecker, 101 Ohio App.3d 38, 41 (9th Dist.1995); Koos v. Cent. Ohio Cellular, Inc., 94 Ohio App.3d 579, 588 (8th Dist.1994). Summary judgment is proper only when the parties moving for summary judgment demonstrate: (1) no genuine issue of material fact exists, (2) the moving parties are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and (3) reasonable minds could come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, that party being entitled to have the evidence most strongly construed in its favor. Civ.R. 56; State ex rel. Grady v. State Emp. Relations Bd., 78 Ohio St.3d 181 (1997).

B. Affidavit

{¶ 8} In responding to plaintiff’s summary judgment motion, Ramsey admitted to being the obligor on the note and mortgage attached to plaintiff’s complaint but stated payments were current through July 2009 under the terms of the note and mortgage. According to the affidavit, he “always made [his] payments online.” (Affidavit, ¶ 3.)

{¶ 9} As Ramsey’s affidavit explained, he attempted to make his August payment electronically, or online, on August 3, 2009 but received an online response that plaintiff was not able to process his payment at that time. He again attempted to pay online on August 6 and 10 but again received the response that plaintiff was unable to process the payment. Ramsey attached to his affidavit the responses received online.

{¶ 10} On August 13, he again attempted an online payment, and the payment appeared to be successful. At the end of the transaction, however, he did not receive a confirmation number. He called the help desk and was given a confirmation number for his August payment. The person at the help desk further told Ramsey “that the payment would be pushed through the system and `not to worry.'” (Affidavit, ¶ 5.) After receiving a late payment notice from plaintiff on August 16, 2009, Ramsey again called the help line on August 21, 2009. The person Ramsey spoke to informed him “that Plaintiff was having some system issues but that [his] payment would be processed as he could see it `stuck’ in the system.” (Affidavit, ¶ 6.)

{¶ 11} On September 3, 2009, Ramsey attempted to complete his September payment online, but it could not be processed. At that time, Ramsey became aware that the August 2009 payment was never processed as promised, because a late fee was charged to his account. When he checked his bank account, he learned his August payment was never debited from his account.

{¶ 12} Ramsey again called the help desk, and the person he spoke to said she would process his payment. Ramsey expressed his concern about the payment being considered late, and the help desk person acknowledged the late payment would be placed on his credit report. Ramsey asked that it be removed because the delay was not his fault, but he was told nothing could be done about it. Ramsey asked to speak with someone else; he “was told there was no one else to speak with.” (Affidavit, ¶ 7.) Ramsey requested to speak with the legal department, but the help desk person refused to transfer him and hung up the telephone.

{¶ 13} After being unable to make an online payment on September 3, Ramsey contacted the Coldwell Banker/King Thompson real estate agent who sold him the property to see if he could suggest any avenue to clear up the matter. Someone from the local office called Ramsey, said they would check on the situation and get back to him, but did not. As a result, on September 9, 2009, Ramsey physically went to the Coldwell Banker/King Thompson office on Polaris Parkway, explained the situation to the receptionist, and asked if he could speak with someone at that location. He was informed no one at the location had authority in the matter, he attempted payment, and his payment was refused.

{¶ 14} The next day, Ramsey forwarded a letter to Coldwell Banker/King Thompson, together with a check in the amount of $1,600 for the August and September 2009 payments on the note. The letter explained the situation, but the check was never cashed or returned to Ramsey. On October 5, 2009, Ramsey sent another check in the amount of $1,600 as payment for October and November, accompanied by another letter of explanation. Again, the check was neither cashed nor returned.

C. Plaintiff’s Arguments

{¶ 15} Aware of defendants’ factual contentions from their response to plaintiff’s first summary judgment motion, plaintiff’s renewed motion for summary judgment alleged plaintiff was entitled to judgment because (1) Ramsey did not attempt to make payment and has no contractual right to pay online, and (2) plaintiff was not required to accept partial payment in the event of default. Plaintiff argues similarly on appeal.

1. Online payments

{¶ 16} Plaintiff points to the terms of the note and mortgage to support its contention that Ramsey had no contractual right to pay electronically, as the mortgage specifies that payments shall be made in U.S. currency. Whether the provision addresses the issue at hand is questionable at best, as it appears to preclude payment in foreign currency. Moreover, nothing in the note or mortgage precludes electronic payment. To the contrary, the document contemplates electronic funds transfer as an acceptable mode of payment, specifying that if any check or other instrument the lender receives as payment is returned unpaid, the lender may require “any and all subsequent payments due under the Note and this Security Instrument be made in one or more of the following forms, as selected by the Lender: * * * Electronic Funds Transfer.” (Mortgage, ¶ 1.)

{¶ 17} In addition, Ramsey’s affidavit states he always made payments electronically. As a result, a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether plaintiff waived any provision of the agreement that possibly required other than electronic payment. See EAC Properties, L.L.C. v. Brightwell, 10th Dist. No. 10AP-853, 2011-Ohio-2373, ¶ 23, appeal not allowed, 129 Ohio St.3d 1506, 2011-Ohio-5358 (noting that whether a party’s inconsistent conduct amounts to waiver involves a factual determination within the province of the trier of fact).

{¶ 18} Plaintiff next suggests that even if online payments are acceptable, payments are not deemed received until the lender receives them at the location designated in the note or such other location as the lender may designate. Plaintiff argues that because Ramsey was aware his attempted online payments were ineffective but nonetheless failed to send them to the designated location, he failed to make payment according to the note and mortgage. Ramsey’s affidavit explains his efforts to make the regular payments beginning with his August payment. The affidavit states he called on August 13, 2009 concerning the August payment and received confirmation for it. Although plaintiff contends its records do not reflect a payment in August, the dispute over the August payment is in itself an issue for a trier of fact to resolve after hearing all the evidence, resolution of which may affect Ramsey’s subsequent payments, at least one of which was forwarded in advance of the due date.

2. Timeliness and partial payment

{¶ 19} Plaintiff also asserts Ramsey’s attempt to make his August payment was untimely, noting payments were to be made on the first of the month but Ramsey did not attempt payment until, at the earliest, August 3, 2009. Plaintiff’s argument presents at least two issues. Initially, the pertinent documents specify a late fee, suggesting failure to make payment on the first of each month is not necessarily a default on the note, even though it may cause Ramsey to incur late fees. Secondly, the exhibits attached to plaintiff’s affidavit indicate Ramsey on many occasions made payments after the first of the month, and plaintiff accepted them, thus raising an issue of plaintiff’s possible waiver of the provisions requiring payment on the first of the month.

{¶ 20} Pertinent to the waiver issue, both the note and mortgage contain anti-waiver provisions. The note states that “[e]ven if, at a time when [the borrower is] in default, the Note Holder does not require [the borrower] to pay immediately in full as described above, the Note Holder will still have the right to do so if [the borrower is] in default at a later time.” (Note, ¶ 6(D).) To the extent the provision applies under these circumstances, the record evidence does not appear to address whether plaintiff invoked its rights. The mortgage states that “Lender may accept any payment or partial payment insufficient to bring the Loan current, without waiver of any rights hereunder or prejudice to its right to refuse such payments or partial payments in the future.” (Mortgage, ¶ 1.) To the extent the provision applies, the evidence again is unclear that plaintiff ever invoked the provision, as its September 9, 2009 letter to Ramsey not only does not declare him in default, but demands payment for the months of August and September.

{¶ 21} In the end, Ramsey’s version of the payment history between the parties creates genuine issues concerning the due date for payments and the applicability of the anti-waiver provisions. Cf. Fairfield Natl. Bank v. Lininger, 5th Dist. No. 02-CA-25, 2002-Ohio-4875, ¶ 31 (noting “[i]t is well settled that if one accepts late payments and subsequently wishes to insist on a specific due date as a `time of the essence’ requirement, prior notification thereof is required”) and First Natl. Bank of Am. v. Pendergrass, 6th Dist. No. E-08-048, 2009-Ohio-3208, ¶ 25 (noting “it has repeatedly been held that a mortgagee’s previous acceptance of late loan payments does not constitute a waiver of the mortgagee’s right to accelerate and foreclose on a loan following a subsequent default where, as here, the relevant loan documents contain `anti-waiver’ provisions”). The trial court did not address those issues. In the absence of the trial court’s addressing the meaning and applicability of the note and mortgage anti-waiver provisions to the facts provided in the parties’ affidavits and exhibits, we decline to do so in the first instance.

{¶ 22} Lastly, plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment asserts that because Ramsey was in default on his payment, the entire amount of the note became due, leaving plaintiff free to reject Ramsey’s attempt to partially pay by tendering the September and October payments to plaintiff. Because a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Ramsey defaulted on the note, plaintiff’s argument premised on a default is premature.

{¶ 23} In the final analysis, the affidavits and exhibits submitted in connection with plaintiff’s summary judgment motion reveal genuine issues of material fact regarding whether Ramsey defaulted in his payment on the note, making summary judgment inappropriate. Defendants’ single assignment of error is sustained, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

Judgment reversed and cause remanded.

SADLER and CONNOR, JJ., concur.

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IN RE: MILLER | 10th Cir. Court of Appeals Reverses 10th Cir. BAP “Under the U.C.C. … Deutsche Bank failed to show that it is the current holder of IndyMac’s Note”

IN RE: MILLER | 10th Cir. Court of Appeals Reverses 10th Cir. BAP “Under the U.C.C. … Deutsche Bank failed to show that it is the current holder of IndyMac’s Note”


 United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

IN RE MILLER
In re: MARK STANLEY MILLER, also known as A Moment to Remember Photo & Video, also known as Illusion Studioz; JAMILEH MILLER, Debtors. MARK STANLEY MILLER; JAMILEH MILLER, Appellants,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, Appellee.

 No. 11-1232.

 February 1, 2012.

EXCERPT:

3. The BAP Appeal

The Millers appealed the bankruptcy court’s order granting relief from stay to the BAP. The BAP began its decision by noting that “[t]he details surrounding the assignment to Deutsche Bank are not part of the record on appeal.” Aplee. Supp. App. at 6 n.8. In particular, the record submitted to the BAP did not even contain a copy of the Note, much less the original.

In its decision, the BAP spent little time discussing the adequacy of proof that Deutsche Bank was in possession of the original Note, and the legal consequences thereof. Instead, the BAP relied on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). Though noting that the bankruptcy court had not expressly mentioned this doctrine, it concluded that the court had relied on the state court’s decision on the standing issue. The BAP further concluded that in light of this doctrine, which generally prohibits federal courts from entertaining suits by parties who have lost in state court and who seek review of state court decisions in federal court, “the bankruptcy court properly declined to revisit the state court’s decision that Deutsche Bank was an `interested person’ entitled to a Rule 120 order of sale.” Aplee. Supp. App. at 16. Armed with the state-court decision finding Deutsche Bank had standing to proceed with the foreclosure, the BAP reached a further conclusion that Deutsche Bank had standing to seek relief from stay.

[…]

We conclude that neither the Rooker-Feldman doctrine nor issue preclusion applies to prevent a federal court from determining whether Deutsche Bank is a “party in interest” entitled to seek relief from stay. Because the BAP incorrectly relied on Rooker-Feldman and because neither the bankruptcy court nor the BAP conducted a proper statutory standing analysis under § 362(d), we could simply stop our analysis here and remand for a further consideration of the standing issue. The parties, however, have presented arguments on the merits concerning standing, and the sufficiency of Deutsche Bank’s showing concerning standing in this case is a legal issue that can be resolved on appeal. We will therefore now proceed to discuss why Deutsche Bank has failed to demonstrate its standing as a “party in interest.”

4. Deutsche Bank’s Status as “Party in Interest”

We return to the key question: is Deutsche Bank a “creditor” of the Millers with standing to seek relief from stay? To answer this question, we turn to the Bankruptcy Code. According to the Bankruptcy Code, a “creditor” includes an “entity that has a claim against the debtor.” 11 U.S.C. § 101(10)(a). A “claim” is a “right to payment.” Id. § 101(5)(A).

Does Deutsche Bank have a “right to payment” from the Millers? In examining this question, we begin with the principle that “[w]ithin the context of a bankruptcy proceeding, state law governs the determination of property rights.” In re Mims, 438 B.R. 52, 56 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2010). We must therefore turn to Colorado law, in particular that state’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C. or Code).

We ask first how Colorado law would classify the Note signed by the Millers. Under Colorado law, a promise or order such as the Note is payable “to order” “if it is payable (i) to the order of an identified person or (ii) to an identified person or order.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 4-3-109(b). The Note at issue here is payable “to the order of Lender. Lender is IndyMac Bank, F.S.B., a federally chartered savings bank[.]” Aplt. App., Vol. I at 14. Thus, the Note is payable to the “order” of IndyMac Bank under § 4-3-109(b).

But “[a]n instrument payable to an identified person [such as IndyMac Bank] may become payable to bearer if it is indorsed in blank pursuant to section 4-3-205(b).” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 4-3-109(c).7 Section 4-3-205(b) provides that “[i]f an indorsement is made by the holder of an instrument and it is not a special indorsement, it is a `blank indorsement.’ When indorsed in blank, an instrument becomes payable to bearer and may be negotiated by transfer of possession alone until specifically indorsed.” (emphasis added).

Deutsche Bank presented evidence that IndyMac had indorsed the Note in blank. Is proof of this indorsement sufficient under the U.C.C. requirements to establish Deutsche Bank as the successor holder of the note? As we shall see, it is not, because Deutsche Bank must also prove it has possession of the Note.

The U.C.C. identifies the requirements for “negotiation” of a note, that is, for “transfer of possession . . . to a person who thereby becomes its holder.” Id. § 4-3-201(a). This statute provides that “if an instrument is payable to an identified person, negotiation requires transfer of possession of the instrument and its indorsement by the holder.” Id. § 4-3-201(b) (emphasis added). The Official Commentary to section 4-3-201 explains that negotiation “always requires a change in possession of the instrument because nobody can be a holder without possessing the instrument, either directly or through an agent.” (emphasis added). See also Colo. Rev. Stat. § 4-1-201(b)(20)(A) (defining “holder” of negotiable instrument as “person in possession” of it).

“Possession is an element designed to prevent two or more claimants from qualifying as holders who could take free of the other party’s claim of ownership.” Georg v. Metro Fixtures Contractors, Inc., 178 P.3d 1209, 1213 (Colo. 2008) (citation omitted).8 “With rare exceptions, those claiming to be holders have physical ownership of the instrument in question.” Id. (citation omitted).9 In the case of bearer paper such as the Note, physical possession is essential because it constitutes proof of ownership and a consequent right to payment.10

While Deutsche Bank has offered proof that IndyMac assigned the Note in blank, it elicited no proof that Deutsche Bank in fact obtained physical possession of the original Note from IndyMac, either voluntarily or otherwise.11 Under the U.C.C. requirements, Deutsche Bank has therefore failed to show that it is the current holder of the Note.

Colorado law does not limit enforcement of an obligation to a holder who received the instrument through negotiation. A note may also be enforced by a transferee. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 4-3-203. “Transfer of an instrument, whether or not the transfer is a negotiation, vests in the transferee any right of the transferor to enforce the instrument.” Id. § 4-3-203(b). But transfer requires delivery: “An instrument is transferred when it is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument.” Id. § 4-3-203(a) (emphasis added). “Delivery” with respect to an instrument “means voluntary transfer of possession” of the instrument. Id. § 4-1-201(14). Because Deutsche Bank has failed to prove transfer of possession of the original Note it has failed to establish its status as a transferee.

Deutsche Bank also argues that it has standing because under Colorado law it can initiate a public trustee foreclosure without producing the original Note. It cites Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-38-101(1), which provides that the “holder of an evidence of debt” may initiate a foreclosure. An “evidence of debt” includes a promissory note such as the Note at issue here. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-38-100.3(8). Under certain circumstances, the “holder of an evidence of debt” can file a public trustee foreclosure without supplying the original note. See id. § 38-38-101(b)(I)-(III).

But this argument depends, first, on Deutsche Bank’s ability to show that it is a “holder of an evidence of debt.” Article 38 defines a “holder of an evidence of debt” as a person “in actual possession of” or “entitled to enforce an evidence of debt.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-38-100.3(10) (emphasis added). Section 38-38-100.3(10) lists a number of presumptive holders of a debt presumed to be the “holder of an evidence of debt.” Each of these requires possession of the evidence of debt, which Deutsche Bank has thus far failed to demonstrate. See id. § 38-38-100.3(10)(a)-(d).

Deutsche Bank appears to argue that notwithstanding its failure to prove it has actual possession of the Note, it qualifies as a “person entitled to enforce an evidence of debt” under § 38-38-100.3(10) and thus is a “holder of an evidence of debt” because (1) it holds a copy of the Note indorsed in blank and (2) it can initiate a foreclosure without presenting the original Note to the public trustee. Deutsche Bank contends that it is a “qualified holder,” see id. § 38-38-100.3(21), that would be permitted under Colorado law to foreclose without presenting the original note, see id. § 38-38-101(B)(II). But foreclosure under this provision requires either the bank or its attorney to execute a statement “citing the paragraph of section 38-38-100.3(20) under which the holder claims to be a qualified holder and certifying or stating that the copy of the evidence of debt is true and correct” and that the bank agrees to “indemnify and defend any person liable for repayment of any portion of the original evidence of debt in the event that the original evidence of debt is presented for payment to the extent of any amount, other than the amount of a deficiency remaining under the evidence of debt after deducting the amount bid at sale, and any person who sustains a loss due to any title defect that results from reliance upon a sale at which the original evidence of debt was not presented.” Id. §§ 38-38-101(b)(II), 38-38-101(2)(a). There is no evidence that Deutsche Bank or its attorneys have executed such a certification or intend to do so. We therefore reject Deutsche Bank’s claim to standing founded on these statutes.

5. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, the evidence is insufficient as it currently stands to establish that Deutsche Bank is a “party in interest” entitled to seek relief from stay. The bankruptcy court therefore abused its discretion by granting Deutsche Bank relief from stay.

The Millers raise a number of other objections to the proceedings and orders in the bankruptcy court and the BAP but we need not reach any of them in light of the remand we now order. The judgment of the BAP is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED to the BAP with instructions to remand to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion. The Millers’ motion for leave to file a supplemental appendix is DENIED.

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

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


Michigan Supreme Court
Lansing, Michigan

January 30, 2012

AARON RICHARD,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

v

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

and

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

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

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

[ipaper docId=80054632 access_key=key-2z5i88cweuptt2lfxnk height=600 width=600 /]

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DEUTSCHE BANK NAT. TRUST v. BRUMBAUGH | OK SC “there is a question of fact as to when Appellee became a holder, and thus, a person entitled to enforce the note”

DEUTSCHE BANK NAT. TRUST v. BRUMBAUGH | OK SC “there is a question of fact as to when Appellee became a holder, and thus, a person entitled to enforce the note”


DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST v. BRUMBAUGH
2012 OK 3
Case Number: 109223
Decided: 01/17/2012

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA


Cite as: 2012 OK 3, __ P.3d __


NOTICE: THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE PERMANENT LAW REPORTS. UNTIL RELEASED, IT IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL.

 


DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST, AS TRUSTEE FOR LONG BEACH MORTGAGE LOAN 2002-1, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
DENNIS BRUMBAUGH, Defendant/Appellant.

ON APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF TULSA COUNTY
HONORABLE LINDA G. MORRISSEY
DISTRICT JUDGE

¶0 The Plaintiff /Appellee, Deutsche Bank National Trust as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan 2002-1, filed this foreclosure action against the Defendant/Appellant, Dennis Brumbaugh. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted by the trial court. Defendant contends there is not enough evidence to show Plaintiff has standing. Plaintiff asserts it is the holder of the note and has standing. We find there are material issues of fact that need to be determined and summary judgment is not appropriate.

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

Phillip A. Taylor, TAYLOR & ASSOCIATES, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellant.
Ray E. Zschiesche, PHILLIPS MURRAH P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.

COMBS, J.

FACTS

¶1 This is an appeal from a foreclosure action initiated by Appellee, Deutsche Bank National Trust As Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan 2002-1 (Appellee) against Appellant Dennis Brumbaugh (Appellant) and others. Appellant and his wife, Debra Brumbaugh, (Brumbaughs) executed a note and mortgage with Long Beach Mortgage Company on February 27, 2002. On December 27, 2006, the Brumbaughs entered into a loan modification agreement with U.S. Bank, N.A., successor trustee to Wachovia Bank, N.A. (formerly known as First Union National Bank), as Trustee for Long Beach Mortgage Loan Trust 2002-1, Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2002-1 in trust for the benefit of the Certificateholders. On July 20, 2007, the Brumbaughs divorced, and in 2008, Debra Brumbaugh executed a quitclaim deed to Dennis Brumbaugh.

¶2 Appellant defaulted on the note in January 2009, and Appellee filed its petition for foreclosure on June 2, 2009. Attached to the petition was a copy of the note, mortgage, loan modification agreement, and copies of statements of judgments and liens by other entities. Appellee claims it is the present holder of the note and mortgage having received due assignment through mesne assignments of record or conveyance via mortgage servicing transfer. The Appellant answered, denying Appellee owns any interest in the note and mortgage, and the copies attached to the petition were not the same as those he signed. He claims Appellee lacked capacity to sue and the trial court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter. He also denied being in default and asserted the Appellee/servicing agent caused the alleged default.

¶3 On April 1, 2010, Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment. Attached to the motion was an affidavit from an employee of JP Morgan Chase Bank (Chase) as the servicing agent for Appellee. The affidavit states the Appellee is the current owner and holder of the original note, mortgage, and the modification agreements. However, there is no mention of when Appellee became the holder.

¶4 Appellant asserts in his response to the motion for summary judgment that Appellee failed to prove the affiant is a competent witness and no documentation was presented that connects Appellant to Appellee. The note attached to the petition and the motion did not show it had been negotiated to any other party including Appellee. Negotiation requires transfer of possession of the instrument and its indorsement by the holder. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201(b). He asserts because there is no indorsement whatsoever by Long Beach Mortgage Company attached to the petition and motion for summary judgment, Appellee cannot be the holder of the note. Therefore, Appellant asserts Appellee cannot be the real party in interest. However, in Appellee’s reply to Appellant’s response to the motion for summary judgment and at the hearing, a copy of the note with a blank, undated indorsement signed by Long Beach Mortgage Company was attached and presented.

¶5 Appellee asserts that even if negotiation of the note was at issue, Appellee has possession of the note and that satisfies the “negotiation” requirements of 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201. Further, the Chase affiant has personal knowledge because he reviewed and examined the account files and Chase is the servicing agent for Appellee. Appellee further asserts, it has the original note and mortgage, and is therefore, the real party in interest.

¶6 The trial court reviewed the note presented at the hearing and agreed with Appellee that Appellee was the holder of the note because it had possession of the note and it was indorsed in blank. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee on January 27, 2011.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶7 An appeal on summary judgment comes to this court as a de novo review. Carmichael v. Beller, 1996 OK 48, ¶2, 914 P.2d 1051, 1053. All inferences and conclusions are to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in the record and are to be considered in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment. Rose v. Sapulpa Rural Water Co., 1981 OK 85, 621 P.2d 752. Summary judgment is improper if, under the evidentiary materials, reasonable individuals could reach different factual conclusions. Gaines v. Comanche County Medical Hospital, 2006 OK 39, ¶4, 143 P.3d 203, 205.

ANALYSIS

¶8 The Uniform Commercial Code adopted in Oklahoma, 12A O.S. 2001, § 1-101 et seq., defines who is a “person entitled to enforce” the note (instrument).1 A “person entitled to enforce” the note requires possession of the note with a very limited exception.2 It will be either one who is a “holder” of the note or a “nonholder in possession of the note who has the rights of a holder.”3

¶9 Appellee must demonstrate it is a person entitled to enforce the note. It must provide evidence it has possession of the note either by being a holder or a nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder. Appellee attached to its Reply to Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment a copy of the note with a blank indorsement from Long Beach Mortgage Company. Appellee states this allonge4 was inadvertently omitted from the copy of the note that was attached to its Motion for Summary Judgment. However, this allonge was not attached to the Petition for Foreclosure of Mortgage. Appellee is trying to establish it is a “holder” of the note. Evidence establishing when Appellee became a person entitled to enforce the note must show Appellee was a person entitled to enforce the note prior to filing its cause of action for foreclosure.

¶10 Appellant argues Appellee does not have standing to bring this foreclosure action. The issue presented to this Court is standing. This Court has previously held:

Standing, as a jurisdictional question, may be correctly raised at any level of the judicial process or by the Court on its own motion. This Court has consistently held that standing to raise issues in a proceeding must be predicated on interest that is “direct, immediate and substantial.” Standing determines whether the person is the proper party to request adjudication of a certain issue and does not decide the issue itself. The key element is whether the party whose standing is challenged has sufficient interest or stake in the outcome.

Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶7, 727 P.2d 574, 576. In Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234, this Court also held:

Respondent challenges Petitioner’s standing to bring the tendered issue. Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. It may be raised as an issue at any stage of the judicial process by any party or by the court sua sponte. (emphasis original)

Furthermore, in Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, footnote 19, 163 P.3d 512, 519, this Court stated “[s]tanding may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” Additionally in Fent, this Court stated:

Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. The three threshold criteria of standing are (1) a legally protected interest which must have been injured in fact- i.e., suffered an injury which is actual, concrete and not conjectural in nature, (2) a causal nexus between the injury and the complained-of conduct, and (3) a likelihood, as opposed to mere speculation, that the injury is capable of being redressed by a favorable court decision. The doctrine of standing ensures a party has a personal stake in the outcome of a case and the parties are truly adverse.

Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, ¶7, 163 P.3d 512, 519-520. In essence, a plaintiff who has not suffered an injury attributable to the defendant lacks standing to bring a suit. And, thus, “standing [must] be determined as of the commencement of suit.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 570, n.5, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2142, 119 L.Ed. 351 (1992).

¶11 To commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note and, absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing. Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Oklahoma City, 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.5 Being a person entitled to enforce the note is an essential requirement to initiate a foreclosure lawsuit. In the present case, there is a question of fact as to when Appellee became a holder, and thus, a person entitled to enforce the note. Therefore, summary judgment is not appropriate. If Deutsche Bank became a person entitled to enforce the note as either a holder or nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder after the foreclosure action was filed, then the case may be dismissed without prejudice and the action may be re-filed in the name of the proper party. We reverse the granting of summary judgment by the trial court and remand back for further determinations as to when Appellee acquired its interest in the note.

CONCLUSION

¶12 It is a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the note, and have the proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit, showing the history of the note, so the defendant is duly apprised of the rights of the plaintiff. This is accomplished by establishing that the party is a holder of the instrument or a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-309 or 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-418. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-301. Likewise, for the homeowners, absent adjudication on the underlying indebtedness, the dismissal cannot cancel their obligation arising from an authenticated note, or loan modification, or insulate them from foreclosure proceedings based on proven delinquency. See, U.S. Bank National Association v. Kimball 27 A.3d 1087, 75 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 100, 2011 VT 81 (VT 2011); and Indymac Bank, F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 78 A.D.3d 895, 912 N.Y.S.2d 239 (2010).

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

¶13 CONCUR: TAYLOR (This Court’s decision in no way releases or exonerates the debt owed by the defendants on this home.), C.J., KAUGER (joins Taylor, C.J.), WATT, WINCHESTER (joins Taylor, C.J.), EDMONDSON, REIF, COMBS, GURICH (joins Taylor, C.J.), JJ.

¶14 RECUSED: COLBERT, V.C.J.

FOOTNOTES

112A O.S. 2001, § 3-301.

2 A person who is not reasonably able to obtain possession of the note because it was lost, destroyed, in the wrongful possession of another, or it is paid or accepted by mistake. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-301.

3 A holder is a person in possession of the note that is payable either to bearer (blank indorsement) or to an identified person (special indorsement) that is the person in possession. 12A O.S. 2001, §§ 1-201(b)(21), 3-204 and 3-205. A “nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder” is a person in possession of the note but the note was not indorsed by the previous holder; special indorsement or blank indorsement. No negotiation has occurred because the person now in possession did not become a holder by lack of the note being indorsed as mentioned. An example would be when a sale of notes in bulk is made by the holder to a transferee and the holder is transferring the right to enforce the notes even though there has been no negotiation. (See the REPORT OF THE PERMANENT EDITORIAL BOARD FOR THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, APPLICATION OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE TO SELECTED ISSUES RELATING TO MORTGAGE NOTES (NOVEMBER 14, 2011)). Negotiation is the voluntary or involuntary transfer of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201. Transfer occurs when the instrument is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203. Delivery of the note would still have to occur even though there is no negotiation. Delivery is defined as the voluntary transfer of possession. 12A O.S. 2001, § 1-201(b)(15). The transferee would then be vested with any right of the transferor to enforce the note. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203(b). Some jurisdictions have held that without holder status and therefore the presumption of a right to enforce, the possessor of the note must demonstrate both the fact of the delivery and the purpose of the delivery of the note to the transferee in order to qualify as the person entitled to enforce. In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 912 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011).

4According to Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) an allonge is “[a] slip of paper sometimes attached to a negotiable instrument for the purpose of receiving further indorsements when the original paper is filled with indorsements.” See, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-204(a).

5 This opinion occurred prior to the enactment of the UCC and as explained in footnote 3 of this opinion, the person entitled to enforce the note in almost all situations is required to be in possession of the note and therefore if the owner of the note is not in possession of the note it is not a person entitled to enforce the note. (See the REPORT OF THE PERMANENT EDITORIAL BOARD FOR THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, APPLICATION OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE TO SELECTED ISSUES RELATING TO MORTGAGE NOTES (NOVEMBER 14, 2011)).

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Deutsche Bank Nat.Trust v. Byrams | OK SC “Without an indorsement on the note the Appellee cannot be a holder of the note”

Deutsche Bank Nat.Trust v. Byrams | OK SC “Without an indorsement on the note the Appellee cannot be a holder of the note”


DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY v. BYRAMS
2012 OK 4
Case Number: 108545
Decided: 01/17/2012

THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA

NOTICE: THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE PERMANENT LAW REPORTS. UNTIL RELEASED, IT IS SUBJECT TO REVISION OR WITHDRAWAL.

DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE IN TRUST FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE CERTIFICATE HOLDERS FOR ARGENT SECURITIES INC., ASSET-BACKED PASS THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-W2, Plaintiff/Appellee,

v.

JEVESTER BYRAMS, JR. and NATACHA BYRAMS, ET AL Defendant/Appellant,

ON APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF CREEK COUNTY
HONORABLE LAWRENCE W. PARISH
DISTRICT JUDGE

¶0 Appeal of a summary judgment granted in Deutsche Bank National Trust Company’s favor against the Byramses on May 11, 2010. The Byramses filed a petition and motion to vacate, as well as, requests to stay any proceedings regarding the property. The parties appeared before the trial court on June 15, 2010, and the petition, motion and other requests were denied. The order was filed on July 6, 2010. The Byrams appealed on July 28, 2010, and this Court retained the matter on April 21, 2011.

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

Phillip A. Taylor, TAYLOR & ASSOCIATES, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellants.
A. Grant Schwabe, KIVELL, RAYMENT AND FRANCIS, P.C., Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee.

COMBS, J.

FACTUAL AND PROCURAL HISTORY

¶1 In a petition filed on December 8, 2009, Deutsche Bank National Trust company, as Trustee in Trust for the benefit of the Certificate Holders for Argent Securities Inc., Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-W2,claiming to be the present holder of the note (hereinafter Deutsche Bank) filed a foreclosure action against the Byramses. Deutsche Bank claimed at that time to hold the note and mortgage having received due assignment through mesne assignments of record or conveyance via mortgage servicing transfer. A review of the note shows no indorsement. Argent Mortgage Company, LLC, was the original lender. In its brief in support of motion for summary judgment, filed March 9, 2010, Deutsche Bank attached a document entitled “Assignment of Mortgage.” This assignment of mortgage was acknowledged on January 12, 2010, and stamped as being recorded with the County Clerk of Tulsa County on January 26, 2010. This was over one month after the filing of the foreclosure proceeding (December 8, 2009). Additionally, this Assignment of Mortgage, from Argent Mortgage Company, LLC, by Citi Residential Lending, Inc., made to plaintiff, Deutsche Bank as the trustee of Argent Mortgage Company, LLC, was signed by Citi Residential Lending, Inc. Both the assignor and assignee list the same address, “c/oAmerican Home Mtg Servicing, Inc. 1525 S. Beltline Rd, Coppell, TX 75019.” A summary judgment granted in Deutsche Bank’s favor against the Byrams on May 11, 2010, memorialized a final journal entry of judgment order. A petition for new trial to vacate the final journal entry of judgment, and motion to dismiss plaintiff’s petition for lack of standing was filed on May 21, 2010, which was denied by order on June 28, 2010, by the trial court. The Byrams appeal this summary judgment arguing Deutsche Bank National Trust Company failed to demonstrate standing.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶2 An appeal on summary judgment comes to this court as a de novo review. Carmichael v. Beller, 1996 OK 48, ¶2, 914 P.2d 1051, 1053. All inferences and conclusions are to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in the record and are to be considered in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment. Rose v. Sapulpa Rural Water Co., 1981 OK 85, 631 P.2d 752. Summary judgment is improper if, under the evidentiary materials, reasonable individuals could reach different factual conclusions. Gaines v. Comanche County Medical Hospital, 2006 OK 39, ¶4, 143 P.3d 203, 205.

ANALYSIS

¶3 Appellant argues Appellee does not have standing to bring this foreclosure action. Although Appellee has argued it holds the note, there is no evidence in the record supporting it is a holder of the note. The face of the note does not indicate it was indorsed and the purported “assignment of mortgage” was filed after the filing of the foreclosure proceedings.

¶4 The issue presented to this Court is standing. This Court has previously held:

Standing, as a jurisdictional question, may be correctly raised at any level of the judicial process or by the Court on its own motion. This Court has consistently held that standing to raise issues in a proceeding must be predicated on interest that is “direct, immediate and substantial.” Standing determines whether the person is the proper party to request adjudication of a certain issue and does not decide the issue itself. The key element is whether the party whose standing is challenged has sufficient interest or stake in the outcome.

Matter of the Estate of Doan, 1986 OK 15, ¶7, 727 P.2d 574, 576. In Hendrick v. Walters, 1993 OK 162, ¶ 4, 865 P.2d 1232, 1234, this Court also held:

Respondent challenges Petitioner’s standing to bring the tendered issue. Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. It may be raised as an issue at any stage of the judicial process by any party or by the court sua sponte. (emphasis original)

Furthermore, in Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, footnote 19, 163 P.3d 512, 519, this Court stated “[s]tanding may be raised at any stage of the judicial process or by the court on its own motion.” Additionally in Fent, this Court stated:

Standing refers to a person’s legal right to seek relief in a judicial forum. The three threshold criteria of standing are (1) a legally protected interest which must have been injured in fact- i.e., suffered an injury which is actual, concrete and not conjectural in nature, (2) a causal nexus between the injury and the complained-of conduct, and (3) a likelihood, as opposed to mere speculation, that the injury is capable of being redressed by a favorable court decision. The doctrine of standing ensures a party has a personal stake in the outcome of a case and the parties are truly adverse.

Fent v. Contingency Review Board, 2007 OK 27, ¶7, 163 P.3d 512, 519-520. In essence, a plaintiff who has not suffered an injury attributable to the defendant lacks standing to bring a suit. And, thus, “standing [must] be determined as of the commencement of suit; . . .” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 570, n.5, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2142, 119 L.Ed. 351 (1992).

¶5 To commence a foreclosure action in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must demonstrate it has a right to enforce the note and, absent a showing of ownership, the plaintiff lacks standing. Gill v. First Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Oklahoma City, 1945 OK 181, 159 P.2d 717.1 An assignment of the mortgage, however, is of no consequence because under Oklahoma law, “[p]roof of ownership of the note carried with it ownership of the mortgage security.” Engle v. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n, 1956 OK 176, ¶7, 300 P.2d 997, 999. Therefore, in Oklahoma it is not possible to bifurcate the security interest from the note.” BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P. v. White, 2011 OK CIV APP 35, ¶ 10, 256 P.3d 1014, 1017. Because the note is a negotiable instrument, it is subject to the requirements of the UCC. Thus, a foreclosing entity has the burden of proving it is a “person entitled to enforce an instrument” by showing it was “(i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 12A-3-309 or subsection (d) of Section 12A-3-418 of this title.” 12A O.S. 2001 §3-301.

¶6 To show you are the “holder” of the note you must prove you are in possession of the note and the note is either “payable to bearer” (blank indorsement) or to an identified person that is the person in possession (special indorsement).2 Therefore, both possession of the note and an indorsement on the note or attached allonge3 are required in order for one to be a “holder” of the note.

¶7 To be a “nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder” you must be in possession of a note that has not been indorsed either by special indorsement or blank indorsement. The record in this case reflects the note has not been indorsed. No negotiation has occurred because the person now in possession did not become a holder by lack of the note being indorsed as mentioned. Negotiation is the voluntary or involuntary transfer of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-201. Transfer occurs when the instrument is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument. 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203. Delivery of the note would still have to occur even though there is no negotiation. Delivery is defined as the voluntary transfer of possession. 12A O.S. 2001, § 1-201(b)(15). The transferee would then be vested with any right of the transferor to enforce the note. 12A O.S. 2001, 3-203(b). Some jurisdictions have held that without holder status and therefore the presumption of a right to enforce, the possessor of the note must demonstrate both the fact of the delivery and the purpose of the delivery of the note to the transferee in order to qualify as the person entitled to enforce. In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 912 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011). See also, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-203.

¶8 In the present case, Appellee has only presented evidence of an unindorsed note and an “Assignment of Mortgage.” Without an indorsement on the note the Appellee cannot be a holder of the note. Therefore, from the record presented to this Court, the Appellee must assert it is a nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder.

¶9 The assignment of a mortgage is not the same as an assignment of the note. If a person is trying to establish it is a nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder it must bear the burden of establishing its status as a nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder. Appellee must establish delivery of the note as well as the purpose of that delivery. In the present case, it appears Appellee is trying to use the assignment of mortgage in order to establish the purpose of delivery. The assignment of mortgage purports to transfer “the following described mortgage, securing the payment of a certain promissory note(s) for the sum listed below, together with all rights therein and thereto, all liens created or secured thereby, all obligations therein described, the money due and to become due thereon with interest, and all rights accrued or to accrue under such mortgage.” This language has been determined by other jurisdictions to not effect an assignment of a note but to be useful only in identifying the mortgage. Therefore, this language is neither proof of transfer of the note nor proof of the purpose of any alleged transfer. See, In re Veal, 450 B.R. 897, 905 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011).

¶10 Appellee must show it became a “person entitled to enforce” prior to the filing of the foreclosure proceeding. In the present case, there is a question of fact as to when and if this occurred and summary judgment is not appropriate. Therefore, we reverse the granting of summary judgment by the trial court and remand back for further determinations. If Deutsche Bank became a person entitled to enforce the note as either a holder or nonholder in possession who has the rights of a holder after the foreclosure action was filed, then the case may be dismissed without prejudice and the action may be re-filed in the name of the proper party.

CONCLUSION

¶11 It is a fundamental precept of the law to expect a foreclosing party to actually be in possession of its claimed interest in the note, and have the proper supporting documentation in hand when filing suit, showing the history of the note, so that the defendant is duly apprised of the rights of the plaintiff. This is accomplished by showing the party is a holder of the instrument or a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-309 or 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-418. Likewise, for the homeowners, absent adjudication on the underlying indebtedness, the dismissal cannot cancel their obligation arising from an authenticated note, or insulate them from foreclosure proceedings based on proven delinquency. See, U.S. Bank National Association v. Kimball 27 A.3d 1087, 75 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 100, 2011 VT 81 (VT 2011); and Indymac Bank, F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 78 A.D.3d 895, 912 N.Y.S.2d 239 (2010).

REVERSED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

¶12 CONCUR: TAYLOR (This Court’s decision in no way releases or exonerates the debt owed by the defendants on this home.), C.J., KAUGER (joins Taylor, C.J.), WATT, WINCHESTER (joins Taylor, C.J.), EDMONDSON, REIF, COMBS, GURICH (joins Taylor, C.J.), JJ.

¶13 RECUSED: COLBERT, V.C.J.

FOOTNOTES

1 This opinion occurred prior to the enactment of the UCC. It is, however, possible for the owner of the note not to be the person entitled to enforce the note if the owner is not in possession of the note. (See the REPORT OF THE PERMANENT EDITORIAL BOARD FOR THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, APPLICATION OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE TO SELECTED ISSUES RELATING TO MORTGAGE NOTES (NOVEMBER 14, 2011)).

2 12A O.S. 2001, §§ 1-201(b)(21), 3-204 and 3-205.

3 According to Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) an allonge is “[a] slip of paper sometimes attached to a negotiable instrument for the purpose of receiving further indorsements when the original paper is filled with indorsements.” See, 12A O.S. 2001, § 3-204(a).

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KIMMICK vs U.S. BANK | FL 4DCA Reverses SJ, Atty Fees “Acceleration Letter, Affirmative Defenses, Trial Modification, Waivers”

KIMMICK vs U.S. BANK | FL 4DCA Reverses SJ, Atty Fees “Acceleration Letter, Affirmative Defenses, Trial Modification, Waivers”


BARBARA KIMMICK a/k/a BARBARA WALDON KIMMICK, Appellant,

v.

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, as Trustee for the GSAA Home Equity Trust 2007-7 Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2007-7; UNKNOWN TENANT NO. 1; UNKNOWN TENANT NO. 2; and ALL UNKNOWN PARTIES CLAIMING INTERESTS BY, THROUGH, UNDER OR AGAINST A NAMED DEFENDANT TO THIS ACTION, OR HAVING OR CLAIMING TO HAVE ANY RIGHT, TITLE OR INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY HEREIN DESCRIBED, Appellees.

No. 4D10-4158.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District. 
January 18, 2012.
Robert P. Bissonnette of Robert P. Bissonette, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.Roy A. Diaz and Diana B. Matson of Smith, Hiatt & Diaz, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellee U.S. Bank National Association.HAZOURI, J.

Barbara Kimmick appeals from the granting of U.S. Bank’s amended motion for summary final judgment of foreclosure and attorneys’ fees, which was based upon the affidavit of indebtedness, the mortgage, and the promissory note. Kimmick asserts there were genuine issues of material fact precluding the granting of the summary judgment. We agree and reverse.

Kimmick filed an affidavit in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. She stated that she has resided at the subject property for twenty years and in February of 2009, she lost her job. She continued paying her mortgage from her savings through July of 2009. She then stated:

4. On or about August 6, 2009, I contacted my lender, Bank of America, and explained that I was experiencing financial hardship due to the loss of my job and that I had exhausted my personal savings thereafter in paying the subject note and mortgage from February 2009 to July 2009.

5. I requested assistance from Bank of America in paying my mortgage and, over the phone, Bank of America, by and through its representative, Bethany, calculated a new and reduced mortgage payment in the amount of $506.85 and that I was to start paying the new amount immediately.

6. Bank of America, by and through Bethany, further stated to me that after three (3) month’s payment of the $506.85, they would review my payment history and, if I had consistently met my payment obligations, that they would grant me a permanent mortgage modification at that amount.

7. In reliance on Bank of America’s representations above, I faithfully paid Bank of America the monthly sum of $506.85 for six (6) months from August 2009 through January 2010. A true copy of my Bank of American Payment Overview reflecting and evidencing the foregoing is attached hereto as Exhibit “A”.

8. Importantly, the Bank of America Payment Overview, on its face, clearly states that my six (6) months of reduced mortgage payments was for “mortgage remodification” [emphasis supplied].

9. Thereafter, on January 11, 2010, this foreclosure action was filed against me claiming that I defaulted in the subject mortgage of this action an failing to pay my mortgage payments due commencing September 1, 2009.

10. However, I could not possibly have been in default of the subject mortgage because, as evidenced an Exhibit “A” attached, Bank of America agreed to accept and was accepting monthly mortgage payments from me from August 2009 until January 2010 — when this foreclosure action was unilaterally filed. I have also paid for insurance and real estate taxes on the subject property.

11. Accordingly, Plaintiff is equitably stopped from maintaining this action not only an accepting monthly mortgage payments from me but also by bootstrapping and manufacturing the alleged basis for my mortgage default herein. Thus, Plaintiff has filed the instant action in bad faith without any investigation prior thereto.

Exhibit A is a printout from Kimmick’s online bank account showing the six payments to Bank of America Home Loans from her account.

U.S. Bank filed an affidavit of the assistant secretary of BAC Home Loans Servicing in which he states that the records show that the September 1, 2009, payment was not made. It further states:

7. There has been no payment after the date of October 16, 2009. The borrower has not qualified for a loan modification under the HAMP guidelines and the borrower is not paying on a loan modification currently.

At the summary judgment hearing, Kimmick’s counsel presented the facts from her affidavit to the court. He asserted equitable estoppel. He also argued that where an affirmative defense is pleaded, and the plaintiff does not negate it, the plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment.

In response to Kimmick’s affidavit U.S. Bank referred the court to the pre-acceleration letter sent to the borrower in September and October which counsel stated they said: “The default will not be considered cured unless BAC Home Loan Servicing, LP receives good funds in the amount of $3,153.77 on or before November 18, 2009. BAC Home Loan Servicing, LP reserves the right to accept or reject a partial payment of the total amount due without waiving any of its rights herein or otherwise. For example, if less than the full amount that is due is sent to us, we can keep the payment and apply it to the debt but still proceed to the foreclosure since the default would not have been cured.” Kimmick’s counsel did not deny that Kimmick received the letter but that they had told her to pay a reduced amount and which the bank accepted. U.S. Bank acknowledged that it received five of six of Kimmick’s payments.

The trial court entered its Summary Final Judgment of Foreclosure which did not address any of Kimmick’s affirmative defenses.

“Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Volusia Cnty. v. Aberdeen at Ormond Beach, L.P., 760 So. 2d 126, 130 (Fla. 2000). The “party moving for summary judgment must factually refute or disprove the affirmative defenses raised, or establish that the defenses are insufficient as a matter of law.” Leal v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 21 So. 3d 907, 909 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009) (citing Kendall Coffey, Foreclosures in Florida 493 (2008) (citing Stop & Shoppe Mart, Inc. v. Mehdi, 854 So. 2d 784 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003); Manassas Inv., Inc. v. O’Hanrahan, 817 So. 2d 1080 (Fla 2d DCA 2002))). See also Knight Energy Servs., Inc. v. Amoco Oil Co., 660 So. 2d 786, 788 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995) (“Before a plaintiff is entitled to a summary judgment of foreclosure, the plaintiff must either factually refute the alleged affirmative defenses or establish that they are legally insufficient to defeat summary judgment.”).

Kimmick argues that U.S. Bank waived its right to foreclose based upon the representations made to her by the agent she spoke to at Bank of America. The affirmative defense was stated as follows:

24. For her Twelfth Affirmative Defense, KIMMICK states that Plaintiff has waived its rights to foreclosure by the actions of Plaintiff’s agent and loan servicer for the subject mortgage, to-wit: Bank of America, agreeing to and actually accepting reduced mortgage payments from KIMMICK for at least six consecutive months.

In Destin Savings Bank v. Summerhouse of FWB, Inc., 579 So. 2d 232 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991), the court set forth the following principles:

Waiver is defined as an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege, or conduct that warrants an inference of the intentional relinquishment of a known right. In order to establish a valid waiver, the following elements must be satisfied: (1) the existence at the time of the waiver of a right, privilege, advantage, or benefit that may be waived; (2) the actual or constructive knowledge thereof; and (3) an intention to relinquish that right, privilege, advantage or benefit.

Id. at 235 (citations omitted). In Barnes v. Resolution Trust Corp., 664 So. 2d 1171 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996), this court held:

An acceleration clause in a mortgage confers upon the mortgagee a contract right of constitutional dimensions. Courts are obligated to protect the validity of such contracts and may impair the mortgagee’s right to foreclose only in limited situations. Specifically, courts will bar acceleration and foreclosure as follows:

Foreclosure on an accelerated basis may be denied when the right to accelerate has been waived or the mortgagee estopped to assert it, because of conduct of the mortgagee from which the mortgagor (or owner holding subject to a mortgage) reasonably could assume that the mortgagee, for or upon a certain default, would not elect to declare the full mortgage indebtedness to be due and payable or foreclose therefore; or where the mortgagee failed to perform some duty upon which the exercise of his right to accelerate was conditioned; or where the mortgagor tenders payment of defaulted items, after the default but before notice of the mortgagee’s election to accelerate has been given (by actual notice or by filing suit to foreclose for the full amount of the mortgage indebtedness) or where there was intent to make timely payment, and it was attempted, or steps taken to accomplish it, but nevertheless the payment was not made due to a misunderstanding or excusable neglect, coupled with some conduct of the mortgagee which in a measure contributed to the failure to pay when due or within the grace period.

Id. at 1172-73 (citations omitted) (emphasis supplied).

Kimmick also asserts that U.S. Bank waived acceleration when its agent told Kimmick that she could make the lower payments for several months, possibly get a modification, and then U.S. Bank would not proceed with an acceleration.

U.S. Bank asserts that this court can affirm the judgment with respect to the affirmative defense of waiver for a different reason. In both the note and the mortgage, there is the same provision which states:

Borrower not released; Forbearance an Lender Not a Waiver. Extension of the time for payment or modification of amortization of the sums secured an this Security Instrument granted by Lender to Borrower or any Successor in Interest of Borrower shall not operate to release the liability of Borrower or any Successors in Interest of Borrower. Lender shall not be required to commence proceedings against any Successor in Interest of Borrower or to refuse to extend time for payment or otherwise modify amortization of the sums secured an this Security Instrument by reason of any demand made by the original Borrower or any Successors in Interest of Borrower. Any forbearance by Lender in exercising any right or remedy including, without limitation, Lender’s acceptance of payments from third persons, entities or Successors in Interest of Borrower or in amounts less than the amount then due, shall not be a waiver of or preclude the exercise of any right or remedy.

U.S. Bank argues that this “No Waiver” provision allows it to accept prior late or reduced payments without losing its right to enforce its rights and remedies. Kimmick, however, is asserting that U.S. Bank waived this provision by representing to her that she could make reduced payments, which were timely, and meet the requirements for a permanent mortgage modification.

Therefore, there remain genuine issues of material fact as to the issues raised by the affirmative defense of the loan modification. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Reversed and remanded.

MAY, C.J., and DAMOORGIAN, J., concur.

Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

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EUIHYUNG KIM vs JP MORGAN CHASE BANK | Michigan Appeals Court Reversal “Not authorized to proceed with the sheriff’s sale, failed to record its mortgage interest”

EUIHYUNG KIM vs JP MORGAN CHASE BANK | Michigan Appeals Court Reversal “Not authorized to proceed with the sheriff’s sale, failed to record its mortgage interest”


S T A T E  O F  M I C H I G A N
C O U R T  O F  A P P E A L S

EUIHYUNG KIM and IN SOOK KIM,
Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v

JP MORGAN CHASE BANK,
Defendant-Appellee.

EXCERPT:

Therefore, pursuant to the plain language of MCL 600.3204(3), defendant was required
to record its mortgage interest before the sheriff’s sale. Because defendant failed to do so, it was
not statutorily authorized to proceed with the sale. See MCL 600.3204(3) (“If the party
foreclosing a mortgage by advertisement is not the original mortgagee, a record chain of title
shall exist prior to the date of sale . . . .” [Emphasis added]); see also Davenport v HSBC Bank
USA, 275 Mich App 344, 347-348; 739 NW2d 383 (2007) (“Because defendant lacked the
statutory authority to foreclose, the foreclosure proceedings were void ab initio.”) Accordingly,
the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for defendant and denying plaintiffs’
motion for summary disposition when they were entitled to set aside the sheriff’s deed. Given
our resolution of this issue, it is unnecessary to address plaintiffs’ argument that the trial court
erred by prematurely disposing of their cause of action without permitting discovery.
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BALDERAS v. COUNTRYWIDE | CA 9th Cir. Court of Appeals Reverses/ Remands “Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Right To Rescind”

BALDERAS v. COUNTRYWIDE | CA 9th Cir. Court of Appeals Reverses/ Remands “Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Right To Rescind”


FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

VICTOR BALDERAS and BELEN
BALDERAS,
Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

COUNTRYWIDE BANK, N.A., a
National Banking Association;
AAA FUNDING, INC., DBA
USA Funding, a California corporation;
COUNTRYWIDE HOME MMA-JMA
LOANS, INC., DBA America’s
Wholesale Lender, a New York
corporation; MOR CAZAKOV, an
individual; GALENA KOROL, an
individual; DOES 1 through 10,
inclusive,
Defendants-Appellees. þ

Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of California

Michael M. Anello, District Judge, Presiding
Argued and Submitted

June 9, 2011—Pasadena, California

Filed December 29, 2011

EXCERPT:

KOZINSKI, Chief Judge:

The Balderases allege that they are immigrants who were
rooked by a bank that signed them up for loans it knew they
couldn’t afford, on terms they didn’t agree to. These are the
facts as recited in the complaint: Mor Cazakov, a mortgage
broker, cold-called the Balderases, representing that he could
refinance their home, switch them to a fixed rate mortgage
and let them cash out $50,000, all without a penalty. Subsequently,
Soraya Qassim, a “duly authorized agent” of Countrywide
Bank (Countrywide), filled out a uniform residential
loan application (URLA) for them and showed up unannounced
at their home, urging the Balderases to sign it. But
the form was in English, which they can’t read, and it overestimated
their income by over $40,000 per year. Qassim told
them it was an informal document the bank needed, so the
Balderases signed.

Three days later, on the evening of Monday, September 25,
2006, Cazakov showed up at their home with a notary public
and loan documents also written in English. He told them that
Countrywide “demanded” their signatures “that night” and he
couldn’t and wouldn’t leave without getting them. The
Balderases protested and asked to arrange the loan signing
when their English-literate daughter could attend. But Cazakov
said that Countrywide had instructed him to stay until he
got the signatures, and he “engaged in a series of actions
designed to intimidate, harass, and pressure [the Balderases]
into signing the loan documents.” After six hours of unrelenting
pressure by Cazakov and several unsuccessful attempts to
read the paperwork, the Balderases capitulated and signed the
documents just after midnight. On Wednesday, they called
Cazakov and asked him to rescind the loans. He refused. They
then called Countrywide a day later seeking the same relief.
Countrywide also refused, falsely representing it was too late.
In fact, the three-day statutory rescission period extended
through the next day, Friday, September 29.

The Balderases filed a complaint alleging, among other
things, a violation of the Truth In Lending Act (TILA). See
15 U.S.C. §§ 1601 et seq. Countrywide filed a 12(b)(6)
motion, which the district court granted. This timely appeal
followed.

* * *

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McLean v. JPMorgan Chase | FL 4DCA Reversed “lacked any evidence that Chase had standing to foreclose at the time the lawsuit was filed”

McLean v. JPMorgan Chase | FL 4DCA Reversed “lacked any evidence that Chase had standing to foreclose at the time the lawsuit was filed”


DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
FOURTH DISTRICT

July Term 2011

ROBERT McLEAN,
Appellant,

v.

JP MORGAN CHASE BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, not individually but solely as Trustee for the holders of STRUCTURED ASSET MORTGAGE INVESTMENTS II, INC., MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH
CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-ARS,
Appellee.

No. 4D10-3429

[ December 14, 2011 ]

 [ipaper docId=75725680 access_key=key-2mvyag3q7camwerbx1bc height=600 width=600 /]

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Bryson v. BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY – FL 2DCA Reversal “The unauthenticated copies of default letters purportedly sent by BB&T were insufficient for summary judgment”

Bryson v. BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY – FL 2DCA Reversal “The unauthenticated copies of default letters purportedly sent by BB&T were insufficient for summary judgment”


JAMES D. BRYSON, Appellant,
v.
BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY, Appellee.

 Case No. 2D10-3360.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District.
Opinion filed November 30, 2011.
.
Michael E. Rodriguez of Foreclosure Defense Law Firm, PL, Tampa, for Appellant.Miguel A. Gonzalez of Spear and Hoffman, P.A., Miami, for Appellee.VILLANTI, Judge.James D. Bryson appeals the final summary judgment of foreclosure entered in favor of Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T). Because BB&T did not meet its burden of conclusively showing that there was no genuine issue of material fact and that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we reverse the summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.

BB&T filed a complaint on July 16, 2008, seeking foreclosure, alleging that Bryson had not made any payments on his mortgage since February 1, 2008. Thereafter, BB&T filed a motion for summary judgment. Bryson answered the complaint and admitted that he had executed the mortgage in question and that he had missed at least one payment. However, he asserted as an affirmative defense that BB&T had not provided a notice to cure as required by section 22 of the mortgage. Paragraph 22 of the mortgage, which was attached to the complaint, required BB&T to give notice to Bryson prior to accelerating the debt:

Acceleration, Remedies[.] Lender shall give notice to Borrower prior to acceleration following Borrower’s breach of any covenant or agreement in this Security Instrument (but not prior to acceleration under Section 18 unless Applicable Law provides otherwise)[.] The notice shall specify (a) the default, (b) the action required to cure the default, (c) a date, not less than 30 days from the date the notice is given to Borrower, by which the default must be cured, and (d) that failure to cure the default on or before the date specified in the notice may result in acceleration of the sums secured by this Security Instrument, foreclosure by judicial proceeding and sale of the Property. The notice shall further inform Borrower of the right to reinstate after acceleration and the right to assert in the foreclosure proceeding the non existence of a default or any other defense of Borrower to acceleration and foreclosure[.] If the default is not cured on or before the date specified in the notice, Lender at its option may require immediate payment in full of all sums secured by this Security Instrument without further demand and may foreclose this Security Agreement by judicial proceeding[.] Lender shall be entitled to collect all expenses incurred in pursuing the remedies provided in this Section 22, including, but not limited to, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of title evidence[.]

On April 27, 2009, BB&T filed a copy of two default letters purportedly sent to Bryson on April 28, 2008, at two different addresses. However, the letters were not attached to an affidavit or authenticated in any way. BB&T then filed a revised summary judgment motion.

At a hearing held on the summary judgment motion, Bryson argued that BB&T had not refuted the affirmative defenses related to paragraph 22 of the mortgage and that the two default notice letters were not authenticated and could not be considered for summary judgment purposes. BB&T responded that the letters were “self-authenticating” because they were created by the bank. The court granted summary judgment. This appeal followed.

“A movant is entitled to summary judgment `if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, affidavits, and other materials as would be admissible in evidence on file show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Estate of Githens ex rel. Seaman v. Bon Secours-Maria Manor Nursing Care Ctr., Inc., 928 So. 2d 1272, 1274 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006) (quoting Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.510(c)). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of establishing irrefutably that the nonmoving party cannot prevail. See Hervey v. Alfonso, 650 So. 2d 644, 645-46 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995). “[I]t is only after the moving party has met this heavy burden that the nonmoving party is called upon to show the existence of genuine issues of material fact.” Id. at 646; see also Holl v. Talcott, 191 So. 2d 40, 43 (Fla. 1966) (“Until it is determined that the movant has successfully met this burden, the opposing party is under no obligation to show that issues do remain to be tried.”); Deutsch v. Global Fin. Servs., LLC, 976 So. 2d 680, 682 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008) (“The burden of proving the existence of genuine issues of material fact does not shift to the opposing party until the moving party has met its burden of proof.”); Berenson v. S. Baptist Hosp. of Fla., Inc., 646 So. 2d 809, 810 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994) (noting that “the nonmoving party need make no showing in support of his claim until the moving party has, by affidavit or otherwise, completely negated all allegations and inferences raised by the nonmoving party”).

On summary judgment, the trial court’s function “is solely to determine whether the record conclusively shows that the moving party proved a negative, that is, `the nonexistence of a genuine issue of a material fact.'” Winston Park, Ltd. v. City of Coconut Creek, 872 So. 2d 415, 418 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004) (quoting Besco USA Int’l Corp. v. Home Sav. of Am. FSB, 675 So. 2d 687, 688 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996)). Where a defendant pleads affirmative defenses, the plaintiff moving for summary judgment must either factually refute the affirmative defenses by affidavit or establish their legal insufficiency. See Frost v. Regions Bank, 15 So. 3d 905, 906 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009); Newton v. Overseas Private Inv. Corp., 544 So. 2d 224, 225 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989).

In numerous foreclosure cases summary judgment has been reversed because the defendant has pleaded lack of notice and opportunity to cure as an affirmative defense and nothing in the bank’s complaint, motion for summary judgment, or affidavits established that the bank gave the homeowners the notice and opportunity to cure required by the mortgage. See, e.g., Laurencio v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 65 So. 3d 1190, 1192 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011); Konsulian v. Busey Bank, N.A., 61 So. 3d 1283, 1285 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011) (“[N]othing in Busey’s complaint, motion for summary judgment, or affidavits indicates that Busey gave Konsulian the notice which the mortgage required. . . . Further, Busey did not refute Konsulian’s defenses nor did it establish that [they] were legally insufficient.”); Frost, 15 So. 3d at 906. We reach the same conclusion in this case.

The unauthenticated copies of default letters purportedly sent to Bryson by BB&T were insufficient for summary judgment purposes because only competent evidence may be considered in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Daeda v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 698 So. 2d 617, 618 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997); Tunnell v. Hicks, 574 So. 2d 264, 266 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991) (explaining that court could not consider certain documents in its summary judgment decision because “Tunnell failed to attach either document to affidavits that presumably would have ensured their admissibility”).

At the summary judgment hearing, BB&T took the position that the letters were self-authenticating because they were the bank’s own letters. Self-authentication is a concept that, due to a document’s very nature of being notarized or certified in some fashion, eliminates hearsay and other extrinsic objections to admissibility. However, a document bereft of genuineness, such as a purported copy, cannot be said to be self-authenticating because extrinsic evidence to establish its truthfulness is still required. With this in mind, BB&T’s letters are clearly not self-authenticated. Hence, we reject BB&T’s argument in this regard. See, e.g., Bifulco v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 693 So. 2d 707, 709 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997) (“Merely attaching documents which are not `sworn to or certified’ to a motion for summary judgment does not, without more, satisfy the procedural strictures inherent in Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.510(e).”); Morrison v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 66 So. 3d 387, 387 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011) (reversing summary judgment of foreclosure where defendant asserted she had not received a notice of default as required by the mortgage and the bank had simply filed an unauthenticated notice letter). In this case, the letters at issue were not admitted by the pleadings, nor were they accompanied by an affidavit of a record custodian or other proper person attesting to their authenticity or correctness. See id.

Finally, BB&T argues that it was entitled to summary judgment because “Bryson did not file any affidavits in opposition or tender sufficient evidence to demonstrate to the court that a genuine issue of material fact existed.” BB&T has misunderstood the summary judgment standard. If the defendant pleads affirmative defenses, the plaintiff moving for summary judgment must either factually refute the affirmative defenses by affidavit or establish their legal insufficiency. Frost, 15 So. 3d at 906; Newton, 544 So. 2d at 225. “The burden of proving the existence of genuine issues of material fact does not shift to the opposing party until the moving party has met its burden of proof.” Deutsch, 976 So. 2d at 682. Because BB&T did not tender any competent evidence on the issue of Bryson’s notice of the default, it did not meet its burden of proof on summary judgment.

Reversed and remanded.

ALTENBERND and KHOUZAM, JJ., Concur.

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED.

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Malagon v. CitiMortgage – Fla 3rd DCA “Concedes error on the trial court’s denial of appellants’ motion to vacate the final judgment of foreclosure”

Malagon v. CitiMortgage – Fla 3rd DCA “Concedes error on the trial court’s denial of appellants’ motion to vacate the final judgment of foreclosure”


Third District Court of Appeal
State of Florida, July Term, A.D. 2011
Opinion filed November 23, 2011.
Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
________________
No. 3D11-395
Lower Tribunal No. 08-59543
________________
Carlos Humberto Malagon a/k/a Carlos Malagon and Rosalba
Malagon,
Appellants,

vs.

Citimortgage, Inc. f/k/a Citifinancial Mortgage Company d/b/a
Citifinancial Mortgage Company (DE),
Appellee.

An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade

County, David C. Miller, Judge.

Garry W. Johnson and Bruce K. Herman (Fort Lauderdale), for appellants.

Burr & Forman and Reid S. Manley and Christine Irwin Parrish (Orlando),
for appellee.

Before SUAREZ and ROTHENBERG, JJ., and SCHWARTZ, Senior Judge.

SUAREZ, J.

Appellants, Carlos Humberto Malagon a/k/a Carlos Malagon and Rosalba
Malagon appeal the trial court’s order denying their motion to vacate final
judgment of foreclosure and to cancel and/or rescind sale. Appellee, Citimortgage,
Inc., concedes error on the trial court’s denial of appellants’ motion to vacate the
final judgment of foreclosure.1 Appellee consents to a reversal of the order and a
remand for further proceedings. Upon concession of error, this Court, therefore,
reverses the trial court’s denial of appellants’ motion to vacate the final judgment
of foreclosure and remands for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded.

1 This Court appreciates appellee’s candor in conceding error

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VENTURE HOLDINGS & ACQUISITIONS GROUP, LLC vs. A.I.M. FUNDING GROUP | FL 4DCA, (3) Consolidated Reversals “A.I.M. did not file the original promissory note”

VENTURE HOLDINGS & ACQUISITIONS GROUP, LLC vs. A.I.M. FUNDING GROUP | FL 4DCA, (3) Consolidated Reversals “A.I.M. did not file the original promissory note”


Great job! FL Atty Carol C. Asbury

DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
FOURTH DISTRICT
July Term 2011

VENTURE HOLDINGS & ACQUISITIONS GROUP, LLC and VINCENZO GURRERA,
Appellants,

v.

A.I.M. FUNDING GROUP, LLC,
Appellee.
No. 4D10-832

REAL INVESTMENTS, LLC and ALEXANDER GONZALEZ,
Appellants,

v.

A.I.M. FUNDING GROUP, LLC,
Appellee.
No. 4D10-1159

REAL INVESTMENTS, LLC and ALEXANDER GONZALEZ,
Appellants,

v.

A.I.M. FUNDING GROUP, LLC,
Appellee.
No. 4D10-1848

[ November 23, 2011 ]

PER CURIAM.

In these consolidated appeals, appellants challenge three separate
final summary judgments of foreclosure entered in favor of appellee,
A.I.M. Funding Group, LLC. Appellants raise several arguments on
appeal, two of which merit discussion: (1) A.I.M., having assigned the
promissory note as collateral for a loan, was not the proper party in
interest to file suit, and (2) the trial court erred in granting summary
judgment for A.I.M. without receiving the original promissory note or
accounting for its absence. We find that because A.I.M. did not file the
original promissory note or account for its absence before the court
entered summary judgment, we must reverse the summary judgment
orders in each of the cases. We further find that A.I.M. lacked standing
to foreclose at the time it filed its complaints, but that some parties
waived the defense of lack of standing. Any remaining issues are
rendered moot by our decision and we decline to address them.

Factual Background

In April 2007, Venture Holdings & Acquisitions Group, Inc. and
Vincenzo Gurrera, individually, entered into a loan agreement with A.I.M.
and gave A.I.M. a mortgage on certain real property. Gurrera, Venture’s
president, signed the promissory note as a guarantor.

Likewise, Real Investments LLC entered into two loans with A.I.M, one
in January 2008 and another in May 2008. In connection with these
loans, Real gave A.I.M. a mortgage on two properties. Alexander
Gonzalez, Real’s president, signed the promissory notes as a guarantor.
There is no dispute that the borrowers failed to remain current on
their payments and defaulted on all three loans. Accordingly, A.I.M. filed
mortgage foreclosure actions on the three properties.

In Case No. 09-19636, A.I.M. sought to foreclose o n Venture’s
property. Gurrera filed a proper answer, but Venture did not. A.I.M.
moved for default against Venture and the court granted the motion.
This default has not been contested in this appeal.

In Case Nos. 09-018086 and 09-18089, A.I.M. sought to foreclose on
the two properties owned by Real. In Case No. 09-018086, Gonzalez filed
a proper answer, but Real did not. A.I.M. moved for a default against
Real and the court granted the motion. This default has not been
contested in this appeal. In Case No. 09-18089, however, both Real and
Gonzalez answered the complaint.

In each of its complaints, A.I.M. alleged that it “now owns and holds
the Mortgage Note and Mortgage.” Prior to initiating suit, A.I.M. assigned
its interest in the properties as collateral for a loan. This was indicated
by an allonge attached to each promissory note. The assignment was
still in effect when A.I.M. filed suit.1 The circuit court, in each case,
determined that no issues of genuine fact were raised by the defendants.
In each case summary judgment was entered against the defendants and
in favor of A.I.M. These consolidated appeals followed.

Analysis

“The standard of review of an order granting summary judgment is de
novo.” Allenby & Assocs., Inc. v. Crown St. Vincent Ltd., 8 So. 3d 1211,
1213 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). We examine the record in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Id. The moving party must
conclusively show the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Id.
An assignment of a promissory note or mortgage, or the right to
enforce such, must pre-date the filing of a foreclosure action. Jeff-Ray
Corp. v. Jacobson, 566 So. 2d 885, 886 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990). A party
must have standing to file suit at its inception and may not remedy this
defect by subsequently obtaining standing. Progressive Exp. Ins. Co. v.
McGrath Cmty. Chiropractic, 913 So. 2d 1281 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). “The
assignee of a mortgage and note assigned as collateral security is the real
party in interest, that he holds the legal title to the mortgage and note,
and that he, not the assignor is the proper party to file a suit to foreclose
the mortgage.” Laing v. Gainey Builders, Inc., 184 So. 2d 897 (Fla. 1st
DCA 1966); see also A & B Discount Lumber & Supply, Inc. v. Mitchell,
799 So. 2d 301, 307-08 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).

Here, before A.I.M. filed any of the foreclosure actions below, A.I.M.
assigned the promissory note and mortgage to a third party as collateral
for a loan. Thus, A.I.M. did not have standing to foreclose on any of the
properties at the time it filed suit. However, “th e entry of default
precludes a party from contesting the existence of the plaintiff’s claim
and liability thereon.” Fla. Bar v. Porter, 684 So. 2d 810, 813 n.4 (Fla.
1996) (citations omitted). Real, in Case No. 09-018086, was found to be
in default. Venture in Case No. 09-19636, was found to be in default.
Neither party may contest A.I.M.’s standing at the inception of the suit.
See Glynn v. First Union Nat’l Bank, 912 So. 2d 357, 358 (Fla. 4th DCA
2005) (holding that a homeowner waived any claim that the bank lacked
standing to foreclose where the homeowner never filed a motion or an
answer in the trial court).

But even a party in default does not admit that the plaintiff in a
foreclosure action possesses the original promissory note. See Lenfesty
v. Coe, 16 So. 277, 278 (Fla. 1894). “The decree pro confesso cannot be
extended to a confession of ownership of the note in complainant up to
the time of the master’s report and the confirmation thereof by the court,
and the authorities above cited sustain the view that a production of the
note or securities at the hearing is essential to show complainant’s right
to judgment then.” Id. A.I.M., in order to be entitled to summary
judgment, must establish that it is the proper holder of the promissory
note. Id.

In this case, A.I.M. failed to produce the original promissory note,
failed to account for its absence, and failed to present evidence to
otherwise establish it was the proper holder of the note. The allonge
established that the note was indorsed to a third party. A.I.M.’s failure to
produce the original promissory note, or account for its absence, created
a genuine issue of material fact. Lenfesty, 16 So. at 278. For this reason
alone, the summary judgments were improper in each of the cases.2

Accordingly, in Case No. 09-18089, we reverse the final summary
judgment and remand with directions that the action be dismissed in its
entirety without prejudice.

In Case No. 09-19636, we reverse the summary judgment and vacate
the final judgment of foreclosure. With regard to appellant Vincenzo
Gurrera only, we direct that the action be dismissed without prejudice.
With regard to Venture, however, we do not direct dismissal of the action.

In Case No. 09-018086, we reverse the summary judgment and vacate
the final judgment of foreclosure. With regard to appellant Alexander
Gonzalez only, we direct that the action be dismissed without prejudice.
With regard to Real, however, we do not direct dismissal of the action.
While A.I.M. is free to file the original promissory note and to move for
summary judgment in the actions that have not been dismissed as to
Venture and Real, we caution that the absence of Gurrera and Gonzalez
from those proceedings would leave those parties’ interests unaffected by
any judgment.

Reversed and Remanded.

TAYLOR, HAZOURI and LEVINE, JJ., concur.

* * *

Consolidated appeals from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth
Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Ana I. Gardiner, Judge(Carol, please
check the judges in the other cases) ; L.T. Case Nos. 09-018086 CACE,
09-18089 08, and 09-19636 CACE.

Carol C. Asbury, Fort Lauderdale, for appellants.

Thomas D. Oates of the Law Offices of Oates & Oates, P.A., Pompano,
for appellee.

Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

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Taylor v. BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC | FL 2DCA “Genuine issues of material fact remain regarding the Taylors’ affirmative defense of lack of notice”

Taylor v. BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC | FL 2DCA “Genuine issues of material fact remain regarding the Taylors’ affirmative defense of lack of notice”


JOYCE TAYLOR and LANKFORD TAYLOR, Appellants,
v.
BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Appellee.

 

Case No. 2D10-1493.
District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District. 

Opinion filed November 9, 2011.
Enrique Nieves III of Ice Legal, P.A., Royal Palm Beach, for Appellants.J. Joseph Givner, Esther S. Meisels, and Randon Loeb of Higer Lichter & Givner, LLP, Aventura, for Appellee.

PER CURIAM.

Joyce and Lankford Taylor appeal a final judgment of foreclosure entered after the trial court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC. Because genuine issues of material fact remain regarding the Taylors’ affirmative defense of lack of notice, we reverse the final judgment and remand for further proceedings.

On January 4, 2006, the Taylors signed a mortgage securing an indebtedness in the principal amount of $194,350, evidenced by a note Joyce Taylor signed on the same date. The mortgage names the lender as USMoney Source, Inc., d/b/a Soluna First (USMoney) and the mortgagee as Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), acting as a nominee for USMoney. Attached to the note is an allonge signed by the president of USMoney and dated January 4, 2006, that endorses the note without recourse to Bayview.

On August 1, 2007, Bayview filed an unsworn two-count complaint against the Taylors. Count one sought to establish and enforce the note, and count two sought to foreclose the mortgage. Bayview alleged that it “owns and holds said note by virtue of the endorsement/allonge and said mortgage by virtue of the assignment of mortgage, copies of both of which are attached hereto.” No copy of the assignment of mortgage was attached to the complaint. Although Bayview alleged that it holds the note, Bayview further alleged that the original note was lost or destroyed after Bayview acquired it and that the exact time and manner of the loss or destruction was unknown to Bayview. Copies of the note, allonge, and mortgage were attached to the complaint. The complaint also contained the general allegation that “[a]ll conditions precedent to the filing of this action have been performed or have occurred.”

The Taylors filed an answer and affirmative defenses. Among their affirmative defenses the Taylors asserted that Bayview “is not the proper holder of the mortgage and therefore lacks standing to bring a foreclosure action.” The Taylors also asserted that Bayview “failed to give proper notice of the default in the payments on the note and mortgage” and thus was “estopped from accelerating said debt.”

On November 21, 2007, Bayview filed its motion for summary judgment and affidavit of indebtedness. Later, amended affidavits of indebtedness were filed. None of the affidavits mentioned an assignment of mortgage, and no documents were attached to the affidavits.

Bayview did not file its reply to the Taylors’ affirmative defenses until June 17, 2008. In its reply, Bayview alleged that it met the notice requirements. Bayview also alleged that it was entitled to maintain the foreclosure action without a written assignment of mortgage because the transfer of the note was sufficient. Bayview subsequently filed the original note, allonge, and mortgage.

The trial court held a hearing on the motion for summary judgment on February 22, 2010. The record contains a notice of filing copy of assignment of mortgage dated February 10, 2010, but the notice was not filed until February 23, 2010. The assignment of mortgage reflects that it was executed on August 7, 2007, after the complaint was filed. The trial court granted summary judgment and rendered the final judgment of foreclosure.

The standard of review on a summary judgment is de novo. Estate of Githens ex rel. Seaman v. Bon Secours-Maria Manor Nursing Care Ctr., 928 So. 2d 1272, 1274 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006). “A movant is entitled to summary judgment `if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, affidavits, and other materials as would be admissible in evidence on file show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Id. (quoting Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.510(c)). The movant has the burden to prove the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and “this court must view `every possible inference in favor of the party against whom summary judgment has been entered.'” Id. (quoting Maynard v. Household Fin. Corp. III, 861 So. 2d 1204, 1206 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)). And, “if the record raises even the slightest doubt that an issue might exist, that doubt must be resolved against the moving party and summary judgment must be denied.” Nard, Inc. v. DeVito Contracting & Supply, Inc., 769 So. 2d 1138, 1140 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Furthermore, to be entitled to summary judgment, the movant must not only establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact regarding the parties’ claims, but also the movant “must either factually refute the affirmative defenses or establish that they are legally insufficient.” Konsulian v. Busey Bank, N.A., 61 So. 3d 1283, 1285 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011).

We reject the Taylors’ argument that Bayview lacked standing to foreclose the mortgage. The Taylors’ affirmative defense asserted, and they argue on appeal, that the assignment of mortgage did not occur until after the complaint was filed. See Country Place Cmty. Ass’n v. J.P. Morgan Mortg. Acquisition Corp., 51 So. 3d 1176, 1179 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) (stating that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the foreclosure action when it did not own or possess the note and mortgage when it filed the lawsuit); Jeff-Ray Corp. v. Jacobson, 566 So. 2d 885, 886 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990) (determining that a complaint to foreclose a mortgage did not state a cause of action when it was filed because the assignment of mortgage to the plaintiff was dated four months after the lawsuit was filed).

But Bayview contends that its standing to foreclose derives from the allonge to the note because the mortgage follows the note. Bayview argues that when USMoney transferred to Bayview the note which the mortgage secured, Bayview received equitable standing to foreclose the mortgage, even without a written assignment. We agree.

Bayview alleged in its complaint that it “owns and holds said note by virtue of the endorsement/allonge.” Bayview attached copies of the note and allonge to its complaint. The note and the allonge reflect that on the same day that Joyce Taylor executed the note in favor of USMoney, USMoney in turn endorsed the note without recourse to Bayview. Before the summary judgment hearing, Bayview filed the original note and the allonge. Thus Bayview established its status as holder of the note and its right to enforce the note. See § 671.201(20), Fla. Stat. (2005) (“`Holder,’ with respect to a negotiable instrument, means the person in possession if the instrument is payable to bearer or, in the case of an instrument payable to an identified person, if the identified person is in possession.”); Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. v. Azize, 965 So. 2d 151, 153 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007) (“The holder of a note has standing to seek enforcement of the note.”); Kaminik v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 64 So. 3d 195, 196 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (affirming in part a summary final judgment of foreclosure where the plaintiff “tendered the original promissory note to the trial court, which contained a special indorsement in its favor”); Riggs v. Aurora Loan Servs., LLC, 36 So. 3d 932, 933 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (“Aurora’s possession of the original note, indorsed in blank, was sufficient under Florida’s Uniform Commercial Code to establish that it was the lawful holder of the note, entitled to enforce its terms.”), review denied, 53 So. 3d 1022 (Fla. 2011).

Bayview also became the equitable owner of the mortgage when USMoney endorsed the note to Bayview because the ownership of the mortgage followed the note. In Johns v. Gillian, 184 So. 140, 143 (Fla. 1938), the Supreme Court of Florida summarized the law pertinent to the issue under review as follows:

[I]t has frequently been held that a mortgage is but an incident to the debt, the payment of which it secures, and its ownership follows the assignment of the debt. If the note or other debt secured by a mortgage be transferred without any formal assignment of the mortgage, or even a delivery of it, the mortgage in equity passes as an incident to the debt, unless there be some plain and clear agreement to the contrary, if that be the intention of the parties.

Johns stands for the proposition that a mortgage—as a mere incident to the debt it secures—follows the note unless the parties have clearly expressed a contrary intent. The First District Court of Appeal has cited Johns and other cases in support of the following proposition: “Because the lien follows the debt, there was no requirement of attachment of a written and recorded assignment of the mortgage in order for the appellant to maintain the foreclosure action.” Chem. Residential Mortg. v. Rector, 742 So. 2d 300, 300-01 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998) (footnote omitted). Because ownership of the mortgage followed the note in the absence of a contrary intention and Bayview owned and held the note when it filed its lawsuit, Bayview has standing to maintain the underlying foreclosure action. See Mazine v. M & I Bank, 67 So. 3d 1129, 1131 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011) (“The party seeking foreclosure must present evidence that it owns and holds the note and mortgage to establish standing to proceed with a foreclosure action.”).

Notably, the Taylors did not assert that the parties did not intend for the mortgage to follow the note, and they did not present any evidence in support of that proposition after Bayview filed with the trial court the original note, allonge, and mortgage. The mortgage itself reflects the parties’ intent that the mortgage would follow the note in the event of a sale. In addressing the subject of a sale or partial sale of the note in paragraph 20, the mortgage contemplates a sale of the note “together with this Security Instrument.” The note and the allonge reflect that USMoney sold the note to Bayview on the same day that the note and the mortgage were executed. The allonge also lists the “secured property address.” Thus the attachments to the complaint establish that Bayview acquired all of USMoney’s rights under both the note and the mortgage on January 4, 2006, before it filed the underlying action. Therefore, we conclude that Bayview refuted the Taylors’ affirmative defense and established its standing to foreclose the note and mortgage.

With respect to the affirmative defense of lack of notice, Bayview failed to refute this affirmative defense; it therefore prevents summary judgment in this case. Bayview made a general allegation that all conditions precedent had been performed, but the motion for summary judgment and affidavits do not negate the affirmative defense that Bayview failed to give proper notice of the default in the payments on the note and mortgage. Paragraph 22 of the mortgage, attached to the complaint, requires the lender to give the borrower notice prior to acceleration of the debt. In fact, the notice provision is the same as the one in Konsulian. See Konsulian, 61 So. 3d at 1284. There, the lender failed to establish that it met the condition precedent of providing the requisite notice when the borrower raised the issue as an affirmative defense; therefore, the lender was not entitled to summary judgment. Id. at 1285; see also Goncharuk v. HSBC Mortg. Servs., Inc., 62 So. 3d 680, 682 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011) (reversing summary judgment for plaintiff’s failure to address in its motion for summary judgment and affidavits the affirmative defense of lack of notice); Lazuran v. Citimortgage, Inc., 35 So. 3d 189, 189-90 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (reversing summary judgment where the plaintiff failed to refute the affirmative defense of lack of notice). For this reason, summary judgment was premature. Therefore, we reverse the final judgment of foreclosure and remand for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded.

SILBERMAN, C.J., and NORTHCUTT and WALLACE, JJ., Concur.

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED.

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EMERALD GARDENS CONDO v. U.S. BANK | Washington State Appeals Court “QUIET TITLE BY DEFAULT”

EMERALD GARDENS CONDO v. U.S. BANK | Washington State Appeals Court “QUIET TITLE BY DEFAULT”


IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

EMERALD GARDENS
CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION,
Appellant,

v.

U.S. BANK N.A., AS TRUSTEE FOR
THE REGISTERED HOLDERS OF
MASTR ASSET BACKED
SECURITIES TRUST, 2006-AM1,
MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH
CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-AM1,
Respondent.

Leach, A.C.J. — Emerald Greens Condominium Association (Association)
appeals a trial court’s decision setting aside an order of default and vacating a
decree quieting title in real property. Because U.S. Bank failed to appear in the
Association’s quiet title action for reasons other than mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect, and failed to present prima facie evidence of a
defense to the Association’s claim, we reverse and direct the trial court to
reinstate the order of default and decree quieting title in the Association.

FACTS

Elizabeth Swanson secured a purchase money loan from Aames Funding
Corporation, d/b/a Aames Home Loan (Aames), with a deed of trust, recorded in
a first lien position against her condominium unit.

In April 2007, Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC recorded a notice of trustee’s
sale for this property that identified U.S. Bank as the current beneficiary of the
deed of trust. The notice recited that Swanson’s condominium was

subject to that certain Deed of Trust dated 9/9/2005, recorded
10/3/2005, . . . from ELIZABETH SWANSON . . . as Grantor(s), to
KAREN L. GIBBON, PS, as Trustee, to secure an obligation in
favor of AAMES FUNDING CORPORATION DBA AAMES HOME
LOAN, as Beneficiary, . . . the beneficial interest in which was
assigned by AAMES FUNDING CORPORATION DBA AAMES
HOME LOAN to U.S. Bank, N.A., as Trustee for the registered
holders of MASTR Asset Backed Securities Trust.

But this recital was not true. Instead, on May 25, 2007, Accredited Home
Lenders Inc., successor by merger to Aames, assigned “[a]ll beneficial interest”
in the deed of trust to Ocwen Loan Servicing. Then, on June 1, 2007, Ocwen
assigned its interest to U.S. Bank. These two assignments were recorded with
the Snohomish County Auditor on June 15, 2007.

Earlier, on May 15, the Association filed a complaint against Swanson
and Aames, seeking to foreclose a lien for unpaid condominium assessments on
Swanson’s unit. Three days later, the Association recorded a lis pendens
against the property.

The Association served Aames, but it failed to appear in the action. On
July 6, 2007, the Association obtained entry of an order of default against
Aames. On October 12, 2007, the court entered a “Stipulated/Default Judgment,
Order and Foreclosure Decree.” Swanson stipulated to its entry through
counsel. The decree (1) awarded judgment to the Association and declared its
lien valid and exempt from homestead protection, (2) foreclosed the lien and
directed the sheriff to sell the property if the judgment was not promptly paid,
and (3) declared the rights of Aames and all persons claiming under it to be
subordinate to the Association’s lien and foreclosed those rights, except for any
right of redemption.

The Association purchased the condominium unit at a sheriff’s sale held
in February 2009. After the one-year redemption period expired without
redemption by any party, the Association received a sheriff’s deed conveying the
property to it.

U.S. Bank claims that it first became aware of the lien foreclosure
proceedings in February 2010, after it completed foreclosure of its deed of trust.1
Shortly afterward, U.S. Bank’s attorney Kelly Sutherland sent the Association’s
attorney, Patrick McDonald, a letter, stating, “Pursuant to our telephone
conversation, this office is representing [U.S. Bank,] successor beneficiary
holders of the 1st [Deed of Trust] on . . . the subject loan. My clients are
disputing the priority of the Sheriff’s Deed.” Sutherland also asked McDonald to
“provide . . . [a] breakdown of your client’s total amount of Judgment, including
any attorney fees and advances for taxes and other liens on . . . the subject
loan.” McDonald responded by letter a few days later. He wrote,

As you know, Emerald Gardens Condominium Association . . .
properly served the lender of record and foreclosed the lender’s
interest in the above-referenced condominium unit . . . .
As a result, my client bid the full judgment amount at the
sheriff’s sale, the redemption period expired without redemption by
any party, a sheriff’s deed was issued to the Association, and the
Association now owns the property free and clear. Therefore,
there is no judgment balance upon which to give a payoff as you
request.

Two months later, in an effort to remove any potential cloud on the title,
the Association served U.S. Bank with a summons and complaint to quiet title to
the subject property.2 U.S. Bank, the only defendant in the action, failed to
appear or file an answer within the 20 days allowed by CR 4. The Association
then obtained entry of an order of default and an order and decree quieting title
in its favor.

U.S. Bank moved to set aside the default and vacate the decree under
CR 55 and CR 60. A court commissioner granted the relief requested. The trial
court denied the Association’s motion for revision.
The Association appeals.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When a party appeals an order denying revision of a court
commissioner’s decision, this court reviews the superior court’s decision, not the
commissioner’s.3 We review a trial court’s decision on both a motion for default
judgment and a motion to vacate a default judgment for an abuse of discretion.4
Discretion is abused if it is based on untenable grounds or reasons,5 and a
decision is untenable if it rests on an erroneous application of law.6 We review
questions of law de novo.7

ANALYSIS

We must decide whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
denied the Association’s motion for revision. This requires resolution of three
underlying issues: (1) whether U.S. Bank was entitled to notice of the
Association’s motion for default under CR 55(a)(3), (2) whether U.S. Bank
presented substantial evidence of a prima facie defense available to it in the
quiet title action, and (3) whether U.S. Bank’s failure to appear in the quiet title
action was due to surprise or excusable neglect.

A court will set aside a default judgment entered against a party entitled to
notice who did not receive it.8 The Association argues that U.S. Bank was not
entitled to notice of the motion for default because neither U.S. Bank nor
Sutherland appeared in the quiet title action. In response, U.S. Bank asserts
that Sutherland’s prelitigation contacts with McDonald substantially complied
with any appearance requirement. Thus, according to U.S. Bank, it was entitled
to notice of the Association’s motion for default. We agree with the Association.
CR 55(a)(3) requires notice of a motion for default be given to any party
who has appeared in the action. It states,

Any party who has appeared in the action for any purpose shall be
served with a written notice of motion for default and the supporting
affidavit at least 5 days before the hearing on the motion. Any
party who has not appeared before the motion for default and
supporting affidavit are filed is not entitled to a notice of the motion.

Washington courts apply a substantial compliance test to determine whether CR
55(a)(3) requires notice.9

In Morin v. Burris,10 our Supreme Court held that prelitigation contacts
alone are not sufficient to establish substantial compliance with the appearance
requirements of CR 55(a)(3). Instead, those who are properly served with a
summons and complaint must in some way appear and acknowledge the
jurisdiction of the court after they are served and litigation commences.11
Otherwise, “any party to a dispute [could] simply write a letter expressing intent
to contest litigation, then ignore the summons and complaint or other formal
process and wait for the notice of default judgment before deciding whether a
defense is worth pursuing.”12

As Morin makes clear, Sutherland’s prelitigation contact with McDonald
by itself is not sufficient to show substantial compliance with CR 55(a)(3), even
though it expressed an intent to defend. U.S. Bank had no contact with the
Association or its counsel between the time it was served with the summons and
complaint and the order of default entered. U.S. Bank’s failure to appear during
this interval relieved the Association of any obligation to provide the bank with
written notice of a motion for default.

U.S. Bank disagrees. Citing Sacotte Construction, Inc. v. National Fire &
Marine Insurance Co.13 and Old Republic National Title Insurance Co. v. Law
Office of Robert E. Brandt, PLLC,14 the bank claims it substantially complied with
any appearance requirement because McDonald had prior dealings with
Sutherland and knew that Sutherland represented the bank in related matters.15
But neither case supports U.S. Bank’s position. Instead, Sacotte and Old
Republic apply the rule announced in Morin and rely upon contacts made after
the commencement of litigation to establish substantial compliance with
appearance requirements.

In both Sacotte and Old Republic, the defaulted party made an informal
appearance after the plaintiff commenced the action. In Sacotte, the court held
that a telephone call made after litigation had commenced established
substantial compliance with the appearance requirements of CR 55(a)(3)16
Citing Morin, the court stated, “[S]ubstantial compliance can be accomplished
with an informal appearance if the party shows intent to defend and
acknowledges the court’s jurisdiction over the matter after the summons and
complaint are filed.”17 Old Republic is similar. There, the court also held that a
telephone call made after litigation had commenced substantially complied with
the appearance requirements of CR 55(a)(3).18 The court observed that
enforcement of a default judgment would be inequitable where the defendant’s
attorney called the plaintiff’s attorney after the commencement of the legal action
and informed him of his intent to defend.19

Because the bank was not entitled to notice of the motion for default, we
address whether the bank established grounds for vacating the decree under CR
60(b)(1). Generally a default judgment “will [be] liberally set aside . . . pursuant
to CR 55(c) and CR 60 and for equitable reasons in the interests of fairness and
justice.”20 CR 55(c) provides that default judgment may be set aside “in
accordance with rule 60(b).” Grounds for vacating a default judgment under CR
60(b)(1) include “[m]istake, inadvertence, surprise, excusable neglect or
irregularity.” In White v. Holm,21 our Supreme Court announced four factors
which must be shown by a moving party. These factors are whether (1) there is
substantial evidence to support the moving party’s claim of a prima facie
defense; (2) the moving party’s failure to timely appear in the action was
occasioned by mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (3) the
moving party acted with due diligence after notice of entry of the default
judgment; and (4) vacating the default judgment would result in a substantial
hardship to the nonmoving party.22 Where a party fails to provide evidence of
factors (1) and (2), no equitable basis exists for vacating a judgment.23 A trial
court abuses its discretion when it vacates a judgment without evidence of these
two factors.24

U.S. Bank failed to present substantial evidence of a prima facie defense.
The Association recorded its lis pendens for its original foreclosure action on
May 18, 2007. The record shows that U.S. Bank acquired its beneficial interest
in the deed of trust later, on June 1, 2007. U.S. Bank presented no evidence
that it acquired any interest before that date. A party that acquires an interest in
real property after a lis pendens is recorded has “constructive notice” of the
proceeding and “shall be bound by all proceedings taken after the filing of such
notice to the same extent as if he or she were a party to the action.”25 U.S.
Bank, therefore, had constructive notice of the Association’s foreclosure action,
and it is bound by those proceedings. In that proceeding, the court foreclosed
the interest of the bank’s predecessor in interest, Aames, and all persons
claiming under it, subject only to a right of redemption. Thus, U.S. Bank cannot
show that it has any defense to the Association’s quiet title action.

Also, the record does not support U.S. Bank’s claim that its failure to
appear in the quiet title action was due to surprise or excusable neglect. As
explained above, neither U.S. Bank nor Sutherland had any contact with the
court or the Association between the time the bank was served and default
entered. Moreover, U.S. Bank admitted to the trial court that it did not appear
within 20 days because it “uses numerous outside counsel to handle its matters,
[and] it took several weeks before the quiet title pleadings were properly routed
to Mr. Sutherland’s office.” U.S. Bank cites no authority supporting the
proposition that a large corporation’s failure to timely route pleadings to its
attorney is somehow excusable or otherwise warrants setting aside an order of
default. Implicit in the bank’s argument is a notion that large organizations are
entitled to more time to respond to litigation. This notion finds no support in a
legal system that strives to treat all litigants equally.

CONCLUSION

We reverse and remand to the trial court to reinstate the order of default
and decree quieting title to the Association.

WE CONCUR

1 U.S. Bank’s foreclosure proceedings stopped and started several times
due to agreements with Swanson, Swanson’s bankruptcy filing, and efforts to
obtain relief from an automatic stay.

2 The record shows that the Association effected service on May 17 and
filed its complaint on June 10.

3 In re Marriage of Williams, 156 Wn. App. 22, 27, 232 P.3d 573 (2010).
4 Morin v. Burris, 160 Wn.2d 745, 753, 161 P.3d 956 (2007); Hwang v.
McMahill, 103 Wn. App. 945, 949, 15 P.3d 172 (2000).
5 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 753.
6 State v. Rafay, 167 Wn.2d 644, 655, 222 P.3d 86 (2009) (quoting State
v. Rohrich, 149 Wn.2d 647, 654, 71 P.3d 638 (2003)).
7 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 753.

8 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 749.
9 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 749.
10 160 Wn.2d 745, 757, 161 P.3d 956 (2007).
11 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 749.

12 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 757.
13 143 Wn. App. 410, 177 P.3d 1147 (2008).
14 142 Wn. App. 71, 174 P.3d 133 (2007).
15 U.S. Bank alleges that Sutherland represented it in a dispute regarding
the wrongful foreclosure of the property. However, U.S. Bank never filed a
motion to vacate or otherwise challenged the foreclosure decree, which was
adjudicated some three years earlier. Thus, contrary to U.S. Bank’s implication,
no legal action was pending in February 2010.

16 Sacotte, 143 Wn. App. at 416.
17 Sacotte, 143 Wn. App. at 415 (emphasis added).
18 Old Republic, 142 Wn. App. at 73.
19 Old Republic, 142 Wn. App. at 73, 75.

20 Morin, 160 Wn.2d at 749.
21 73 Wn.2d 348, 352, 438 P.2d 581 (1968).
22 White, 73 Wn.2d at 352.
23 Little v. King, 160 Wn.2d 696, 706, 161 P.3d 345 (2007).
24 Little, 160 Wn.2d at 706.

25 RCW 4.28.320; see also Snohomish Reg’l Drug Task Force v. 414
Newberg Rd., 151 Wn. App. 743, 752, 214 P.3d 928 (2009) (once a lis pendens
is filed, any party who subsequently acquires an interest in the property does so
subject to the property’s ultimate disposition in the pending suit), review denied,
168 Wn.2d 1019, 228 P.3d 17 (2010).

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