MERS's Authority to Operate in California CARTER v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY (N.D.Cal. 1-27-2010)

4 Jul

2. MERS’s Authority to Operate in California
The FAC fleetingly alleges that “MERS [is] not registered to do
business in California.” FAC ¶ 9. While MERS’s registration
status receives no other mention in the complaint, plaintiff’s
opposition memorandum purports to support several of plaintiff’s
claims with this allegation, and defendant’s reply discusses it
on the merits. The court therefore discusses this issue here.
The California Corporations Code requires entities that
“transact[] intrastate business” in California to acquire a
“certificate of qualification” from the California Secretary of
State. Cal. Corp. Code § 2105(a). MERS argues that its activities
fall within exceptions to the statutory definition of transacting
intrastate business, such that these requirement does not apply.
See Cal. Corp. Code § 191. It is not clear to the court that
MERS’s activity is exempt.
Page 23
MERS primarily relies on Cal. Corp. Code § 191(d)(3). Cal.
Corp. Code § 191(d) enumerates various actions that do not
trigger the registration requirement when performed by “any
foreign lending institution.” Because neither the FAC nor the
exhibits indicate that MERS is such an institution, MERS cannot
protect itself under this exemption at this stage. The statute
defines “foreign lending institution” as “including, but not
limited to: [i] any foreign banking corporation, [ii] any foreign
corporation all of the capital stock of which is owned by one or
more foreign banking corporations, [iii] any foreign savings and
loan association, [iv] any foreign insurance company or [v] any
foreign corporation or association authorized by its charter to
invest in loans secured by real and personal property[.]” Cal.
Corp. Code § 191(d). Neither any published California decision
nor any federal decision has interpreted these terms. Because
plaintiff alleges that MERS does not itself invest in loans or
lend money, it appears that [i], [iii], and [v] do not apply.
MERS does not claim to be an insurance company under [ii].
Finally, it is certainly plausible that not all of MERS’s owners
are foreign corporations. At this stage of litigation, the court
cannot conclude that MERS falls within any of the five enumerated
examples of “foreign lending institutions,” and the court
declines to address sua sponte whether MERS otherwise satisfies
subsection (d).
Corp. Code § 191(d). Neither any published California decision
nor any federal decision has interpreted these terms. Because
plaintiff alleges that MERS does not itself invest in loans or
lend money, it appears that [i], [iii], and [v] do not apply.
MERS does not claim to be an insurance company under [ii].
Finally, it is certainly plausible that not all of MERS’s owners
are foreign corporations. At this stage of litigation, the court
cannot conclude that MERS falls within any of the five enumerated
examples of “foreign lending institutions,” and the court
declines to address sua sponte whether MERS otherwise satisfies
subsection (d).
Defendants also invoke a second exemption, Cal. Corp. Code
§ 191(c)(7). While section 191(c) is not restricted to “lending
institutions,” MERS’s acts do not fall into the categories
Page 24
enumerated under the section, including subsection (c)(7).
Plaintiff alleges that MERS directed the trustee to initiate
nonjudicial
foreclosure on the property. Section 191(c)(7)
provides that “[c]reating evidences of debt or mortgages, liens
or security interests on real or personal property” is not
intrastate business activity. Although this language is
unexplained, directing the trustee to initiate foreclosure
proceedings appears to be more than merely creating evidence of a
mortgage. This is supported by the fact that a separate statutory
section, § 191(d)(3) (which MERS cannot invoke at this time, see
supra), exempts “the enforcement of any loans by trustee’s sale,
judicial process or deed in lieu of foreclosure or otherwise.”
Interpreting section (c)(7) to include these activities would
render (d)(3) surplusage, and such interpretations of California
statutes are disfavored under California law. People v. Arias,
45 Cal. 4th 169, 180 (2008), Hughes v. Bd. of Architectural
Examiners, 17 Cal. 4th 763, 775 (1998). Accordingly,
section 191(c)(7) does not exempt MERS’s activity.[fn12]
For these reasons, plaintiff’s argument that MERS has acted
Page 25
in violation of Cal. Corp. Code § 2105(a) is plausible, and
cannot be rejected at this stage in the litigation.
3. Whether MERS Has Acted UltraVires
Plaintiff separately argues that MERS has acted in violation of
its own “terms and conditions.” These “terms” allegedly provide
that
MERS shall serve as mortgagee of record with respect to
all such mortgage loans solely as a nominee, in an
administrative capacity, for the beneficial owner or
owners thereof from time to time. MERS shall have no
rights whatsoever to any payments made on account of
such mortgage loans, to any servicing rights related to
such mortgage loans, or to any mortgaged properties
securing such mortgage loans. MERS agrees not to assert
any rights (other than rights specified in the
Governing Documents) with respect to such mortgage
loans or mortgaged properties. References herein to
“mortgage(s)” and “mortgagee of record” shall include
deed(s) of trust and beneficiary under a deed of trust
and any other form of security instrument under
applicable state law.”
FAC ¶ 10. The FAC does not specify the source of these “terms and
conditions.” Plaintiff’s opposition memorandum states that they
are taken from MERS’s corporate charter, implying that an action
in violation thereof would be ultra vires. Opp’n at 4. Plaintiff
then alleges that these terms do not permit MERS to “act as a
nominee or beneficiary of any of the Defendants.” FAC ¶ 32.
However, the terms explicitly permit MERS to act as nominee.
Plaintiff has not alleged a violation of these terms.
4. Defendants’ Authority to Foreclose
Another theme underlying many of plaintiff’s claims is that
defendants have attempted to foreclose or are foreclosing on the
Page 26
property without satisfying the requirements for doing so.
Plaintiff argues that foreclosure is barred because no defendant
is a person entitled to enforce the deed of trust under the
California Commercial Code and because defendants failed to issue
a renewed notice of default after the initial trustee’s sale was
4. Defendants’ Authority to Foreclose
Another theme underlying many of plaintiff’s claims is that
defendants have attempted to foreclose or are foreclosing on the
Page 26
property without satisfying the requirements for doing so.
Plaintiff argues that foreclosure is barred because no defendant
is a person entitled to enforce the deed of trust under the
California Commercial Code and because defendants failed to issue
a renewed notice of default after the initial trustee’s sale was
rescinded.

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6 Responses to “MERS's Authority to Operate in California CARTER v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY (N.D.Cal. 1-27-2010)”

  1. Don-CA July 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    MERS licensed was suspended in CA, 2002 (current as of Friday June 18 2010) Let me know if you want me to email you the document.

  2. Don-CA July 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    Sent.

  3. Ted-CA October 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Don please send me the document when you get some time. ttowndude@gmail.com

    Your the man thanks for all your efforts here.

  4. Ted-CA October 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Here is the latest I just looked up on CA sec of state website. Its suspended.

    Here is the link (type in MERS under biz search if link isn’t complete)

    http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/cbs.aspx

    Entity Name: MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEM, INC. (MERS)
    Entity Number: C2416221
    Date Filed: 05/21/2002
    Status: SUSPENDED
    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
    Entity Address: 2216 16TH STREET
    Entity City, State, Zip: SACRAMENTO CA 95818
    Agent for Service of Process: ** RESIGNED ON 03/25/2009
    Agent Address: *
    Agent City, State, Zip: *

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