Sanctions Pummel Neil Garfield Legal Theories

Neil Garfield’s frivolous filings and bogus legal theories have already cost at least one client, Zdislaw Maslanka, a wad of attorney fees in an utterly frivolous action to get his house free even though he remained current in his mortgage payments.  As the docket entries below show, the Florida 4th District appellate panel affirmed the 17th Circuit’s dismissal of the case and ordered Maslanka to pay the attorney fees of the two mortgage creditors that he sued.

  • 4D14-3015-Zdzislaw E. Maslanka v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Embrace Home Loans
05/12/2016 Affirmed ­ Per Curiam Affirmed
05/12/2016 Order Granting Attorney Fees­Unconditionally ORDERED that the appellee Embrace Home Loans Inc.’s September 2, 2015 motion for attorney’s fees is granted. On remand, the trial court shall set the amount of the attorney’s fees to be awarded for this appellate case. If a motion for rehearing is filed in this court, then services rendered in connection with the filing of the motion, including, but not limited to, preparation of a responsive pleading, shall be taken into account in computing the amount of the fee
05/12/2016 Order Granting Attorney Fees­Unconditionally ORDERED that the appellee Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s September 3, 2015 motion for attorneys’ fees is granted. On remand, the trial court shall set the amount of the attorneys’ fees to be awarded for this appellate case. If a motion for rehearing is filed in this court, then services rendered in connection with the filing of the motion, including, but not limited to, preparation of a responsive pleading, shall be taken into account in computing the amount of the fee.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 11 (See Below) allows the court to award attorney fees to the party against whom a litigant files frivolous (unsupported or nonsensical) motions.

34 States have embraced FRCivPro Rule 11 in their own rules of civil procedure, but Florida embraced it in Florida Statute 57.105 (See Below).  It requires the attorney propounding the unsupported motion to pay one half of the sanction cost and the attorney’s client to pay the other half.  That has raised the hackles of a lot of attorneys who claim it chills their willingness to mount an aggressive advocacy on behalf of the client.  Obviously, lawmakers see overaggressiveness as vexatious, and they decided, finally, to punish the lawyer for it.

Mortgage loan creditors have begun to get sick and tired of dealing with mindless litigation by idiotic practititoners like Neil Garfield.

Johnson v. BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, Dist. Court, WD Washington 2016

I write now to show a case in point (full text of opinion below).  Lajuana Locklin Johnson, a TILA rescission mortgagor,  provoked the ire of a USDC judge in Washington State by filing a notice of rescission 10 (TEN!) years after consummation of the loan (obviously following Neil Garfield’s ridiculous strategy) when the TILA statute of repose window closes after 3 years.  She knew she had no case, but filed it anyway in a silly and misguided effort to get a free house.  So, the judge spanked her.

Oh, and she claimed she relied on the clear meaning of the SCOTUS Jesinoski opinion to do it. She claimed SCOTUS meant one can send notice of rescission after 3 years, but the high court actually meant the borrower with a valid TILA rescission claim may sue after 3 years.  Incidentally, the Minnesota USDC ruled in July 2016 that Jesinoski had no TILA rescission case because he and his wife had written an acknowledged receipt of the proper TILA disclosures. Jesinoski claimed he had invested over $800,000 in the case, much of which came from attorney fees.

Well, first Judge James L. Robart ordered Lajuana and her attorney Smith to show cause why he shouldn’t sanction them under Rule 11 for bringing an utterly hopeless TILA rescission action she knew would fail.  And in that order he berated attorney Jill J. Smith of Natural Resource Law Group, PLLC, for filing the action in spite of having filed and been sanctioned for one or more prior frivolous actions like Lajuana’s.  Smith idiotically claimed the table-funding meant the loan had never been consummated and so the statute of repose could not have tolled.  But she did not explain how Lajuana could rescind a non-consummated loan.

The judge said this about the essential argument Smith (taken directly from Garfield) propounded:

Excerpt from opinion

Ms. Smith indicates that on October 6, 2005, Ms. Johnson “entered into what she thought was a mortgage loan to purchase” property. (OSC Resp. at 1.) At oral argument, Ms. Smith argued that if the loan was never funded then the loan was never consummated.[3] However, Ms. Smith conceded at oral argument that the relevant parties signed the loan paperwork, money was transferred to the sellers of the house, and Ms. Johnson took possession of the property. These facts unarguably give rise to a contract under Washington Law. See Keystone, 94 P.3d at 949; see also Grimes, 340 F.3d at 1009-10. Ms. Smith nonetheless argued that the loan was unconsummated at that juncture based on the manner in which it was funded and the subsequent history of the loan.

Ms. Smith’s protestations in her response and at oral argument that the loan was table-funded[4] (id. at 4-5) and her account of the history of the loan subsequent to its consummation (OSC at 2-4) are both irrelevant to her allegation that “the loan was never consummated” (Compl. ¶ 13). Despite being afforded numerous opportunities to do so, Ms. Smith has failed to provide any legal authority—or even a cogent argument— supporting the proposition that the type of funding or subsequent transfers of a loan impact whether the loan was consummated.[5] (See, e.g., OSC Resp. at 5 (“One of the questions at issue is that if a party is merely an originator and NOT a lender or creditor, is there some theory where a loan contract could be considered consummated? If Plaintiff’s loan was a table-funded loan, the answer must be `no.'”).) Nor has Ms. Smith pointed to any further evidence providing “information and belief” that “the subject loan was never consummated.” (Compl. ¶ 13.)

The foregoing analysis leads the court to conclude that Ms. Smith’s factual allegation that “the loan was never consummated” and the legal theories underpinning that allegation violate Rules 11(b)(2) and 11(b)(3).[6] See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2) (requiring that “the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law”); Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3) (requiring that “factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery”). The court analyzes the appropriate sanctions below.

Then, Judge Robart ordered these sanctions:

(1) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must jointly pay sanctions of $10,000.00 to the court;

(2) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must fully reimburse Ms. Johnson for any attorneys’ fees or costs paid by Ms. Johnson in conjunction with this case and file certification with the court that they have done so; and

(3) The court dismisses the complaint with prejudice.

I would raise yet another point about this case.  The above excerpt provided that “Ms. Smith indicates that on October 6, 2005, Ms. Johnson “entered into what she thought was a mortgage loan to purchase” property…  Ms. Smith conceded at oral argument that the relevant parties signed the loan paperwork, money was transferred to the sellers of the house, and Ms. Johnson took possession of the property.”

I fail to see how TILA rescission can apply at all to a purchase money loan.

12 CFR Part 1026.23(f) “Exempt transactions.  The right to rescind does not apply to the following:  1. A residential mortgage transaction.” (“Residential mortgage transaction means a transaction in which a mortgage, deed of trust, purchase money security interestarising under an installment sales contract, or equivalent consensual security interestis created or retained in the consumer‘s principal dwelling to finance the acquisition or initial construction of that dwelling.”)

See the whole opinion below.

And let this be a lesson to Neil Garfield Klingons (those who cling to his every utterance:

Heed Neil Garfield at your peril!

 

FRCivPro Rule 11. Signing Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Representations to the Court; Sanctions

(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s name—or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer’s address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney’s or party’s attention.

(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper—whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;

(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.

(c) Sanctions.

(1) In General. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm must be held jointly responsible for a violation committed by its partner, associate, or employee.

(2) Motion for Sanctions. A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion must be served under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets. If warranted, the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred for the motion.

(3) On the Court’s Initiative. On its own, the court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b).

(4) Nature of a Sanction. A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. The sanction may include nonmonetary directives; an order to pay a penalty into court; or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of part or all of the reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation.

(5) Limitations on Monetary Sanctions. The court must not impose a monetary sanction:

(A) against a represented party for violating Rule 11(b)(2); or

(B) on its own, unless it issued the show-cause order under Rule 11(c)(3)before voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party that is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.

(6) Requirements for an Order. An order imposing a sanction must describe the sanctioned conduct and explain the basis for the sanction.

(d) Inapplicability to Discovery. This rule does not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and motions under Rules 26 through37.

 

Florida Statute
57.105 Attorney’s fee; sanctions for raising unsupported claims or defenses; exceptions; service of motions; damages for delay of litigation.

(1) Upon the court’s initiative or motion of any party, the court shall award a reasonable attorney’s fee, including prejudgment interest, to be paid to the prevailing party in equal amounts by the losing party and the losing party’s attorney on any claim or defense at any time during a civil proceeding or action in which the court finds that the losing party or the losing party’s attorney knew or should have known that a claim or defense when initially presented to the court or at any time before trial:

(a) Was not supported by the material facts necessary to establish the claim or defense; or
(b) Would not be supported by the application of then-existing law to those material facts.
(2) At any time in any civil proceeding or action in which the moving party proves by a preponderance of the evidence that any action taken by the opposing party, including, but not limited to, the filing of any pleading or part thereof, the assertion of or response to any discovery demand, the assertion of any claim or defense, or the response to any request by any other party, was taken primarily for the purpose of unreasonable delay, the court shall award damages to the moving party for its reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, which may include attorney’s fees, and other loss resulting from the improper delay.

(3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), monetary sanctions may not be awarded:

(a) Under paragraph (1)(b) if the court determines that the claim or defense was initially presented to the court as a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law, as it applied to the material facts, with a reasonable expectation of success.
(b) Under paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(b) against the losing party’s attorney if he or she has acted in good faith, based on the representations of his or her client as to the existence of those material facts.
(c) Under paragraph (1)(b) against a represented party.
(d) On the court’s initiative under subsections (1) and (2) unless sanctions are awarded before a voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party that is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.
(4) A motion by a party seeking sanctions under this section must be served but may not be filed with or presented to the court unless, within 21 days after service of the motion, the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, allegation, or denial is not withdrawn or appropriately corrected.
(5) In administrative proceedings under chapter 120, an administrative law judge shall award a reasonable attorney’s fee and damages to be paid to the prevailing party in equal amounts by the losing party and a losing party’s attorney or qualified representative in the same manner and upon the same basis as provided in subsections (1)-(4). Such award shall be a final order subject to judicial review pursuant to s. 120.68. If the losing party is an agency as defined in s. 120.52(1), the award to the prevailing party shall be against and paid by the agency. A voluntary dismissal by a nonprevailing party does not divest the administrative law judge of jurisdiction to make the award described in this subsection.
(6) The provisions of this section are supplemental to other sanctions or remedies available under law or under court rules.
(7) If a contract contains a provision allowing attorney’s fees to a party when he or she is required to take any action to enforce the contract, the court may also allow reasonable attorney’s fees to the other party when that party prevails in any action, whether as plaintiff or defendant, with respect to the contract. This subsection applies to any contract entered into on or after October 1, 1988.
History.s. 1, ch. 78-275; s. 61, ch. 86-160; ss. 1, 2, ch. 88-160; s. 1, ch. 90-300; s. 316, ch. 95-147; s. 4, ch. 99-225; s. 1, ch. 2002-77; s. 9, ch. 2003-94; s. 1, ch. 2010-129.

57.115 Execution on judgments; attorney’s fees and costs.

(1) The court may award against a judgment debtor reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred thereafter by a judgment creditor in connection with execution on a judgment.

(2) In determining the amount of costs, including attorney’s fees, if any, to be awarded under this section, the court shall consider:

(a) Whether the judgment debtor had attempted to avoid or evade the payment of the judgment; and
(b) Other factors as may be appropriate in determining the value of the services provided or the necessity for incurring costs in connection with the execution.
History.s. 13, ch. 87-145.

 

 

LAJUANA LOCKLIN JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, et al., Defendants.

Case No. C16-0833JLR.
United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle.
August 10, 2016.
Lajuana Locklin Johnson, Plaintiff, represented by Jill J. Smith, NATURAL RESOURCE LAW GROUP PLLC.

ORDER ISSUING SANCTIONS AND DISMISSING CASE

JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court sua sponte. Previously, the court ordered Jill J. Smith of the Natural Resource Law Group, PLLC, counsel for Plaintiff Lajuana Locklin Johnson, to show cause why the court should not sanction her pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (OSC (Dkt. # 3); see alsoCompl. (Dkt. # 1).) The court then ordered Ms. Smith to appear, and she presented argument on July 28, 2016, on why the court should not issue sanctions. Having considered the written and oral arguments of counsel, the appropriate portions of the record, and the relevant law, and considering itself fully advised, the court DISMISSES this case WITH PREJUDICE and SANCTIONS Ms. Smith as described more fully herein.

II. BACKGROUND

On June 6, 2016, Ms. Smith filed a complaint on behalf of Ms. Johnson seeking to enforce and obtain damages pertaining to her purportedly rescinded loans. (Compl.) The rescission notices that Ms. Johnson attached to her complaint make clear that she sent those notices more than a decade after executing the loans. (See Rescission Notices (Dkt. # 1-1).) The Truth in Lending Act (hereinafter, “TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1635 et seq., permits rescission of certain loans but includes a three-year statute of repose. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 790, 792-93 (2015)(“The Truth in Lending Act gives borrowers the right to rescind certain loans for up to three years after the transaction is consummated.”).

Having presided over several of Ms. Smith’s TILA rescission cases that feature substantially similar complaints to the one in this case, the court researched Ms. Smith’s other filings in this district. (See OSC at 5-6 (collecting cases).) Ms. Smith has filed a troubling series of such cases.[1] The Honorable Thomas S. Zilly sanctioned Ms. Smith $5,000.00 plus over $10,000.00 in attorneys’ fees after ordering Ms. Smith to show cause regarding how binding Supreme Court caselaw does not foreclose her claim and receiving no response.Johnson v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, et al., No. C15-1754TSZ, Dkt. ## 35, 41. The claim in Johnson v. Nationstar strongly resembles Ms. Johnson’s untimely effort to rescind pursuant to TILA in this case.

In light of this backdrop, the court stayed this case and ordered Ms. Smith to show cause no later than July 7, 2016, why the court should not issue sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (OSC at 8-10.) The court indicated that it was specifically considering sanctioning Ms. Smith and Ms. Johnson by “dismissing this case, issuing monetary sanctions against Ms. Smith, and requiring Ms. Smith to file a copy of this order each time she files a new case in federal court.” (Id. at 9.) Ms. Smith failed to file a timely response to the court’s order to show cause. (See Dkt.) The court therefore ordered Ms. Smith to appear on July 28, 2016, for an in-court sanctions hearing. (7/18/16 Min. Ord. (Dkt. # 4) at 1-2.)

On July 27, 2016, almost three weeks after her response was due and the day before the sanctions hearing, Ms. Smith filed a response to the order to show cause. That response states the facts of the case as Ms. Smith sees them but without reference to any affidavit or other verified source. (OSC Resp. (Dkt. # 5) at 1-4.) In addition, Ms. Smith attempts to address some of the specific considerations the court ordered her to respond to in its prior order. (Id. at 5-6.) However, she makes no reference to any of the prior cases she has filed in this court or “the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court cases cited” in the order to show cause. (See OSC at 9 (“Ms. Smith’s response to this order must address how Ms. Johnson’s claims, as stated in the complaint, comply with Rule 11(b)(2) in light of Nieuwejaar, Green Tree, the other cases in this District identified above, and the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court cases cited therein. Finally, Ms. Smith must address what “information and belief” she has that Ms. Johnson’s loan in this case “was never consummated.”); see generally OSC Resp.)

Ms. Smith appeared in court on July 28, 2016, and defended the factual allegations and legal theory underpinning Ms. Johnson’s claim. (7/28/16 Min. Entry (Dkt. # 6).) In general terms, Ms. Smith argued that circumstances surrounding the loan, such as the manner in which it was funded, make it questionable whether the loan was ever consummated. If the loan was never consummated, she reasons, the three-year statute of repose never began and therefore never expired.

The matter of Rule 11 sanctions is now before the court.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 governs sanctions of the type issued herein. Rule 11(b) provides in full:

By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper— whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation; (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law; (3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and (4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b). In its June 22, 2016, order, the court placed Ms. Smith on notice and allowed her to respond regarding potential violations of Rules 11(b)(2) and 11(b)(3).

B. Violations of Rule 11

Ms. Johnson alleges that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated.” (Compl. ¶ 13.) This conclusory allegation appears intended to circumvent TILA’s three-year statute of repose, which begins upon consummation of the loan.[2] See 15 U.S.C. § 1635(f) (“An obligor’s right of rescission shall expire three years after the date of consummation of the transaction or upon the sale of the property, whichever occurs first. . . .”);Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 792-93. At the hearing, Ms. Smith argued that if the loan was never consummated, the three-year statute of repose has not begun, has not expired, and therefore the rescission is timely.

In the numerous opportunities the court has afforded Ms. Smith to provide a factual basis for this allegation, she has provided none. Ms. Smith has also provided no evidence of any legal or factual “inquiry” that she performed, and accordingly the court can only determine whether the inquiry was “reasonable under the circumstances” based on the allegations and arguments that Ms. Smith has advanced in opposition to the frivolity of Ms. Johnson’s claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b).

Under TILA, “[c]onsummation means the time that a consumer becomes contractually obligated on a credit transaction.” 12 C.F.R. § 226.2(a)(13); see also Grimes v. New Century Mortg. Corp., 340 F.3d 1007, 1009 (9th Cir. 2003). “Under the Official Staff interpretation, state law determines when a borrower is contractually obliged.” Grimes, 340 F.3d at 1009 (citing 12 C.F.R. § 226, Supp. 1 (Official Staff Interpretations), cmt. 2(a)(13)); see also id. at 1010 (applying California law to determine whether a California loan was consummated for purposes of TILA). In Washington, “for a contract to form, the parties must objectively manifest their mutual assent” to “sufficiently definite” contractual terms. Keystone Land & Dev. Co. v. Xerox Corp., 94 P.3d 945, 949 (Wash. 2004). In addition, “the contract must be supported by consideration to be enforceable.” Id. (citing King v. Riveland, 886 P.2d 160, 164 (Wash. 1994)).

Ms. Smith indicates that on October 6, 2005, Ms. Johnson “entered into what she thought was a mortgage loan to purchase” property. (OSC Resp. at 1.) At oral argument, Ms. Smith argued that if the loan was never funded then the loan was never consummated.[3] However, Ms. Smith conceded at oral argument that the relevant parties signed the loan paperwork, money was transferred to the sellers of the house, and Ms. Johnson took possession of the property. These facts unarguably give rise to a contract under Washington Law. See Keystone, 94 P.3d at 949; see also Grimes, 340 F.3d at 1009-10. Ms. Smith nonetheless argued that the loan was unconsummated at that juncture based on the manner in which it was funded and the subsequent history of the loan.

Ms. Smith’s protestations in her response and at oral argument that the loan was table-funded[4] (id. at 4-5) and her account of the history of the loan subsequent to its consummation (OSC at 2-4) are both irrelevant to her allegation that “the loan was never consummated” (Compl. ¶ 13). Despite being afforded numerous opportunities to do so, Ms. Smith has failed to provide any legal authority—or even a cogent argument— supporting the proposition that the type of funding or subsequent transfers of a loan impact whether the loan was consummated.[5] (See, e.g., OSC Resp. at 5 (“One of the questions at issue is that if a party is merely an originator and NOT a lender or creditor, is there some theory where a loan contract could be considered consummated? If Plaintiff’s loan was a table-funded loan, the answer must be `no.'”).) Nor has Ms. Smith pointed to any further evidence providing “information and belief” that “the subject loan was never consummated.” (Compl. ¶ 13.)

The foregoing analysis leads the court to conclude that Ms. Smith’s factual allegation that “the loan was never consummated” and the legal theories underpinning that allegation violate Rules 11(b)(2) and 11(b)(3).[6] See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2) (requiring that “the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law”); Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3) (requiring that “factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery”). The court analyzes the appropriate sanctions below.

C. Appropriate Sanctions

Rule 11(d) limits sanctions to “what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(d). Ms. Smith’s actions in this case demonstrate that the previous sanctions she incurred—dismissal with prejudice, $11,972.50 in attorneys’ fees payable by her client, and a $5,000.00 sanction payable to the court—constituted insufficient specific deterrence. See Johnson v. Nationstar, No. C15-1754TSZ, Dkt. ## 35, 41-43. The court finds it appropriate to impose greater monetary sanctions payable by Ms. Smith and her law firm and dismiss the case with prejudice.[7] The court accordingly issues the following sanctions:

(1) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must jointly pay sanctions of $10,000.00 to the court;

(2) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must fully reimburse Ms. Johnson for any attorneys’ fees or costs paid by Ms. Johnson in conjunction with this case and file certification with the court that they have done so; and

(3) The court dismisses the complaint with prejudice.

IV. CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing analysis, the court DISMISSES the case WITH PREJUDICE and SANCTIONS Ms. Smith as described above.

[1] See Pelzel v. GMAC Mortg. Grp., LLC, No. C16-5643RBL, Dkt. # 1 (filing a complaint on July 20, 2016, which alleges that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated” and appears to suffer the same legal and factual deficiencies as this case); Elder v. Pinnacle Capital Mortg. Corp., et al., No. C16-5355RBL, Dkt. ## 1, 1-1 (filing a complaint on May 13, 2016, which is nearly identical to the complaint in this case and seeks to rescind a loan pursuant to TILA without providing a date for that loan); Velasco, et al. v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., et al., No. C16-5022RBL, Dkt. # 30 (dismissing a claim for enforcement of TILA rescission filed more than six years after the date of the rescission notice on res judicata grounds); Maxfield v. Indymac Mortg. Servs., et al., No. C16-0564RSM, Dkt. # 3 (filing a complaint on April 19, 2016, which is nearly identical to the complaint in this case and seeks to rescind a loan pursuant to TILA without providing a date for that loan); Jenkins, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 16-0452TSZ, Dkt. # 1 (filing a complaint on March 31, 2016, which is nearly identical to the complaint in this case and seeks to rescind a loan pursuant to TILA without providing a date for that loan); Burton, et al. v. Bank of Am., et al., No. C15-5769RBL, Dkt. # 20 at 5 (citing Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 792) (“The Supreme Court’s Jesinoskidecision— quoted by the Burtons—reiterates that while the three year limitation period may not apply to the commencement of an action, it absolutely applies to the time frame for sending a rescission notice. . . . The Burtons’ loan was consummated in 2005. Their conditional right to rescind expired in 2008—seven years before they sent the notice upon which this action relies. . . .”);Johnson v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, et al., No. C15-1685JLR, Dkt. # 22 at 8-9 (dismissing the case and rejecting the arguments that TILA “rescission is effective upon mailing, regardless of when mailing occurs” and that “the court cannot presume consummation until after discovery is conducted on the matter”); Stennes-Cox v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC, et al., No. C15-1682TSZ, Dkt. # 15 at 3-5 (rejecting the plaintiff’s arguments based on Jesinoski and Paatalo and dismissing with prejudice her claim seeking to rescind a loan eight years after consummation); Nieuwejaar, et al. v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, et al., No. C15-1663JLR, Dkt. ## 22 at 6-7 (“Plaintiffs also attempt to address the timeliness issue by raising the possibility that the loan was never consummated. . . . Plaintiffs’ complaint contains no allegations regarding the failure to establish a contractual obligation. . . . Thus, Plaintiffs have not pleaded facts that allow the court to reasonably infer that Plaintiffs’ notice of rescission was effective. . . .” (internal citations omitted)), 28 at 7 (“Moreover, despite the court’s guidance that Plaintiffs must allege facts about the loan transaction before the court can infer a problem with consummation . . ., Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint does not contain a single factual allegation to suggest the subject loan was never consummated. . . . Thus, Plaintiffs again fail to allege facts from which the court can infer that their May 2015 notice of rescission was timely.” (internal citations omitted)).

[2] In Nieuwejaar, the plaintiffs—also represented by Ms. Smith—”attempt[ed] to address the timeliness issue by raising the possibility that the loan was never consummated.” Nieuwejaar, Dkt. # 22 at 6. However, the plaintiffs’ original complaint “contain[ed] no allegations regarding the failure to establish a contractual obligation,” and the court accordingly dismissed that complaint with leave to amend. Id. at 7-8. The plaintiffs’ amended complaint added the same conclusory allegation that Ms. Johnson alleges in this case—that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated.” Id., Dkt. # 24 ¶ 12. In dismissing the amended complaint with prejudice, the court unequivocally indicated to the plaintiffs that this allegation is insufficient:

[L]ike their original complaint, Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint makes no factual allegations about consummation of the subject loan. . . . Plaintiffs’ only allegation about consummation is that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated.” . . . That statement is a legal conclusion, which is not entitled to a presumption of truth. . . . At this stage, the court considers the factual allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs. . . . However, as the court explained in its previous order of dismissal, Plaintiffs must actually allege facts that, if true, would support their claims. . . . The court still cannot infer a problem with consummation because Plaintiffs still have not pleaded any facts to support such an inference.

Id., Dkt. # 28 at 7 (internal citations omitted).

These events occurred before Ms. Smith filed the instant case on behalf of Ms. Johnson. (SeeCompl.) Ms. Smith’s troubling inability or unwillingness to heed the court’s prior ruling further demonstrates that Ms. Smith is engaged in progressively more frivolous efforts at pleading around TILA’s period of repose despite lacking a factual basis for her allegations.

[3] This court has previously rejected this argument by Ms. Smith. See Johnson v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, No. C15-1685JLR, 2016 WL 1408115, at *4 n.9 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 6, 2006) (“Ms. Johnson’s only challenge to consummation suggests that `if the loan was never actually funded, but was part of a hedge fund investing scheme . . . then the loan was never consummated, for example.’ This hypothetical fails to support a plausible inference that the subject loan was not consummated because Ms. Johnson does not connect her hypothetical situation with specific allegations about the subject loan.” (alteration in original) (internal citations omitted)).

[4] “In a table-funded loan, the originator closes the loan in its own name, but is acting as an intermediary for the true lender, which assumes the financial risk of the transaction.” Easter v. Am. W. Fin., 381 F.3d 948, 955 (9th Cir. 2004).

[5] Ms. Smith’s argument regarding consummation is also inconsistent with her theory of the case. If the subject loan was never consummated, Ms. Johnson need not bring “an enforcement action of the rescission notice.” (OSC Resp. at 1.)

[6] In previous cases before the court, Ms. Smith has advanced a different—but equally frivolous—legal theory in support of her clients’ untimely TILA rescission actions. In Nieuwejaar, Dkt. # 14 at 4-6, for instance, Ms. Smith argued that Jesinoski vitiates the three-year statute of repose imposed by TILA. According to this theory, irrespective of the timeliness or legal effect of an obligor’s notice of rescission, sending such notice triggers a 20-day period in which the lender must respond; otherwise the loan is deemed rescinded. Id. Ms. Smith supported that argument by taking out of context the Supreme Court’s statement that the right to rescind under TILA is effective upon providing notice to the creditor. Id. at 4 (“Justice Scalia made a point of repeating that the rescission was effective by operation of law on the date that it was mailed and pointed out that the statute makes no distinction between disputed and undisputed rescissions — they are all effective when mailed.”). However, as Judge Zilly made clear in sanctioning Ms. Smith, “because plaintiff’s attempt at rescission was void ab initio, there was no obligation for defendants to file a suit challenging the attempted rescission.” Johnson v. Nationstar Mortg., Dkt. # 35 at 4; see also Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 791 (“The Truth in Lending Act gives borrowers the right to rescind certain loans for up to three years after the transaction is consummated. The question presented is whether a borrower exercises this right by providing written notice to his lender, or whether he must also file a lawsuit before the 3-year period elapses.”).

When confronted with Jesinoski at the hearing, Ms. Smith fell back on the factually unsupported and legally frivolous consummation argument described above. The consummation argument represents only the most recent permutation of Ms. Smith’s futile efforts to maintain frivolous, untimely TILA rescission claims in federal court.

[7] The court liberally considers granting amendment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). However, after affording Ms. Smith numerous opportunities to persuade the court otherwise, the court concludes that Ms. Johnson’s case is based on frivolous legal theories. Accordingly, the court finds that amendment would be futile. See Greenspan v. Admin. Office of the U.S. Courts, No. 14cv2396 JTM, 2014 WL 6847460, at *11 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 4, 2014) (citing Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir. 1991)) (“While leave to amend is to be freely given under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 15(a), the court denies the motion [to amend] because . . . amendment is futile under the legal theories asserted in the proposed [amended complaint].”).

In addition, the court considered requiring Ms. Smith to file a copy of this order with each new TILA-based complaint she files in this District. (See OSC at 9.) However, because that sanction could prejudice Ms. Smith’s present and future clients, the court declines to impose that sanction at this time.

 

Fla Court Destroys Garfield Arguments in Maslanka

Maslanka could owe over $100K in his adversaries’ legal fees because his lawyer (Neil Garfield) propounded lunatic arguments in a lawsuit against a mortgage lender and creditor. If Maslanka gets a mortgage examination, he might have the evidence to prove that Garfield committed legal malpractice. Garfield is a total embarrassment to the legal profession; and obviously anyone associated with his madness, or uses any of it, is a big a clown as he is. See this article and comments at https://livingliesthetruth.com/2016/05/16/fla-court-destroys-garfield-arguments-in-maslanka/

Fla Court Destroys Garfield Arguments in Maslanka

Zdzislaw Maslanka wrote paid in full on a mortgage payment check, and then sued for quiet title in 2011. He kept his loan payments current, though. He named as defendants his home loan creditor, Wells Fargo, and the loan originator Embrace, who had sold WF the loan soon after closing.  Maslanka didn’t fare well in the litigation, so he hired Neil Garfield to soup up and manage the case, and to show those bumpkins how a real pro handles things.

Garfield half photo
NG

Garfield hosed his client as you will read in the case documents, specifically, the court’s dismissal order to the 3rd amended complaint, the 5th amended complaint, the motions to dismiss it, the order to dismiss it, and the appellate docket. The complaints read like jibberish-filled lunacy.

In short, the creditors’ attorneys rightly called the effort an abuse of the judicial process.  The trial judge dismissed the complaints for failure to state a claim for which the court could grant relief.  In a 12 May 2016 decision, the appellate panel affirmed without comment, and it awarded unconditional attorney fees to the creditors.  Maslanka worries that he will have to pay it.  Maybe he should sue Garfield for it.

See the main case documents zipped here for easy download.  If you prefer more torture, access the rest of the trial docs here.

BozoIn fairness, maybe I’m too harsh on Neil Garfield.  Maybe he did his best for Maslanka, or maybe Maslanka forced him to lodge those inane arguments that I have complained against for years. And maybe Garfield has reformed since he wrote that 5th amended complaint.

But if Garfield did that on his own, he deserves severe discipline by the Florida Bar, in my humble opinion, for he just made Maslanka look like a fool. And that makes Garfield a Bozo in my book.

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam

USDC Opinion DESTROYS Neil Garfield Legal Theories

The Tennessee western USDC denounced most if not all of the arguments Garfield made in his recent ridiculous postings on LivingLies blog.

Jones v. SELECT PORTFOLIO SERVICING, INC.

Dist. Court, WD Tennessee 2016 – Google Scholar


https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2270799973752803209&scilh=0

Here see just a few of Garfield’s idiotic postings:

Regarding this one, Garfield obviously does not realize that a borrower no longer has an interest in a foreclosed property, and there has no legal entitlement to TILA-rescind the loan that the court has discharged through a foreclosure judgment and sale of the property.

Okay, let me give it to you this way.  I recently ran across a desperate mortgage victim whom Neil Garfield had gouged for $2500 for this absolutely useless tom-foolery memorandum.  Garfield speculates about numerous legal theories which the court shot down in the above cited Jones v Select Portfolio Servicing opinion.  You can find more case opinions destroying the bogus legal theories for which he bilks his desperate clients.

If you get bored to death, go to the bottom for SALVATION. Meanwhile, note that I have replaced potentially sensitive information with Blah or Blah Blah in order to protect the identity of Garfield’s victim.

—————–Start of Garfield Cure for Insomni… z-z-z–z-z —————

This is a review and report and not a definitive statement of opinion on the entire case strategy. Since the property is located in Florida and Mr. Garfield is licensed in Florida, he is qualified to give both expert opinions and legal opinions.

MEMORANDUM

 TO:                  File
FROM:
DATE:             whenever 201
RE:                  Blah Blah and his Wife
Phone No.:  Blah
Email Address:            Blah

JUDGMENT ENTERED years ago,
SALE DATE CANCELED MULTIPLE TIMES
RESCISSION SUGGESTED
FEDERAL ACTION TO ENJOIN USE OF NOTE AND MORTGAGE SUGGESTED

  1. The address of the property in question is BlaB Street, Blahville, Florida,  in Blah County.
  2. The property is in foreclosure. As of last year Mr. BlahBlah reports that he hired an attorney, started modification and is not current on payments.
  3. He has requested a review and commentary in connection with his property and his loan.
  4. He has already filed a petition for relief in bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 and apparently converted to Chapter 13. Motion to lift stay was filed and presumably granted. The name of his attorney in the State Court action, Case No. yeah sure, wherever County.
  5. Mr. BlahBlah reports that in years ago they were 3 months behind in their payments. Acting through a HUD counselor there was apparently an agreement that was reached in September Years ago where they would catch up on the three payments. According to Mr. BlahBlah Wells Fargo broke the agreement, refused to discuss the matter any further and Mr. BlahBlah and his wife apparently were served with a summons and compliant that years ago. If they have correspondence proving the existence of the deal, then this would be a point to raise in defense as a possible violation of either estoppel1 or dual tracking, which was not passed until after the agreement.
    1. If the agreement can be proven (they will most likely deny it), then even without the Dodd-Frank prohibition against dual tracking, the homeowners reasonably relied upon the existence of the agreement and made payments that were accepted. Wells Fargo has a history of accepting payments under oral modifications and then abandoning the agreement without accounting for the payments — which often makes the default letter wrong as to the missing payments.
  6. Disclosures as to the true funding of the origination of the loan, the acquisition of the debt (as opposed to the acquisition of the paper) and the true party in interest who could be plaintiff are all absent, which is the same thing that I have seen as an expert witness and as an attorney many times with Wells Fargo. Many entities, like World Savings and Wachovia boasted they were funding their own loans. This was nearly never true. The loan papers may have been originated back in years ago but the disclosure of the money trail has never been made.
  7. Mr. BlahBlah answered the summons and complaint without the help of legal counsel and served interrogatories on the plaintiff that he says were never answered.
  8. He has apparently been through several attorneys that were merely kicking the can down the road to buy more time without making mortgage payments but of course having Mr. BlahBlah make monthly payments to the attorney.
  9. According to the registration statement submitted by Mr. BlahBlah the original loan was with World Savings Mortgage which merged into Wachovia and then Wells Fargo. I think what he meant was World Savings Bank which was acquired by Wachovia Bank which in turn was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank. The case was filed as Wells Fargo Bank as plaintiff. From prior experience we know that this is probably a ruse intended to cover up the fact that they don’t know who the creditor is and they are hoping that a judge will simply take their word for it.
  10. Mr. BlahBlah has provided a docket from the Clerk of the Circuit Court which indicates that the property has been set for sale several times. This would indicate in turn that a final judgment of foreclosure was entered. However I do not see on the docket the description of an order granting summary judgment or a final judgment of foreclosure entered in favor of Wells Fargo. I presume that such a judgment exists or the sale would never have been scheduled.
  11. As of December 30, 2015 Wells Fargo is showing a balance due of $93,979.25, with an unpaid principle balance of $200,338.10, an escrow balance of $31,855.05, carrying an interest rate of 6.5 percent with a maturity date in July 2049.
  12. Based upon my knowledge of the parties involved, and specifically in this case Loan No. whatever2, I believe that the loan is in fact claimed by a trust which in fact does not own it. The loan was in my opinion most likely never funded by World Savings Bank, Wachovia or Wells Fargo. It is my opinion that none of those entities paid for either the origination or the acquisition of the loan and that any documents to the contrary are fabricated and most likely forged. The system at Wells Fargo if this case actually goes to trial at some point will show that probably Fanny Mae or Freddie Mac was the “investor” from the start. However, since the government sponsored entities generally function in only two areas3, it seems unlikely, to say the least, that the investor would be correctly identified in the Wells Fargo system that they would use at trial unless they have changed their method of fabricating business records.
    1. Client advises that the loan number changed recently. The reasons for this change should be investigated.
    2. The statutory authority of the GSE’s (Fannie and Freddie) allow for them to operate as guarantors and/or Master Trustees of REMIC Trusts who were intended to own the debt, note and mortgage. The “hidden” REMIC Trusts operate the same as private label and publicly registered REMIC Trusts. And they suffer from the same defects — the money from investors never made it into any account owned by the Trust or the Trustee, which means that the Trust could not possibly have paid for loans. The Trust would be an inactive trust devoid of any business, operations, assets, liabilities, income or expenses.
  13. For reasons that I will discuss below, it is my opinion that the homeowners in this case  should send a notice of rescission and we will discuss whether that notice should be recorded. In addition there should be consideration of a federal lawsuit seeking to enforce the rescission and seeking an injunction to prevent Wells Fargo from using the note and mortgage against the BlahBlahs. I would further add that in my opinion from my review of the documents that were provided by the client there is a strong likelihood of success using standard foreclosure defense strategies.
  14. In the court file is a notice of action which states that Blah BlahBlah and Blaha BlahBlah both stated as avoiding service at the address of Blah Blah Street, Blahville, Florida, . This indicates to me that the service in years ago was a “drive by” service in which no real effort was made to find or serve Mr. or Mrs. BlahBlah.
  15. This in turn leads me to believe that this was typical foreclosure mill actions and that Wells Fargo still has not fulfilled its obligation to review the business records to determine the ownership or balance of the loan. Or to put it differently, they probably did know about the problems with ownership and balance of the loan and wanted the foreclosure sale anyway. Based upon my preliminary review it would appear that Wells Fargo Bank made payments to the certificate holders of a trust under a category known mainly in the industry as “servicer advances.”
  16. Based upon their statement I would say that their servicer advances totaled more than $90,000.00. The longer the case goes the higher is the value of their claim to recover their “servicer advances.” However, those advances, while made, came from a comingled account consisting entirely of investor money. Therefore there is no actual action for recovery of the servicer advances.
  17. The case was apparently filed in years ago. Or if the case was not filed at that time then additional paperwork was added to the file at that point. Since the case number refers to the year years ago I am presuming that they filed a skeleton case in order to have the case filed before the end of the year.
  18. The complaint is interesting in that, as usual, Wells Fargo does not allege that it is the owner of the debt. It alleges that it is the owner and holder of the note and mortgage. And of course it alleges that a default exists but it does not state the party to whom the money is owed nor the statement of ultimate facts upon which the court could arrive at the conclusion that the actual creditor has suffered a default or loss as a result of the payments being stopped.
  19. The alleged loan, which in my opinion was never funded by World Savings Bank, was a reverse amortization (pick a payment) loan. This loan was probably sold in one form or another 20 or 30 times. The capital from the sale of the loans probably funded many other loans.
  20. There is a request filed in years ago for the original promissory note, and the contact information for the current holder of the note, which was never answered. This might have some relevancy to a claim contesting jurisdiction of the court.
  21. While the docket that was sent to me by Mr. BlahBlah did not appear to contain the final judgment for the plaintiff, the documents that he sent and which were uploaded contain a final judgment for plaintiff. The final judgment apparently was a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff on years-ago at 1:30 p.m.
  22. As expected, the documents in the possession of Mr. BlahBlah contain a mortgage servicing transfer disclosure. Hence we have evidence of the transfer of servicing rights but not transfer of ownership of the debt.4 In my opinion this corroborates my conclusion that the loan was subject to claims of securitization starting at a time before consummation could have ever occurred. In my opinion the loan was table funded, which means that the actual source of funds for the loan was another party to whom the documents would be “assigned” immediately after, or even before the apparent “closing.”
    1. This is especially relevant to the issue of whether the alleged loan is subject to claims (probably false claims) of securitization. Each of the alleged entities in the “Chain” had robust servicing capacities. The transfers of servicing duties makes no sense and explains nothing except that the usual pattern of musical chairs was being employed to confuse the issues surrounding “holder”  of the note etc. The presumptions that are ordinarily used for a holder of a note should not be allowed,in my opinion, because of the history of flagrant violations by Wells Fargo and its predecessors. Producing evidence of a pattern of conduct of fabrication, forgery, robo-signing etc should enable the attorney to argue that the presumptions should not apply, thus requiring Wells Fargo to prove the money trial and ownership of the debt, which they will never do.
  23. In my opinion the mortgage document was improper in that it failed to disclose a hidden balloon payment. By having negative amortization or reverse amortization, the balance that is owed as principal continues to increase. Under the terms of the mortgage when it reaches 115 percent of the original loan principal, the loan automatically reverts to standard amortization which is what caused so many people, including the BlahBlahs, to default. Borrowers were seduced into taking these highly complex loan products under the supposition that they would later be able to refinance again, taking “equity” out of the home and providing them with the resources to make the payments. The effect of these loans is to cause a balloon payment at the end of a short period of time. Thus the balloon was not disclosed and the term of the loan was not disclosed because the full amortization of the loan was beyond the financial capacity of the “borrower.”
  24. In my opinion the assertion by Wells Fargo that it is the investor, the creditor, the lender, or the successor lender is and always has been false. It appears that no sale of the property has taken place and that none is scheduled based upon information I received from Mr. BlahBlah recently in a telephone consultation. Even though a judgment has been entered, it is my opinion that the rights and obligations of the parties are still defined by the alleged note and the alleged mortgage. Hence the sending of a notice of rescission and the recording of a notice of interest in real property under Florida Statute 712.05 would be appropriate as a strategy. I also think that an action filed in federal court to enjoin Wells Fargo from the use of the note and mortgage would be appropriate. The basis for the action would be, after notice of rescission had been sent, and presumably after the 20 days from receipt of the notice of rescission had expired, the loan contract was cancelled, the note and mortgage became void as of the date of mailing of the notice of rescission.
  25. There is also another strategy of alleging a fraud upon the court, but I don’t think that would get much traction.
  26. What I think can get some traction is a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for having presented the false evidence to the court. The difference is that you are not accusing the court of wrongdoing, you are accusing Wells Fargo of wrongdoing and taking advantages. I believe that considering the history that the BlahBlahs report in their narrative that substantial compensatory damages might be awarded, but that punitive damages do not appear to be likely at this time. That is not to say that punitive damages will not be awarded. As time goes on, more and more courts are becoming aware of the fact that the type of foreclosure system has been a sham. Each time another judgment for settlement is reached it becomes apparent that the banks are continuing to engage in the same behavior and simply paying fines for it as a cost of doing business.
  27. As Mr. BlahBlah knows, I do not accept many engagements to directly represent homeowners in these actions. I think that in this case I would be willing to accept the engagement, along with co-counsel, Patrick Giunta. I would have to review this file with him to confirm, but the likelihood is that the initial retainer would be in excess of $5,000.00 and that the monthly payment of our fee would be at least $2,000.00. There would also be court costs and other expenses amounting to over $1,000.00.
  28. Another option is to seek out another attorney who is willing to take on the case and use my services as litigation support. The hourly rate I charge for all matters, whether as attorney or expert witness is $650.00. The hourly rate of most other attorneys is significantly below that. The actual amount of work required from me if I am in the position of litigation support would be vastly reduced and thus the expense of having me work on the BlahBlah file would be significantly reduced, enabling the BlahBlahs to hire counsel who is receptive to me providing litigation support.
  29. In all engagements, in which I am the attorney, or providing litigation support, there is also a contingency fee that varies from 20 percent to 35 percent of any amount paid in hand to the homeowner. Specifically this means that if the case is settled or resolved in a manner in which title to the property becomes unencumbered, the contingency fee would not apply to the house itself, but only to other damages that were paid in connection with the settlement or collection of a judgment.

————— End of Garfield Blather ————–

Enough of Garfield’s nonsense – HERE is your Salvation

Go to the Mortgage Attack site and READ it.  There you will find salvation for mortgage woes – absolutely the only reliably workable technology for putting money back in the pocket of borrowers with crooked mortgages.

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam

Cal. Supremes Opine Yvanova May Sue on Void Assignment

Cal. Supremes Opine Yvanova May Sue on Void Assignment

http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/mainCaseScreen.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=2078551&doc_no=S218973

The Myth Mongers will come out in force saying this opinion means assignment snafus can void an otherwise perfectly just non-judicial foreclosure.

Yvanova photo
Tsvetana Yvanova

In fact, it says that Yvanova may sue to undo a non-judicial foreclosure on the basis that the foreclosing party did not own beneficial interest in the note because of a flawed assignment of the note.

The court specifically denied suggesting the borrower may preemptively sue to prevent the foreclosure because of a questionable assignment.

Other courts in California have repeatedly held that the borrower has no standing to sue regarding the wrongful assignment of the note or a breach of the pooling and servicing agreement because the borrower did not suffer an injury from it, does not receive benefits from it, and never became a party to it.

The opinion cited numerous other opinions, including Glaski, showing that a VOID assignment deprives an alleged creditor of the “standing” (right) to order a foreclosure in a non-judicial foreclosure situation.   The court made the point that a borrower needs such a protection in a non-judicial foreclosure.  Otherwise, anybody could order a foreclosure and force a sale of the property for borrowers NOT in default.

This means the trial court might award damages to Yvanova for the wrongful foreclosure. It does appear that a non-existent entity made a void assignment to Deutschebank NTC as trustee for a Morgan Stanley securitization trust after the bankruptcy and asset transfer for New Century Mortgage Corporation.

Yvanova’s case will now go back to trial where she might decide to renew her effort to undo the foreclosure because of a faulty assignment, and to get the court to award her damages.  The court might deny her as other courts have others who challenged an allegedly faulty assignment.  But she will most likely collect damages for the wrongful foreclosure and loss of her house.

What’s the bottom line issue here?

Plain and simple – the assignment has NOTHING to do with whether the borrower owes the debt and must ultimately forfeit the property to foreclosure sale for breaching the note.

This is such a HARD CORE OBLIGATION that numerous states allow the non–judicial foreclosure process to become the equivalent of repossessing a car on which the borrower fails to make timely payments.  The principle:  creditors should not have to bear the expense of slogging through lengthy litigation in order to force a recalcitrant borrower to give up the collateral for the loan in default.  Creditors do NOT owe borrowers a free house.

However, a VOID assignment makes proper foreclosure impossible, and a court should punish the trustee and creditor who execute a foreclosure, even for a borrower in default.

And in that case, the right creditor will straighten out ownership of the note (possibly by a blank indorsement), and order the foreclosure anew.  This time the borrower in default will lose the house for good.

Is there another issue of importance here?

Yes.  upwards of 95% of all home loan borrowers have suffered injuries in the form of appraisal fraud, mortgage fraud, legal errors, contract breaches, and/or regulatory law breaches.  To discover these, the borrower must hire a competent professional to conduct a comprehensive examination of all documents related to the loan transaction.  With an examination report in hand to prove the injuries, the borrower may negotiate a favorable settlement or sue for damages.  Only such an examination, and artfully presenting the causes of action revealed in the exam report, can provide a reliable way for the borrower to end up with cash in hand or other financial compensation for the injuries.

If you need or want such a mortgage examination, or want to discuss your case, fill in the contact form at http://mortgageattack.com

Filed 2/18/16

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

TSVETANA YVANOVA,                                 )

Plaintiff and Appellant,             )

)                                 S218973

  1. )

)                      Ct.App. 2/1 B247188

NEW CENTURY MORTGAGE                        )
CORPORATION et al.,                                      )

)                       Los Angeles County

Defendants and Respondents.  )                   Super. Ct. No. LC097218

__________________________________ )

The collapse in 2008 of the housing bubble and its accompanying system of home loan securitization led, among other consequences, to a great national wave of loan defaults and foreclosures.  One key legal issue arising out of the collapse was whether and how defaulting homeowners could challenge the validity of the chain of assignments involved in securitization of their loans.  We granted review in this case to decide one aspect of that question:  whether the borrower on a home loan secured by a deed of trust may base an action for wrongful foreclosure on allegations a purported assignment of the note and deed of trust to the foreclosing party bore defects rendering the assignment void.

The Court of Appeal held plaintiff Tsvetana Yvanova could not state a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure based on an allegedly void assignment because she lacked standing to assert defects in the assignment, to which she was not a party.  We conclude, to the contrary, that because in a nonjudicial foreclosure only the original beneficiary of a deed of trust or its assignee or agent may direct the trustee to sell the property, an allegation that the assignment was void, and not merely voidable at the behest of the parties to the assignment, will support an action for wrongful foreclosure.

Our ruling in this case is a narrow one.  We hold only that a borrower who has suffered a nonjudicial foreclosure does not lack standing to sue for wrongful foreclosure based on an allegedly void assignment merely because he or she was in default on the loan and was not a party to the challenged assignment. We do not hold or suggest that a borrower may attempt to preempt a threatened nonjudicial foreclosure by a suit questioning the foreclosing party’s right to proceed.  Nor do we hold or suggest that plaintiff in this case has alleged facts showing the assignment is void or that, to the extent she has, she will be able to prove those facts.  Nor, finally, in rejecting defendants’ arguments on standing do we address any of the substantive elements of the wrongful foreclosure tort or the factual showing necessary to meet those elements.

Factual and Procedural Background

This case comes to us on appeal from the trial court’s sustaining of a demurrer.  For purposes of reviewing a demurrer, we accept the truth of material facts properly pleaded in the operative complaint, but not contentions, deductions, or conclusions of fact or law.  We may also consider matters subject to judicial notice.  (Evans v. City of Berkeley (2006) 38 Cal.4th 1, 6.)[1]  To determine whether the trial court should, in sustaining the demurrer, have granted the plaintiff leave to amend, we consider whether on the pleaded and noticeable facts there is a reasonable possibility of an amendment that would cure the complaint’s legal defect or defects.  (Schifando v. City of Los Angeles (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1074, 1081.)

In 2006, plaintiff executed a deed of trust securing a note for $483,000 on a residential property in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles County.  The lender, and beneficiary of the trust deed, was defendant New Century Mortgage Corporation (New Century). New Century filed for bankruptcy on April 2, 2007, and on August 1, 2008, it was liquidated and its assets were transferred to a liquidation trust.

On December 19, 2011, according to the operative complaint, New Century (despite its earlier dissolution) executed a purported assignment of the deed of trust to Deutsche Bank National Trust, as trustee of an investment loan trust the complaint identifies as “Msac-2007 Trust‑He‑1 Pass Thru Certificates.”  We take notice of the recorded assignment, which is in the appellate record.  (See fn. 1, ante.)  As assignor the recorded document lists New Century; as assignee it lists Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (Deutsche Bank) “as trustee for the registered holder of Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I Inc. Trust 2007‑HE1 Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007‑HE1” (the Morgan Stanley investment trust).  The assignment states it was prepared by Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, which is also listed as the contact for both assignor and assignee and as the attorney in fact for New Century.  The assignment is dated December 19, 2011, and bears a notation that it was recorded December 30, 2011.

According to the complaint, the Morgan Stanley investment trust to which the deed of trust on plaintiff’s property was purportedly assigned on December 19, 2011, had a closing date (the date by which all loans and mortgages or trust deeds must be transferred to the investment pool) of January 27, 2007.

On August 20, 2012, according to the complaint, Western Progressive, LLC, recorded two documents:  one substituting itself

for Deutsche Bank as trustee, the other giving notice of a trustee’s sale.  We take notice of a substitution of trustee, dated February 28, 2012, and recorded August 20, 2012, replacing Deutsche Bank with Western Progressive, LLC, as trustee on the deed of trust, and of a notice of trustee’s sale dated August 16, 2012, and recorded August 20, 2012.

A recorded trustee’s deed upon sale dated December 24, 2012, states that plaintiff’s Woodland Hills property was sold at public auction on September 14, 2012.  The deed conveys the property from Western Progressive, LLC, as trustee, to the purchaser at auction, THR California LLC, a Delaware limited liability company.

Plaintiff’s second amended complaint, to which defendants demurred,  pleaded a single count for quiet title against numerous defendants including New Century, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Western Progressive, LLC, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital, Inc., and the Morgan Stanley investment trust.  Plaintiff alleged the December 19, 2011, assignment of the deed of trust from New Century to the Morgan Stanley investment trust was void for two reasons:  New Century’s assets had previously, in 2008, been transferred to a bankruptcy trustee; and the Morgan Stanley investment trust had closed to new loans in 2007.  (The demurrer, of course, does not admit the truth of this legal conclusion; we recite it here only to help explain how the substantive issues in this case were framed.)  The superior court sustained defendants’ demurrer without leave to amend, concluding on several grounds that plaintiff could not state a cause of action for quiet title.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment for defendants on their demurrer.  The pleaded cause of action for quiet title failed fatally, the court held, because plaintiff did not allege she had tendered payment of her debt.  The court went on to discuss the question, on which it had sought and received briefing, of whether plaintiff could, on the facts alleged, amend her complaint to plead a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure.

On the wrongful foreclosure question, the Court of Appeal concluded leave to amend was not warranted.  Relying on Jenkins v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 497 (Jenkins), the court held plaintiff’s allegations of improprieties in the assignment of her deed of trust to Deutsche Bank were of no avail because, as an unrelated third party to that assignment, she was unaffected by such deficiencies and had no standing to enforce the terms of the agreements allegedly violated.  The court acknowledged that plaintiff’s authority, Glaski v. Bank of America, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th 1079 (Glaski), conflicted with Jenkins on the standing issue, but the court agreed with the reasoning of Jenkins and declined to follow Glaski.

We granted plaintiff’s petition for review, limiting the issue to be briefed and argued to the following:  “In an action for wrongful foreclosure on a deed of trust securing a home loan, does the borrower have standing to challenge an assignment of the note and deed of trust on the basis of defects allegedly rendering the assignment void?”

Discussion

I.  Deeds of Trust and Nonjudicial Foreclosure

A deed of trust to real property acting as security for a loan typically has three parties:  the trustor (borrower), the beneficiary (lender), and the trustee.  “The trustee holds a power of sale.  If the debtor defaults on the loan, the beneficiary may demand that the trustee conduct a nonjudicial foreclosure sale.”  (Biancalana v. T.D. Service Co. (2013) 56 Cal.4th 807, 813.)  The nonjudicial foreclosure system is designed to provide the lender-beneficiary with an inexpensive and efficient remedy against a defaulting borrower, while protecting the borrower from wrongful loss of the property and ensuring that a properly conducted sale is final between the parties and conclusive as to a bona fide purchaser.  (Moeller v. Lien (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 822, 830.)

The trustee starts the nonjudicial foreclosure process by recording a notice of default and election to sell.  (Civ. Code, § 2924, subd. (a)(1).)[2]  After a three‑month waiting period, and at least 20 days before the scheduled sale, the trustee may publish, post, and record a notice of sale.  (§§ 2924, subd. (a)(2), 2924f, subd. (b).)  If the sale is not postponed and the borrower does not exercise his or her rights of reinstatement or redemption, the property is sold at auction to the highest bidder.  (§ 2924g, subd. (a); Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at p. 509; Moeller v. Lien, supra, 25 Cal.App.4th at pp. 830–831.)  Generally speaking, the foreclosure sale extinguishes the borrower’s debt; the lender may recover no deficiency.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 580d; Dreyfuss v. Union Bank of California (2000) 24 Cal.4th 400, 411.)

The trustee of a deed of trust is not a true trustee with fiduciary obligations, but acts merely as an agent for the borrower-trustor and lender-beneficiary.  (Biancalana v. T.D. Service Co., supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 819; Vournas v. Fidelity Nat. Tit. Ins. Co. (1999) 73 Cal.App.4th 668, 677.)  While it is the trustee who formally initiates the nonjudicial foreclosure, by recording first a notice of default and then a notice of sale, the trustee may take these steps only at the direction of the person or entity that currently holds the note and the beneficial interest under the deed of trust—the original beneficiary or its assignee—or that entity’s agent.  (§ 2924, subd. (a)(1) [notice of default may be filed for record only by “[t]he trustee, mortgagee, or beneficiary”]; Kachlon v. Markowitz (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 316, 334 [when borrower defaults on the debt, “the beneficiary may declare a default and make a demand on the trustee to commence foreclosure”]; Santens v. Los Angeles Finance Co. (1949) 91 Cal.App.2d 197, 202 [only a person entitled to enforce the note can foreclose on the deed of trust].)

Defendants emphasize, correctly, that a borrower can generally raise no objection to assignment of the note and deed of trust.  A promissory note is a negotiable instrument the lender may sell without notice to the borrower.  (Creative Ventures, LLC v. Jim Ward & Associates (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1430, 1445–1446.)  The deed of trust, moreover, is inseparable from the note it secures, and follows it even without a separate assignment.  (§ 2936; Cockerell v. Title Ins. & Trust Co. (1954) 42 Cal.2d 284, 291; U.S. v. Thornburg (9th Cir. 1996) 82 F.3d 886, 892.)  In accordance with this general law, the note and deed of trust in this case provided for their possible assignment.

A deed of trust may thus be assigned one or multiple times over the life of the loan it secures.  But if the borrower defaults on the loan, only the current beneficiary may direct the trustee to undertake the nonjudicial foreclosure process.  “[O]nly the ‘true owner’ or ‘beneficial holder’ of a Deed of Trust can bring to completion a nonjudicial foreclosure under California law.”  (Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A. (N.D.Cal. 2012) 885 F.Supp.2d 964, 972; see Herrera v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1366, 1378 [bank and reconveyance company failed to establish they were current beneficiary and trustee, respectively, and therefore failed to show they “had authority to conduct the foreclosure sale”]; cf. U.S. Bank Nat. Assn. v. Ibanez (Mass. 2011) 941 N.E.2d 40, 51 [under Mass. law, only the original mortgagee or its assignee may conduct nonjudicial foreclosure sale].)

In itself, the principle that only the entity currently entitled to enforce a debt may foreclose on the mortgage or deed of trust securing that debt is not, or at least should not be, controversial.  It is a “straightforward application[] of well-established commercial and real-property law:  a party cannot foreclose on a mortgage unless it is the mortgagee (or its agent).”  (Levitin, The Paper Chase: Securitization, Foreclosure, and the Uncertainty of Mortgage Title (2013) 63 Duke L.J. 637, 640.)  Describing the copious litigation arising out of the recent foreclosure crisis, a pair of commentators explained:  “While plenty of uncertainty existed, one concept clearly emerged from litigation during the 2008‑2012 period:  in order to foreclose a mortgage by judicial action, one had to have the right to enforce the debt that the mortgage secured.  It is hard to imagine how this notion could be controversial.”  (Whitman & Milner, Foreclosing on Nothing: The Curious Problem of the Deed of Trust Foreclosure Without Entitlement to Enforce the Note (2013) 66 Ark. L.Rev. 21, 23, fn. omitted.)

More subject to dispute is the question presented here:  under what circumstances, if any, may the borrower challenge a nonjudicial foreclosure on the ground that the foreclosing party is not a valid assignee of the original lender?  Put another way, does the borrower have standing to challenge the validity of an assignment to which he or she was not a party?[3]  We proceed to that issue.

II.  Borrower Standing to Challenge an Assignment as Void

A beneficiary or trustee under a deed of trust who conducts an illegal, fraudulent or willfully oppressive sale of property may be liable to the borrower for wrongful foreclosure.  (Chavez v. Indymac Mortgage Services (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 1052, 1062; Munger v. Moore (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 1, 7.)[4]  A foreclosure initiated by one with no authority to do so is wrongful for purposes of such an action.  (Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A., supra, 885 F.Supp.2d at pp. 973–974; Ohlendorf v. American Home Mortgage Servicing (E.D.Cal. 2010) 279 F.R.D. 575, 582–583.)  As explained in part I, ante, only the original beneficiary, its assignee or an agent of one of these has the authority to instruct the trustee to initiate and complete a nonjudicial foreclosure sale.  The question is whether and when a wrongful foreclosure plaintiff may challenge the authority of one who claims it by assignment.

In Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th 1079, 1094–1095, the court held a borrower may base a wrongful foreclosure claim on allegations that the foreclosing party acted without authority because the assignment by which it purportedly became beneficiary under the deed of trust was not merely voidable but void.  Before discussing Glaski’s holdings and rationale, we review the distinction between void and voidable transactions.

A void contract is without legal effect.  (Rest.2d Contracts, § 7, com. a.)  “It binds no one and is a mere nullity.”  (Little v. CFS Service Corp. (1987) 188 Cal.App.3d 1354, 1362.)  “Such a contract has no existence whatever.  It has no legal entity for any purpose and neither action nor inaction of a party to it can validate it . . . .”  (Colby v. Title Ins. and Trust Co. (1911) 160 Cal. 632, 644.)  As we said of a fraudulent real property transfer in First Nat. Bank of L. A. v. Maxwell (1899) 123 Cal. 360, 371, “ ‘A void thing is as no thing.’ ”

A voidable transaction, in contrast, “is one where one or more parties have the power, by a manifestation of election to do so, to avoid the legal relations created by the contract, or by ratification of the contract to extinguish the power of avoidance.”  (Rest.2d Contracts, § 7.)  It may be declared void but is not void in itself.  (Little v. CFS Service Corp., supra, 188 Cal.App.3d at p. 1358.)  Despite its defects, a voidable transaction, unlike a void one, is subject to ratification by the parties.  (Rest.2d Contracts, § 7; Aronoff v. Albanese (N.Y.App.Div. 1982) 446 N.Y.S.2d 368, 370.)

In Glaski, the foreclosing entity purportedly acted for the current beneficiary, the trustee of a securitized mortgage investment trust.[5]  The plaintiff, seeking relief from the allegedly wrongful foreclosure, claimed his note and deed of trust had never been validly assigned to the securitized trust because the purported assignments were made after the trust’s closing date.  (Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1082–1087.)

The Glaski court began its analysis of wrongful foreclosure by agreeing with a federal district court that such a cause of action could be made out “ ‘where a party alleged not to be the true beneficiary instructs the trustee to file a Notice of Default and initiate nonjudicial foreclosure.’ ”  (Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th at p. 1094, quoting Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A., supra, 885 F.Supp.2d at p. 973.)  But the wrongful foreclosure plaintiff, Glaski cautioned, must do more than assert a lack of authority to foreclose; the plaintiff must allege facts “show[ing] the defendant who invoked the power of sale was not the true beneficiary.”  (Glaski, at p. 1094.)

Acknowledging that a borrower’s assertion that an assignment of the note and deed of trust is invalid raises the question of the borrower’s standing to challenge an assignment to which the borrower is not a party, the Glaski court cited several federal court decisions for the proposition that a borrower has standing to challenge such an assignment as void, though not as voidable.  (Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1094–1095.)  Two of these decisions, Culhane v. Aurora Loan Services of Nebraska (1st Cir. 2013) 708 F.3d 282 (Culhane) and Reinagel v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. (5th Cir. 2013) 735 F.3d 220 (Reinagel),[6] discussed standing at some length; we will examine them in detail in a moment.

Glaski adopted from the federal decisions and a California treatise the view that “a borrower can challenge an assignment of his or her note and deed of trust if the defect asserted would void the assignment” not merely render it voidable.  (Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th at p. 1095.)  Cases holding that a borrower may never challenge an assignment because the borrower was neither a party to nor a third party beneficiary of the assignment agreement “ ‘paint with too broad a brush’ ” by failing to distinguish between void and voidable agreements.  (Ibid., quoting Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 290.)

The Glaski court went on to resolve the question of whether the plaintiff had pled a defect in the chain of assignments leading to the foreclosing party that would, if true, render one of the necessary assignments void rather than voidable.  (Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th at p. 1095.)  On this point, Glaski held allegations that the plaintiff’s note and deed of trust were purportedly transferred into the trust after the trust’s closing date were sufficient to plead a void assignment and hence to establish standing.  (Glaski, at pp. 1096–1098.)  This last holding of Glaski is not before us.  On granting plaintiff’s petition for review, we limited the scope of our review to whether “the borrower [has] standing to challenge an assignment of the note and deed of trust on the basis of defects allegedly rendering the assignment void.”  We did not include in our order the question of whether a postclosing date transfer into a New York securitized trust is void or merely voidable, and though the parties’ briefs address it, we express no opinion on the question here.

Returning to the question that is before us, we consider in more detail the authority Glaski relied on for its standing holding.  In Culhane, a Massachusetts home loan borrower sought relief from her nonjudicial foreclosure on the ground that the assignment by which Aurora Loan Services of Nebraska (Aurora) claimed authority to foreclose—a transfer of the mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS),[7] to Aurora—was void because MERS never properly held the mortgage.  (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at pp. 286–288, 291.)

Before addressing the merits of the plaintiff’s allegations, the Culhane court considered Aurora’s contention the plaintiff lacked standing to challenge the assignment of her mortgage from MERS to Aurora.  On this question, the court first concluded the plaintiff had a sufficient personal stake in the outcome, having shown a concrete and personalized injury resulting from the challenged assignment:  “The action challenged here relates to Aurora’s right to foreclose by virtue of the assignment from MERS.  The identified harm—the foreclosure—can be traced directly to Aurora’s exercise of the authority purportedly delegated by the assignment.”  (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at pp. 289–290.)

Culhane next considered whether the prudential principle that a litigant should not be permitted to assert the rights and interest of another dictates that borrowers lack standing to challenge mortgage assignments as to which they are neither parties nor third party beneficiaries.  (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 290.)  Two aspects of Massachusetts law on nonjudicial foreclosure persuaded the court such a broad rule is unwarranted.  First, only the mortgagee (that is, the original lender or its assignee) may exercise the power of sale,[8] and the borrower is entitled to relief from foreclosure by an unauthorized party.  (Culhane, at p. 290.)  Second, in a nonjudicial foreclosure the borrower has no direct opportunity to challenge the foreclosing entity’s authority in court.  Without standing to sue for relief from a wrongful foreclosure, “a Massachusetts mortgagor would be deprived of a means to assert her legal protections . . . .”  (Ibid.)  These considerations led the Culhane court to conclude “a mortgagor has standing to challenge the assignment of a mortgage on her home to the extent that such a challenge is necessary to contest a foreclosing entity’s status qua mortgagee.”  (Id. at p. 291.)

The court immediately cautioned that its holding was limited to allegations of a void transfer.  If, for example, the assignor had no interest to assign or had no authority to make the particular assignment, “a challenge of this sort would be sufficient to refute an assignee’s status qua mortgagee.”  (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 291.)  But where the alleged defect in an assignment would “render it merely voidable at the election of one party but otherwise effective to pass legal title,” the borrower has no standing to challenge the assignment on that basis.  (Ibid.)[9]

In Reinagel, upon which the Glaski court also relied, the federal court held that under Texas law borrowers defending against a judicial foreclosure have standing to “ ‘challenge the chain of assignments by which a party claims a right to foreclose.’ ”  (Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d at p. 224.)  Though Texas law does not allow a nonparty to a contract to enforce the contract unless he or she is an intended third-party beneficiary, the borrowers in this situation “are not attempting to enforce the terms of the instruments of assignment; to the contrary, they urge that the assignments are void ab initio.”  (Id. at p. 225.)

Like Culhane, Reinagel distinguished between defects that render a transaction void and those that merely make it voidable at a party’s behest.  “Though ‘the law is settled’ in Texas that an obligor cannot defend against an assignee’s efforts to enforce the obligation on a ground that merely renders the assignment voidable at the election of the assignor, Texas courts follow the majority rule that the obligor may defend ‘on any ground which renders the assignment void.’ ”  (Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d at p. 225.)  The contrary rule would allow an institution to foreclose on a borrower’s property “though it is not a valid party to the deed of trust or promissory note . . . .”  (Ibid.)[10]

Jenkins, on which the Court of Appeal below relied, was decided close in time to Glaski (neither decision discusses the other) but reaches the opposite conclusion on standing.  In Jenkins, the plaintiff sued to prevent a foreclosure sale that had not yet occurred, alleging the purported beneficiary who sought the sale held no security interest because a purported transfer of the loan into a securitized trust was made in violation of the pooling and servicing agreement that governed the investment trust.  (Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at pp. 504–505.)

The appellate court held a demurrer to the plaintiff’s cause of action for declaratory relief was properly sustained for two reasons.  First, Jenkins held California law did not permit a “preemptive judicial action[] to challenge the right, power, and authority of a foreclosing ‘beneficiary’ or beneficiary’s ‘agent’ to initiate and pursue foreclosure.”  (Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at p. 511.)  Relying primarily on Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 1149, Jenkins reasoned that such preemptive suits are inconsistent with California’s comprehensive statutory scheme for nonjudicial foreclosure; allowing such a lawsuit “ ‘would fundamentally undermine the nonjudicial nature of the process and introduce the possibility of lawsuits filed solely for the purpose of delaying valid foreclosures.’ ”  (Jenkins, at p. 513, quoting Gomes at p. 1155.)

This aspect of Jenkins, disallowing the use of a lawsuit to preempt a nonjudicial foreclosure, is not within the scope of our review, which is limited to a borrower’s standing to challenge an assignment in an action seeking remedies for wrongful foreclosure.  As framed by the proceedings below, the concrete question in the present case is whether plaintiff should be permitted to amend her complaint to seek redress, in a wrongful foreclosure count, for the trustee’s sale that has already taken place.  We do not address the distinct question of whether, or under what circumstances, a borrower may bring an action for injunctive or declaratory relief to prevent a foreclosure sale from going forward.

Second, as an alternative ground, Jenkins held a demurrer to the declaratory relief claim was proper because the plaintiff had failed to allege an actual controversy as required by Code of Civil Procedure section 1060.  (Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at p. 513.)  The plaintiff did not dispute that her loan could be assigned or that she had defaulted on it and remained in arrears.  (Id. at p. 514.)  Even if one of the assignments of the note and deed of trust was improper in some respect, the appellate court reasoned, “Jenkins is not the victim of such invalid transfer[] because her obligations under the note remained unchanged.  Instead, the true victim may be an individual or entity that believes it has a present beneficial interest in the promissory note and may suffer the unauthorized loss of its interest in the note.”  (Id. at p. 515.)  In particular, the plaintiff could not complain about violations of the securitized trust’s transfer rules:  “As an unrelated third party to the alleged securitization, and any other subsequent transfers of the beneficial interest under the promissory note, Jenkins lacks standing to enforce any agreements, including the investment trust’s pooling and servicing agreement, relating to such transactions.”  (Ibid.)

For its conclusion on standing, Jenkins cited In re Correia (Bankr. 1st Cir. 2011) 452 B.R. 319.  The borrowers in that case challenged a foreclosure on the ground that the assignment of their mortgage into a securitized trust had not been made in accordance with the trust’s pooling and servicing agreement (PSA).  (Id. at pp. 321–322.)  The appellate court held the borrowers “lacked standing to challenge the mortgage’s chain of title under the PSA.”  (Id. at p. 324.)  Being neither parties nor third party beneficiaries of the pooling agreement, they could not complain of a failure to abide by its terms.  (Ibid.)

Jenkins also cited Herrera v. Federal National Mortgage Assn. (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 1495, which primarily addressed the merits of a foreclosure challenge, concluding the borrowers had adduced no facts on which they could allege an assignment from MERS to another beneficiary was invalid.  (Id. at pp. 1502–1506.)  In reaching the merits, the court did not explicitly discuss the plaintiffs’ standing to challenge the assignment.  In a passage cited in Jenkins, however, the court observed that the plaintiffs, in order to state a wrongful foreclosure claim, needed to show prejudice, and they could not do so because the challenged assignment did not change their obligations under the note.  (Herrera, at pp. 1507–1508.)  Even if MERS lacked the authority to assign the deed of trust, “the true victims were not plaintiffs but the lender.”  (Id. at p. 1508.)

On the narrow question before us—whether a wrongful foreclosure plaintiff may challenge an assignment to the foreclosing entity as void—we conclude Glaski provides a more logical answer than Jenkins.  As explained in part I, ante, only the entity holding the beneficial interest under the deed of trust—the original lender, its assignee, or an agent of one of these—may instruct the trustee to commence and complete a nonjudicial foreclosure.  (§ 2924, subd. (a)(1); Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A., supra, 885 F.Supp.2d at p. 972.)  If a purported assignment necessary to the chain by which the foreclosing entity claims that power is absolutely void, meaning of no legal force or effect whatsoever (Colby v. Title Ins. and Trust Co., supra, 160 Cal. at p. 644; Rest.2d Contracts, § 7, com. a), the foreclosing entity has acted without legal authority by pursuing a trustee’s sale, and such an unauthorized sale constitutes a wrongful foreclosure.  (Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A., at pp. 973–974.)

Like the Massachusetts borrowers considered in Culhane, whose mortgages contained a power of sale allowing for nonjudicial foreclosure, California borrowers whose loans are secured by a deed of trust with a power of sale may suffer foreclosure without judicial process and thus “would be deprived of a means to assert [their] legal protections” if not permitted to challenge the foreclosing entity’s authority through an action for wrongful foreclosure.  (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 290.)  A borrower therefore “has standing to challenge the assignment of a mortgage on her home to the extent that such a challenge is necessary to contest a foreclosing entity’s status qua mortgagee” (id. at p. 291)—that is, as the current holder of the beneficial interest under the deed of trust.  (Accord, Wilson v. HSBC Mortgage Servs., Inc. (1st Cir. 2014) 744 F.3d 1, 9 [“A homeowner in Massachusetts—even when not a party to or third party beneficiary of a mortgage assignment—has standing to challenge that assignment as void because success on the merits would prove the purported assignee is not, in fact, the mortgagee and therefore lacks any right to foreclose on the mortgage.”].)[11]

Jenkins and other courts denying standing have done so partly out of concern with allowing a borrower to enforce terms of a transfer agreement to which the borrower was not a party.  In general, California law does not give a party personal standing to assert rights or interests belonging solely to others.[12]  (See Code Civ. Proc., § 367 [action must be brought by or on behalf of the real party in interest]; Jasmine Networks, Inc. v. Superior Court (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 980, 992.)  When an assignment is merely voidable, the power to ratify or avoid the transaction lies solely with the parties to the assignment; the transaction is not void unless and until one of the parties takes steps to make it so.  A borrower who challenges a foreclosure on the ground that an assignment to the foreclosing party bore defects rendering it voidable could thus be said to assert an interest belonging solely to the parties to the assignment rather than to herself.

When the plaintiff alleges a void assignment, however, the Jenkins court’s concern with enforcement of a third party’s interests is misplaced.  Borrowers who challenge the foreclosing party’s authority on the grounds of a void assignment “are not attempting to enforce the terms of the instruments of assignment; to the contrary, they urge that the assignments are void ab initio.”  (Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d at p. 225; accord, Mruk v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. (R.I. 2013) 82 A.3d 527, 536 [borrowers challenging an assignment as void “are not attempting to assert the rights of one of the contracting parties; instead, the homeowners are asserting their own rights not to have their homes unlawfully foreclosed upon”].)

Unlike a voidable transaction, a void one cannot be ratified or validated by the parties to it even if they so desire.  (Colby v. Title Ins. and Trust Co., supra, 160 Cal. at p. 644; Aronoff v. Albanese, supra, 446 N.Y.S.2d at p. 370.)  Parties to a securitization or other transfer agreement may well wish to ratify the transfer agreement despite any defects, but no ratification is possible if the assignment is void ab initio.  In seeking a finding that an assignment agreement was void, therefore, a plaintiff in Yvanova’s position is not asserting the interests of parties to the assignment; she is asserting her own interest in limiting foreclosure on her property to those with legal authority to order a foreclosure sale.  This, then, is not a situation in which standing to sue is lacking because its “sole object . . . is to settle rights of third persons who are not parties.”  (Golden Gate Bridge etc. Dist. v. Felt (1931) 214 Cal. 308, 316.)

Defendants argue a borrower who is in default on his or her loan suffers no prejudice from foreclosure by an unauthorized party, since the actual holder of the beneficial interest on the deed of trust could equally well have foreclosed on the property.  As the Jenkins court put it, when an invalid transfer of a note and deed of trust leads to foreclosure by an unauthorized party, the “victim” is not the borrower, whose obligations under the note are unaffected by the transfer, but “an individual or entity that believes it has a present beneficial interest in the promissory note and may suffer the unauthorized loss of its interest in the note.”  (Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at p. 515; see also Siliga v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 75, 85 [borrowers had no standing to challenge assignment by MERS where they do not dispute they are in default and “there is no reason to believe . . . the original lender would have refrained from foreclosure in these circumstances”]; Fontenot v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at p. 272 [wrongful foreclosure plaintiff could not show prejudice from allegedly invalid assignment by MERS as the assignment “merely substituted one creditor for another, without changing her obligations under the note”].)

In deciding the limited question on review, we are concerned only with prejudice in the sense of an injury sufficiently concrete and personal to provide standing, not with prejudice as a possible element of the wrongful foreclosure tort.  (See fn. 4, ante.)  As it relates to standing, we disagree with defendants’ analysis of prejudice from an illegal foreclosure.  A foreclosed-upon borrower clearly meets the general standard for standing to sue by showing an invasion of his or her legally protected interests (Angelucci v. Century Supper Club (2007) 41 Cal.4th 160, 175)—the borrower has lost ownership to the home in an allegedly illegal trustee’s sale.  (See Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 289 [foreclosed-upon borrower has sufficient personal stake in action against foreclosing entity to meet federal standing requirement].)  Moreover, the bank or other entity that ordered the foreclosure would not have done so absent the allegedly void assignment.  Thus “[t]he identified harm—the foreclosure—can be traced directly to [the foreclosing entity’s] exercise of the authority purportedly delegated by the assignment.”  (Culhane, at p. 290.)

Nor is it correct that the borrower has no cognizable interest in the identity of the party enforcing his or her debt.  Though the borrower is not entitled to object to an assignment of the promissory note, he or she is obligated to pay the debt, or suffer loss of the security, only to a person or entity that has actually been assigned the debt.  (See Cockerell v. Title Ins. & Trust Co., supra, 42 Cal.2d at p. 292 [party claiming under an assignment must prove fact of assignment].)  The borrower owes money not to the world at large but to a particular person or institution, and only the person or institution entitled to payment may enforce the debt by foreclosing on the security.

It is no mere “procedural nicety,” from a contractual point of view, to insist that only those with authority to foreclose on a borrower be permitted to do so.  (Levitin, The Paper Chase: Securitization, Foreclosure, and the Uncertainty of Mortgage Title, supra, 63 Duke L.J. at p. 650.)  “Such a view fundamentally misunderstands the mortgage contract.  The mortgage contract is not simply an agreement that the home may be sold upon a default on the loan.  Instead, it is an agreement that if the homeowner defaults on the loan, the mortgagee may sell the property pursuant to the requisite legal procedure.”  (Ibid., italics added and omitted.)

The logic of defendants’ no-prejudice argument implies that anyone, even a stranger to the debt, could declare a default and order a trustee’s sale—and the borrower would be left with no recourse because, after all, he or she owed the debt to someone, though not to the foreclosing entity.  This would be an “odd result” indeed.  (Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d at p. 225.)  As a district court observed in rejecting the no-prejudice argument, “[b]anks are neither private attorneys general nor bounty hunters, armed with a roving commission to seek out defaulting homeowners and take away their homes in satisfaction of some other bank’s deed of trust.”  (Miller v. Homecomings Financial, LLC (S.D.Tex. 2012) 881 F.Supp.2d 825, 832.)

Defendants note correctly that a plaintiff in Yvanova’s position, having suffered an allegedly unauthorized nonjudicial foreclosure of her home, need not now fear another creditor coming forward to collect the debt.  The home can only be foreclosed once, and the trustee’s sale extinguishes the debt.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 580d; Dreyfuss v. Union Bank of California, supra, 24 Cal.4th at p. 411.)  But as the Attorney General points out in her amicus curiae brief, a holding that anyone may foreclose on a defaulting home loan borrower would multiply the risk for homeowners that they might face a foreclosure at some point in the life of their loans.  The possibility that multiple parties could each foreclose at some time, that is, increases the borrower’s overall risk of foreclosure.

Defendants suggest that to establish prejudice the plaintiff must allege and prove that the true beneficiary under the deed of trust would have refrained from foreclosing on the plaintiff’s property.  Whatever merit this rule would have as to prejudice as an element of the wrongful foreclosure tort, it misstates the type of injury required for standing.  A homeowner who has been foreclosed on by one with no right to do so has suffered an injurious invasion of his or her legal rights at the foreclosing entity’s hands.  No more is required for standing to sue.  (Angelucci v. Century Supper Club, supra, 41 Cal.4th at p. 175.)

Neither Caulfield v. Sanders (1861) 17 Cal. 569 nor Seidell v. Tuxedo Land Co. (1932) 216 Cal. 165, upon which defendants rely, holds or implies a home loan borrower may not challenge a foreclosure by alleging a void assignment.  In the first of these cases, we held a debtor on a contract for printing and advertising could not defend against collection of the debt on the ground it had been assigned without proper consultation among the assigning partners and for nominal consideration:  “It is of no consequence to the defendant, as it in no respect affects his liability, whether the transfer was made at one time or another, or with or without consideration, or by one or by all the members of the firm.”  (Caulfield v. Sanders, at p. 572.)  In the second, we held landowners seeking to enjoin a foreclosure on a deed of trust to their land could not do so by challenging the validity of an assignment of the promissory note the deed of trust secured.  (Seidell v. Tuxedo Land Co., at pp. 166, 169–170.)  We explained that the assignment was made by an agent of the beneficiary, and that despite the landowner’s claim the agent lacked authority for the assignment, the beneficiary “is not now complaining.”  (Id. at p. 170.)  Neither decision discusses the distinction between allegedly void and merely voidable, and neither negates a borrower’s ability to challenge an assignment of his or her debt as void.

For these reasons, we conclude Glaski, supra, 218 Cal.App.4th 1079, was correct to hold a wrongful foreclosure plaintiff has standing to claim the foreclosing entity’s purported authority to order a trustee’s sale was based on a void assignment of the note and deed of trust.  Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th 497, spoke too broadly in holding a borrower lacks standing to challenge an assignment of the note and deed of trust to which the borrower was neither a party nor a third party beneficiary.  Jenkins’s rule may hold as to claimed defects that would make the assignment merely voidable, but not as to alleged defects rendering the assignment absolutely void.[13]

In embracing Glaski’s rule that borrowers have standing to challenge assignments as void, but not as voidable, we join several courts around the nation.  (Wilson v. HSBC Mortgage Servs., Inc., supra, 744 F.3d at p. 9; Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d at pp. 224–225; Woods v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (1st Cir. 2013) 733 F.3d 349, 354; Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at pp. 289–291; Miller v. Homecomings Financial, LLC, supra, 881 F.Supp.2d at pp. 831–832; Bank of America Nat. Assn. v. Bassman FBT, LLC, supra, 981 N.E.2d at pp. 7–8; Pike v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. (N.H. 2015) 121 A.3d 279, 281; Mruk v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., supra, 82 A.3d at pp. 534–536; Dernier v. Mortgage Network, Inc. (Vt. 2013) 87 A.3d 465, 473.)  Indeed, as commentators on the issue have stated:  “[C]ourts generally permit challenges to assignments if such challenges would prove that the assignments were void as opposed to voidable.”  (Zacks & Zacks, Not a Party:  Challenging Mortgage Assignments (2014) 59 St. Louis U. L.J. 175, 180.)

That several federal courts applying California law have, largely in unreported decisions, agreed with Jenkins and declined to follow Glaski does not alter our conclusion.  Neither Khan v. Recontrust Co. (N.D.Cal. 2015) 81 F.Supp.3d 867 nor Flores v. EMC Mort. Co. (E.D.Cal. 2014) 997 F.Supp.2d 1088 adds much to the discussion.  In Khan, the district court found the borrower, as a nonparty to the pooling and servicing agreement, lacked standing to challenge a foreclosure on the basis of an unspecified flaw in the loan’s securitization; the court’s opinion does not discuss the distinction between a void assignment and a merely voidable one.  (Khan v. Recontrust Co., supra, 81 F.Supp.3d at pp. 872–873.)  In Flores, the district court, considering a wrongful foreclosure complaint that lacked sufficient clarity in its allegations including identification of the assignment or assignments challenged, the district court quoted and followed Jenkins’s reasoning on the borrower’s lack of standing to enforce an agreement to which he or she is not a party, without addressing the application of this reasoning to allegedly void assignments.  (Flores v. EMC Mort. Co., supra, at pp. 1103–1105.)

Similarly, the unreported federal decisions applying California law largely fail to grapple with Glaski’s distinction between void and voidable assignments and tend merely to repeat Jenkins’s arguments that a borrower, as a nonparty to an assignment, may not enforce its terms and cannot show prejudice when in default on the loan, arguments we have found insufficient with regard to allegations of void assignments.  While unreported federal court decisions may be cited in California as persuasive authority (Kan v. Guild Mortgage Co. (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 736, 744, fn. 3), in this instance they lack persuasive value.

Defendants cite the decision in Rajamin v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. (2nd Cir. 2014) 757 F.3d 79 (Rajamin), as a “rebuke” of GlaskiRajamin’s expressed disagreement with Glaski, however, was on the question whether, under New York law, an assignment to a securitized trust made after the trust’s closing date is void or merely voidable.  (Rajamin, at p. 90.)  As explained earlier, that question is outside the scope of our review and we express no opinion as to Glaski’s correctness on the point.

The Rajamin court did, in an earlier discussion, state generally that borrowers lack standing to challenge an assignment as violative of the securitized trust’s pooling and servicing agreement (Rajamin, supra, 757 F.3d at pp. 85–86), but the court in that portion of its analysis did not distinguish between void and voidable assignments.  In a later portion of its analysis, the court “assum[ed] that ‘standing exists for challenges that contend that the assigning party never possessed legal title,’ ” a defect the plaintiffs claimed made the assignments void (id. at p. 90), but concluded the plaintiffs had not properly alleged facts to support their voidness theory (id. at pp. 90–91).

Nor do Kan v. Guild Mortgage Co., supra, 230 Cal.App.4th 736, and Siliga v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., supra, 219 Cal.App.4th 75 (Siliga), which defendants also cite, persuade us Glaski erred in finding borrower standing to challenge an assignment as void.  The Kan court distinguished Glaski as involving a postsale wrongful foreclosure claim, as opposed to the preemptive suits involved in Jenkins and Kan itself.  (Kan, at pp. 743–744.)  On standing, the Kan court noted the federal criticism of Glaski and our grant of review in the present case, but found “no reason to wade into the issue of whether Glaski was correctly decided, because the opinion has no direct applicability to this preforeclosure action.”  (Kan, at p. 745.)

Siliga, similarly, followed Jenkins in disapproving a preemptive lawsuit. (Siliga, supra, 219 Cal.App.4th at p. 82.)  Without discussing Glaski, the Siliga court also held the borrower plaintiffs failed to show any prejudice from, and therefore lacked standing to challenge, the assignment of their deed of trust to the foreclosing entity.  (Siliga, at p. 85.)  As already explained, this prejudice analysis misses the mark in the wrongful foreclosure context.  When a property has been sold at a trustee’s sale at the direction of an entity with no legal authority to do so, the borrower has suffered a cognizable injury.

In further support of a borrower’s standing to challenge the foreclosing party’s authority, plaintiff points to provisions of the recent legislation known as the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, enacted in 2012 and effective only after the trustee’s sale in this case.  (See Leuras v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 49, 86, fn. 14.)[14]  Having concluded without reference to this legislation that borrowers do have standing to challenge an assignment as void, we need not decide whether the new provisions provide additional support for that holding.

Plaintiff has alleged that her deed of trust was assigned to the Morgan Stanley investment trust in December 2011, several years after both the securitized trust’s closing date and New Century’s liquidation in bankruptcy, a defect plaintiff claims renders the assignment void.   Beyond their general claim a borrower has no standing to challenge an assignment of the deed of trust, defendants make several arguments against allowing plaintiff to plead a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure based on this allegedly void assignment.

Principally, defendants argue the December 2011 assignment of the deed of trust to Deutsche Bank, as trustee for the investment trust, was merely “confirmatory” of a 2007 assignment that had been executed in blank (i.e., without designation of assignee) when the loan was added to the trust’s investment pool.  The purpose of the 2011 recorded assignment, defendants assert, was merely to comply with a requirement in the trust’s pooling and servicing agreement that documents be recorded before foreclosures are initiated.  An amicus curiae supporting defendants’ position asserts that the general practice in home loan securitization is to initially execute assignments of loans and mortgages or deeds of trust to the trustee in blank and not to record them; the mortgage or deed of trust is subsequently endorsed by the trustee and recorded if and when state law requires.  (See Rajamin, supra, 757 F.3d at p. 91.)  This claim, which goes not to the legal issue of a borrower’s standing to sue for wrongful foreclosure based on a void assignment, but rather to the factual question of when the assignment in this case was actually made, is outside the limited scope of our review.  The same is true of defendants’ remaining factual claims, including that the text of the investment trust’s pooling and servicing agreement demonstrates plaintiff’s deed of trust was assigned to the trust before it closed.

Conclusion

We conclude a home loan borrower has standing to claim a nonjudicial foreclosure was wrongful because an assignment by which the foreclosing party purportedly took a beneficial interest in the deed of trust was not merely voidable but void, depriving the foreclosing party of any legitimate authority to order a trustee’s sale.  The Court of Appeal took the opposite view and, solely on that basis, concluded plaintiff could not amend her operative complaint to plead a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure.  We must therefore reverse the Court of Appeal’s judgment and allow that court to reconsider the question of an amendment to plead wrongful foreclosure.  We express no opinion on whether plaintiff has alleged facts showing a void assignment, or on any other issue relevant to her ability to state a claim for wrongful foreclosure.

 

 

Disposition

The judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed and the matter is remanded to that court for further proceedings consistent with our opinion.

                                                                        Werdegar, J.

 

We Concur:

 

Cantil-Sakauye, C. J.

Corrigan, J.

Liu, J.

Cuéllar, J.

Kruger, J.

Huffman, J.*


See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.

 

Name of Opinion Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corporation

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Unpublished Opinion

Original Appeal

Original Proceeding

Review Granted XXX 226 Cal.App.4th 495

Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Opinion No. S218973

Date Filed: February 18, 2016

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Court: Superior

County: Los Angeles

Judge: Russell S. Kussman

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Counsel:

 

Tsvetana Yvanova, in pro. per.; Law Offices of Richard L. Antognini and Richard L. Antognini for Plaintiff and Appellant.

 

Law Office of Mark F. Didak and Mark F. Didak as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

 

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Nicklas A. Akers, Assistant Attorney General, Michele Van Gelderen and Sanna R. Singer, Deputy Attorneys General, for Attorney General of California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

 

Lisa R. Jaskol; Kent Qian; and Hunter Landerholm for Public Counsel, National Housing Law Project and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

 

The Sturdevant Law Firm and James C. Sturdevant for National Association of Consumer Advocates and National Consumer Law Center as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

 

The Arkin Law Firm, Sharon J. Arkin; Arbogast Law and David M. Arbogast for Consumer Attorneys of California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

 

Houser & Allison, Eric D. Houser, Robert W. Norman, Jr., Patrick S. Ludeman; Bryan Cave, Kenneth Lee Marshall, Nafiz Cekirge, Andrea N. Winternitz and Sarah Samuelson for Defendants and Respondents.

 

Pfeifer & De La Mora and Michael R. Pfeifer for California Mortgage Bankers Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Respondents.

 

Denton US and Sonia Martin for Structured Finance Industry Group, Inc., as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Respondents.

 

Goodwin Proctor, Steven A. Ellis and Nicole S. Tate-Naghi for California Bankers Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Respondents.

 

Wright, Finlay & Zak and Jonathan D. Fink for American Legal & Financial Network and United Trustees Association as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Respondents.


 

 

 

 

Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):

 

Richard L. Antognini

Law Offices of Richard L. Antognini

2036 Nevada City Highway, Suite 636

Grass Valley, CA  95945-7700

(916) 295-4896

 

Kenneth Lee Marshall

Bryan Cave

560 Mission Street, Suite 2500

San Francisco, CA  94105

(415) 675-3400

 

[1]          The superior court granted defendants’ request for judicial notice of the recorded deed of trust, assignment of the deed of trust, substitution of trustee, notices of default and of trustee’s sale, and trustee’s deed upon sale.  The existence and facial contents of these recorded documents were properly noticed in the trial court under Evidence Code sections 452, subdivisions (c) and (h), and 453.  (See Fontenot v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 256, 264–266.)  Under Evidence Code section 459, subdivision (a), notice by this court is therefore mandatory.  We therefore take notice of their existence and contents, though not of disputed or disputable facts stated therein.  (See Glaski v. Bank of America (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 1079, 1102.)

[2]          All further unspecified statutory references are to the Civil Code.

[3]          Somewhat confusingly, both the purported assignee’s authority to foreclose and the borrower’s ability to challenge that authority have been framed as questions of “standing.”  (See, e.g., Levitin, The Paper Chase: Securitization, Foreclosure, and the Uncertainty of Mortgage Title, supra, 63 Duke L.J. at p. 644 [discussing purported assignee’s “standing to foreclose”]; Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at p. 515 [borrower lacks “standing to enforce [assignment] agreements” to which he or she is not a party]; Bank of America Nat. Assn. v. Bassman FBT, LLC (Ill.App. Ct. 2012) 981 N.E.2d 1, 7 [“Each party contends that the other lacks standing.”].)  We use the term here in the latter sense of a borrower’s legal authority to challenge the validity of an assignment.
[4]          It has been held that, at least when seeking to set aside the foreclosure sale, the plaintiff must also show prejudice and a tender of the amount of the secured indebtedness, or an excuse of tender.  (Chavez v. Indymac Mortgage Services, supra, 219 Cal.App.4th at p. 1062.)  Tender has been excused when, among other circumstances, the plaintiff alleges the foreclosure deed is facially void, as arguably is the case when the entity that initiated the sale lacked authority to do so.  (Ibid.; In re Cedano (Bankr. 9th Cir. 2012) 470 B.R. 522, 529–530; Lester v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank (N.D.Cal. 2013) 926 F.Supp.2d 1081, 1093; Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A., supra, 885 F.Supp.2d 964, 969–970.)  Our review being limited to the standing question, we express no opinion as to whether plaintiff Yvanova must allege tender to state a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure under the circumstances of this case.  Nor do we discuss potential remedies for a plaintiff in Yvanova’s circumstances; at oral argument, plaintiff’s counsel conceded she seeks only damages.  As to prejudice, we do not address it as an element of wrongful foreclosure.  We do, however, discuss whether plaintiff has suffered a cognizable injury for standing purposes.

[5]          The mortgage securitization process has been concisely described as follows:  “To raise funds for new mortgages, a mortgage lender sells pools of mortgages into trusts created to receive the stream of interest and principal payments from the mortgage borrowers.  The right to receive trust income is parceled into certificates and sold to investors, called certificateholders.  The trustee hires a mortgage servicer to administer the mortgages by enforcing the mortgage terms and administering the payments.  The terms of the securitization trusts as well as the rights, duties, and obligations of the trustee, seller, and servicer are set forth in a Pooling and Servicing Agreement (‘PSA’).”  (BlackRock Financial Mgmt. v. Ambac Assur. Corp. (2d Cir. 2012) 673 F.3d 169, 173.)

[6]          The version of Reinagel cited in Glaski, published at 722 F.3d 700, was amended on rehearing and superseded by Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d 220.

[7]          As the Culhane court explained, MERS was formed by a consortium of residential mortgage lenders and investors to streamline the transfer of mortgage loans and thereby facilitate their securitization.  A member lender may name MERS as mortgagee on a loan the member originates or owns; MERS acts solely as the lender’s “nominee,” having legal title but no beneficial interest in the loan.  When a loan is assigned to another MERS member, MERS can execute the transfer by amending its electronic database.  When the loan is assigned to a nonmember, MERS executes the assignment and ends its involvement.  (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 287.)

[8]          Massachusetts General Laws chapter 183, section 21, similarly to our Civil Code section 2924, provides that the power of sale in a mortgage may be exercised by “the mortgagee or his executors, administrators, successors or assigns.”

[9]          On the merits, the Culhane court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that MERS never properly held her mortgage, giving her standing to challenge the assignment from MERS to Aurora as void (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 291); the court held MERS’s role as the lender’s nominee allowed it to hold and assign the mortgage under Massachusetts law.  (Id. at pp. 291–293.)

[10]         The Reinagel court nonetheless rejected the plaintiffs’ claim of an invalid assignment after the closing date of a securitized trust, observing they could not enforce the terms of trust because they were not intended third-party beneficiaries.  The court’s holding appears, however, to rest at least in part on its conclusion that a violation of the closing date “would not render the assignments void” but merely allow them to be avoided at the behest of a party or third-party beneficiary.  (Reinagel, supra, 735 F.3d at p. 228.)  As discussed above in relation to Glaski, that question is not within the scope of our review.

[11]         We cite decisions on federal court standing only for their persuasive value in determining what California standing law should be, without any assumption that standing in the two systems is identical.  The California Constitution does not impose the same “ ‘case-or-controversy’ ” limit on state courts’ jurisdiction as article III of the United States Constitution does on federal courts.  (Grosset v. Wenaas (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1100, 1117, fn. 13.)

[12]         In speaking of personal standing to sue, we set aside such doctrines as taxpayer standing to seek injunctive relief (see Code Civ. Proc., § 526a) and “ ‘ “public right/public duty” ’ ” standing to seek a writ of mandate (see Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach (2011) 52 Cal.4th 155, 166).

[13]         We disapprove Jenkins v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., supra, 216 Cal.App.4th 497, Siliga v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., supra, 219 Cal.App.4th 75, Fontenot v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., supra, 198 Cal.App.4th 256, and Herrera v. Federal National Mortgage Assn., supra, 205 Cal.App.4th 1495, to the extent they held borrowers lack standing to challenge an assignment of the deed of trust as void.

[14]         Plaintiff cites newly added provisions that prohibit any entity from initiating a foreclosure process “unless it is the holder of the beneficial interest under the mortgage or deed of trust, the original trustee or the substituted trustee under the deed of trust, or the designated agent of the holder of the beneficial interest” (§ 2924, subd. (a)(6)); require the loan servicer to inform the borrower, before a notice of default is filed, of the borrower’s right to request copies of any assignments of the deed of trust “required to demonstrate the right of the mortgage servicer to foreclose” (§ 2923.55, subd. (b)(1)(B)(iii)); and require the servicer to ensure the documentation substantiates the right to foreclose (§ 2924.17, subd. (b)).  The legislative history indicates the addition of these provisions was prompted in part by reports that nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings were being initiated on behalf of companies with no authority to foreclose.  (See Sen. Rules Com., Conference Rep. on Sen. Bill No. 900 (2011–2012 Reg. Sess.) as amended June 27, 2012, p. 26.)

*          Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to article VI, section 6 of the California Constitution.

SCOTUS: Borrower Lacks Standing to Challenge PSA Violations

By Bob Hurt, 4 November 2015

Introduction

The 2 November 2015 US Supreme Court denial of certiorari in Tran v Bank of New York settled once-and-for-all the spurious assertion that borrowers can challenge putative violations of the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) creating a securitization trust. Borrowers, encouraged by Glaski v BOA, a California appellate win for the borrower, have claimed that because New York Law voids assignment of a note into a trust after its closing date in the PSA, the assignee has no authority to enforce the note in a foreclosure effort.

This argument boils down to nothing more than a borrower’s effort to use quirks in the law to get a “free house” by preventing foreclosure because the borrower did not make timely payments. Bottom line the courts will not allow a borrower to get a free house unless the lender team injured the borrower sufficiently to justify it.

Numerous California courts have deprecated the Glaski opinion, as have other courts across the land.   Now the US Supreme Court has flicked its chin at it, and in doing so has buried it for good.

The US 2nd Circuit supported the NY Southern District in its reliance upon the 2nd Circuit’s Rajamin v Deutsche Bank opinion that borrowers lack standing to challenge the PSA or any assignment of the note because they

  1. Never became a party to the PSA or assignment
  2. Did not get injured by the PSA violation or assignment, and
  3. Receive no 3rd party benefits from the PSA or assignment.

Now, the SCOTUS has put the KIBOSH forever on the frivolous argument that the borrower can cite irregularities in obeying the PSA and assigning the note as a basis for stymieing a foreclosure. I have presented full opinions of the relevant cases. READ THEM.

If you want to know how to prove the lender team injured the borrower, and how the borrower can use that proof to win millions in compensatory and punitive damages, visit http://MortgageAttack.com.

Court Opinion Links:

  1. Tran v. Bank of New York, Supreme Court of the United States 2 Nov 2015
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docketfiles/15-260.htm
  2. Tran v. Bank of New York, Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 2015
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13250751688791686592
  3. Tran v. Bank of New York, Dist. Court, SD New York 2014
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8421089202998856475
  4. RAJAMIN v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 2014
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13230459673637581146
  5. Glaski v. Bank of America, 218 Cal. App. 4th 1079 – Cal: Court of Appeal, 5th Appellate Dist. 2013
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8535344425094007526

 Download this article with the above opinions embedded.  Distribute broadly.

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Bob Hurt, Writer

Mayer-Brown Whines about Brown v Quicken Loans Punitive Damage Award

Whining about Puni DamagesIn this article the author, from a law firm that specializes in beating up state courts for what the author considers excessive punitive damages awards, ATTACKED the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for using procedural tricks to prevent the US Supreme Court from reviewing the award of $2.17 Million in punitive damages and $600K in attorney fees in the Brown v Quicken Loans case.  The author considered the award excessive and violative of Quicken’s due process rights.

West Virginia Supreme Court Of Appeals’ Refusal To Review Punitive Award For Excessiveness Under Due Process Clause Warrants Summary Reversal, Says Chamber Of Commerce In Mayer Brown-Authored Amicus Brief

Bob Hurt responds with the following comments:

West Virginia Trial Court and Supreme Court of Appeals handling of the Brown v Quicken Loans and Quicken Loans v Brown cases do indeed raise the hackles of lenders who have cheated the holy hell out of borrowers. I feel inclined to render the following opinion about the huge punitive damages award the trial court (without a jury) made to Brown.

The courts duly haggled over the award through three trials and two appeals, and Quicken lawyers still don’t feel satisfied. They want to cheat borrowers with relative impunity.

I believe the Supreme Court has the final say on the meaning of the Constitution’s clauses like “Due Process” but not to the extent of undermining juries and judges who must act to punish the wicked to the extent they deem necessary to teach the wicked a lesson, and even, if necessary, to run them out of business altogether. The US Supreme Court sits altogether too remote from the little people and their abusers in the American hinterland to make appropriate rulings on whether a punishment abused due process rights of the abuser. Punishments by their very nature always abuse the perpetrator, and the perpetrator’s rights, as they should.

So I fully support the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals effort to keep the US Supreme Court out of such cases, by whatever clever means they must.

Quicken Loans has probably abused THOUSANDS of borrowers as badly as or worse than it abused Lourie Jefferson (Brown) in Wheeling WV, starting with encouraging the appraiser to value her $46,000 house at $144,000. She settled out of court with the appraiser and his insurer, but that did not punish Quicken for its underwriting of that horrific appraisal. BOTH the appraiser and Quicken’s loan officers and executives overseeing them belong in Federal Prison for that crime of bank fraud. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of crookedness in this case.

Laurie Jefferson was sick and broke and could not afford an attorney when Quicken foreclosed on her. Luckily, Jim Bordas, who knew her family, took her case on contingency, for 40%. He fought rabidly on their joint behalf. And he won. Now Quicken wants the US Supreme Court to undermine that win by reducing the damage award. In my opinion, the damage award should have gone much higher.

To get the proper perspective on my opinion, read the court opinions detailing the tale of horror of how Quicken’s agents and employees cheated Lourie Jefferson in every way they could, apparently. I archived them together here along with my overview:

https://archive.org/details/BrownVQuickenLoansOverviewAndCaseFiles

I consider the Brown v Quicken case the POSTER CHILD for the methodology to which I refer as “Mortgage Attack.”  See the details of the method at http://mortgageattack.com.   The method contains these elements:

1.  Find the injuries and related evidence

2.  Hire a competent attorney

3.  Artfully ATTACK the injurious.

Most foreclosure “victims” took loans they should not have.  But they suffered some hardship that led to their breaching the note through non-payment.  That injured the creditor who hired a lawyer and attacked the borrower through foreclosure.  Typical foreclosure victims cannot afford competent counsel to find out how the lender team members (e.g., appraiser, broker, closer, lender) injured them and then attack the lender team members for those injuries.

In most loans, the injuries do not become immediately obvious as they did in the Brown case.  And because it costs so much time and effort and talent to examine the loan related documents to find those injuries, most foreclosure victims cannot afford the cost.  So they hire Pretense Defense attorneys to “keep them in the house as long as possible,” a scam in and of itself.

RARELY, therefore, can a plaintiff like Lourie Jefferson find competent counsel to help attack the lender team.  Most attorneys cannot and will not take a case like Brown’s on contingency.  As a consequence, most simply plod along to foreclosure and lose the house, enriching a foreclosure pretense defense attorney $15,000 to $30,000 in the process.

On behalf of all those tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of foreclosure victims who suffered monstrous cheating of the kind Quicken Loans perpetrated on Lourie Jefferson (Brown), the Trial Court in Wheeling WV delivered an effective blow in ensuring that Lourie and Monique Brown received a little over $4 million (if I calculated correctly) for their injuries, with 40% going to Bordas and Bordas law firm for the diligent work they did in bringing Quicken Loans to well-deserved justice.

So, let us keep that perspective while pondering just how much the US Supreme Court should have to say in the matter of punitive damages which should have numbered in the tens of millions of dollars in order really to punish Quicken Loans enough to keep them from cheating other hapless borrowers like the desperate, ill Lourie Jefferson.

The Vapor Money Theory

Courts across the land have trashed the Vapor Money Theory – the idea that the borrower’s note funded the loan, or there’s no real money and so the lender never actually gave money in the form of a loan.  I provide some court opinions, and a host of related citations.

http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20FDCO%2020100615B54/BARNES%20v.%20CITIGROUP%20INC.

MICHAEL J. BARNES, Plaintiff(s), v. CITIGROUP INC., et al., Defendant(s).

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division.
June 15, 2010.


In the typical vapor money claim, “Plaintiff alleges that the promissory note he executed is the equivalent of `money’ that he gave to the bank. He contends that [the lender] took his `money,’ i.e., the promissory note, deposited it into its own account without his permission, listed it as an `asset’ on its ledger entries, and then essentially lent his own money back to him….He further argues that because [the lender] was never at risk, and provided no consideration, the promissory note is void ab initio, and Defendants’ attempts to foreclose on the mortgage are therefore unlawful.” Demmler v. Bank One NA, No. 2:05-CV-322, 2006 WL 640499 at *3 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 9, 2006). While the vapor money theory has not been addressed by any court within the 8th Circuit, it and “similar arguments have been rejected by federal courts across the country.”McLehan v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Sys., No. 08-12565, 2009 WL 1542929 at *2 (E.D. Mich. June 2, 2009) (citations omitted). See, e.g., Thomas v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. 2:09-CV-00082-RWS, 2010 WL 1328644 (N.D. Ga. Mar. 29, 2010); Andrews v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., No. RDB-09-2437, 2010 WL 1176667 (D. Md. Mar. 24, 2010); Barber v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., No. 2:09-CV-40-GCM, 2010 WL 398915 (W.D.N.C. Jan. 25, 2010); Kuder v. Washington Mut. Bank, No. CIV S-08-3087 LKK DAD PS, 2009 WL 2868730 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 2, 2009); Rodriguez v. Summit Lending Solutions, Inc., No. 09cv773 BTM(NLS), 2009 WL 1936795 (S.D. Cal. July 7, 2009); Johnson v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., No. 09-21246-CIV, 2009 WL 2575703 (S.D. Fla. July 1, 2009); Gentsch v. Ownit Mortgage Solutions Inc. No. CV F 09-0649 LJO GSA, 2009 WL 1390843 (E.D. Cal. May 14, 2009). Thus, the vapor money theory is not a valid route to recovery, and Plaintiff’s claims based upon it must be dismissed.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mdd-1_10-cv-01130/pdf/USCOURTS-mdd-1_10-cv-01130-0.pdf

YVONNE MOSELY-SUTTON v.  KENNETH MACFADYEN, USDC Maryland, 17 June 2011


Plaintiff appears to make a vapor money claim by alleging that, “Lawful money no longer is available for payment of debt in our economic system.” Compl. at 7. Plaintiff seems to assert that the loan at issue is unenforceable because “no such required cash was tendered,” presumably at the closing of the loan. Compl. at 5, ¶ 14. To the extent Plaintiff asserts a vapor money claim, this Court has previously noted that this “theory has been consistently rejected by federal courts as frivolous and insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.” Andrews v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., 2010 WL 1176667, at *3 (D. Md. March 24, 2010). Accordingly, all claims based upon any variation of the vapor money theory must be dismissed.

Mutual Tender under Rescission

Rescission means making a contract null. It requires unwinding of the deal so as to restore the parties to “status quo ante,” or “pre-contract condition.”  The unwinding requires the creditor to remove any lien and both creditor and borrower to tender (offer or present for acceptance) payment back to each other of what they received from each other.  See the below definitions, court opinions, and law references.

Definitions

RESCIND.  To abrogate, annul, avoid, or cancel a contract; particularly, nullifying a contract by the act of a party.  See Powell v Lince Co., 29 Misc. Rep. 419, 60 N. Y. Supp 1044; Hurst v. Trow Printing Co., 2 Misc. Rep. 361, 22 N. Y. Supp. 371.

Black’s Law Dictionary
2nd Edition (1910)

rescind (ri-sind), vb. (17c) 1. To abrogate or cancel (a contract) unilaterally or by agreement. [Cases: Contracts C=c249.] 2. To make void; to repeal or annul <rescind the legislation>. 3. Parliamentary law. To void, repeal, or nullify a main motion adopted earlier.
Also termed annul; repeal. rescindable, adj. rescind and expunge. See EXPUNGE (2).

rescission (ri-sizh-an), n. (17c) 1. A party’s unilateral unmaking of a contract for a legally sufficient reason, such as the other party’s material breach, or a judgment rescinding the contract; VOIDAKCE.• Rescission is generally available as a remedy or defense for a nondefaulting party and is accompanied by restitution of any partial performance, thus restoring the parties to their precontractual positions. Also termed avoidance. [Cases: Contracts G=’249.] 2. An agreement by contracting parties to discharge all remaining duties of performance and terminate the contract. – Also spelled recision; recission. – Also termed (in sense 2) agreement of rescission; mutual rescission; abandonment.

Cf. REJECTION (2); REPUDIATION (2); REVOCATION (1). [Cases: Contracts G=252.] – rescissory (ri-sis-<lree or ri-siz-), adj.
“The [UCC] takes cognizance of the fact that the term ‘rescission’ is often used by lawyers, courts and businessmen in many different senses; for example, termination of a contract by virtue of an option to terminate in the agreement, cancellation for breach and avoidance on the grounds of infancy or fraud. In the interests of clarity of thought – as the consequences of each of these forms of discharge may vary the Commercial Code carefully distinguishes three circumstances. ‘Rescission’ is utilized as a term of art to refer to a mutual agreement to discharge contractual duties. ‘Termination’ refers to the discharge of duties by the exercise of a power granted by the agreement. ‘Cancellation’ refers to the putting an end to the contract by reason of a breach by the other party. Section 2-720, however, takes into account that the parties do not necessarily use these terms in this way.” John D. Calamari & Joseph M. Perillo, The Law of Contracts § 21-2. at 864-65 (3d ed. 1987).

equitable rescission. (1889) Rescission that is decreed by a court of equity. [Cases: Cancellation of Instruments (;::; 1.]

legal rescission. (1849) 1. Rescission that is effected by the agreement of the parties. [Cases: Contracts C=> 251.] 2. Rescission that is decreed by a court of law, as
opposed to a court of equity.
“The modern tendency is to treat rescission as equitable, but rescission was often available at law. If plaintiff had paid money, or had delivered goods. he could rescind by tendering whatever he had received from defendant and suing at law to recover his money or replevy his goods. But if he had delivered a promissory note or securities, or conveyed real estate, rescission required the court to cancel the instruments or compel defendant to reconvey. This relief was available only in equity. Many modern courts ignore the distinction …. But versions of the distinction are codified in some states:’ Douglas Laycock, Modern American Remedies 627-28 (3d ed. 2002).

Black’s Law Dictionary 9th Edition (2009)

Court Opinions

“There is no reason why a court that may alter the sequence of procedures after deciding that rescission is warranted, may not do so before deciding that rescission is warranted when it finds that, assuming grounds for rescission exist, rescission still could not be enforced because the borrower cannot comply with the borrower’s rescission obligations no matter what. Such a decision lies within the court’s equitable discretion, taking into consideration all the circumstances including the nature of the violations and the borrower’s ability to repay the proceeds. If … it is clear from the evidence that the borrower lacks capacity to pay back what she has received (less interest, finance charges, etc.), the court does not lack discretion to do before trial what it could do after. Determinations regarding rescission procedures shall be made on a “case-by-case basis, in light of the record adduced.”
Yamamoto v. Bank of New York, 329 F.3d 1167 (9th Cir. 2003)

Courts have equitable discretion to allow borrowers to tender via monthly payments.  In re Stuart, 367 B.R. 541, 552 (Bankr.E.D.Pa.2007); Shepeard v. Quality Sliding & Window Factory, Inc., 730 F.Supp. 1295 (D.Del.1990) (allowing borrower to satisfy tender obligation by making monthly payments); Mayfield v. Vanguard Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 710 F.Supp. 143, 149 (E.D.Pa.1989) (allowing borrower to satisfy tender obligation by making monthly payment).

Law

15 U.S.C. §1635. Right of rescission as to certain transactions

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title15/html/USCODE-2010-title15-chap41-subchapI-partB-sec1635.htm

(a) Disclosure of obligor’s right to rescind

Except as otherwise provided in this section, in the case of any consumer credit transaction (including opening or increasing the credit limit for an open end credit plan) in which a security interest, including any such interest arising by operation of law, is or will be retained or acquired in any property which is used as the principal dwelling of the person to whom credit is extended, the obligor shall have the right to rescind the transaction until midnight of the third business day following the consummation of the transaction or the delivery of the information and rescission forms required under this section together with a statement containing the material disclosures required under this subchapter, whichever is later, by notifying the creditor, in accordance with regulations of the Board, of his intention to do so. The creditor shall clearly and conspicuously disclose, in accordance with regulations of the Board, to any obligor in a transaction subject to this section the rights of the obligor under this section. The creditor shall also provide, in accordance with regulations of the Board, appropriate forms for the obligor to exercise his right to rescind any transaction subject to this section.

(b) Return of money or property following rescission

When an obligor exercises his right to rescind under subsection (a) of this section, he is not liable for any finance or other charge, and any security interest given by the obligor, including any such interest arising by operation of law, becomes void upon such a rescission. Within 20 days after receipt of a notice of rescission, the creditor shall return to the boligor any money or property given as earnest money, downpayment, or otherwise, and shall take any action necessary or appropriate to reflect the termination of any security interest created under the transaction. If the creditor has delivered any property to the obligor, the obligor may retain possession of it. Upon the performance of the creditor’s obligations under this section, the obligor shall tender the property to the creditor, except that if return of the property in kind would be impracticable or inequitable, the obligor shall tender its reasonable value. Tender shall be made at the location of the property or at the residence of the obligor, at the option of the obligor. If the creditor does not take possession of the property within 20 days after tender by the obligor, ownership of the property vests in the obligor without obligation on his part to pay for it. The procedures prescribed by this subsection shall apply except when otherwise ordered by a court.

(c) Rebuttable presumption of delivery of required disclosures

Notwithstanding any rule of evidence, written acknowledgment of receipt of any disclosures required under this subchapter by a person to whom information, forms, and a statement is required to be given pursuant to this section does no more than create a rebuttable presumption of delivery thereof.

(d) Modification and waiver of rights

The Board may, if it finds that such action is necessary in order to permit homeowners to meet bona fide personal financial emergencies, prescribe regulations authorizing the modification or waiver of any rights created under this section to the extent and under the circumstances set forth in those regulations.

(e) Exempted transactions; reapplication of provisions

This section does not apply to—

(1) a residential mortgage transaction as defined in section 1602(w) of this title;

(2) a transaction which constitutes a refinancing or consolidation (with no new advances) of the principal balance then due and any accrued and unpaid finance charges of an existing extension of credit by the same creditor secured by an interest in the same property;

(3) a transaction in which an agency of a State is the creditor; or

(4) advances under a preexisting open end credit plan if a security interest has already been retained or acquired and such advances are in accordance with a previously established credit limit for such plan.

(f) Time limit for exercise of right

An obligor’s right of rescission shall expire three years after the date of consummation of the transaction or upon the sale of the property, whichever occurs first, notwithstanding the fact that the information and forms required under this section or any other disclosures required under this part have not been delivered to the obligor, except that if (1) any agency empowered to enforce the provisions of this subchapter institutes a proceeding to enforce the provisions of this section within three years after the date of consummation of the transaction, (2) such agency finds a violation of this section, and (3) the obligor’s right to rescind is based in whole or in part on any matter involved in such proceeding, then the obligor’s right of rescission shall expire three years after the date of consummation of the transaction or upon the earlier sale of the property, or upon the expiration of one year following the conclusion of the proceeding, or any judicial review or period for judicial review thereof, whichever is later.

(g) Additional relief

In any action in which it is determined that a creditor has violated this section, in addition to rescission the court may award relief under section 1640 of this title for violations of this subchapter not relating to the right to rescind.

(h) Limitation on rescission

An obligor shall have no rescission rights arising solely from the form of written notice used by the creditor to inform the obligor of the rights of the obligor under this section, if the creditor provided the obligor the appropriate form of written notice published and adopted by the Board, or a comparable written notice of the rights of the obligor, that was properly completed by the creditor, and otherwise complied with all other requirements of this section regarding notice.

(i) Rescission rights in foreclosure

(1) In general

Notwithstanding section 1649 of this title, and subject to the time period provided in subsection (f) of this section, in addition to any other right of rescission available under this section for a transaction, after the initiation of any judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure process on the primary dwelling of an obligor securing an extension of credit, the obligor shall have a right to rescind the transaction equivalent to other rescission rights provided by this section, if—

(A) a mortgage broker fee is not included in the finance charge in accordance with the laws and regulations in effect at the time the consumer credit transaction was consummated; or

(B) the form of notice of rescission for the transaction is not the appropriate form of written notice published and adopted by the Board or a comparable written notice, and otherwise complied with all the requirements of this section regarding notice.

(2) Tolerance for disclosures

Notwithstanding section 1605(f) of this title, and subject to the time period provided in subsection (f) of this section, for the purposes of exercising any rescission rights after the initiation of any judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure process on the principal dwelling of the obligor securing an extension of credit, the disclosure of the finance charge and other disclosures affected by any finance charge shall be treated as being accurate for purposes of this section if the amount disclosed as the finance charge does not vary from the actual finance charge by more than $35 or is greater than the amount required to be disclosed under this subchapter.

(3) Right of recoupment under State law

Nothing in this subsection affects a consumer’s right of rescission in recoupment under State law.

(4) Applicability

This subsection shall apply to all consumer credit transactions in existence or consummated on or after September 30, 1995

 

TILA Regulation Z 12 C.F.R.§ 1026

Stay Up To Date here:
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/eregulations/1026

12 C.F.R. § 1026.23 Rescission under Regulation Z

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2015-title12-vol9/pdf/CFR-2015-title12-vol9-sec1026-23.pdf

Appendix I.  Interpretation of Regulation Z by Consumer Financial Protection Burea (CFPB)

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2015-title12-vol9/pdf/CFR-2015-title12-vol9-part1026-appI-id89.pdf

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Mort Gezzam

Bradford Shows the Basics of Mortgage Attack in his own case

NORMAN BRADFORD SHOWS THAT THE COURTS LIKE RESCISSION and OTHER FORMS OF MORTGAGE ATTACK, etc, IF THE BORROWER ARTFULLY MANAGES THE ATTACK.

If you want to see a case where the court denied rescission pre-Jesinoski, but the court awarded damages and attorney fees to the plaintiff, and where the MORTGAGE ATTACK lawsuit shows you how to set up a win, read up on Bradford v HSBC.  Get the PACER docket report for this case:

1:09-cv-01226-TSE-JFA Bradford v. HSBC Mortgage Corporation et al

If you use the RECAP THE LAW extension in Firefox or Chrome browser, you can get an abbreviated docket report and some case docs FREE. Get the Docket Report I just ran HERE:

http://ia700409.us.archive.org/19/items/gov.uscourts.vaed.247729/gov.uscourts.vaed.247729.docket.html

You can get the case opinions at Google Scholar here.

22 July 2011 – Bradford v. HSBC Mortg. Corp., 799 F. Supp. 2d 625 – Dist. Court, ED Virginia 2011
https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10469497073493990651

8 Dec 2011 – Bradford v. HSBC Mortg. Corp., 829 F. Supp. 2d 340 – Dist. Court, ED Virginia 2011
https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16422283053088070918

5 March 2012-  Bradford v. HSBC Mortg. Corp., 838 F. Supp. 2d 424 – Dist. Court, ED Virginia 2012
https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15611931269908753326

26 April 2012- Bradford v. HSBC Mortg. Corp., 859 F. Supp. 2d 783 – Dist. Court, ED Virginia 2012
https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11349799512745292008

This case has not ended yet, partly because the creditor filed for bankruptcy and has not come out yet.

As the above opinions show, Bradford took out a refi loan in 2006, and paid on it for two years even thought the loan broker had lied, bait and switched him, then Bradford send the lender a justified notice of rescission in 2008.  He sued for TILA rescission, for related damages including credit reputation damage for failure of the creditor to remove the lien and to tender after he offered to tender, for FDCPA violations for trying to collect a rescinded debt, for RESPA violations because the servicer refused to tell him the identity of the creditor (for which Bradford won costs, $4K damage, and over $25K legal fees), and for wrongful foreclosure.  He filed the lawsuit 1 year and 16 days after sending notice of rescission.

Document 56 shows that a competent plaintiff like Bradford can craft a multi-count complaint so that it sails past a motion to dismiss with flying colors.  The judge analyzes the complaint carefully and seems to love it.

The court ended up dismissing the rescission complaint because the 4th Circuit had opined that the borrower must sue within 3 years after closing, and Bradford sued a little over 4 years after closing.  Thereafter, the 4th Circuit changed its view about the timing of rescission lawsuit, incidentally aligning with the Jesinoski opinion.

After the creditor comes out of bankruptcy, Bradford will have the ability to challenge the rescission dismissal in light of later Circuit position on suing for rescission, and in light of Jesinoski.  The court would, of course, reverse the dismissal and order the unwinding of the loan.  However, Bradford will have a considerable amount of setoffs, and the creditor knows it.

So, instead of challenging the dismissal right off, he can demand a settlement from the creditor (“Give me the house free and clear and call us even”).  He will point out how badly he has beat up his adversaries already, and how much more he will beat them up with the rescission and setoffs and enormous legal fees, etc.  They might make him a suitable counter offer.  Or he might have to take them back to court.  Time will tell.

Regardless, Bradford has not made a house payment since late 2008, he does not have to make payments because of the justified rescission, and interest stopped accruing on his debt in 2008, giving him free use of that money in the form of his house

In summary, Norman Bradford has, though his case, conducted a Mortgage Attack seminar for anyone wanting to know how to beat up the bank and its team members.  The pleadings sit there on PACER for you to study.

 

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Mort Gezzam

Florida 1st District Affirms $250K Punitive Damage Award in Pate v BOA

All of you who simply cannot believe that borrowers can beat the bank by proving the bank and its agents and allies injured the borrower, TAKE HEART.  Here I present a crystal clear example of the MORTGAGE ATTACK methodology:

Bank of America, NA v. Pate, 159 So. 3d 383 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9278967945135979893

Don’t waste your time whining about the banking industry, fractional reserve lending, the Federal Reserve, the money system, securitization, and such irrelevancies.  Get a mortgage examination if necessary to find the causes of action, and use them to HAMMER the lender, creditor, servicer, appraiser, loan broker, closer, title company, etc (whoever hurt you) IN COURT.

As you can see, the Florida appeals court upheld the BENCH TRIAL (not jury) award of $250,000 in PUNITIVE DAMAGES and over $60,000 in compensatory damages for the INJURIES the BANK did to the BORROWER.  The Pates could probably have won much more in a jury trial.

If you want to deploy the MORTGAGE ATTACK strategy in your own mortgage dispute, visit http://MortgageAttack.com to learn what works and what does not.

159 So.3d 383 (2015)

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., and Third-Party Defendant, Homefocus Services, LLC, Appellants,
v.
Phillip V. PATE and Barbara Pate, Robert L. Pohlman and Marcia L. Croom, Appellees.

No. 1D14-251.
District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

March 16, 2015.
J. Randolph Liebler and Tricia J. Duthiers of Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo, Miami, for Appellants.

384*384 Jonna L. Bowman of Law Office of Jonna Bowman, Blountstown, for Appellees.

PER CURIAM.

AFFIRMED.

ROWE and OSTERHAUS, JJ., concur; THOMAS, J., CONCURS SPECIALLY WITH OPINION.

THOMAS, J., Specially Concurring.

In this civil foreclosure case, the trial court found that Appellant Bank of America (the Bank) engaged in egregious and intentional misconduct in Appellee Pates’ (Pate) purchase of a residential home. Thus, based on the trial court’s finding that the Bank had unclean hands in this equity action, it did not reversibly err in denying the foreclosure action and granting a deed in lieu of foreclosure. In addition, the trial court did not err in ruling in favor of the Pates in their counterclaims for breach of contract and fraud, and awarding them $250,000 in punitive damages and $60,443.29 in compensatory damages, against the Bank and its affiliate, Homefocus Services, LLC, which provided the flawed appraisal discussed below. Finally, the trial court did not reversibly err in granting injunctive relief and thereby ordering the Bank to take the necessary measures to correct the Pates’ credit histories.

In the bench trial below, the trial court found that the Bank assured the Pates, based on the appraisal showing the home’s value far exceeded the $50,000 mortgage loan, that it would issue a home equity loan in addition to the mortgage loan. This was a precondition to the Pates’ agreement to purchase the home, which was in very poor condition but had historical appeal for the Pates. The Pates intended to restore the home, but needed the home equity loan to facilitate restoration.

Before the closing on the property, the Bank informed the Pates that it would close on the home equity loan “later,” after the mortgage loan was issued. The Bank later refused to issue the home equity loan, in part on the ground that the appraisal issued by Homefocus was flawed. The Pates were forced to invest all of their savings and much of their own labor in extensive repairs. Thus, the trial court found that the Pates detrimentally relied on the representations of the Bank that it would issue the home equity loan. The record supports the trial court’s conclusion that the Bank acted with reckless disregard constituting intentional misconduct by the Bank. See generally,Lance v. Wade, 457 So.2d 1008, 1011 (Fla.1984) (“[E]lements for actionable fraud are (1) a false statement concerning a material fact; (2) knowledge by the person … that the representation is false; (3) the intent … [to] induce another to act on it; and (4) reliance on the representation to the injury of the other party. In summary, there must be an intentional material misrepresentation upon which the other party relies to his detriment.”).

The trial court further found that the Pates complied with the Bank’s demand to obtain an insurance binder to provide premiums for annual coverage, and that the Bank agreed to place these funds in escrow, utilizing the binder to pay the first year of coverage and calculate future charges to the Pates. Although the Pates fulfilled this contractual obligation, the Bank failed to correctly utilize the escrow funds. Consequently, the Pates’ insurance policy was ultimately cancelled due to nonpayment. The Pates attempted to obtain additional coverage but were unsuccessful due to the home’s structural condition. The Bank then obtained a force-placed policy with $334,800 in coverage and an annual premium of $7,382.98, which was 385*385 included on the mortgage loan, quadrupling the Pate’s mortgage payment.

The Pates offered to pay the original $496.34 monthly mortgage payment, but the Bank refused, demanding a revised mortgage payment of $2,128.74. The trial court found it “disturbing that Bank of America could financially profit due to [the Bank’s] failure to pay the home insurance…. [T]he profits for one or more months of forced place insurance would have been substantial.”

The trial court further found that during the four years of litigation following the Pates’ default, the Bank’s agents entered the Pate’s home several times while the Pates resided there, attempted to remove furniture, and placed locks on the exterior doors. Following the Bank’s action, the Pates had to have the locks changed so their family could enter the residence. During two of the intrusions, the Pates were required to enlist the aid of the sheriff to force the Bank’s agent to leave their home. The trial court found as fact that, due to the Bank’s multiple intrusions into their home, the Pates were forced to obtain alternative housing for 28 months, at a cost of thousands of dollars.

The Bank’s actions supported the trial court’s finding that punitive damages were awardable. In Estate of Despain v. Avante Group, Inc., 900 So.2d 637, 640 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005), the court held that “[p]unishment of the wrongdoer and deterrence of similar wrongful conduct in the future, rather than compensation of the injured victim, are the primary policy objectives of punitive damage awards.” See also Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Ballard, 749 So.2d 483 (Fla.1999); W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn. v. Waters, 638 So.2d 502 (Fla.1994).

In Estate of Despain, the court held that “[t]o merit an award of punitive damages, the defendant’s conduct must transcend the level of ordinary negligence and enter the realm of willful and wanton misconduct….” 900 So.2d at 640. Florida courts have defined such conduct as including an “entire want of care which would raise the presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows… reckless indifference to the rights of others which is equivalent to an intentional violation of them.” Id. (quoting White Constr. Co. v. Dupont, 455 So.2d 1026, 1029 (Fla.1984)). Here, the Bank’s intent to defraud was shown by its reckless disregard for its actions. The facts showing the Bank’s “conscious indifference to consequences” and “reckless indifference” to the rights of the Pates is the same as an intentional act violating their rights. See White Constr. Co., 455 So.2d at 1029. The record evidence provides ample support for the trial court’s ruling in favor of the Pates’ claim for punitive damages against the Bank.

The learned trial judge found that the Bank’s actions demonstrated its unclean hands; therefore, the Bank was not entitled to a foreclosure judgment in equity. Unclean hands is an equitable defense, akin to fraud, to discourage unlawful activity. SeeCongress Park Office Condos II, LLC v. First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co., 105 So.3d 602, 609 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013) (“It is a self-imposed ordinance that closes the doors of a court of equity to one tainted with inequitableness or bad faith relative to the matter in which he seeks relief[.]”) (quoting Precision Instrument Mfg. Co. v. Auto. Maint. Mach. Co., 324 U.S. 806, 814 (1945)). The totality of the circumstances established the Bank’s unclean hands, precluding it from benefitting by its actions in a court of equity. Thus, the trial court did not err by denying the foreclosure action.

CA court affirms $250K for dual tracking in Bergman v JPMCB

 

Read the opinion here (also appended below):

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/E060148.PDF

This California 4th District appellate opinion contains a treasure trove of virtual advice for borrowers whom the lender scammed with a fake loan mod while foreclosing on him at the same time (“dual tracking.”

The panel fully supported the opinion of the trial court which awarded Bergman $250,000 in damages plus legal fees.  The court would have awarded him much more had Bergman’s attorney hired Law Partner On Call (http://lawpartneroncall.com) to manage the litigation, write the pleadings, and write the jury instructions.

Bergman got his payday for breach of contract by his creditor, but he made a bunch of mistakes.

For example, he did not include an attorney fees provision in his loan security instrument (that standard form only says the creditor can recover legal fees and costs) in the event the court finds that the creditor or servicer or other agent engaged in wrongdoing that injured the borrower.  The court awarded Bergman fees anyway, but against great opposition by the creditor.  Most borrowers make the same mistake.

And, Bergman failed to add to the security instrument that a special penalty attaches to dual tracking, a scam that virtually every lender has run on desperate borrowers who want a loan mod.

Furthermore, Bergman made the same mistake many do in loan mod negotiations – he failed to record the name and ID# of everyone he talked to at the bank, and he failed to get a signed writing saying he had to miss payments in order to qualify for the loan mod, and that if he missed them, then made proper trial payments, the lender would grant the loan mod.  Everything was oral leading up to the actual mod.  And oral agreements have no more value than the paper on which the parties wrote them.  The lender’s attorney blustered about it, but the court ruled that the parties had indeed make that agreement, then failed to give Bergman a loan mod.  I believe many courts, faced with similar facts, have ruled that no agreement existed.

Bergman’s most monumental mistake:  he failed to hire a competent professional to examine his loan documents for evidence of torts, contract and regulatory breaches, and legal errors.  Had he done that, and lodge those as claims in his complaint, he could have won gargantuan damages award because, almost certainly, fraud underlay his loan.

Bergman while in the right, found uncommon good luck in this litigation.  Many borrowers have lost using his paper-thin arguments.

READ THE OPINION thoroughly, especially if you have a mortgage and consider a loan mod.

But if you really want to win, call me right now at 727 669 5511 and schedule a mortgage examination, whether or not you face foreclosure.  Read all about what wins and what does not win at http://mortgageattack.com.

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Mort Gezzam

Filed 9/30/15 Bergman v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. CA4/2

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

DIVISION TWO

E060148

(Super.Ct.No. RIC10014015) OPINION

APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. Ronald L. Taylor, Judge. (Retired judge of the Riverside Super. Ct. assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to art. VI, § 6 of the Cal. Const.) Affirmed.

AlvaradoSmith, John M. Sorich, S. Christopher Yoo, Jacob M. Clark; Parker Ibrahim & Berg, John M. Sorich and Mariel Gerlt-Ferraro for Defendant and Appellant.

Burkelegal and Gregory Burke for Plaintiff and Appellant.

I INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff and respondent Jeffrey A. Bergman (Bergman) sued defendant and appellant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase) on claims involving a residential loan modification. A jury found in favor of Bergman on his causes of action for intentional misrepresentation and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Chase appeals from a $250,000 judgment in favor of Bergman, and the posttrial orders denying Chase’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and granting attorney’s fees to Bergman.

Chase argues the verdict is not supported by substantial evidence because no evidence shows Chase made misrepresentations to Bergman. Additionally, Chase argues the trial court erred in evidentiary rulings and jury instructions. Finally, Chase contends the judgment’s award of damages was duplicative, and the attorney’s fees provision under the subject deed of trust and promissory note did not include recovery of fees.

Bergman has filed a cross-appeal, raising issues of instructional and evidentiary error, and additional claims by Bergman for breach of contract and attorney’s fees.

We presume the judgment is correct if it is supported by substantial evidence. (Ermoian v. Desert Hospital (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 475, 494; Denham v. Superior

Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557, 564; San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Bd. v. Handlery Hotel, Inc. (1999) 73 Cal.App.4th 517, 528.) To warrant reversal, an error in jury instructions must result in a miscarriage of justice. (Mize-Kurzman v. Marin

Community College Dist. (2010) 202 Cal.App.4th 832, 862; Soule v. General Motors

Corp. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 580.) Evidentiary error must also be “arbitrary, capricious, or patently absurd . . . resulting in a manifest miscarriage of justice.” (Boeken v. Philip Morris, Inc. (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640, 1685.) On a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, an appellate court must decide whether any substantial evidence supports the verdict unless the verdict raises purely legal questions. (Trujilllo v. North County Transit Dist. (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 280, 284; Wolf v. Walt Disney Pictures

& Television (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1107, 1138.) An award of attorney’s fees is

reviewed de novo. (Conservatorship of Whitley (2010) 50 Cal.4th 1206, 1212.) Based on the various appropriate standards of review, we affirm the judgment:

“The ultimate determination is whether a reasonable trier of fact could have found for the respondent based on the whole record.” (Kuhn v. Department of General Services (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1627, 1633.)

II

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 2005, Bergman purchased the subject residential real property located at 22330 Foxhall Drive in Corona, making a down payment of $250,000. Bergman proceeded to make improvements to the property costing about $291,000.

In 2007, Bergman refinanced the property with an adjustable rate mortgage of

$937,500, based on a value of $1.25 million. Bergman testified he thought the loan was a conventional loan. Instead, the monthly payments in the fixed amount of $5,273.44 were interest-only for the first 10 years until 2017.

Bergman made the monthly payments from January until October 2008. Chase acquired the beneficial interest in the loan in September 2008. In December 2008, Bergman asked for a loan modification with a lower interest rate. He paid the loan modification fee of $1,582. The bank agreed to reduce the interest rate to 3 percent and the monthly payment to $4,112.74, while increasing the loan balance by an additional

$9,000. In the third year, the monthly payment would increase to $5,417.64, applied to both principal and interest.

When Bergman realized how much the monthly payment would increase in the third year, he immediately contacted Chase about another modification. He testified Chase offered proposed terms for a new loan modification with a 40-year term, a fixed interest rate at 3 percent, and a $3,000 monthly payment. Bergman had the ability to pay

$3,000 a month.

Bergman testified he did not make a payment on the first loan modification in January 2009 or later because the Chase bank staff1 told him that to qualify for another loan modification he would need to be in default. Bergman did not remember making a payment that was reversed and returned in February 2009, for nonsufficient funds, or “NSF.”

A notice of default (NOD) was recorded in April 2009. Although Bergman contacted Chase about the NOD, Bergman did not realize in July 2009 that the

  • Bergman could not name most of the bank staff to whom he Almost none of the correspondence he received from Chase included individual names.

foreclosure was proceeding. A notice of trustee’s sale was mailed to Bergman, posted on the property, and recorded on August 3, 2009.

In the meantime, in August 2009, Bergman consulted with a real estate broker about a short sale. Bergman also finally received information about a HAMP2 loan modification from Chase. Bergman submitted a HAMP hardship affidavit and financial information to Chase on August 20, 2009. Bergman had suffered financial difficulties from a divorce, a downturn in his limousine business, and two surgeries. He stated the property was worth $578,000 and the outstanding loan was $946,000. However, Bergman could not qualify for a HAMP loan because of the limit of $729,750 on loan modifications.

Bergman identified one Chase employee, Hifa Boolori, whose name appears on correspondence dated August 28, 2009, approving a trial plan agreement. A trial plan agreement was not a HAMP loan but a Chase internal loan modification program.

Bergman agreed to the plan and made three trial plan payments of $2,775 in September, October, and November 2009. He provided additional information, anticipating he would receive a second loan modification.

Bergman testified he did not know the foreclosure was proceeding at the same time the second loan modification was being evaluated. He was told the foreclosure

would be “frozen.” In his fifth amended complaint, he alleged he was informed on November 17, 2009, that he had been denied a loan modification and a sale was

  • Home Affordable Modification

scheduled for January 5, 2010. At trial, he testified he did not know the trustee’s sale was scheduled for December 2, 2009, but had been rescheduled for January 15, 2010.

On December 17, 2009, Bergman signed a listing agreement for a short sale. He drafted a letter on December 22, 2009, asking Chase to let him sell the property in a short sale.

On the same date, December 22, 2009, Chase wrote Bergman a letter asking him to provide two recent paystubs to support his loan modification request. After receiving that letter, Bergman called Chase—because he had already been told his loan modification was denied—but Chase told him the loan was still under review. Bergman provided copies of his bank statements for October and November 2009.

On January 12, 2010, Chase again wrote Bergman, stating his loan modification was being reviewed. On February 11, 2010, Bergman wrote Chase, asking to cancel the loan modifications and to proceed with a short sale. Bergman continued to receive conflicting information about his loan from Chase until July 2010.

The property was sold at a trustee’s sale in July 2010 to defendant Mark Mraz, a friend of Bergman’s. One appraised fair market value was $595,000. The unpaid principal balance was $1,022.265.92. Bergman continued to receive notices about loan modification after the sale.

After the property was sold, Bergman was sued for unlawful detainer. Bergman posted a cash bond of $30,000 with money borrowed from his parents. Bergman incurred additional attorney’s fees defending the unlawful detainer action.

The jury completed the special verdict forms on all seven causes of action and punitive damages. The jury awarded Bergman damages of $125,000 on the cause of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and $125,000 on the cause of action for intentional misrepresentation.

III

PROPERTY IMPROVEMENTS

At trial Chase objected to Bergman’s testimony about the $291,000 he spent on property improvements on the grounds that information had not been disclosed during discovery. Chase argues the trial court abused its discretion by allowing Bergman to testify. (Evid. Code, § 352.) Chase contends it was prejudiced by “surprise at the trial” because Chase could not adequately challenge Bergman’s testimony regarding the property upgrades. (Chronicle Pub. Co. v. Superior Court (1960) 54 Cal.2d 548, 561.)

Chase’s pretrial motion in limine sought to exclude any documentary evidence and witnesses not previously disclosed. Bergman was not an undisclosed witness and he did not submit documentary evidence about the property upgrades at trial. Furthermore, we have reviewed Chase’s record citations to its discovery requests and those requests do not support Chase’s contention that it “specifically requested all documents in support of Bergman’s claims.” Chase’s requests for admission, form and special interrogatories, and document requests do not ask generally or particularly for any documents in support of Bergman’s claim for damages based on the cost of the property improvements.

Therefore, the predicate for Chase’s argument—that Bergman did not comply with

discovery requests—is not supported by the record. The trial court did not abuse its

discretion in allowing Bergman’s testimony, which did not involve undisclosed documents or witnesses. (Boeken v. Phillip Morris, Inc., supra, 127 Cal.App.4th at p. 1685.)

IV

JURY INSTRUCTION ON CORPORATE FRAUD

The trial court gave the jury a standard instruction based on CACI No. 1900, concerning intentional misrepresentation: “Jeffrey Bergman claims that [Chase] made a false representation that harmed him.” Chase contends the court erred by not giving its proposed Special Instruction No. 11: “To assert a fraud action against a corporation, a plaintiff must also allege [the] names of the person or persons who allegedly made the

fraudulent representation, their authority to speak, to whom they spoke, what they said or

wrote, and when it was said or written.”

The special instruction requested by Chase is based on heightened pleading requirements for corporate fraud, requiring a plaintiff to allege specifically the name of the person who made the alleged misrepresentations, his authority to speak, and what he said or wrote, and when it was said or written. (Lazar v. Superior Court (1996) 12 Cal.4th 631, 645; Tarmann v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. (1991) 2 Cal.App.4th 153,

157; Cansino v. Bank of America (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 1462, 1469.) However, “[l]ess specificity in pleading fraud is required ‘when “it appears from the nature of the allegations that the defendant must necessarily possess full information concerning the facts of the controversy . . . .”’ (Committee on Children’s Television, Inc. v. General

Foods Corp. (1983) 35 Cal.3d 197, 217.)” (Cansino, at p. 1469.)

In the present case, Bergman specifically alleged and testified that he knew the name of one Chase employee in particular, Hifa Boloori, who made representations to him, although he spoke to many Chase employees during many phone calls between 2008 and 2010. Additionally, Chase had extensive records of contacts and conversations with Bergman which included information about which Chase employees contacted him, including the period between October 2008 and February 2009. Under the category of “USR,” the Chase delinquency notes identified the Chase employee by his or her initials, allowing Chase to determine who contacted Bergman far more easily than Bergman could do so. Even if Chase’s records do not expressly document an oral promise for a

40-year loan at 3 percent interest with $3,000 monthly payments, the records still include information about the employees who talked to Bergman.

Under these circumstances, it was not error or prejudicial for the trial court to instruct the jury according to the standard jury instruction and not to use Chase’s

proposed special instruction. The instruction to the jury was not required to be as specific as the pleading. Nevertheless, Bergman identified one person by name and Chase had to know its own employees based on its own records. (West v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 780, 793.) There was no error causing a miscarriage of justice and no prejudice in refusing Chase’s special instruction. (Mize-Kurzman v. Mann Community College Dist., supra, 202 Cal.App.4th at p. 862, citing Soule v. General Motors Corp., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 580.)

V SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

Chase argues there is not substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict on the causes of action for fraud by intentional misrepresentation and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In our review, we are guided by well-established principles: “It is for the trier of fact to determine the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses and resolve all conflicts. Where disputed facts are presented to and resolved by the trial judge, unless clearly erroneous his findings will not be disturbed by the reviewing court; it is not the province of this court to substitute its judgment for that of                   the trier of fact. On appeal the evidence and all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom must be viewed in a light most favorable to the findings and judgment. [Citations.] ‘Such a judgment, when attacked on evidentiary grounds, must be affirmed when there is any evidence, direct or circumstantial, to support the findings of the trial court. Stated negatively, such a judgment cannot be reversed unless there is no evidence, direct or circumstantial, to support the findings. These rules are elementary.’

[Citations.]” (Ach v. Finkelstein (1968) 264 Cal.App.2d 667, 674.)

  1. Intentional Misrepresentation

 Chase contends there is not substantial evidence of the elements of intentional misrepresentation: 1) a false representation of a material fact; 2) knowledge of the falsity; 3) intent to induce another to rely on the misrepresentation; 4) reliance on the misrepresentation; and 5) resulting damage. (Ach v. Finkelstein, supra, 264 Cal.App.2d

at p. 674; Mirkin v. Wasserman (1993) 5 Cal.4th 1082, 1111.) Chase argues substantial

evidence does not show that Chase made any misrepresentation to Bergman or that Bergman was induced to default on a loan as a result of a misrepresentation by Chase.

Bergman asserts that Chase was liable for two separate misrepresentations: 1) that, if his loan was in default, he could obtain a loan modification; and 2) if Bergman made three trial plan payments he could obtain a loan modification. The jury found the former was true and the latter was not.

“‘In its broad, general sense the concept of fraud embraces anything which is intended to deceive, including all statements, acts, concealments and omissions involving a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust or confidence which results in injury to one who justifiably relies thereon. . . . There is no absolute or fixed rule for determining what  facts will constitute fraud; whether or not it is found depends upon the particular facts of the case under inquiry. Fraud may be proved by direct evidence or it may be inferred from all of the circumstances in the case. [Citation.] “Actual fraud is always a question of fact.” (Civ. Code, § 1574.)’ [Citations.]” (Ach v. Finkelstein, supra, 264 Cal.App.2d at p. 675.)

Chase’s argument is primarily that Bergman is inconsistent in his testimony about exactly what he was told and when. However, Bergman’s testimony and other evidence certainly supports his contention that Chase informed him that in order to qualify for a second loan modification, he would have to be in default. Based on the evidence, the jury could have reasonably found that, beginning in December 2008 and continuing through 2010, Bergman had many conversations with Chase about modifying his loan.

Although Chase wants to pin Bergman down to precise dates and times, the general tenor

of the evidence was consistent. Because Bergman hoped to obtain a second loan modification, he defaulted on payments under the first modification. His default continued as he waited to complete the second modification, including making the additional three trial payments in late 2009, and investigating a short sale as an alternative if the second loan modification was not completed. We conclude substantial evidence supported the jury verdict that Chase made intentional misrepresentations to Bergman. (Ach v. Finkelstein, supra, 264 Cal.App.2d at pp. 673-676.)

  1. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

 Chase also argues there was not substantial evidence of breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and the special jury verdicts were inconsistent. We disagree.

The court gave the jury the following instructions on breach of contract: 1) Bergman claims that he and Chase “entered into an oral contract for a loan modification  at fixed payments under $3,000.00”; 2) Chase “breached this contract by not providing him a permanent loan modification after he made the three trial plan payments”; and 3) to prove breach of contract, Bergman must prove Chase “failed to do something that the

contract required it to do.” The court gave the jury additional instructions on the breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing: 4) Bergman must prove the parties entered into a valid contract; and 5) Chase “interfered with” Bergman’s “right to receive the benefits of the contract.”

The instructions are confusing but the jury apparently reconciled any conflicts by finding that Bergman and Chase had a binding oral contract for a loan modification with

$3,000 payments. However, the jury did not find the oral contract was conditioned on

defendant making three trial plan payments. Therefore, the jury found Chase did not “fail to do something that the oral contract required it to do,” namely provide a loan modification after Bergman made the three payments. Nevertheless, the jury also found Chase interfered with “Bergman’s right to receive benefits of the contract,” i.e. the promise of a loan modification.

In other words, the jury did not find Chase was required to give Bergman a loan modification if he made the three trial plan payments; Chase did not breach the contract for that reason. But Chase did interfere with Bergman’s benefits under the contract by not giving him the promised loan modification. Therefore, as already discussed, sufficient evidence showed that there was a contract for a loan with $3,000 payments and that Chase interfered with the contractual benefit to Bergman.

VI DUPLICATIVE DAMAGES

Bergman testified that his damages included his original down payment of

$250,000 and the property improvements of $291,000. Chase argues the damages award was duplicative and the intent of the jury was not to award $250,000 but to award a total of only $125,000 for both causes of action found in his favor.

The court gave the jury multiple, somewhat contradictory, instructions on damages. Ultimately, the jury awarded damages of $125,000 for breach of the implied covenant and $125,000 for intentional misrepresentation. The trial court entered a judgment of $250,000. The trial court reasoned:

“It’s the Court’s opinion that the jury did intend to award separate damages to the plaintiff for the improvements that the plaintiff testified that he made to his home . . . and the down payment which he made for the home. [¶] So my interpretation of the jury verdict was they intended to award damages for both of those injuries incurred by the plaintiff and not just one sum of the $125,000. So, in other words, I agree . . . as to how the jury reached its verdict on these two separate causes of action, which were based upon different losses incurred by the plaintiff.”

There is no evidence in the record of the “intent” of the jury. Instead, the record shows the jury was given special verdict forms for each of the seven causes of action and the claim for punitive damages. The jury was instructed to award separate damages for each cause of action. It was not instructed to award damages collectively. The amount of damages claimed by Bergman was at least $541,000, the combined amount of his down payment and the property improvements. The jury’s verdict awarding him damages of

$125,000 each on two causes of action is within the realm of damages.

Chase’s argument that the jury meant to award only $125,000 is speculative and the cases relied upon by Chase are distinguishable. Shell v. Schmidt (1954) 126 Cal.App.2d 279, 291, involved a single cause of action, not two causes of action as here. In DuBarry Internat., Inc. v. Southwest Forest Industries, Inc. (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 552, 564, the court acknowledged a plaintiff could be entitled to recover separate damages on two causes of action: “They do involve, after all, alleged invasions of different rights.” Tavaglione v. Billings (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1150, 1158, held that a party “is

not entitled to more than a single recovery for each distinct item of compensable damage

supported by the evidence.” However, “[i]n contrast where separate items of compensable damage are shown by distinct and independent evidence, the plaintiff is entitled to recover the entire amount of his damages, whether that amount is expressed by the jury in a single verdict or multiple verdicts referring to different claims or legal theories.” (Id. at p. 1159.)

The present case involves two separate causes of action, different theories, and two distinct items of compensable damages. Under these circumstances, no duplicative damages were awarded by the jury.

VII

CHASE’S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT

Chase contends the trial court should have granted its motion for JNOV for two reasons. Chase repeats the argument that Bergman did not identify the employee who made the misrepresentation—an argument we have already rejected.

Second, Chase argues Bergman was not damaged because the proper measure of damages for the wrongful foreclosure of real property is the value of the equity in the property at the time of the foreclosure. (Munger v. Moore (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 1, 11; Civ. Code, § 3333.) At the time of the foreclosure sale in July 2010, the unpaid principal balance, along with costs, totaled $1,022,256.92, leaving no equity.

Chase’s argument about wrongful foreclosure is not pertinent, however, because the jury rejected the wrongful foreclosure claim and did not award damages on that cause of action. Instead, the jury awarded damages for intentional misrepresentation and

breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The jury was instructed Bergman

could prove damages for breach of contract based on what would reasonably compensate for the breach. (CACI No. 350.) The jury was also instructed it could award Bergman reasonable compensation for harm. (CACI No. 1923.) The instructions to the jury, as reasonably construed did not prohibit the jury from awarding damages for the original down payment or for the property improvements, even if the losses for those items of damage were not sustained until after Chase committed its breach or made its misrepresentations. The damages awarded were not for wrongful foreclosure and the measure of such damages is not relevant.

VIII ATTORNEY’S FEES

The trial court awarded Bergman attorney’s fees—reduced from $454,772.23 to

$188,100—finding that he could recover fees under both contract and tort based on the attorney’s fees provision in the original note and trust deed under which the foreclosure was conducted. The same result occurred in Smith v. Home Loan Funding, Inc. (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 1331, 1337-1338. (Civ. Code, § 1717; Code Civ. Proc., § 1021.)

The subject note provides: “. . . the Note Holder will have the right to be paid back by me for all of its costs and expenses in enforcing this Note [including] reasonable attorneys’ fees.” The subject trust deed provides: “Lender shall be entitled to collect all expenses incurred in pursuing the remedies provided . . . including, but not limited to,

reasonable attorneys’ fees . . . .”

The Smith court construed the very same language and found that that “breach of the implied covenant can sometimes support an award of fees under section 1717.”

(Smith v. Home Loan Funding, Inc., supra, 192 Cal.App.4th at p. 1337.) Smith distinguished Sawyer v. Bank of America (1978) 83 Cal.App.3d 135, 140, 145, and held that, where one party had a fiduciary obligation and made an express oral promise, it was justifiable to treat the oral agreement and the loan documents as a single agreement because they were all part of the same transaction. (Smith, at pp. 1337-1338, citing Civ.

Code, § 1642 [“Several contracts relating to the same matters, between the same parties, . . . are to be taken together”].)

The oral contract between Bergen and Chase was part of a single agreement, including the note and deed of trust; the trial court found the oral contract was intended to effect a modification of the original obligation. Therefore, the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees was proper, allowing the prevailing party to recoup attorney’s fees under the intertwined tort and contract claims. (Xuereb v. Marcus & Millichap, Inc. (1992) 3 Cal.App.4th 1338, 1341-1343.)

IX

BERGMAN’S CROSS-APPEAL

  1. Special Verdict on Wrong Foreclosure

 The special verdict on the cause of action for wrongful foreclosure asked: Did Chase “violate any law or regulation governing foreclosure?” Bergman contends the special verdict should have read: Did Chase Bank “cause an illegal, fraudulent or oppressive sale of the real property located at 22330 Foxhall Drive, Corona, CA 92883?” Bergman argues his claim is not for wrongful foreclosure based on a statutory violation

but “Chase’s fraudulent practice of inducing borrowers into default with the promise of a

loan modification.” The basis for this instruction is thus exactly the same as Bergman’s causes of action for intentional misrepresentation and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, for which he recovered damages. Under these circumstances, there was no miscarriage of justice in refusing Bergman’s alternative instruction. (Mize- Kurzman v. Marin Community College Dist., supra, 202 Cal.App.4th at p. 862, citing Soule v. General Motors Corp., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 580.)

  1. Special Verdict on Punitive Damages

 Bergman claims the jury should have been instructed that Chase could be directly liable for fraud and punitive damages. A corporate employer may only be liable for punitive damages as a result of its employees’ acts where it somehow ratified the behavior. (Civ. Code, § 3294, subd. (b); Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie (1978) 63 Cal.App.4th 1128, 1153.) The special verdict on punitive damages was based on CACI No.VF-3904: “Did an agent or employee of [Chase] engage in the conduct of malice, oppression, or fraud against Plaintiff?” The jury was also given an instruction based on CACI No. 3936 about liability for punitive damages for a corporate entity based on the acts of its agents. Chase could not be found directly liable for punitive damages for its own conduct. (Davis v. Kiewit Pacific Co. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 358, 365.) The jury was properly instructed on punitive damages.

  1. Motion to Amend

At the end of trial, the court denied Bergman’s request for leave to amend to add a claim for breach of a written contract under HAMP or the Chase trial payment plan. An appeal from a trial court’s decision in granting or denying a request to amend the

pleadings is reviewed for a clear showing of an abuse of discretion. (Garcia v. Roberts (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 900, 909.) The guiding principles are: “(1) whether facts or  legal theories are being changed and (2) whether the opposing party will be prejudiced by the proposed amendment.” (City of Stanton v. Cox (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1557, 1563.)

Throughout the trial, Bergman had relied on a theory of an oral promise, not a written contract. The trial court properly denied Bergman’s oral motion to amend, and subsequent motion for JNOV, because the introduction of new facts and theories would cause prejudice to Chase. There was no reason for Bergman to wait years to amend his claims. We reject Bergman’s contentions on this issue.

  1. Attorney’s Fees

 Bergman argues he should have been allowed to offer evidence of the attorney’s fees he incurred in the unlawful detainer action and he was entitled to recover those fees under the note and trust deed. We conduct a de novo review on whether there is a legal basis for a fee award. (Conservatorship of Whitley, supra, 50 Cal.4th at p. 1212.)

After Chase objected to the submission of evidence on attorney’s fees for the unlawful detainer action, Bergman’s counsel stated he would raise it later. Bergman’s counsel did not raise the issue again. The record shows Bergman waived this issue. (Estate of Odian (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 152, 168.) Furthermore, Bergman’s claim was for attorney’s fees sustained in a separate unlawful detainer action by Mraz, the third party who purchased the property at trustee’s sale. Bergman cites no authority for the recovery of attorney’s fees under these circumstances. In fact, he concedes there is no

authority but asks this court to resolve the issue in a published opinion. We decline to do so.

X DISPOSITION

We reject both appeals and affirm the judgment. In the interests of justice, we order the parties to bear their own costs on appeal.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

CODRINGTON                     

J.

We concur:

 

RAMIREZ                             

  1. J.

HOLLENHORST                  

J.

Nationstar v Brown – Statute of Limitations No Defense Against Foreclosure

Statute of Limitations Applies to Whole Payment Stream

By Bob Hurt, 18 September 2015

Florida’s 1st District Appellate Court gave Germaine and Andrea Brown a rude awakening by telling them the Florida foreclosure 5-year statute of limitations does not apply a 30-year stream of mortgage payments even after the creditor accelerates the loan, making the entire balance immediately due and payable.  The panel cited the Florida Supreme Court opinion in Singleton v Greymar (2004) as the controlling authority (“the unique nature of the mortgage obligation and the continuing obligations of the parties in that relationship.”).  The panel held that “the subsequent and separate alleged default created a new and independent right in the mortgagee to accelerate payment on the note in a subsequent foreclosure action.”  In other words, every default of a scheduled payment provides a new right to sue, throughout the original term of the loan.

The panel admitted that Florida’s 3rd District had reached a contrary conclusion in Deutsche Bank v Beauvais (2014).  But the panel harked to the USDC adverse opinion in Stern v BOA (2015) which claimed that Beauvis opinion went against ”overwhelming weight of authority.”  Now the Beauvais court plans to review its decision.

This should make it abundantly clear that the foreclosure statute of limitations in Florida does not constitute a valid defense against foreclosure, except on payments more than 5 years overdue on which the creditor has failed to take action.

Why should this matter to mortgage victims facing foreclosure?  Because you cannot depend on Foreclosure Defense to defeat foreclosure.  The court/trustee will NOT give you a free house.

ONLY ONE methodology  gives home loan borrowers a reliable chance beat the appraiser, mortgage broker, title company, servicer, and creditor in a mortgage dispute:  MORTGAGE ATTACK.  Borrowers must ATTACK THE VALIDITY OF THE LOAN, and to do that, they must get a comprehensive mortgage examination.

If you have a mortgage dispute, contact Mortgage Attack NOW for a full explanation of the ONLY WINNING METHODOLOGY.

Mortgage Attack Logo

 


 

NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC v. Brown, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9222404951266369639

NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC, Appellant,
v.
GERMAINE R. BROWN a/k/a GERMAINE R. BROWN; ANDREA E. BROWN, Appellees.

Case No. 1D14-4381.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

Opinion filed August 24, 2015.

Nancy M. Wallace of Akerman LLP, Tallahassee; William P. Heller of Akerman LLP, Fort Lauderdale; Celia C. Falzone of Akerman LLP, Jacksonville, for Appellant.

Jared D. Comstock of John F. Hayter, Attorney at Law, P.A., Gainesville, for Appellees.

KELSEY, J.

Appellant challenges a final summary judgment holding that the statute of limitations bars appellant’s action to foreclose the subject mortgage. We agree with appellant that the statute of limitations did not bar the action. Thus, we reverse.

It is undisputed that appellees have failed to make any mortgage payments since February 2007, the first month in which they defaulted. In April 2007, appellant’s predecessor in interest gave notice of its intent to accelerate the note based on the February 2007 breach, and filed a foreclosure action. However, the trial court dismissed that action without prejudice in October 2007, after counsel for the lender failed to attend a case management conference.

The next relevant event occurred in November 2010, when appellant sent appellees a new notice of intent to accelerate, based on appellees’ breach in March 2007 and subsequent breaches. Appellees took no action to cure the default, and appellant filed a new foreclosure action in November 2012. Appellees asserted the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense, arguing that the new action and any future foreclosure actions were barred because they were not filed within five years after the original 2007 acceleration of the note. § 95.11(2)(c), Fla. Stat. (2012) (establishing five year statute of limitations on action to foreclose a mortgage).

The principles set forth in Singleton v. Greymar Associates, 882 So. 2d 1004 (Fla. 2004), apply in this case. In Singleton, the Florida Supreme Court recognized “the unique nature of the mortgage obligation and the continuing obligations of the parties in that relationship.” 882 So. 2d at 1007 (emphasis added). The court sought to avoidboth unjust enrichment of a defaulting mortgagor, and inequitable obstacles “prevent[ing] mortgagees from being able to challenge multiple defaults on a mortgage.” Id. at 1007-08. Giving effect to those principles in light of the continuing obligations of a mortgage, the court held that “the subsequent and separate alleged default created a new and independent right in the mortgagee to accelerate payment on the note in a subsequent foreclosure action.” Id. at 1008. The court found it irrelevant whether acceleration had been sought in earlier foreclosure actions. Id. The court’s analysis in Singleton recognizes that a note securing a mortgage creates liability for a total amount of principal and interest, and that the lender’s acceptance of payments in installments does not eliminate the borrower’s ongoing liability for the entire amount of the indebtedness.

The present case illustrates good grounds for the Singleton court’s concern with avoiding both unjust enrichment of borrowers and inequitable infringement on lenders’ remedies. Judgments such as that under review run afoul of Singleton because they release defaulting borrowers from their entire indebtedness and preclude mortgagees from collecting the total debt evidenced by the notes securing the mortgages they hold, even though the sum of the installment payments not made during the limitations period represents only a fraction of the total debt. See GMAC Mortg., LLC v. Whiddon, 164 So. 3d 97, 100 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015) (dismissal of earlier foreclosure action “did not absolve the Whiddons of their responsibility to make mortgage payments for the remaining twenty-five years of their mortgage agreement”). We further observe that both the note and the mortgage at issue here contain typical provisions reflecting the parties’ agreement that the mortgagee’s forbearance or inaction do not constitute waivers or release appellees from their obligation to pay the note in full. These binding contractual terms refute appellees’ arguments and are inconsistent with the judgment under review.

We have held previously that not even a dismissal with prejudice of a foreclosure action precludes a mortgagee “from instituting a new foreclosure action based on a different act or a new date of default not alleged in the dismissed action.” PNC Bank, N.A. v. Neal, 147 So. 3d 32, 32 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013); see also U.S. Bank Nat. Ass’n v. Bartram, 140 So. 3d 1007, 1014 (Fla. 5th DCA), review granted, 160 So. 3d 892 (Fla. 2014) (Case No. SC14-1305) (dismissal of earlier foreclosure action, whether with or without prejudice, did not bar subsequent foreclosure action based on a new default);Evergrene Partners, Inc. v. Citibank, N.A., 143 So. 3d 954, 955 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014)(foreclosure and acceleration based on an earlier default “does not bar subsequent actions and acceleration based upon different events of default”). The dismissal in this case was without prejudice, so much the more preserving appellant’s right to file a new foreclosure action based on appellees’ breaches subsequent to the February 2007 breach asserted as the procedural trigger of the earlier foreclosure action. We find that appellant’s assertion of the right to accelerate was not irrevocably “exercised” within the meaning of cases defining accrual for foreclosure actions, when the right was merely asserted and then dismissed without prejudice. See Olympia Mortg. Corp. v. Pugh, 774 So. 2d 863, 866-67 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) (“By voluntarily dismissing the suit, [the mortgagee] in effect decided not to accelerate payment on the note and mortgage at that time.”); see also Slottow v. Hull Inv. Co., 129 So. 577, 582 (Fla. 1930) (a mortgagee could waive an acceleration election in certain circumstances). After the dismissal without prejudice, the parties returned to the status quo that existed prior to the filing of the dismissed complaint. As a matter of law, appellant’s 2012 foreclosure action, based on breaches that occurred after the breach that triggered the first complaint, was not barred by the statute of limitations. Evergrene, 143 So. 3d at 955 (“[T]he statute of limitations has not run on all of the payments due pursuant to the note, and the mortgage is still enforceable based upon subsequent acts of default.”).

We are aware that the Third District has reached a contrary conclusion in Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas v. Beauvais, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D1, 2014 WL 7156961 (Fla. 3d DCA Dec. 17, 2014) (Case No. 3D14-575). A federal district court has refused to follow Beauvais, noting that it is “contrary to the overwhelming weight of authority.” Stern v. Bank of America Corp., 2015 WL 3991058 at *2-3 (M.D. Fla. June 30, 2015) (No. 2:15-cv-153-FtM-29CM). The court in Beauvais acknowledges that its conclusion is contrary to the weight of authority on the questions presented. 2014 WL 7156961, at *8-9. That court’s docket shows that the court has set the case for rehearing en banc; it remains to be seen whether the merits disposition will change.

Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings on appellant’s foreclosure action.

THOMAS and MARSTILLER, JJ., CONCUR.

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

 

IF the servicer’s home preservation company steals your stuff…

This US 8th Circuit Appellate opinion should give you heart, IF you can get a damages award from an arbitrator or trial court for theft of your stuff by a home preservation company’s felonious employees.

In this case, the arbitrator awarded the Starks $6 million to punish the servicer, note holder, and home preservation company for breaking into the home during a foreclosure dispute after the Starks had moved into an apartment across the street (still in possession, did not abandon).  The 8th Circuit upheld the award.  Appellants appealed to the SCOTUS which denied certiorari.

https://law.resource.org/pub/us/case/reporter/F3/381/381.F3d.793.03-2366.html

381 F.3d 793

Stanley William STARK; Patricia Garnet Stark, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
SANDBERG, PHOENIX & VON GONTARD, P.C.; Scott Greenberg; EMC Mortgage Corporation; SpvG Trustee, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 03-2366.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

Submitted: January 15, 2004.

Filed: August 26, 2004.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Ortrie D. Smith, J. COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED Roy B. True, argued, Kansas City, Missouri, for appellant.

Mark G. Arnold, argued, St. Louis, Missouri (Robert B. Best, Jr. and Leonard L. Wagner on the brief), for appellant.

Before BYE, HEANEY and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

BYE, Circuit Judge.

1

Stanley and Patricia Stark appeal the district court’s order vacating in part an arbitration award granting them punitive damages. We reverse.

2

* Stanley and Patricia are husband and wife and live near Kansas City, Missouri. In 1999, in hopes of shoring up a failing business, the Starks borrowed $56,900 against their home and secured the loan with a mortgage. Despite the infusion of funds, the business failed and in April 2000 the Starks petitioned for bankruptcy protection. At about the same time, the Starks’ lender sold the note, which was in default, to EMC Mortgage Corporation making EMC a debt collector under the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692o. In anticipation of foreclosure, the Starks vacated the home and moved into an apartment across the street. The Starks, however, remained in possession of legal title and did not abandon the home. In June 2000, EMC’s motion to lift the automatic stay was granted and it proceeded with foreclosure.

3

The Starks were represented throughout the foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings by attorney Roy True who notified EMC’s attorney, Scott Greenberg of Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard, P.C., that his representation of the Starks extended beyond the bankruptcy proceedings. Between October 2000 and March 2001, despite letters from True advising EMC he represented the Starks and not to contact them directly, EMC tried several times to deal directly with the Starks. In April 2001, the Starks filed suit against EMC and its attorneys alleging violations of the FDCPA.

4

EMC moved to compel arbitration as required by the parties’ loan agreement, and the district court ordered the dispute submitted to arbitration. The order compelling arbitration is not at issue in this appeal. During the pendency of the arbitration, EMC’s agent, without the Starks’ consent, forcibly entered the home and posted a sign in the front window indicating the “Property has been secured and winterized. Not for sale or rent. In case of emergency call 1st American (732) 363-3626.” The agent then contacted Mrs. Stark at her apartment, and EMC contacted Mr. Stark at work regarding the matter. Further, on November 5, 2001 and January 27, 2002, EMC wrote to the Starks directly regarding insurance coverage on the home. In total, the Starks testified EMC contacted them by mail, telephone or in person at least ten times after being advised they were represented by counsel.

5

After these incidents, the Starks moved to amend their complaint to include claims alleging intentional torts against EMC and seeking punitive damages. EMC opposed the motion arguing the arbitration agreement expressly precluded an award of punitive damages. The Starks contended the limitation on punitive damages was unconscionable and unenforceable. After extensive briefing, the arbitrator concluded the limitation was ambiguous and construed the language against EMC. The arbitrator noted the agreement purported to grant him “all powers provided by law” and then purported to deny the power to award “punitive … damages … as to which borrower and lender expressly waive any right to claim to the fullest extent permitted by law.” The arbitrator concluded,

6

In at least three places the Stark’s [sic] are promised that they can seek all damages allowed by law, and then that promise is taken away. This is the keystone of an ambiguous contract, and the Agreement is to be interpreted in their favor. As a matter of law they are not prohibited from seeking punitive damages from EMC.

7

Appellee’s app. at 22.

8

The arbitrator found EMC violated the FDCPA and awarded the Starks $1000 each in statutory damages, $1000 each in actual damages, $22,780 in attorneys fees, and $9300 for the cost of the arbitration. The arbitrator found EMC’s forcible entry into the premises “reprehensible and outrageous and in total disregard of plaintiff’s [sic] legal rights” and awarded $6,000,000 in punitive damages against EMC. Id. app. at 17.1

9

The Starks moved to confirm the award, and EMC moved to vacate the punitive damages award arguing the arbitration agreement expressly prohibited punitive damages. No other aspect of the award was challenged. The district court vacated the award of punitive damages, holding the agreement was unambiguous and not susceptible to the arbitrator’s interpretation.

10

On appeal, the Starks contend the arbitrator acted within his authority in construing the contract and his finding of an ambiguity was not irrational. EMC argues the district court’s order vacating the award of punitive damages should be affirmed.

II

11

When reviewing a district court’s order confirming or vacating an arbitral award, the court’s findings of fact are reviewed for clear error and questions of law are reviewed de novo. First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 947-48, 115 S.Ct. 1920, 131 L.Ed.2d 985 (1995); Titan Wheel Corp. of Iowa v. Local 2048, Int’l Ass’n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, 253 F.3d 1118, 1119 (8th Cir. 2001).

12

When reviewing an arbitral award, courts accord “an extraordinary level of deference” to the underlying award itself, Keebler Co. v. Milk Drivers & Dairy Employees Union, Local No. 471, 80 F.3d 284, 287 (8th Cir.1996), because federal courts are not authorized to reconsider the merits of an arbitral award “even though the parties may allege that the award rests on errors of fact or on misinterpretation of the contract.” Bureau of Engraving, Inc. v. Graphic Communication Int’l Union, Local 1B, 284 F.3d 821, 824 (8th Cir.2002) (quotingUnited Paperworkers Int’l Union v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29, 36, 108 S.Ct. 364, 98 L.Ed.2d 286 (1987)). Indeed, an award must be confirmed even if a court is convinced the arbitrator committed a serious error, so “long as the arbitrator is even arguably construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of his authority.” Bureau of Engraving, 284 F.3d at 824 (quoting Misco, 484 U.S. at 38).

13

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16, established “a liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements.” Moses H. Cone Mem. Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765 (1983). Thus, the FAA only allows a district court to vacate an arbitration award

14

(1) Where the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means.

15

(2) Where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators, or either of them.

16

(3) Where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing, upon sufficient cause shown, or in refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy; or of any other misbehavior by which the rights of any party have been prejudiced.

17

(4) Where the arbitrators exceeded their powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a mutual, final, and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not made.

18

9 U.S.C. § 10(a).

19

Similarly, under 9 U.S.C. § 11 a reviewing court may only modify the arbitrator’s award

20

(a) Where there was an evident material miscalculation of figures or an evident material mistake in the description of any person, thing, or property referred to in the award.

21

(b) Where the arbitrators have awarded upon a matter not submitted to them, unless it is a matter not affecting the merits of the decision upon the matter submitted.

22

(c) Where the award is imperfect in matter of form not affecting the merits of the controversy.

23

9 U.S.C. § 11.

24

A “district court must take the award as it finds it and either vacate the entire award using section 10 or modify the award using section 11.” Legion Ins. Co. v. VCW, Inc., 198 F.3d 718, 721 (8th Cir.1999). The deference owed to arbitration awards, however, “is not the equivalent of a grant of limitless power,” Leed Architectural Prods., Inc. v. United Steelworkers of Am., Local 6674, 916 F.2d 63, 65 (2d Cir.1990), and “courts are neither entitled nor encouraged simply to `rubber stamp’ the interpretations and decisions of arbitrators.”Matteson v. Ryder Sys. Inc., 99 F.3d 108, 113 (3d Cir.1996). Thus, courts may also vacate arbitral awards which are “completely irrational” or “evidence[] a manifest disregard for the law.” Hoffman v. Cargill Inc., 236 F.3d 458, 461 (8th Cir.2001) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

25

An award is “irrational where it fails to draw its essence from the agreement” or it “manifests disregard for the law where the arbitrators clearly identify the applicable, governing law and then proceed to ignore it.” Id. at 461-62. “An arbitrator’s award draws its essence from the [parties’ agreement] as long as it is derived from the agreement, viewed in light of its language, its context, and any other indicia of the parties’ intention.” Johnson Controls, Inc., Sys. & Servs. Div. v. United Ass’n of Journeymen, 39 F.3d 821, 825 (7th Cir.1994) (internal quotations omitted).

26

Faced with these limitations on a court’s ability to review arbitration awards, EMC argues the arbitrator’s award of punitive damages was properly vacated under § 10 because the arbitrator exceeded his powers by modifying the unambiguous agreement, and properly modified under § 11 because in considering the issue of punitive damages the arbitrator made a decision on a matter not submitted to him.2 EMC also argues the arbitrator’s finding of an ambiguity was irrational and without foundation in reason or fact because the clear language of the agreement precludes an award of punitive damages. Finally, EMC argues the award of punitive damages was excessive and made in manifest disregard of the law. Because we conclude the arbitration agreement unambiguously permitted the award of punitive damages, we hold the award of punitive damages was proper and reverse the district court.

III

27

The plain language of the arbitration agreement states the “borrower and lender expressly waive any right to claim [punitive damages] to the fullest extent permitted by law.” Appellee’s app. at 19 (emphasis added). Thus, the agreement only effected a limited waiver of punitive damages, that is, punitive damages were waived only if the governing law permitted such a waiver. Conversely, if the law did not permit the waiver of punitive damages, the arbitration agreement unambiguously preserved the right to claim them.

28

Under Missouri law “there is no question that one may never exonerate oneself from future liability for intentional torts or for gross negligence, or for activities involving the public interest.” Alack v. Vic Tanny Int’l of Mo., Inc., 923 S.W.2d 330, 337 (Mo.1996) (citingLiberty Fin. Mgmt. Corp. v. Beneficial Data Processing Corp., 670 S.W.2d 40, 48 (Mo.App.1984)) (in turn citing 6A Corbin on Contracts, § 1472 (1962)). An attempt to procure a waiver of punitive damages is an attempt to exonerate oneself from future liability for intentional torts or gross negligence, because the remedy of punitive damages would otherwise be available for such acts. Thus, Missouri law did not permit EMC to exonerate itself from liability for the intentional torts committed against the Starks by procuring the punitive damages waiver, and the arbitrator did not exceed his authority in awarding punitive damages.

29

We recognize the FAA allows parties to incorporate terms into arbitration agreements that are contrary to state law. See UHC Mgmt. Co. v. Computer Sciences, Corp., 148 F.3d 992, 997 (8th Cir.1998) (holding “[p]arties may choose to be governed by whatever rules they wish regarding how an arbitration itself will be conducted.”) (citation omitted). Thus, had the parties to this agreement intended its interpretation to be governed solely by the FAA, the punitive damages waiver might have barred any such award. The plain language of the agreement, however, makes it clear Missouri law applies to this issue.

30

The agreement’s arbitration clause provides,

31

Arbitration. To the extent allowed by applicable law, any Claim … shall be resolved by binding arbitration in accordance with (1) the Federal Arbitration Act, . . . (2) the Expedited Procedures of the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association … and (3) this Agreement.

32

Appellee’s app. at 19 (emphasis added).

33

The agreement then defines applicable law as “the laws of the state in which the property which secures the Transaction is located.” Id.(emphasis added). In other words, the agreement makes clear the parties intent to apply Missouri state substantive law while operating within the framework of the FAA, American Arbitration Association rules and the agreement. As previously noted, the punitive damages waiver expressly states the parties intended to waive punitive damages only to the extent permitted by Missouri law. Because Missouri law would not permit a waiver under the facts of this case, we hold the arbitrator’s award of punitive damages was proper.

IV

34

Alternatively, while we believe the plain meaning of the agreement supports the award of punitive damages, we also conclude the arbitrator’s finding of an ambiguity was not irrational.

35

The arbitration clause states any claims will be resolved in accordance with the FAA, which permits a waiver of punitive damages. The choice of laws provision, however, states claims must be resolved in accordance with “applicable [Missouri] law,” which does not permit the waiver of punitive damages argued for by EMC in this case. Thus, an arbitrator could reasonably conclude this agreement is ambiguous.

36

In Mastrobuono v. Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc., 514 U.S. 52, 62, 115 S.Ct. 1212, 131 L.Ed.2d 76 (1995), the Supreme Court considered the juxtaposition of a choice of laws provision prohibiting punitive damages with an arbitration clause permitting an award of punitive damages. The Court concluded “[a]t most, the choice-of-law clause introduces an ambiguity into an arbitration agreement that would otherwise allow punitive damages awards.” Id. (Emphasis added). As in Mastrobuono, an arbitrator interpreting this agreement could reasonably conclude the apparent conflict between the arbitration clause and the choice of laws provision introduced an ambiguity into the agreement. Accordingly, the Supreme Court’s recognition that an ambiguity is created when an agreement purports to be governed by conflicting state and federal law is instructive, and supports the arbitrator’s finding of an ambiguity.

37

Additionally, we cannot ignore well-settled precedent from this court holding state contract law governs whether an arbitration agreement is ambiguous. See Lyster v. Ryan’s Family Steak Houses, Inc., 239 F.3d 943, 946 (8th Cir.2001). Under Missouri law, “[t]he primary rule in the interpretation of a contract is to ascertain the intention of the parties and to give effect to that intention.” Speedie Food Mart, Inc. v. Taylor, 809 S.W.2d 126, 129 (Mo.Ct.App.1991). The test for determining if an ambiguity exists in a written contract is “whether the disputed language, in the context of the entire agreement, is reasonably susceptible of more than one construction giving the words their plain meaning as understood by a reasonable average person.” Speedie Food Mart, 809 S.W.2d at 129.

38

In this case, EMC argues the exclusionary language is clear and unambiguous and shields it from liability for any award of punitive damages. When viewed in the context of Missouri law governing exculpatory clauses, however, this clause could easily be viewed as ambiguous. “A `latent ambiguity’ arises where a writing on its face appears clear and unambiguous, but some collateral matter makes the meaning uncertain.” Royal Banks of Missouri v. Fridkin, 819 S.W.2d 359, 362 (Mo. 1991) (en banc) (citation omitted). Here, the ambiguity arises because the clause attempts to effect a prospective waiver of rights which Missouri law holds may not be waived. Under Missouri law “there is no question that one may never exonerate oneself from future liability for intentional torts or for gross negligence, or for activities involving the public interest.” Alack, 923 S.W.2d at 337 (citations omitted). Words purporting to waive claims which cannot be waived “demonstrate the ambiguity of the contractual language.” Id.

39

Finally, EMC “cannot overcome the common-law rule of contract interpretation that a court should construe ambiguous language against the interest of the party that drafted it.” Mastrobuono, 514 U.S. at 62, 115 S.Ct. 1212 (citations omitted). EMC “cannot now claim the benefit of the doubt. The reason for this rule is to protect the party who did not choose the language from an unintended or unfair result.” Id. at 63, 115 S.Ct. 1212.

40

Accordingly, we conclude the arbitrator’s finding that the contract was ambiguous was not irrational.

V

41

EMC next argues the award of punitive damages was properly vacated because it is excessive and exhibits a manifest disregard of the law. We disagree.

42

“Beyond the grounds for vacation provided in the FAA, an award will only be set aside where it is completely irrational or evidences a manifest disregard for the law.” Hoffman, 236 F.3d at 461 (internal citations and quotations omitted) (emphasis added). “These extra-statutory standards are extremely narrow: … [A]n arbitration decision only manifests disregard for the law where the arbitrators clearly identify the applicable, governing law and then proceed to ignore it.” Id. at 461-62 (citing Stroh Container Co. v. Delphi Indus., 783 F.2d 743, 749-50 (8th Cir.1986)) (emphasis added).

43

“A party seeking vacatur [based on manifest disregard of the law] bears the burden of proving that the arbitrators were fully aware of the existence of a clearly defined governing legal principle, but refused to apply it, in effect, ignoring it.” Duferco Int’l Steel Trading v. T. Klaveness Shipping A/S, 333 F.3d 383, 389 (2d Cir.2003). Because “[a]rbitrators are not required to elaborate their reasoning supporting an award,” El Dorado Sch. Dist. # 15 v. Continental Cas. Co., 247 F.3d 843, 847 (8th Cir.2001) (internal quotations omitted), “[i]f they choose not to do so, it is all but impossible to determine whether they acted with manifest disregard for the law.” W. Dawahare v. Spencer,210 F.3d 666, 669 (6th Cir.2000) (citing Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Jaros, 70 F.3d 418, 421 (6th Cir. 1995)).

44

Manifest disregard of the law “is more than a simple error in law or a failure by the arbitrators to understand or apply it; and, it is more than an erroneous interpretation of the law.” Duferco Int’l, 333 F.3d at 389 (citations omitted). “Our disagreement with an arbitrator’s interpretation of the law or determination of the facts is an insufficient basis for setting aside his award.” El Dorado Sch. Dist., 247 F.3d at 847 (citing Hoffman, 236 F.3d at 462).

45

In support of its claim, EMC argues the arbitrator disregarded the Supreme Court’s pronouncements in BMW of N. Am., Inc. v. Gore,517 U.S. 559, 572-74, 116 S.Ct. 1589, 134 L.Ed.2d 809 (1996) (describing a 500:1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages as “breathtaking” and suspicious), and State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 426, 123 S.Ct. 1513, 155 L.Ed.2d 585 (2003) (finding a 145:1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages presumptively excessive). In so arguing, however, EMC has failed to present any evidence that the arbitrator “clearly identif[ied] the applicable, governing law and then proceed[ed] to ignore it.” Hoffman,236 F.3d at 461-62 (citing Stroh Container, 783 F.2d at 749-50). None of the cases relied upon by EMC are cited in the arbitrator’s decision,3 and there is nothing in the record to demonstrate “one of the parties clearly stated the law and the arbitrator[ ] expressly chose not to follow it.” W. Dawahare, 210 F.3d at 670; see also Duferco Int’l, 333 F.3d at 390 (“In determining an arbitrator’s awareness of the law, we impute only knowledge of governing law identified by the parties to the arbitration.”) (citation omitted).

46

Indeed, to the extent the arbitrator’s decision sets forth the basis for the punitive damages award, it is apparent the arbitrator did not disregard governing law. The arbitrator’s award was intended to punish EMC and to deter others from similar conduct. In arriving at the appropriate amount, the arbitrator specifically found the $6,000,000 award (amounting to one-tenth of one percent of shareholder equity) was “not great punishment but it should act as a deterence [sic].” Appellee’s app. at 18; see also Barnett v. La Societe Anonyme Turbomeca France, 963 S.W.2d 639, 655 (Mo.App.1998) (holding under Missouri law the net worth of a defendant is relevant when determining the extent of punitive damages necessary to punish and deter the defendant). Accordingly, we reject EMC’s claim of manifest disregard.

47

“Although this result may seem draconian, the rules of law limiting judicial review and the judicial process in the arbitration context are well established and the parties … can be presumed to have been well versed in the consequences of their decision to resolve their disputes in this manner.” Stroh Container, 783 F.2d at 751. Moreover, “[a]rbitration is not a perfect system of justice, nor it is [sic] designed to be.”Hoffman, 236 F.3d at 462 (citation omitted). Rather, it “is designed primarily to avoid the complex, time-consuming and costly alternative of litigation.” Id.

48

In the arbitration setting we have almost none of the protections that fundamental fairness and due process require for the imposition of this form of punishment. Discovery is abbreviated if available at all. The rules of evidence are employed, if at all, in a very relaxed manner. The factfinders (here the panel) operate with almost none of the controls and safeguards [present in traditional litigation.]

49

Lee v. Chica, 983 F.2d 883, 889 (8th Cir. 1993) (Beam, J. concurring in part and dissenting in part).

50

Here, EMC chose to resolve this “dispute quickly and efficiently through arbitration.” Schoch v. InfoUSA, Inc., 341 F.3d 785, 791 (8th Cir.2003), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 124 S.Ct. 1414, 158 L.Ed.2d 81 (2004). Indeed, it was EMC that insisted on removing the matter to arbitration. In so doing, EMC “got exactly what it bargained for.” Id. “Having entered such a contract, [EMC] must subsequently abide by the rules to which it agreed.” Hoffman, 236 F.3d at 463 (citation omitted).

VI

51

We reverse the district court’s order vacating the award of punitive damages and remand with instructions to confirm the arbitrator’s award in its entirety.

Notes:

1The arbitrator indicated the award of punitive damages was calculated as one percent of EMC’s shareholder equity. One percent of equity, however, would have resulted in an award of $60,000,000. The arbitrator later clarified this mistake indicating it was his intent to award $6,000,000. Thus, the award was actually calculated as one-tenth of one percent of shareholder equity

2EMC’s § 11 argument is clearly without merit. The issue of punitive damages was submitted to the arbitrator. If the award was improper because it exceeded the scope of the agreement, § 10 is the proper avenue to redress the arbitrator’s error

3The arbitrator’s decision predatesState Farm making it impossible for the arbitrator to have identified the decision as controlling.

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam

Does the Creditor Owe the Borrower a Loan Mod?

Many people have suffered when servicers lied to them about the need to miss payments in order to qualify for a loan modification.  But lenders owe borrowers no duty to give them loan modifications.

Lueras, 221 Cal. App. 4th at 68 (defendants “did not have a common law duty of care to offer, consider, or approve a loan modification, or to offer [plaintiff] alternatives to foreclosure,” nor “a duty of care to handle [plaintiff]’s loan `in such a way to prevent foreclosure and forfeiture of his property;'” however, “a lender does owe a duty to a borrower to not make material misrepresentations about the status of an application for a loan modification.”)

Borrowers should get all loan mod offers in writing, particularly claims that the borrower must miss payments to qualify.

Remember:  An oral agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on!

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Mort Gezzam

Erobobo, Rajamin – Why Borrowers Cannot Enforce the PSA

In the Rajamin opinion, the US 2nd Circuit made it clear that a only a party to, a person injured by, or a third party beneficiary of the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) has standing to enforce or dispute it.  Thus, the  effort to challenge standing to sue because of a violation of the PSA will ultimately fail and waste a lot of resources, as Rajamin discovered the hard way.

Rajamin v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co., 757 F. 3d 79 – Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit

How Courts have cited Rajamin

You will find the most recent serious citation to Rajamin in this Erobobo slip opinion:

WELLS FARGO BANK, NA v. EROBOBO, 2015 NY Slip Op 3522 – NY: Appellate Div., 2nd Dept. 2

In any event, Erobobo, as a mortgagor whose loan is owned by a trust, does not have standing to challenge the plaintiff’s possession or status as assignee of the note and mortgage based on purported noncompliance with certain provisions of the PSA (see Bank of N.Y. Mellon v Gales, 116 AD3d 723, 725; Rajamin v Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co., 757 F3d 79, 86-87 [2d Cir]).

—the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court (“Appellate Division”) ruled that mortgagors lack standing to assert such breaches, citing as authority the opinion of the district court in this very case: While holding that the plaintiff bank was not entitled to summary judgment in its action to foreclose the defendants’ mortgage, the Appellate Division affirmed the lower …
– in Rajamin v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co., 2014 and 3 similar citations
Under New York law, “only an intended beneficiary of a contract may assert a claim as a third-party beneficiary.”
– in Colton v. US National Bank, 2013 and one similar citation
“The weight of caselaw throughout the country holds that a non-party to a PSA lacks standing to assert non-compliance with the PSA as a claim or defense unless the non-party is an intended (not merely incidental) third party beneficiary of the PSA.”
– in IN RE DALY, 2015 and one similar citation
Plaintiffs have not alleged any facts that would support plausibly a claim that they are intended third-party beneficiaries of the PSAs. Thus, Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge Defendants’ alleged ownership of the Notes and [Deeds of Trust] or authority to foreclose based on non-compliance with the PSAs
– in Tran v. Bank of New York, 2014 and one similar citation
In an opinion filed on March 28, 2013, the district court granted the motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge defendants’ ownership of the notes and mortgages based on alleged noncompliance with the terms of the PSAs.
However, Erobobo has been criticized and multiple federal courts, including in this District, have held that under New York law, an assignment of a mortgage into a trust in violation of the terms of the PSA is voidable, not void
– in HALACY v. WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, 2013 and one similar citation
These cases have further held that for a party to be considered a third-party beneficiary to a PSA, the intent to render a non-party a third-party beneficiary must be clear from the face of the PSA.
– in Tran v. Bank of New York, 2014 and one similar citation
In so holding, the Court in Rajamin stated that it was joining “the weight of the case law around the country.”
But even if he would benefit from some of its provisions, he is at most an “incidental” beneficiary.
Because plaintiffs have failed to satisfy both the constitutional and prudential requirements of standing, they may not assert a quiet title claim.[11
– in ZUTEL v. WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, 2014 and 2 similar citations
“The `prudential standing rule… normally bars litigants from asserting the rights or legal interests of others in order to obtain relief from injury to themselves.'”
– in Gache v. HILL REALTY ASSOCIATES, LLC, 2014 and 2 similar citations
The Second Circuit affirmed, holding “as unauthorized acts of the Trustee may be ratified by the trust’s beneficiaries such acts are not void but voidable; and that under New York Law such acts are voidable only at the insistence of a trust beneficiary or a person acting on his behalf.”
—disagreeing with Glaski’s interpretation of New York law; finding improper transfer into investment trust is voidable, not void
– in Kan v. Guild Mortgage Co., 2014 and 2 similar citations
Thus, although a post-closing-date loan assignment violates the terms of the PSA, these courts conclude that such an assignment is not void,[4] but is merely voidable, because the trustee has the option of accepting the loan assignment despite its untimeliness.
– in Wood v. Germann, 2014 and one similar citation
In addition to these “constitutional limitations” on federal court jurisdiction, the standing inquiry also “involves… prudential limitations on its exercise.”
– in ZUTEL v. WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, 2014 and one similar citation
These courts have recognized that a PSA is a contract between the originating lender and the subsequent purchaser/trustee and that, under traditional principles of contract law, a contracting party is capable of ratifying conduct that is done in violation of the contract.
– in Wood v. Germann, 2014 and one similar citation
—borrowers sought a judgment declaring that the defendant trusts did not own the borrowers’ loans and mortgages because the parties to the trusts breached the terms of the securitization agreements.
– in IN RE LAKE CHARLES RETAIL DEVELOPMENT LLC, 2014 and one similar citation
As defendant was not an intended third party beneficiary of the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, he may not assert noncompliance
– in US BANK NA v. Duthie, 2014 and one similar citation
In fact, plaintiffs'”impl [ication] that the loans are owned by some other entity or entities [] is highly implausible, for that would mean that since 200 [5], there was no billing or other collection effort by” the loan’s true owner.
– in ZUTEL v. WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, 2014 and one similar citation

How to Get the Benefits of a Securitization Audit FREE

Securitization Audits Decline Dramatically… Find Out Why

Securitization Audits Chart
Why the Shocking Decline in Securitization Audits?

 

How to Get the Benefits of a Securitization Audit FREE

Benefits?  WHAT Benefits? Learn below why the audit is a complete waste of resources.

Copyright © 1 April 2014 by Bob Hurt.  All rights reserved.  http://MortgageAttack.com

TECHNICAL ALERT:  I, the author, am not an attorney or practitioner, and I do not seek in this article to solve any specific problem for any specific person.   I provide this information for academic and discussion purposes.  Consultant a COMPETENT attorney on all questions of law.  To ensure competence, demand and verify a winning record in similar cases before you trust his battle scheme.

Background:  Why I Write this Article

Securitization audits have suffered a SHOCKING decline recently as foreclosure victims learned the hard way that the audits give no value to the foreclosure process, and foreclosure victims cannot use them to avert foreclosure.

Hundreds of people have called me personally or written to me about their mortgage problems since 2009.  I would say thousands, but I have lost count. That year I started giving people FREE information about what works and what does not win mortgage disputes against creditors and their agents and associates.

The majority of those callers had already blown hundreds to thousands of dollars on a “Securitization Audit” or flimsy “Loan Audit” which did not have the worth of the powder to blow them to hell.  Many mortgagors had also blown thousands to pay a foreclosure “pretense defense” attorney for the privilege of dragging out the foreclosure.  Most of those foreclosure victims eventually lost their homes to foreclosure auction.  Many who did loan mods went into foreclosure again and either lost the home or soon will.

Every one of those people bought a service from a clueless “Kool-Aid Drinker” or an out-and-out scammer (charlatan, cheat, con artist).  Even those attorneys who promised “We’ll keep you in the house as long as we can” committed legal malpractice if they failed to examine the mortgage transaction comprehensively for evidence of fraud and other torts, contract breaches, regulation breaches, and legal errors, and as a result failed to lodge the causes of action and affirmative defenses that would have averted foreclosure.

I write this commentary not just to give all those snakes-in-the-grass the literary black eye that they deserve, but also to give the reader something FREE that bozo scammers charge hundreds or thousands for.

I shall tell you, in short order, how to find out who owns your note and why the chain of ownership of the note has no relevance to foreclosure courts.

Securitization audit scammers tell their desperate, clueless foreclosure victim prospects that they will research the “chain of title” and find out who owns the note and what shenanigans happened during transfers of note ownership.   They will suggest that the chain of title to the note really matters in a foreclosure dispute.

In reality, as demonstrated by myriad foreclosure sales, it does not matter at all to the foreclosure judge or trustee.  Those scammers will talk about their certification, credentials, and the crookedness of securitization, putting the note into the trust after the closing date specified in the pooling and servicing agreement (PSA), REMIC violations, Bloomberg terminals for researching Securities and Exchange Commission information, etc.  And they will show you a wad of useless affidavits, and claim to have functioned as expert witnesses.  They will not tell you their affidavits and testimony have no notable effect on foreclosure decisions.

Judges and Lawyers Declare the Securitization Audit CROOKED

I shall prove to you right now that those securitization audit scammers and the charlatan attorneys who con you into paying for such audits are liars and con artists for suggesting such audits have an iota of value.

See, Demilio v. Citizens Home Loans, Inc. (M.D. Ga., 2013) (“Frankly, the Court is astonished by…Plaintiff’s attempt to incorporate such an ‘audit,’ which is more than likely the product of “charlatans who prey upon people in economically dire situation.”)

In other words, after reading this, you show yourself a fool if you ever fall for their suggestions that you need the audit to terminate a foreclosure permanently.

You do not have to take my word for it.  Look at what two attorneys say about securitization audits:

  • “… Most ‘securitization audits’ that I have reviewed are inadmissible in a court of law; they contain a mere opinion of a layman without personal knowledge (direct experience) as to what happened with a particular mortgage note after closing. Why pay a securitization auditor when you can have your grandmother provide an opinion as to what happened with the note and have her sign an ‘audit report’? In reality, in about 95% of all cases, the information supplied by a ‘securitization audit’ is either already publically available, or it is unavailable to either the homeowner or the auditor. Thus, where a homeowner genuinely lacks this information, an outsider’s opinion (in contrast to the bank’s admission) is unlikely to help.”

Gregory Bryl, Foreclosure Defense Attorney, Virginia and Florida.

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/03/27/beware-of-the-latest-foreclosure-rescue-scam-securitization-audits/

  • “Mortgage Loan Securitization Audits ARE A CRIME! … THAT INFORMATION IS USELESS IF IT IS NOT ADMISSABLE IN COURT! … So I issue the challenge once again….WILL ANY SO CALLED SECURITIZATION EXPERT PLEASE STAND UP?   PLEASE, SHARE WITH ME ADMISSABLE EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS IN ANY FORECLOSURE OR BANKRUPTCY CASE!” 

Matthew Weidner, Foreclosure Defense Attorney, Florida.

http://mattweidnerlaw.com/mortgage-securitization-audits-they-are-a-crime/

Why A Borrower Defaulting a Valid Loan Cannot Beat Foreclosure

Before I tell you how to get the benefit of a securitization audit FREE, and how to get the name of the note owner, let us examine some essential facts.  To get to those facts, please answer these questions, assuming you have become a mortgagor (borrower):

  1. Did you borrow money to purchase, refinance, or get a line of credit on a home?
  2. Did you sign a note in which you agreed that you had received a loan?
  3. Did you sign a security instrument (Deed of Trust – DOT, or Mortgage) in which you asserted having seisin (possession) and having transferred the estate to the lender for purpose of a mortgage or deed of trust?
  4. Did the lender assign a servicer to service your account (take payments manage, escrow, distribute proceeds, answer your questions regarding servicing the loan)?
  5. Did you make any timely payments to the servicer?

Foreclosure Deals with Breach of Contract

If you answered yes to those questions, then you know you have a contractual relationship with the lender, in which various other entities played a role (realtor, appraiser, mortgage broker, Title Company, attorney, etc.).

Moreover, you know that if either you or the others breach the contract, then that entitles you or the lender to take legal action.  You know that in a judicial foreclosure state the lender may sue you and take the house in a foreclosure sale if you breached the contract.  You know that in non-judicial foreclosure state, the lender may get the trustee to foreclose.

The lender needs to fulfill certain conditions, listed in § 22 of your loan security instrument, prior to such action, such as notify you that you breached the note, accelerate the note to make the balance due and payable now, and then take the matter to the trustee or sue you to get that money or the house.

You Lose the House if You Breached the Note

You SHOULD know that if the lender or his agents or associates engaged in some crooked behavior that invalidated the note or the loan transaction, that will give you reason to sue.

If the lender sues you for a breach and wins, the lender gets your house, or money from its sale, because the lender has a security instrument.

Unlike the lender, you do not have a security instrument that lets you go to the court or trustee to order the lender or his agent or associate to give up his house in some kind of foreclosure sale.  So how do you deal with injuries you suffered in the loan process? And how do you find out who owns the note?

Why Not Ask the Servicer and Complain to the CFPB?

You should know that if you want to learn who owns the note, you do not need a securitization audit because you can just ask the servicer. And that remains true if you want some error in your loan corrected.

You might know, though many do not, that the US Government has established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to resolve disputes between borrowers and lenders and their servicers. You can file a complaint at the following web site:

Why You Have No Standing in PSA or Note Assignment Disputes

But wait a minute. Surely you must wonder whether robo-signing, notary falsification of note assignments, assignment to a securitization trust after the closing date specified in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA), violations of Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC) rules, and other securitization and assignment issues have any bearing on foreclosure, and whether you can use related arguments to beat foreclosure.  You might actually believe a securitization audit can shine some light on these concerns.

Let us answer another set of questions to get to the truth:

  1. Did you become a party to, become injured by, or become a third party beneficiary of:
    1. The PSA for a trust that owns your note?
    2. Any assignment of your note to another creditor (owner of beneficial interest in the note)?

If you answered NO to both a and b above, then you know that neither the assignment nor the PSA have any effect on you whatsoever.  Surely you know they do not affect whether or not you have breached your note or owe a mortgage loan debt.  So, therefore, you know (do you not?) that you have no standing to dispute or enforce the PSA or any assignment of the note in court.  That means robo-signing of the note (one of those ridiculous things securitization auditors tell you they will find for you) has become irrelevant to you and to any court.

See, Javaheri v. JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., 2012 WL 3426278 at *6 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2012). (“Plaintiffs here do not dispute that they defaulted on the loan payments, and the robo-signing allegations are without effect on the validity of the foreclosure process.”)

About Blank Indorsements of the Note

Furthermore, according to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), if a creditor indorses the note in blank instead of naming an assignee, the note becomes bearer paper. See, UCC §3-205 https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/3/3-205.

  • 3-205. SPECIAL INDORSEMENT; BLANK INDORSEMENT; ANOMALOUS INDORSEMENT.

(a) If an indorsement is made by the holder of an instrument, whether payable to an identified person or payable to bearer, and the indorsement identifies a person to whom it makes the instrument payable, it is a “special indorsement.” When specially indorsed, an instrument becomes payable to the identified person and may be negotiated only by the indorsement of that person. The principles stated in Section 3-110 apply to special indorsements.

(b) If 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 specially indorsed.

(c) The holder may convert a blank indorsement that consists only of a signature into a special indorsement by writing, above the signature of the indorser, words identifying the person to whom the instrument is made payable.

(d) “Anomalous indorsement” means an indorsement made by a person who is not the holder of the instrument. An anomalous indorsement does not affect the manner in which the instrument may be negotiated.

 

An enormous number of notes bear blank indorsements.  That makes it easy to hand them off without cumbersome paper trails. Thus, whoever holds the note can enforce it, whether or not the holder owns beneficial interest in it. So, try answering this question:

  1. If the most recent indorser of your note indorsed your note in blank, why would you care who owns it?

I suppose you realize that you should not care because the note holder, regardless of identity, will foreclose and take the house if you breach the note.

Who May Enforce the Note, Even if Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed

The UCC defines the “PETE”  – Person Entitled to Enforce the note.  See, UCC §3-301 https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/3/3-301.

  • 3-301. PERSON ENTITLED TO ENFORCE INSTRUMENT.

Person entitled to enforce” an instrument means (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 3-309 or 3-418(d). A person may be a person entitled to enforce the instrument even though the person is not the owner of the instrument or is in wrongful possession of the instrument.

In the event the note becomes lost, destroyed, or stolen, the PETE can enforce the note anyway. See, UCC §3-309 https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/3/3-309.

  • 3-309. ENFORCEMENT OF LOST, DESTROYED, OR STOLEN INSTRUMENT.

(a) A person not in possession of an instrument is entitled to enforce the instrument if:

(1) the person seeking to enforce the instrument

(A) was entitled to enforce it the instrument when loss of possession occurred, or

(B) has directly or indirectly acquired ownership of the instrument from a person who was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred;

(2) the loss of possession was not the result of a transfer by the person or a lawful seizure; and

(3) the person cannot reasonably obtain possession of the instrument because the instrument was destroyed, its whereabouts cannot be determined, or it is in the wrongful possession of an unknown person or a person that cannot be found or is not amenable to service of process.

(b) A person seeking enforcement of an instrument under subsection (a) must prove the terms of the instrument and the person’s right to enforce the instrument. If that proof is made, Section 3-308applies to the case as if the person seeking enforcement had produced the instrument. The court may not enter judgment in favor of the person seeking enforcement 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. Adequate protection may be provided by any reasonable means.

In view of these laws, the Trustees and Courts do not require the PETE to present the original note in order to foreclose. Some states, like Florida, which require the original and will not admit into evidence a copy of a negotiable instrument, provide a law allowing a creditor to reestablish a lost, stolen, or destroyed instrument, and thereby effectively to create a new, legal “original.” See Florida Statutes, Chapter 71, http://goo.gl/hrB9bY.

So, answer these questions:

  1. Can a creditor foreclose a lost, stolen, or destroyed note on which you defaulted?
  2. Can a PETE who does not have creditor status foreclose a note in default?

I hope you answered YES to those two questions.  If so, you have by now begun to realize that only two questions have salient importance in your mortgage:

  1. Did you breach the note?
  2. Does the note lack validity?

If you answer yes to the first question, then you know that the PETE can enforce the note by foreclosing and forcing a sale of the collateral property – your house.

The ONLY Reliable Basis for Battling the Creditor and Associates

If you answered yes to the second question, then you might have an opportunity to undo the foreclosure and wind up with the house free and clear, or with a loan modified to your advantage, or setoffs from your debt, or compensatory and punitive damages awards.  You may sue for injuries that made the note invalid, whether or not you face foreclosure.

You may NOT sue until you have complied with § 20 of your loan security instrument, which provides the following delightful text:

Neither Borrower nor Lender may commence, join, or be joined to any judicial action (as either an individual litigant or the member of a class) that arises from the other party’s actions pursuant to this Security Instrument or that alleges that the other party has breached any provision of, or any duty owed by reason of, this Security Instrument, until such Borrower or Lender has notified the other party (with such notice given in compliance with the requirements of Section 15) of such alleged breach and afforded the other party hereto a reasonable period after the giving of such notice to take corrective action.  If Applicable Law provides a time period which must elapse before certain action can be taken, that time period will be deemed to be reasonable for purposes of this paragraph.  The notice of acceleration and opportunity to cure given to Borrower pursuant to Section 22 and the notice of acceleration given to Borrower pursuant to Section 18 shall be deemed to satisfy the notice and opportunity to take corrective action provisions of this Section 20.

You can find applicable law (RESPA – Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act – 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.) and Regulations (Regulation X – 12 C.F.R. 1024 et seq.) at the below web sites, but take note that I have provided links to the latest at this point in time, and you might need to refer to earlier years based on your situation:

Take note of (carefully read) 12 U.S.C. 2605 and 12 C.F.R. 1024.35 at the above links, for these tell you the duties of the servicer to notify you of changes of the servicer, and explain what questions the servicer must answer for you, what questions the servicer may ignore, and what corrective actions the servicer must take.

So, you see, if you know the note lacks validity in some respect because the lender, servicer, title company, mortgage broker, appraiser, realtor, or some attorney or other third party injured you at the inception of the loan, you can ask for a settlement from, or sue the injurious party.  You start by bringing the injuries to the attention of the servicer.

Now you face a gnawing question that you absolutely must answer:

  1. How do you find out whether the note lacks validity?

Why Mortgage Borrowers Need a Professional Mortgage Examination

Obviously, YOU should examine all the documents related to your loan transaction for evidence of fraud, regulatory breaches, contract breaches, legal errors, and flim-flams. You might find all kinds of causes of action (reasons to sue) that entitle you to challenge the validity of the loan in court and get the court to compensate you for your injuries.

To examine your loan transaction and related issues comprehensively and comprehensively, you will need a good working knowledge of tort law, contract law, mortgage finance law, real estate law, criminal law, bankruptcy law, foreclosure law, consumer credit law, and federal and state regulations law dealing with mortgages, lending, disclosures, credit reporting, debt collection, equal opportunity, etc.

That brings us to the toughest question of all:

  1. Do you have the requisite knowledge and skill to perform a comprehensive, professional examination of your loan transaction and any related court actions?

Frankly, I guess most home loan borrowers do not have a clue how to do that. So naturally, you will want an answer to this question:

  1. Who has such competence and experience to perform a comprehensive mortgage loan transaction examination?

This article focuses on an entirely different issue.  It deals with why you do not need a securitization audit and how to get the putative benefits of such an audit FREE.  So, I shall address the answer to the above question briefly at the end of the article.

But, I do guarantee you right now that NO securitization auditor or so-called forensic loan auditor, and only the rarest of attorneys, has the remotest capability of doing such an examination correctly without wasting your money.

How to Discover Who Owns Your Mortgage Note:  Ask the Servicer

So let us get on with this final question:

  1. How do I find out who owns the note?

How to Avoid Paying the Wrong Party

Most people worry about who owns the note because they do not want to pay the wrong person and then face an accusation of breaching the note through non-payment.  Some simply want to mount a challenge against foreclosure, thinking that if the wrong person forecloses, that will justify asking the court to dismiss the case or stop the foreclosure.

Suppose you do not know who owns the note and you fear that the wrong person will receive your mortgage payments. That could open you to an accusation by the real creditor that you breached the note through non-payment.  The courts provide a means for ensuring that your payment goes to the right party:  the Interpleader Action.

Your loan security instrument identifies whom to pay. If you ever doubt whom to pay, you can file the interpleader action to remove doubt and comply with the terms of your loan.  The court will assign someone to take your money and pay it to the correct party.

Federal Law Helps You Find the Owner of the Note

As to how to find out who owns the note, federal law requires the creditor and servicer to notify you of any change in creditor or servicer timely so you do not pay the wrong party.  Read the law for yourself, here:

See, 15 U.S.C. 1641(f)

(f) Treatment of servicer

(1) In general

A servicer of a consumer obligation arising from a consumer credit transaction shall not be treated as an assignee of such obligation for purposes of this section unless the servicer is or was the owner of the obligation.

(2) Servicer not treated as owner on basis of assignment for administrative convenience

A servicer of a consumer obligation arising from a consumer credit transaction shall not be treated as the owner of the obligation for purposes of this section on the basis of an assignment of the obligation from the creditor or another assignee to the servicer solely for the administrative convenience of the servicer in servicing the obligation. Upon written request by the obligor, the servicer shall provide the obligor, to the best knowledge of the servicer, with the name, address, and telephone number of the owner of the obligation or the master servicer of the obligation.

 

Federal law also requires the servicer and creditor to notify the borrower of any change in the servicer or creditor.

See, 15 U.S.C. 1641(g)

(g) Notice of new creditor

(1) In general

In addition to other disclosures required by this subchapter, not later than 30 days after the date on which a mortgage loan is sold or otherwise transferred or assigned to a third party, the creditor that is the new owner or assignee of the debt shall notify the borrower in writing of such transfer, including—

(A) the identity, address, telephone number of the new creditor;

(B) the date of transfer;

(C) how to reach an agent or party having authority to act on behalf of the new creditor;

(D) the location of the place where transfer of ownership of the debt is recorded; and

(E) any other relevant information regarding the new creditor.

(2) Definition

As used in this subsection, the term “mortgage loan” means any consumer credit transaction that is secured by the principal dwelling of a consumer.

 

Thus, the borrower should always have timely notice in order to pay the right party and to know whether the right party has made any effort to foreclose a defaulted loan.

If in doubt the borrower need only call or write to ask the servicer.  The servicer must give the borrower the identity and contact information for the creditor, and the details regarding escrow for insurance and property tax, and other information regarding servicing the loan.

Get Help from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

If the servicer plays dumb or either the servicer or creditor fail to inform the borrower, then the borrower may seek enforcement assistance from the CFPB.  As I mentioned above, you can file a complaint via the web site:

Sue the Creditor and/or Servicer

As to punishing servicer recalcitrance, federal law provides borrowers with a private right of action against the creditor and/or servicer as appropriate. The court can order the defendants to pay the borrower up to $4000, plus any actual damage, plus legal fees and costs of the action.  The court can force the defendants to give the proper information to the borrower.

See, 15 U.S.C. 1640(a)

§1640. Civil liability

(a) Individual or class action for damages; amount of award; factors determining amount of award

Except as otherwise provided in this section, any creditor who fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this part, including any requirement under section 1635 of this title, subsection (f) or (g) of section 1641 of this title, or part D or E of this subchapter with respect to any person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the sum of—

(1) any actual damage sustained by such person as a result of the failure;

(2)(A)(i) in the case of an individual action twice the amount of any finance charge in connection with the transaction, (ii) in the case of an individual action relating to a consumer lease under part E of this subchapter, 25 per centum of the total amount of monthly payments under the lease, except that the liability under this subparagraph shall not be less than $200 nor greater than $2,000, (iii) in the case of an individual action relating to an open end consumer credit plan that is not secured by real property or a dwelling, twice the amount of any finance charge in connection with the transaction, with a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $5,000, or such higher amount as may be appropriate in the case of an established pattern or practice of such failures; 1 or (iv) in the case of an individual action relating to a credit transaction not under an open end credit plan that is secured by real property or a dwelling, not less than $400 or greater than $4,000; or

(B) in the case of a class action, such amount as the court may allow, except that as to each member of the class no minimum recovery shall be applicable, and the total recovery under this subparagraph in any class action or series of class actions arising out of the same failure to comply by the same creditor shall not be more than the lesser of $1,000,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the creditor;

(3) in the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoing liability or in any action in which a person is determined to have a right of rescission under section 1635 or 1638(e)(7) of this title, the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney’s fee as determined by the court; and

(4) in the case of a failure to comply with any requirement under section 1639 of this title, paragraph (1) or (2) of section 1639b(c) of this title, or section 1639c(a) of this title, an amount equal to the sum of all finance charges and fees paid by the consumer, unless the creditor demonstrates that the failure to comply is not material…

 

Please read the full Civil Liability law at the below link.  I have only provided the part important to this discussion.

The SEC Web Site

You can satisfy your curiosity about the PSA and other documents related to your loan, such as the bank’s 424(b)(5) prospectus form filing.  You need only dig around in Edgar at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s web site here:

You can find the regulations requiring such filings in 17 C.F.R. 230.424

Thus, You Need NO Securitization Audit to Receive its Alleged Benefits

As you can see, I have just saved you the cost of a securitization audit.  I have given you the main benefit of it, knowledge of how to discover the identity of the creditor, the person who owns beneficial interest in the note, and I have shown your entitlement to get the court to award damages to you for a failure to give that information.  And I gave you all that ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Now you know also that you do not need to pay some scalawag huckster of a securitization auditor to find out who owns your note. Most of the time the so-called auditor gives clients a bunch of useless information like a copy of the PSA, but fails to tell you who owns the note.  Why? Because creditors indorsed most securitized notes in blank and most notes have become securitized.

If in doubt, check the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac web site and enter your loan number, for they own many if not most of the mortgage notes.

If still in doubt, pick up the phone.  Call the servicer, and ask, “Who owns my note?”  If you get the bum’s rush, try it in writing, then contact the CFPB, and complain. If that does not work, SUE.

But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you bother with a securitization audit.  It will only waste your money and your time, and give you zero benefit.

Yes, I know I titled the article to make it seem like securitization audits provide benefits you can get free.  Well I gave you FREE those benefits that a securitization auditor fools victims into thinking they will get for a big fat fee, but which the victims do not get at all.

If you already made the ill-informed mistake of paying a securitization auditor for that useless audit, I suggest that you demand a full refund and report that scalawag to the State Attorney General.  Why?  Because those crooked “auditors” know they sell useless junk.

Save Your Money for a Professional Mortgage Examination

Besides, you will need all that money to pay a competent, professional mortgage transaction examiner to examine your transaction documents.  That will reveal injuries you have suffered.  And when you show the injuries to the servicer, the injurious parties, the CFPB, and the court, you thereby give yourself the ONLY opportunity of pressing your adversary into a settlement or of obtaining a damage award judgment from the court.

Yes, I know the ONLY such examination firm in the USA, the only one I can confidently recommend.

If you have a mortgage and you want help with it, familiarize yourself with the articles and concepts at the Mortgage Attack web site here:

Then write me using the contact form at the site, or pick up the phone and call me at

  • 1 (727) 669-5511

Bob Hurt

 

 

 

TILA Rescission in the wake of Jesinoski

Truth In Lending Act (TILA)

See the full law here:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1635
See the regulation Z here:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/12/226.23

Congress intended the right of rescission to protect the consumer from putting the family home at risk by using the home or the equity in it to secure a loan. It doesn’t apply in mortgage loans for the purpose of PURCHASING the house.  The TILA right of rescission doesn’t protect the home purchaser; it protects the borrower who has the home or equity in it.When looking at laws, read the whole area of a topic to find the definitions and rules of construction, like this one:


15 U.S. Code § 1602 – Definitions and rules of construction 


(x) The term “residential mortgage transaction” means a transaction in which a mortgage, deed of trust, purchase money security interest arising under an installment sales contract, or equivalent consensual security interest is created or retained against the consumer’s dwelling to finance the acquisition or initial construction of such dwelling.

The SCOTUS recently affirmed the simplicity of rescission in Jesinoski v Countrywide Home Loans.

Read a discussion of the opinion here:

http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/01/opinion-analysis-shortest-opinion-of-the-year-explains-tila-rescission-right/

The lender, upon receiving a rescission notice may either accept the rescission or dispute it.  If accepted the lender must return all payments and terminate its security interest. The borrower then must tender the loan proceeds to the lender. Should the lender wish to contest the rescission notice, it should send a letter so stating to the borrower. Then either the lender or the borrower may file a declaratory judgment action to determine whether the notice was valid.

Warning, if the borrower files a lawsuit, there is a filing fee and there is an obligation by the borrower to certify that they are making a pleading in good faith and upon a reasonable investigation. That should weed out a lot of truly frivolous claims. Without that mechanism in place, anyone can send a letter and assert a rescission demand, but if they do, they will be sanctioned.

 
In the case of the borrower defaulting, the lender might file a foreclosure action or initiate nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings as appropriate. The borrower would then assert rescission as an affirmative defense to foreclosure or in a declaratory judgment action to halt a nonjudicial sale. 
  
Remember, courts have the discretion to not only determine whether there is a proper basis for a rescission notice but also to reorder the creditor’s and debtor’s obligations in the event rescission was proper. Even if the rescission notice is well founded, a court can still require the borrower to show an ability to tender before forcing the lender to return funds and void a security interest.

Charlatans and Bozos in the foreclosure pretense defense industry have made grand pronouncements about how many lawsuits borrowers will file for rescission or injury resulting from having a rescission effort denied.  Frankly, I have no idea how many borrowers gave the lender a TIMELY TILA rescission notice.  But it makes no sense for the majority of borrowers over the past 7 or 8 years because many bought at the peak of the market, and 3 years later they had underwater loans because of the collapse of house values generally.  How could they pay that back?  Well, the arithmetic would allow subtraction Borrower Repayment minus Lender Repayment.  That might yield a sufficiently low amount for the borrower to sell the house in order to raise the money for repaying the lender.   But, in many cases, borrowers would still fall short, and they could not repay the lender, so the court would not order a rescission.

Yes, a few rescission lawsuits will come up, but not that many.  The Foreclosure pretender defenders will gladly take those borrower’s money for filing the action.

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam

Public Access to Law; Discipline for Foreclosure Pretender Defenders

To:

Professor Dale A. Whitman, Dean Emeritus
University of Missouri-Columbia Law School

Dear Professor Whitman:

I saw your article “Learning from the Mortgage Crisis” in a friend’s magazine.  I thought I’d write and ask you to send me a copy of the pdf file.  Will you send it to me, please, by return email?  Why haven’t you posted that article on your site?

In reading your UCC law journal article (April 2013) recommending a proper nationwide standard of electronic registration for mortgages and notes, I noted several issues which I believe warrant comment.

1.  I fully agree with you.  I don’t blame banks for creating MERS in order to reduce their costs related to recording loan security instruments with county clerks.  But the problems related to the musical chairs game with notes, the robosigning, the securitization, the phony bond ratings, the questionable assignments, the foreclosure plaintiffs who lack standing, and the note assignment after suing all beg for a standardized solution.  That system you recommend should also mandate notice from the court clerk of any lis pendens regarding a registered mortgage or deed of trust, and of any foreclosure complaint and of any related final judgment encumbering or freeing the mortgage.

2.  I doubt seriously that anyone but an idiot would destroy the note, and I believe none of the banks did.  I believe they stashed those notes in their warehouse file cabinets and did not want to risk their lost by giving handing them to the courts; furthermore, they wanted the freedom to use them commercially by assigning or handing them to others without the fetter of the court’s having possessions, SIMPLY BECAUSE of the UCC requirement that possession alone entitles enforcement.

From your footnote 16 about the article Naked Capitalism, FUBAR Mortgage Behavior; Florida Banks Destroyed Notes;  Others Never Transferred Them, Sept. 27, 2010, available at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/09/more-evidence-of-bank-fubar-mortgage-behavior-orida-banks-destroyed-notes-others-never-transferred-them.html.
3. I don’t believe the destroyed note allegation of the article because, in spite of Florida Statute 673.3091 permitting enforcement of the lost or destroyed note, we have the issue of admission of evidence in Florida courts.  I hope you will address it in a future commentary.

From Florida’s Evidence Code in Florida Statute 90.953:

90.953 Admissibility of duplicates.—A duplicate is admissible to the same extent as an original, unless:
(1) The document or writing is a negotiable instrument as defined in s. 673.1041, a security as defined in s. 678.1021, or any other writing that evidences a right to the payment of money, is not itself a security agreement or lease, and is of a type that is transferred by delivery in the ordinary course of business with any necessary endorsement or assignment.
(2) A genuine question is raised about the authenticity of the original or any other document or writing.
(3) It is unfair, under the circumstance, to admit the duplicate in lieu of the original.

4.  If the court cannot admit the copy of the lost note into evidence, how does the note become a fact before the court so that the court can enforce it?  Well, how about this handy statute that allows re-establishment?

71.011 Reestablishment of papers, records, and files.—All papers, written or printed, of any kind whatsoever, and the records and files of any official, court or public office, may be reestablished in the manner hereinafter provided.
(1) WHO MAY REESTABLISH.—Any person interested in the paper, file or record to be reestablished may reestablish it.
(2) VENUE.—If reestablishment is sought of a record or file, venue is in the county where the record or file existed before its loss or destruction. If it is a private paper, venue is in the county where any person affected thereby lives or if such persons are nonresidents of the state, then in any county in which the person seeking the reestablishment desires.
(3) REMEDY CONCURRENT.—Nothing herein shall prevent the reestablishment of lost papers, records and files at common law or in equity in the usual manner.
(4) EFFECT.—
(a) Any paper, record or file reestablished has the effect of the original. A private paper has such effect immediately on recording the judgment reestablishing it, but a reestablished record does not have that effect until recorded and a reestablished paper or file of any official, court or public officer does not have that effect until a certified copy is filed with the official or in the court or public office where the original belonged. A certified copy of any reestablished paper, the original of which is required or authorized by law to be recorded, may be recorded.
(b) When any deed forming a link in a chain of title to land in this state has been placed on the proper record without having been acknowledged or proven for record and has thereafter been lost or destroyed, certified copies of the record of the deed as so recorded may be received as evidence to reestablish the deed if the deed has been so recorded for 20 years.
(5) COMPLAINT.—A person desiring to establish any paper, record or file, except when otherwise provided, shall file a complaint in chancery setting forth that the paper, record or file has been lost or destroyed and is not in the custody or control of the petitioner, the time and manner of loss or destruction, that a copy attached is a substantial copy of that lost or destroyed, that the persons named in the complaint are the only persons known to plaintiff who are interested for or against such reestablishment.

Apparently, a Plaintiff can re-establish the lost note and then enforce it so long as he indemnifies the Defendant against some other party’s effort to enforce the original note.  Unfortunately, not many plaintiffs claiming to have lost the note have reestablished it in order to admit it into evidence.  In fact, I don’t know of any, but I have imperfect access to court records for conducting a research into the question.

FYI, I am not an attorney and have not attended law school.  I’d love to attend, but it isn’t likely to produce any benefit at this stage of my life except to satisfy my curiosity.  I study law issues as an avocation.

Since 2007 I have focused on Mortgage issues.  I started by inquiring into the means to beat foreclosures.  Eventually I abandoned that interest in favor of a principle I call “Mortgage Attack.”  I have fleshed out the principle in my web site http://MortgageAttack.com.  As I see it, a borrower who breached a valid note cannot defeat a mortgage foreclosure generally.  However, a colossal foreclosure defense legal industry has arisen by which attorneys deceive foreclosure victims with a contrary suggestion.   In actuality, they bilk their clients out of, for example, $2500 retainer plus $500 per month “for as long as we can keep you in the house.”  In my opinion, all those attorneys belong in prison for fraud.  To begin with, they KNOW the client will lose the house unless they con the client into a loan modification or short sale.  And then they continue using the same tired and frivolous arguments in the foreclosure pretense defense which they know will fail – complaining about statute of limitation tolling, robosigning, vapor money, no original note, conditions precedent, etc. They use copy-machine pleadings and motions in a dilatory effort to make it seem that they earn their fees.  And worst of all they NEVER bother examining the mortgage transaction documents for evidence of borrower injury by the lender and lender’s agents and associates.

If I came to you and said “Professor, I just got accused of breaching the note, and now they want to take my house.  Will you help me please?” what would you suggest?  Wouldn’t you say something like this:

Well did you take out a loan?  Did you sign the papers?  Did you breach the note by failing to pay timely?  Let me see those papers, and tell me a little about the events surrounding that loan.  Let me see the appraisal and original loan application, and HUD-1 report, and your TILA notices.?”

Wouldn’t you interview the supplicant to determine whether any shady activities happened?  Wouldn’t you verify that the appraiser, mortgage broker, and lender had proper licenses and operated from offices registered with the Secretary of State? Wouldn’t you ascertain whether the broker promised one set of terms, but hoodwinked the borrower into signing papers with a different set of terms.  Wouldn’t you look for broker lies on the loan application that made the borrower seem more than actually qualified?  Wouldn’t you look at the interest rates and origination fees to determine whether they exceeded standards?  Wouldn’t you look for patterns of misbehavior that might justify offsets even in the event the statute of limitations had tolled on the behaviors? Wouldn’t you look for evidence of violations of the FCRA, FDCPA, TILA, RESPA, HOEPA, ECOA, etc? Wouldn’t you look for contract breaches, fraud and other tortious conduct, legal errors, and regulatory violations that injured the borrower?

Normal foreclosure pretender defender attorneys might give those efforts lip service, but virtually never do them. They don’t do them because they don’t know how, a byproduct of lack of intimate familiarity with the regulations and tort/contract/mortgage law, and because of laziness and greed.  A competent mortgage examination team might spend 40 to 60 hours on such a project.  A typical. lawyer would want to charge a broke foreclosure victim $12,000 to $18,000 for the service.  As a result, the lawyer would have to get out of the business of foreclosure defense.

But, that is exactly what it will take for lawyers actually to give their foreclosure victim clients any hope of convincing the lender to modify the loan to the borrower’s benefit, or of convincing the court to order set-offs from the debt or compensatory and punitive damages to salve the borrower’s injuries.

Such winning awards do happen, but they are exceedingly rare.  And we shall never know how many such cases settle out of court because the borrower managed to convince the lender to avoid the related litigation.

Here’s an anomalous case for your reference:

http://mortgageattack.com/2014/07/10/brown-v-quicken-loans-shows-how-to-punish-abusive-mortgagees/

In that small article, I provided a link to all of the case documents I could find on the web.  You might find more using your WestLaw resources.  I have expected a final resolution of the case for several days.  The appraiser settled for $700K, and the trial court ordered Quicken Loans to pay nearly $5 million in damages, fees, and costs.  Quicken appealed.  Maybe you can find out when the West Virginia Supreme Court will issue its final opinion.

I consider Brown v Quicken Loans the “Poster Child” Mortgage Attack methodology case from which all pretender defender lawyers should learn.  But I estimate that lenders and their agents and associates have injured or cheated at least 80%, and upwards of 95% of mortgage borrowers in the past 15 years.  Precious few attorneys hold them accountable for that maleficent behavior.  And let’s face reality.  Brown’s lawyer took the case on contingency because he knew the judge and his sentiments well and knew his client had suffered extraordinary injuries, and he knew the client as decent person.  Few lawyers will take any foreclosure case on contingency until after having made it ready for trial.  That means the injured borrower must handle the case personally, if anyone handles it at all.

And this brings me to my final point.

You have wisely suggested a dramatic and electronic improvement to the loan registration problem.  But we have two far worse problems:

  1. Bad ethics in the foreclosure “Pretense Defense” attorney business model – it should be outlawed.
  2. Lack of availability of online resources for pro se litigants who should not need a lawyer for “mortgage attack,” coupled with the exorbitant cost imposed by the legal services monopoly.

I know of no cure for the bad ethics other than widespread class actions against foreclosure pretender defenders and State Attorneys attacking them for fraud.  Any attorney commits fraud by re-using frivolous legal arguments that he knows will lose.  Obviously, judges will not punish them, or they already would have.  And just as obviously, law school ethics professors have had little impact on the greed factor that drives attorneys to cheat their clients .

People would find it easier to prevail against crooked banks if they could afford an aggressive, competent attorney. But people cannot afford them generally because the attorneys enjoy a monopoly on legal services. Unauthorized Practice of Law statutes (UPL is a felony in Florida) have made possible that legal services monopoly.   But the law does not protect people against incompetent, lazy, or crooked attorneys. Legal writers have recognized this as an outrage for decades:

And of course many people would fare well in court on their own if they only learned the basics of litigation, civil procedure, and evidence code in high school.  Unfortunately, it has become exceedingly difficult to obtain a decent legal education in high school, college, or on one’s own because of the practice of hiding the law or making it inordinately expensive to discover.  Yes, we have the laws.  But government has posted them on a sign 20 feet in the air, and only attorneys have the ladder needed to read that sign.  By this I mean the actual law has become out of reach, not because people cannot find it, but because of the skill they need to locate the relevant part – court rulings.

Good attorneys support their legal arguments in their court filings with case law.  They generally find that case law using a legal search engine to which they subscribe for a monthly fee.  But the filings that resulted in that case law sit in a clerk’s file cabinet in courts across America, or in law books in law libraries that most people simply cannot access.

And that law which people can access suffers from exiguity or poor organization. In Florida only parties to the case and their lawyers can access the electronic filings in the case.  This seem more than a little strange in light of the reality that the constitution mandates that nearly all proceedings remain open to the public.

Thank God for Google Scholar and Google Books.  Google has made many old law books available, and many if not most of the appellate opinions across America available to the public without requiring that people browse the court sites.  Google has done the job that rightly belongs to government, particularly the courts, of making the law available and visible to, and through the search engine somewhat well-organized for, the masses.

I realize that you personally can do nothing about the terrible ethics in the mortgage foreclosure and foreclosure defense industry.

But perhaps you can propose an electronic means of solving the problem of relative unavailability of the law to non-attorneys.  Some federally coordinated electronic repository should exist akin to PACER, but free, and fully searchable by topic, party, judge, attorney, clerk, and bailiff, nationwide, making all court dockets and filings, from traffic and all other administrative courts, county and other trial courts, and appellate courts, available to the public, particularly to Americans and students in public and private schools.  And that access should cost the public nothing, for the law and the documents leading up to it, should become and remain free for all to read at home through internet access.

And need only one good reason for this.  People can easily commit a vast array of “infractions” and crimes without ever leaving home, and become most susceptible to harassment and arrest for alleged infractions and criminal acts upon setting foot outside the home.  It seems only fair that people should have the benefit of finding, reading, learning, and knowing the law before venturing out of the privacy of one’s home, if any such privacy remains.

Sincerely,

Bob Hurt

Why Mortgagors Lack Standing to Dispute or Enforce Note Assignment or PSA

These two opinions (excerpts from the list below) show why securitization and assignment arguments MUST fail in a foreclosure dispute.  Borrower suffered no injury, has no interest in, and never became a party to the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) or any assignment of the note.  So, the borrower has no standing to dispute or enforce the assignment or PSA.

  1. Maynard v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (S.D. Cal., 2013) (“Plaintiffs also allege that they conducted a Securitization Audit of Plaintiffs’ chain of title and Wachovia’s PSA, and as a result, determined that Plaintiffs’ Note and DOT were not properly conveyed into the Wells Fargo Trust on or before July 29, 2004, the closing date listed in the Trust Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 34.)… To the extent Plaintiffs challenge the validity of the securitization of the Loan because Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank failed to comply with the terms of the PSA or the Trust Agreement, Plaintiffs are not investors of the Loan, nor are Plaintiffs parties to the PSA or Trust Agreement. Therefore, as many courts have already held, Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the validity of the securitization of the Loan…Furthermore, although Plaintiffs contend they have standing to challenge the validity of the Assignment because they were parties to the DOT with the original lender (Wells Fargo), this argument also fails. (Doc. No. 49 at 11-12.).
  2. Jenkins v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 216 Cal. App. 4th 497, 511-13, 156 Cal. Rptr. 3d 912 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013) (“[E]ven if any subsequent transfers of the promissory note were invalid, [the borrower] is not the victim of such invalid transfers because her obligations under the note remained unchanged.”). As stated above, these exact arguments have been dismissed by countless other courts in this circuit. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ contentions that the Assignment is void due to a failure in the securitization process fails.”).

Cases Where Homeowners Lost by Arguing Securitization

  1. Rodenhurst v. Bank of Am., 773 F. Supp. 2d 886, 899 (D. Haw. 2011) (“The overwhelming authority does not support a [claim] based upon improper securitization.”) “[S]ince the securitization merely creates a separate contract, distinct from plaintiffs’ debt obligations under the Note and does not change the relationship of the parties in any way, plaintiffs’ claims arising out of securitization fail.” Lamb V. Mers, Inc., 2011 WL 5827813, *6 (W.D. Wash. 2011) (citing cases);
  2. Bhatti, 2011 WL 6300229, *5 (citing cases);
  3. In re Veal, 450 B.R. at 912 (“[Plaintiffs] should not care who actually owns the Note-and it is thus irrelevant whether the Note has been fractionalized or securitized-so long as they do know who they should pay.”);
  4. Horvath v. Bank of NY, N.A., 641 F.3d 617, 626 n.4 (4th Cir. 2011) (securitization irrelevant to debt);
  5. Commonwealth Prop. Advocates, LLC v. MERS, 263 P.3d 397, 401-02 (Utah Ct. App. 2011) (securitization has no effect on debt);
  6. Henkels v. J.P. Morgan Chase, 2011 WL 2357874, at *7 (D.Ariz. June 14, 2011) (denying the plaintiff’s claim for unauthorized securitization of his loan because he “cited no authority for the assertion that securitization has had any impact on [his] obligations under the loan, and district courts in Arizona have rejected similar arguments”);
  7. Johnson v. Homecomings Financial, 2011 WL 4373975, at *7 (S.D.Cal. Sep.20, 2011) (refusing to recognize the “discredited theory” that a deed of trust ” ‘split’ from the note through securitization, render[s] the note unenforceable”);
  8. Frame v. Cal-W. Reconveyance Corp., 2011 WL 3876012, *10 (D. Ariz. 2011) (granting motion to dismiss: “Plaintiff’s allegations of promissory note destruction and securitization are speculative and unsupported. Plaintiff has cited no authority for his assertions that securitization has any impact on his obligations under the loan”).”The Court also rejects Plaintiffs’ contention that securitization in general somehow gives rise to a cause of action – Plaintiffs point to no law or provision in the mortgage preventing this practice, and cite to no law indicating that securitization can be the basis of a cause of action. Indeed, courts have uniformly rejected the argument that securitization of a mortgage loan provides the mortgagor a cause of action.”
  9. See Joyner V. Bank Of Am. Home Loans, No. 2:09-CV-2406-RCJ-RJJ, 2010 WL 2953969, at *2 (D. Nev. July 26, 2010) (rejecting breach of contract claim based on securitization of loan);
  10. Haskins V. Moynihan, No. CV-10-1000-PHX-GMS, 2010 WL 2691562, at *2 (D. Ariz. July 6, 2010) (rejecting claims based on securitization because plaintiffs could point to no law indicating that securitization of a mortgage is unlawful, and “[p]laintiffs fail to set forth facts suggesting that Defendants ever indicated that they would not bundle or sell the note in conjunction with the sale of mortgage-backed securities”);
  11. Lariviere V. Bank Of N.Y. As Tr., Civ. No. 9-515-P-S, 2010 WL 2399583, at *4 (D. Me. May 7, 2010) (“Many people in this country are dissatisfied and upset by [the securitization] process, but it does not mean that the [plaintiffs] have stated legally cognizable claims against these defendants in their amended complaint.”);
  12. Upperman V. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., No. 01:10-cv-149, 2010 WL 1610414, at *3 (E.D. Va. Apr. 16, 2010) (rejecting claims because they are based on an “erroneous legal theory that the securitization of a mortgage loan renders a note and corresponding security interest unenforceable and unsecured”);
  13. Silvas V. Gmac Mortg., Llc, No. CV-09-265-PHX-GMS, 2009 WL 4573234, at *5 (D. Ariz. Dec. 1, 2009) (rejecting a claim that a lending institution breached a loan agreement by securitizing and cross-collateralizing a borrower’s loan). The overwhelming authority does not support a cause of action based upon improper securitization. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs cannot maintain a claim that “improper restrictions resulting from securitization leaves the note and mortgage unenforceable);
  14. Summers V. Pennymac Corp. (N.D.Tex. 11-28-2012) (any securitization of Plaintiffs’ Note did not affect their obligations under the Note or PennyMac’s authority as mortgagee to enforce the Note and foreclose on the property if Plaintiffs defaulted).;
  15. Nguyen V. Jp Morgan Chase Bank (N.D.Cal. 10-17-2012) (“Numerous courts have recognized that a defendant bank does not lose its ability to enforce the terms of its deed of trust simply because the loan is assigned to a trust pool. In fact, ‘securitization merely creates a separate contract, distinct from [p]laintiffs[‘] debt obligations under the note, and does not change the relationship of the parties in any way. Therefore, such an argument would fail as a matter of law”);
  16. Flores v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 2010 WL 2719848, at *4 (D. Md. July 7, 2010), the borrower argued that his lender “already recovered for [the borrower’s] default on her mortgage payments, because various ‘credit enhancement policies,’” such as “a credit default swap or default insurance,” “compensated the injured parties in full.” The court rejected the argument, explaining that the fact that a “mortgage may have been combined with many others into a securitized pool on which a credit default swap, or some other insuring-financial product, was purchased, does not absolve [the borrower] of responsibility for the Note.” Id. at *5;
  17. see also Fourness v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., 2010 WL 5071049, at *2 (D. Nev. Dec. 6, 2010) (dismissing claim that borrowers’ obligations were discharged where “the investors of the mortgage backed securities were paid as a result of . . . credit default swaps and/or federal bailout funds);
  18. Warren v. Sierra Pac. Mortg. Servs., 2010 WL 4716760, at *3 (D. Ariz. Nov. 15, 2010) (“Plaintiffs’ claims regarding the impact of any possible credit default swap on their obligations under the loan . . . do not provide a basis for a claim for relief”).
  19. Welk v. GMAC Mortg., LLC., 850 F. Supp. 2d 976 (D. Minn., 2012) (“At the end of the day, then, most of what Butler offers is smoke and mirrors. Butler’s fundamental claim that his clients’ mortgages are invalid and that the mortgagees cannot foreclose because they do not hold the notes is utterly frivolous.);
  20. Vanderhoof v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust (E.D. Mich., 2013) (internal citations omitted) (“s]ecuritization” does not impact the foreclosure. This Court has previously rejected an attempt to assert a claim based upon the securitization of a mortgage loan. Further, MERS acts as nominee for both the originating lender and its successors and assigns. Therefore, the mortgage and note are not split when the note is sold.”);
  21. Chan Tang v. Bank of America, N.A. (C.D. Cal., 2012) (internal citations omitted) (“Plaintiffs’ contention that the securitization of their mortgage somehow affects Defendants’ rights to foreclose is likewise meritless. Plaintiffs have identified no authority supporting their position that securitization voids the power of sale contained in a deed of trust. Other courts have dismissed similar arguments. Thus, the claim that Defendants lack the authority to foreclose because the Tangs’ mortgage was pooled into a security instrument is Dismissed With Prejudice.);
  22. Wells v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P., 2011 WL 2163987, *2 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 26, 2011) (This claim—colloquially called the “show-me-the-note” theory— began circulating in courts across the country in 2009. Advocates of this theory believe that only the holder of the original wet-ink signature note has the lawful power to initiate a non-judicial foreclosure. The courts, however, have roundly rejected this theory and dismissed the claims, because foreclosure statutes simply do not require possession or production of the original note. The “show me the note” theory fares no better under Texas law.);
  23. Maynard v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (S.D. Cal., 2013) (“Plaintiffs also allege that they conducted a Securitization Audit of Plaintiffs’ chain of title and Wachovia’s PSA, and as a result, determined that Plaintiffs’ Note and DOT were not properly conveyed into the Wells Fargo Trust on or before July 29, 2004, the closing date listed in the Trust Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 34.)… To the extent Plaintiffs challenge the validity of the securitization of the Loan because Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank failed to comply with the terms of the PSA or the Trust Agreement, Plaintiffs are not investors of the Loan, nor are Plaintiffs parties to the PSA or Trust Agreement. Therefore, as many courts have already held, Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the validity of the securitization of the Loan…Furthermore, although Plaintiffs contend they have standing to challenge the validity of the Assignment because they were parties to the DOT with the original lender (Wells Fargo), this argument also fails. (Doc. No. 49 at 11-12.);
  24. Jenkins v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 216 Cal. App. 4th 497, 511-13, 156 Cal. Rptr. 3d 912 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013) (“[E]ven if any subsequent transfers of the promissory note were invalid, [the borrower] is not the victim of such invalid transfers because her obligations under the note remained unchanged.”). As stated above, these exact arguments have been dismissed by countless other courts in this circuit. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ contentions that the Assignment is void due to a failure in the securitization process fails.”);
  25. Demilio v. Citizens Home Loans, Inc. (M.D. Ga., 2013) (“Frankly, the Court is astonished by Plaintiff’s audacity… Plaintiff requires the Court to scour a poorly-copied, 45-page “Certified Forensic Loan Audit” in an attempt to discern the basic facts of his case. This alone would be sufficient for dismissal. However, the Court is equally concerned by Plaintiff’s attempt to incorporate such an “audit,” which is more than likely the product of “charlatans who prey upon people in economically dire situation,”… As one bankruptcy judge bluntly explained, “[the Court] is quite confident there is no such thing as a ‘Certified Forensic Loan Audit’ or a ‘certified forensic auditor…. The Court will not, in good conscience, consider any facts recited by such a questionable authority.”);
  26. Leong v. JPMorgan Chase (D. Nev., 2013) (“Plaintiff insists that Defendant failed to provide the original note. The only possibly relevant Nevada statute requiring the presentation of the original note or a certified copy is at a Foreclosure Mediation. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 107.086(4). Moreover, the Court treats copies the same as originals: “a duplicate is admissible to the same extent as an original.” Nev. Rev. Stat. § 52.245. Defendants correctly point out that Plaintiff fails to cite to any authority that requires Defendants to produce the original Note, and Defendants additionally provide non-binding legal authority to the contrary. As such, this cause of action is dismissed with prejudice.’);
  27. Rivac v. NDEX W. LLC (N.D. Cal., 2013) (This court is persuaded by the “majority position” of courts within this district, which is that Glaski is unpersuasive, and that “plaintiffs lack standing to challenge noncompliance with a PSA in securitization unless they are parties to the PSA or third party beneficiaries of the PSA.” Shkolnikov v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 2012 WL 6553988 at *13 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 14, 2012);
  28. see also, e.g., Zapata v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2013 WL 6491377 at *2 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 10, 2013); Apostol v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 2013 WL 6328256 at *7 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2013); Dahnken v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2013 WL 5979356 at *2 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2013);
  29. Almutarreb v. Bank of New York Trust Co., N.A., 2012 WL 4371410 at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2012);
  30. Rivac v. NDEX W. LLC (N.D. Cal., 2013) (District courts have consistently found that conclusory allegations of robo-signing are insufficient to state a claim, absent some factual support. See Baldoza v. Bank of America, N.A., 2013 WL 978268 at *13 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 12, 2013);
  31. see also Chan Tang v. Bank of America, N.A., 2012 WL 960373 at *10-11 (C.D. Cal. March 19, 2012);
  32. Sohal v. Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp., 2011 WL 3842195 at *5 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2011);
  33. Chua v. IB Property Holdings, LLC, 2011 WL 3322884 at *2 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2011))…Further, where a plaintiff alleges that a document is void due to robo-signing, yet does not contest the validity of the underlying debt, and is not a party to the assignment, the plaintiff does not have standing to contest the alleged fraudulent transfer.
  34. See Elliott v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., 2013 WL 1820904 at *2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2013);
  35. Javaheri v. JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., 2012 WL 3426278 at *6 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2012). (Plaintiffs here do not dispute that they defaulted on the loan payments, and the robo-signing allegations are without effect on the validity of the foreclosure process);
  36. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Tibbs, 2014 WL 280365, at *5 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 24, 2014) (“[a] Deed of Trust need not be separately assigned so that the holder may enforce the note; as goes the note, so goes the Deed of Trust.’”)

Fight the Right Battle to Cure Your Mortgage Crisis

How to Solve Mortgage and Foreclosure Woes

Do you have an underwater mortgage (you owe more than the value of the property)?

Do you face foreclosure?

You can solve those problems with relative ease and minimize damage to your credit rating if you follow the below decision tree.

You have two battles to fight in the war against the bank over your mortgage.

1.  Foreclosure Defense –  On one side of the hill you have the foreclosure.  If you fight the foreclosure battle, you always lose because of several factors – you signed the note and mortgage, failed to pay, and must forfeit the collateral.

2.  Mortgage Attack – On the other you have the mortgage itself.  When you fight the mortgage (challenge its validity), you can get the loan balance reduced (a “cram-down” loan mod) or get financial compensation or the house free and clear IF you find sufficient causes of action and prosecute them effectively.  The mortgage examination  finds those causes of action.  The examination report shows the causes of action so you can point them out to the bank or judge.

It’s that simple.

Now you face a variety of courses of action depending on your financial condition and the mortgage exam results:

Mortgage Examination Decision Tree

  1. If you are broke
    1. go to Minimize Loss
  2. Else (you are not broke)
    1. get the mortgage examined
    2. If the exam shows causes of action
      1. Negotiate settlement with lender (may need to hire lawyer for $1000)
      2. If you can accept the settlement
        1. embrace the settlement
        2. go to Enjoy Life
      3. else (settlement unacceptable)
        1. Sue lender for causes of action or file counter/cross claim
        2. embrace the result
        3. go to Enjoy Life
    3. else (no causes of action)
      1. go to Minimize Loss
  3. Minimize Loss:
    1. Do Short Sale, Deed in Lieu, or beneficial Loan Mod
    2. go to Enjoy Life
  4. Enjoy Life:
    1. Live happily ever after

I imagine you signed a note and mortgage in which you admitted receiving a loan, having seisen (possession) of the estate, and conveying the estate to the mortgagee for purposes of the mortgage.  Article I Section 10 of the Florida Constitution forbids any law from impairing the obligation of contracts (like the note and mortgage) and Section 21 grants injured persons (including banks) the right to use the courts for redress and justice.  You must forfeit the house for defaulting on the note.  You might drag out the process through legal shenanigans, but I guess you will lose the house in the end at great expense to your fortune and peace of mind…

Unless you can prove that the lender or lender’s agents injured you first.

The key to saving a house from foreclosure AND obtaining financial compensation lies in a comprehensive, competent mortgage examination, and negotiating with or suing the originating lender for the related causes of actions.  If the exam report reveals tortious conduct, legal errors, or contract breaches underlying the mortgage loan, those will provide a measure of opportunity to hammer the lender into a settlement.  Otherwise you don’t negotiate from a position of power, and you lose.  Done right, settling or suing stops the foreclosure, of course.

I know only one mortgage examiner with any degree of competence.  He does not negotiate on price, period.  You fill in a non-disclosure agreement and a questionnaire.  You scan and zip them and all your mortgage and foreclosure related documents (plus loan app and appraisal) and upload the file to the examiner.  He invoices you by PayPal.  You pay with Credit Card or PayPal account.  7 business days later you receive the report.  If it shows causes of action (red ink), you or your attorney negotiate settlement with the originating lender and plaintiff.  If you like the settlement, you settle.  If you don’t, you hire another attorney (fee or contingency) and sue.  The process might drag out a couple of years, but you will probably win (just like the mortgagee wins foreclosures).

  • Click the Contact menu item on the Mortgage Attack web site.
  • Email a request for the Non-Disclosure and Services Agreement, and the  QUESTIONNAIRE.
  • When you receive them, fill them in and execute the agreement.
  • Scan those with all mortgage and foreclosure related documents (closing docs plus appraisal, loan application, etc.) and compress them in a ZIP archive file.
  • Contact Mortgage Attack again for an explanation of how to send the archive file.  You will receive necessary details.
  • Upload the archive to the location provided.  The examination firm will invoice you.  Pay the fee, then receive the report in 7 business days
  • Settle or sue for the causes of action in the report, or (if no causes) walk from the  house with short sale, deed in lieu, keys for cash, etc.

Some gentle reminders…

Contact me by phone (727 669 5511) or Email for further details. I’ll put you in touch with the Chief Examiner after I have answered all your questions.

Yes, you may distribute this article Far and Wide.

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam