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Lender class action

27 Jun

Mortgageinvestorgroupclass

Option One Complaint Pick a payment lawsuit

27 Jun

optionone

Standing argument

7 Jun

judge-youngs-decision-on-nosek

Ameriquest’s final argument, that the sanctions are a
criminal penalty, is bereft of authority. Ameriquest cites F.J.
Hanshaw Enterprises, Inc. v. Emerald River Development, Inc., 244
F.3d 1128 (9th Cir. 2001), a case about inherent powers – not
Rule 11 –

This is an excerpt from the decision just this bloggers note the Hanshaw Case was my case. I argued this case at the 9th circuit court of appeals

http://openjurist.org/244/f3d/1128/fj-v-emeraldfj-v-emerald

If you will grasp the implications of this judge-youngs-decision-on-nosekdecision all or most all the evictions and  foreclosures are being litigated by the wrong parties that is to say parties who have no real stake in the outcome. they are merely servicers not the real investors. They do not have the right to foreclose or evict. No assignment No note No security interest No standing They do not want to be listed anywhere. They (the lenders) have caused the greatest damage to the American Citizen since the great depression and they do not want to be exposed or named in countless lawsuits. Time and time again I get from the judges in demurer hearings ” I see what you are saying counsel but your claim does not appear to be against this defendant” the unnamed investment pool of the Lehman Brothers shared High yield equity Fund trustee does not exist and so far can’t be sued.

Exponential Usury On Wall Street

24 May

By Edward W. Miller, MD

Thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion, and thou hast forgotten me saith the Lord.” – Ezekiel 22:12 (King James Version)

And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple and turned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house show be called a house of prayer’; but you make it a den of robbers.'” -Matthew 21: 12

AS for our economy, the ongoing failure of millions of “sub-prime” mortgages with 9 million threatened foreclosures across the country, the increasing reported lack of “affordable housing”, along with a consumer debt of $2.52 trillion, and a major economic recession stretching across the industrial world comes as no surprise to those who have watched Congress, again and again surrender to Wall Street lobbying over the past half century. The first major slide downhill took place on June 23rd, 1947, when a newly elected Republican Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act over president Truman’s veto. The results of this assault on American labor appeared gradually over the years. Beginning in 1972, statistics show that wages were already falling below the costs of living for the American middle class.

The present huge pyramid of debt, both public and private was made possible by the weakening of labor’s political input plus thirty years of Congress’ relentless deregulation of our financial markets, culminating, during the Clinton Administration, in the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which Act had prohibited banks from dealing in high-risk securities. In effect, Washington supposed regulators had become passive enablers to Wall Street’s financial binge drinkers.

As columnist Robert Scheer pointed out (March 12th SF Chronicle): “The Clinton-backed Gramm-Leach-Baily Act of 1999 called the “Financial Services Modernization Act,” permitted banks, stock brokers, and insurance companies to merge and was exacerbated by Bush’s appointment of rapacious corporate foxes to watch the corporate hen house.” They will take care of their own…Their action was made possible only by the federal government’s using our tax dollars to pick up the bad debt of the banks.”

Coalition sues lenders

9 May

Coalition Sues lenders

FORECLOSURE DEFENSE: CALIFORNIA SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

25 Apr

As I continue through this journey through the maze created by lenders, investment bankers, title agents and closing/escrow agents I keep discovering things that end up being quite interesting.

For example: In California the requirements for posting Notice of sale are very clear and yet, I am told that they are routinely ignored. This would invalidate the notice of sale on the most basic of concepts “notice,” by definition and therefore could be attacked at any time as a defect of service and jurisdiction while at the same time bring your claims under TILA, usury, identity theft, fraud, etc. California requires public and private posting as do most other states. The public part is what they ordinarily ignore. see notice-of-the-sale-thereof-shall-be-given-by-posting-a-written-notice

With the new law changes Civil code 2923.5  that became effective Sept 6, 2008 it adds more procedures that are routinely not followed ie. a Declaration must be attached and recorded that recites that the lender has met and assessed the borrowers financial condition and made alternatives to forclosure ie. modification. First they don’t do it and second the declaration is not even under penalty of pujury. So on its face the sale could be set aside.

After the notice of default the lender routinely switches trustee’s and records a Substitution of trustee with an affidavit that is not under penalty of perjury. Again the sale could be set aside for this.

For example. MERS, whose legal status is dubious at best anyway inasmuch as it plainly violates the recording requirements of every state and which supposedly has not one but multiple corporate entities, one of which has been suspended from operation in California, is subject to specific instructions as to what to do with the “master Deed of Trust and what to do with the individual deed of trust, the procedures, language to be inserted etc. These too I am told are routinely ignored especially when it comes to (a) showing that you have provided a copy of the Master Deed of Trust and (b) having the proof as specifically required in the FNMA/Freddie instruction sheet.

As stated in my other posts, the entire MERS concept causes, in my opinion, a separation between the alleged security instrument and provisions, the Trustee’s authority and the note, all of which end up being different people who were all “real parties in interest” receiving fees and value not disclosed in the GFE or settlement statement. In all these closings the borrower is subjected to a series of documents that hide the true nature of the transaction, the true source of funds, the true lender, and the application of funds contrary to the terms of the note.

All of these new requirements create questions of fact, that if not correct, create a method to set aside the sale by way of court action. I guess that’s the point the lenders trustees and servicers are banking on the victims not fighting it.

Borrowers' Defenses to Forclosure

19 Apr

A great source of information you can use, and since the Guy is in Washington I can give him all the credit
defensestoforeclosure

Doan deal 2

18 Apr

Mortgage Chaos? Add a Bankruptcy and its a Recipe for Disaster! Part II

My last article laid out the framework for the bankruptcy real estate cocktail. This article will attempt to predict how that cocktail will be served and its ramifications. Remember, this recipe for disaster requires two things: a “Non-Perfected” Mortgage and a Bankruptcy.

So far, about 70 to 80% of the mortgages I see in local Bankruptcy cases here in the Southern District of California Bankruptcy Court appear to be non-perfected. Despite my continued requests to the mortgage companies to produce either proof they possess the underlying note or proof of a recorded assignment, I have received neither. Instead I get the run around, “Yes we have the original note. Really, can I see? Actually no, I thought we had the original, but we have a copy…………Yes we have the assignment. Really, can I see? Sure, here you go. But that was not recorded. Oh…….” Its the same song and dance. So what becomes of this?

Chapter 7: The trustee will most likely put on his “544 hat” and now “strip the lien off the house.”

When he does this, he creates an unencumbered piece of real estate in most cases, with the exception of a small amount of past taxes and HOA fees remaining as liens on the property. The property is then sold and net profits held in trust. A notice is then sent to the creditors of the bankruptcy to submit a claim if they want to get paid.

The claims are then reviewed, and paid pro-rata or objected to with the Bankruptcy Court issuing the final ruling. The Claims process is a complex area too lengthy to discuss for this Blog, but suffice to say, many claims will be objected to as well, since most credit card debt and collection agents have similar problems in proving they too own their debts. Moreover, you might ask what happens to the mortgage lien which has now become a large unsecured debt? It might be paid, provided they can prove they own the note. However, it also may not. There is a Bankruptcy Code section, 11 USC 502(d) which states that a creditor may not be able to share in the distribution if they did not give up there lien when requested by the trustee under 544. So, it could be that any remaining monies may even go back to the debtor if the new unsecured mortgage claim is disallowed! But this remains a grey area, and time will tell.

But what if the debtor wants to keep the house? No problem. Time to make a deal with the trustee. Suppose that the House was bought for $650,000 in 2006 with 100% financing and now is worth $500,000. The debtor is negative $150,000 in equity. Upside Down! Now lets say a bankruptcy is filed. The Mortgage Note was not perfected so Bankruptcy Trustee avoids the lien. Now he has this $500,000 piece of real estate that he wants to sell, but the debtor wants to keep it. So the debtor makes an offer of $430,000 to keep the house and the Trustee agrees. Trustee agrees since he would only net $430,000 anyways after costs of sale, attorney fees, marketing, etc. Debtor gets the $430,000 from a new loan he might qualify for, have cosigned, or have a family member engage their credit. Trustee then takes the $430,000 and distributes to creditors, which include the debtor’

s non-dischargeable taxes, non-dischargeable child support obligations, and non-dischargeable student loans.

Wow! Lets get this straight: Mortgage reduced from $650,000 to $430,000, and over $100,000 in non-dischargeable bankruptcy debt consisting of student loans, taxes, and support obligations also paid, and all other debt wiped out? Sounds like the lemon just turned into lemonade! Also, time to also read the blog on why the credit score is much better after bankruptcy than before now.

Chapter 13: In Chapter 13, the Trustee does not liquidate assets. Instead, he administers a three to five year plan by distributing the monthly payments from the debtor to the creditors, and the avoidance powers of the Chapter 7 Trustee are given to the Debtor(at least here in the Ninth Circuit….western states in the US). This includes the power to remove unperfected liens such as unperfected mortgages.

So now the debtor can remove the mortgage just like a Chapter 7 Trustee.

But that might be a problem. The Chapter 13 Trustee may object now to the bankruptcy since the debtor has too many assets. Well, as discussed above, time to get another smaller mortgage, pay that money into the Chapter 13 plan, and again pay off the non-dischargeable debt. Even better, if not all the creditors filed claims, the money then reverts to the debtor!

In the alternative, the simple threat of litigating the issues to remove the mortgage sure makes for a great negotiating tool to deal with the lender and rewrite the mortgage…..knocking off possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars and also lowering the interest rate substantially.

Involuntary Bankruptcies? Is there such a thing? Unfortunately, YES. And this could be very problematic. If several creditors are owed substantial sums of money, say a SBA Loan, large Medical Bill, or even large credit cards, they could petition the court for an involuntary bankruptcy. The debtor has no control to stop it. Next thing the debtor knows, he is in a bankruptcy and all the property is being liquidated, less the property allowed by exemption law. Then steps up the Chapter 7 Trustee and discovers that the Mortgage is not perfected. Well, there goes the house now! Or does it?

Once again, a smart debtor would argue to the trustee that he will get a loan to pay the trustee as discussed above. Problem solved, and what appears to be disaster at first, may be a blessing in disguise. The debtor keeps his home with a much smaller mortgage and removes non-dischargeable debts. He is better off now than before, even though he did not want this!

So the Recipe for Disaster appears to only affect the Mortgage Companies. They are the losing parties here, and rightly so for getting sloppy…..attempting to save $14 per loan times thousands of loans. Why didn’t they compute losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per loan times thousands of loans? Couldn’

t they connect the dots? No…..like I said, lots of smart Real Estate Attorneys and lots of smart Bankruptcy Attorneys, but not too many Bankruptcy Real Estate Attorneys and none of them worked for the Mortgage industry.

But everyone else now seems to win. The debtor reduces his mortgage, gets a better interest rate, and eliminates the rest of his debts. The trustee makes a healthy profit on distributing such a large dividend to creditors. And the creditors who obey the law now share in a large dividend.

Of course, all the forgoing is Brand New. It has not been done yet in any cases I am aware of. But since talking with other Bankruptcy Attorneys across the Nation for the past couple weeks, its starting to catch on. I’

m told a few trustees back east have started this procedure now. And just today, I get an announcement from our local Chapter 7 Trustee that he is making new requirements concerning producing documents in all cases before him so that he can start avoiding these liens. Coincidentally, this also comes after three of our Local Bankruptcy Judges started denying relief to Mortgage Creditors when coming before the Bankruptcy Court during the past week! Its brand new…but catching on like wildfire.

Housing Bubble? Mortgage Bubble? Well now it’

s a Housing Mortgage Bubble disaster about to happen in Bankruptcy Court. Congress was not able to reform the predatory lending abuses. The Lenders certainly do not seem interested in workout programs. I guess its time for a Bankruptcy Cocktail!

Written by Attorney Michael G. Doan

United First Class Action

9 Mar

On Saturday March 7,2009 a meeting was held for 200 plus victims of the United First equity save your house scam. At that meeting it was determined that a class action should be filed to recover the funds lost by the victims of the unconscionable contract.

As a first step an involuntary Bankruptcy is being filed today March 9, 2009. To be considered as a creditor of said Bankruptcy please Fax the Joint Venture agreement and retainer agreement to 909-494-4214.
Additionally it is this attorneys opinion that said Bankruptcy will act as a “stay” for all averse actions being taken by lenders as against said victims. This opinion is based upon the fact that United First maintained an interest in the real property as a joint venture to 80% of the properties value(no matter how unconscionable this may be) this is an interest that can be protected by the Bankruptcy Stay 11 USC 362.

Mortgage Chaos? Add a Bankruptcy and its a Recipe for Disaster!

7 Mar

There are many bright Real Estate Attorneys out there.  Likewise, there are many bright Bankruptcy Attorneys out there.  But I don’t think there are that many bright Bankruptcy Real Estate Attorneys out there.  And the few that do exist…..well, I don’t think they worked for the Mortgage Companies. Why?  Well if they did, the transfer of loans would not have existed the way that did for the past several years.  Lately, the big news in foreclosures has been the Ohio cases where Judge Boyko dismissed 14 foreclosures on October 31, 2007, and his Colleague, Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the same court, followed suite ordering another 32 dismissals on November 14, 2007.    But that’s only the beginning.  It gets worse.  Add a bankruptcy filing to the mix and its like adding gas to the fire.  The reason being, from a little bankruptcy code section called 11 USC 544.  Basically, that section allows a Trustee appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to avoid non-perfected liens.  Non-perfected liens are liens that exist, but are not fully noticed to everyone, sort of like secret liens.  Its like if someone loans you $50,000 and takes a lien out on your house, but never records their lien with the county recorder.  If that house sells, the lien is not paid since escrow was not aware of it.  Had it been recorded by a “deed of trust” or “mortgage,” the Title Company and Escrow Company would not have closed once they saw it, unless it was paid. Because of all the crazy real estate financing, securitization, and reselling of all the mortgages, sort of the same thing has happened with all the mortgages and trust deeds, but on a much larger scale.    Normally, most states require that when a mortgage or real estate loan is sold or transferred to another lender, certain things must happen to maintain perfection, that is, in order to make sure that lien gets paid at a later date.  Generally, the purchaser of the Mortgage has it recorded at the County Recorders Office.  This is usually done thru a recorded assignment of the underlying note and mortgage or a new Mortgage being recorded and transfer of the Note.The Note is the most important part of any Mortgage or Deed of Trust.  The Mortgage or Deed of Trust is useless without the Note, and usually can not exist without it.  It’s a negotiable instrument, just like a check.  So when its transferred, it needs to be endorsed, just like a check.  So essentially, all real estate has documents recorded to evidence the lien, and which are linked to the “checks.”  Well, this is where the problem lies.  In most of the Mortgage Transfers which took place recently, the Mortgage or Deed of Trust was transferred, but not the Note.  Whoops!  Why?  It was just too expensive to track down every note for every mortgage since they were all bundled up together and sold in large trusts, then resold, resold, etc.  Imagine trying to find 1 note among thousands, which were sold in different trust pools over time.  Pretty hard to do!  So shortcuts happened.  Soon enough, shortcuts were accepted and since there were very little foreclosures during the last 7 year real estate bubble, no one really noticed in the few foreclosures that took place.    Until recently. That’s where the Ohio cases come in. Times have now changed.  That little shortcut stopped the foreclosures in Ohio since the most basic element of any lawsuit is that the party bringing the lawsuit is the “real party in interest.”  That is, they are the aggrieved party, injured party, relief seeking party.  So in Ohio, the Judge dismissed all the cases since they did not possess the Notes or Assignments on the date of filing, and technically were not the real party in interest to file the suit at the time.  But that maybe only a temporary problem until they find the note or assignment.  At that point, they will probably just file the foreclosure lawsuit again.  So its just a delay.  But the bigger problem exists in Bankruptcy.  You see, once a Bankruptcy Case is filed, the Automatic Stay goes into effect.  Everything is frozen.  Mistakes can no longer be corrected.  And if the lender did not have the note or recorded assignment when the bankruptcy case was filed, they are no longer “perfected.” And this problem can not be fixed!  Finding the note or assignment at that point is simply too late.  That $12 shortcut may now have cost the lender a $500,000 mortgage!    The Bankruptcy Trustee now is in charge, puts his 11 USC 544 hat on, and voila, removes the mortgage!  Yes, that house that once had no equity worth $450,000 with $500,000 owed on it, is now FREE AND CLEAR!  He sells it, and disburses all the proceeds to the creditors.  Next Issue, I’ll explain the ramifications of this chaos….both beneficial and detrimental.

But the bigger problem exists in Bankruptcy.  You see, once a Bankruptcy Case is filed, the Automatic Stay goes into effect.  Everything is frozen.  Mistakes can no longer be corrected.  And if the lender did not have the note or recorded assignment when the bankruptcy case was filed, they are no longer “perfected.” And this problem can not be fixed!  Finding the note or assignment at that point is simply too late.  That $12 shortcut may now have cost the lender a $500,000 mortgage!    The Bankruptcy Trustee now is in charge, puts his 11 USC 544 hat 

2924.3. (a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), a
person who has undertaken as an agent of a mortgagee, beneficiary, or
owner of a promissory note secured directly or collaterally by a
mortgage or deed of trust on real property or an estate for years
therein, to make collections of payments from an obligor under the
note, shall mail the following notices, postage prepaid, to each
mortgagee, beneficiary or owner for whom the agent has agreed to make
collections from the obligor under the note:
(1) A copy of the notice of default filed in the office of the
county recorder pursuant to Section 2924 on account of a breach of
obligation under the promissory note on which the agent has agreed to
make collections of payments, within 15 days after recordation.
(2) Notice that a notice of default has been recorded pursuant to
Section 2924 on account of a breach of an obligation secured by a
mortgage or deed of trust against the same property or estate for
years therein having priority over the mortgage or deed of trust
securing the obligation described in paragraph (1), within 15 days
after recordation or within three business days after the agent
receives the information, whichever is later

Sec. 2932.5

Where a power to sell real property is given to a
mortgagee, or other encumbrancer, in an instrument intended to secure
the payment of money, the power is part of the security and vests in
any person who by assignment becomes entitled to payment of the
money secured by the instrument. The power of sale may be exercised
by the assignee if the assignment is duly acknowledged and recorded.

FROM TIM MCLANDLESS
Most all foreclosures in California can be set aside. The power of sale by non judicial means is contained in the civil code 2932. In order to be valid the assignment must be recorded California civil code 2932.5. Most all notices of default recorded by the “Sub-Prime” lenders have not recorded an assignment till just before or just after the Trustee’s sale. They rely on the MERS agency agreement to protect them but under California law they are wrong.
Law Offices of
TIMOTHY McCandless
15647 Village Dr
Victorville, Ca 92392
TEL (760) 733-8885; FAX (909)494-4214

Sec. 2934

Any assignment of a mortgage and any assignment of the
beneficial interest under a deed of trust may be recorded, and from
the time the same is filed for record operates as constructive notice
of the contents thereof to all persons; and any instrument by which
any mortgage or deed of trust of, lien upon or interest in real
property, (or by which any mortgage of, lien upon or interest in
personal property a document evidencing or creating which is required
or permitted by law to be recorded), is subordinated or waived as to
priority may be recorded, and from the time the same is filed for
record operates as constructive notice of the contents thereof, to
all persons.

NOTE SECURED BY REAL ESTATE
HON. SAMUEL L. BUFFORD
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY JUDGE
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
(FORMERLY HON.) R. GLEN AYERS
LANGLEY & BANACK
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
AMERICAN BANKRUPTCY INSTUTUTE
APRIL 3, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C.
WHERE’S THE NOTE, WHO’S THE HOLDER
INTRODUCTION
In an era where a very large portion of mortgage obligations have been securitized, by assignment to a trust indenture trustee, with the resulting pool of assets being then sold as mortgage backed securities, foreclosure becomes an interesting exercise, particularly where judicial process is involved. We are all familiar with the securitization process. The steps, if not the process, is simple. A borrower goes to a mortgage lender. The lender finances the purchase of real estate. The borrower signs a note and mortgage or deed of trust. The original lender sells the note and assigns the mortgage to an entity that securitizes the note by combining the note with hundreds or thousands of similar obligation to create a package of mortgage backed securities, which are then sold to investors.
Unfortunately, unless you represent borrowers, the vast flow of notes into the maw of the securitization industry meant that a lot of mistakes were made. When the borrower defaults, the party seeking to enforce the obligation and foreclose on the underlying collateral sometimes cannot find the note. A lawyer sophisticated in this area has speculated to one of the authors that perhaps a third of the notes “securitized” have been lost or destroyed. The cases we are going to look at reflect the stark fact that the unnamed source’s speculation may be well-founded.
UCC SECTION 3-309
If the issue were as simple as a missing note, UCC §3-309 would provide a simple solution. A person entitled to enforce an instrument which has been lost, destroyed or stolen may enforce the instrument. If the court is concerned that some third party may show up and attempt to enforce the instrument against the payee, it may order adequate protection. But, and however, a person seeking to enforce a missing instrument must be a person entitled to enforce the instrument, and that person must prove the instrument’s terms and that person’s right to enforce the instrument. §3-309 (a)(1) & (b).
WHO’S THE HOLDER
Enforcement of a note always requires that the person seeking to collect show that it is the holder. A holder is an entity that has acquired the note either as the original payor or transfer by endorsement of order paper or physical possession of bearer paper. These requirements are set out in Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which has been adopted in every state, including Louisiana, and in the District of Columbia. Even in bankruptcy proceedings, State substantive law controls the rights of note and lien holders, as the Supreme Court pointed out almost forty (40) years ago in United States v. Butner, 440 U.S. 48, 54-55 (1979).
However, as Judge Bufford has recently illustrated, in one of the cases discussed below, in the bankruptcy and other federal courts, procedure is governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy and Civil Procedure. And, procedure may just have an impact on the issue of “who,” because, if the holder is unknown, pleading and standing issues arise.
BRIEF REVIEW OF UCC PROVISIONS
Article 3 governs negotiable instruments – it defines what a negotiable instrument is and defines how ownership of those pieces of paper is transferred. For the precise definition, see § 3-104(a) (“an unconditional promise or order to pay a fixed amount of money, with or without interest . . . .”) The instrument may be either payable to order or bearer and payable on demand or at a definite time, with or without interest.
Ordinary negotiable instruments include notes and drafts (a check is a draft drawn on a bank). See § 3-104(e).
Negotiable paper is transferred from the original payor by negotiation. §3-301. “Order paper” must be endorsed; bearer paper need only be delivered. §3-305. However, in either case, for the note to be enforced, the person who asserts the status of the holder must be in possession of the instrument. See UCC § 1-201 (20) and comments.
The original and subsequent transferees are referred to as holders. Holders who take with no notice of defect or default are called “holders in due course,” and take free of many defenses. See §§ 3-305(b).
The UCC says that a payment to a party “entitled to enforce the instrument” is sufficient to extinguish the obligation of the person obligated on the instrument. Clearly, then, only a holder – a person in possession of a note endorsed to it or a holder of bearer paper – may seek satisfaction or enforce rights in collateral such as real estate.
NOTE: Those of us who went through the bank and savings and loan collapse of the 1980’s are familiar with these problems. The FDIC/FSLIC/RTC sold millions of notes secured and unsecured, in bulk transactions. Some notes could not be found and enforcement sometimes became a problem. Of course, sometimes we are forced to repeat history. For a recent FDIC case, see Liberty Savings Bank v. Redus, 2009 WL 41857 (Ohio App. 8 Dist.), January 8, 2009.
THE RULES
Judge Bufford addressed the rules issue this past year. See In re Hwang, 396 B.R. 757 (Bankr. C. D. Cal. 2008). First, there are the pleading problems that arise when the holder of the note is unknown. Typically, the issue will arise in a motion for relief from stay in a bankruptcy proceeding.
According F.R.Civ. Pro. 17, “[a]n action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest.” This rule is incorporated into the rules governing bankruptcy procedure in several ways. As Judge Bufford has pointed out, for example, in a motion for relief from stay, filed under F.R.Bankr.Pro. 4001 is a contested matter, governed by F. R. Bankr. P. 9014, which makes F.R. Bankr. Pro. 7017 applicable to such motions. F.R. Bankr. P. 7017 is, of course, a restatement of F. R. Civ. P. 17. In re Hwang, 396 B.R. at 766. The real party in interest in a federal action to enforce a note, whether in bankruptcy court or federal district court, is the owner of a note. (In securitization transactions, this would be the trustee for the “certificate holders.”) When the actual holder of the note is unknown, it is impossible – not difficult but impossible – to plead a cause of action in a federal court (unless the movant simply lies about the ownership of the note). Unless the name of the actual note holder can be stated, the very pleadings are defective.
STANDING
Often, the servicing agent for the loan will appear to enforce the note. Assume that the servicing agent states that it is the authorized agent of the note holder, which is “Trust Number 99.” The servicing agent is certainly a party in interest, since a party in interest in a bankruptcy court is a very broad term or concept. See, e.g., Greer v. O’Dell, 305 F.3d 1297, 1302-03 (11th Cir. 2002). However, the servicing agent may not have standing: “Federal Courts have only the power authorized by Article III of the Constitutions and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto. … [A] plaintiff must have Constitutional standing in order for a federal court to have jurisdiction.” In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F.Supp. 3d 650, 653 (S.D. Ohio, 2007) (citations omitted).
But, the servicing agent does not have standing, for only a person who is the holder of the note has standing to enforce the note. See, e.g., In re Hwang, 2008 WL 4899273 at 8.
The servicing agent may have standing if acting as an agent for the holder, assuming that the agent can both show agency status and that the principle is the holder. See, e.g., In re Vargas, 396 B.R. 511 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008) at 520.
A BRIEF ASIDE: WHO IS MERS?
For those of you who are not familiar with the entity known as MERS, a frequent participant in these foreclosure proceedings:
MERS is the “Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. “MERS is a mortgage banking ‘utility’ that registers mortgage loans in a book entry system so that … real estate loans can be bought, sold and securitized, just like Wall Street’s book entry utility for stocks and bonds is the Depository Trust and Clearinghouse.” Bastian, “Foreclosure Forms”, State. Bar of Texas 17th Annual Advanced Real Estate Drafting Course, March 9-10, 2007, Dallas, Texas. MERS is enormous. It originates thousands of loans daily and is the mortgagee of record for at least 40 million mortgages and other security documents. Id.
MERS acts as agent for the owner of the note. Its authority to act should be shown by an agency agreement. Of course, if the owner is unknown, MERS cannot show that it is an authorized agent of the owner.
RULES OF EVIDENCE – A PRACTICAL PROBLEM
This structure also possesses practical evidentiary problems where the party asserting a right to foreclose must be able to show a default. Once again, Judge Bufford has addressed this issue. At In re Vargas, 396 B.R. at 517-19. Judge Bufford made a finding that the witness called to testify as to debt and default was incompetent. All the witness could testify was that he had looked at the MERS computerized records. The witness was unable to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence, particularly Rule 803, as applied to computerized records in the Ninth Circuit. See id. at 517-20. The low level employee could really only testify that the MERS screen shot he reviewed reflected a default. That really is not much in the way of evidence, and not nearly enough to get around the hearsay rule.
FORECLOSURE OR RELIEF FROM STAY
In a foreclosure proceeding in a judicial foreclosure state, or a request for injunctive relief in a non-judicial foreclosure state, or in a motion for relief proceeding in a bankruptcy court, the courts are dealing with and writing about the problems very frequently.
In many if not almost all cases, the party seeking to exercise the rights of the creditor will be a servicing company. Servicing companies will be asserting the rights of their alleged principal, the note holder, which is, again, often going to be a trustee for a securitization package. The mortgage holder or beneficiary under the deed of trust will, again, very often be MERS.
Even before reaching the practical problem of debt and default, mentioned above, the moving party must show that it holds the note or (1) that it is an agent of the holder and that (2) the holder remains the holder. In addition, the owner of the note, if different from the holder, must join in the motion.
Some states, like Texas, have passed statutes that allow servicing companies to act in foreclosure proceedings as a statutorily recognized agent of the noteholder. See, e.g., Tex. Prop. Code §51.0001. However, that statute refers to the servicer as the last entity to whom the debtor has been instructed to make payments. This status is certainly open to challenge. The statute certainly provides nothing more than prima facie evidence of the ability of the servicer to act. If challenged, the servicing agent must show that the last entity to communicate instructions to the debtor is still the holder of the note. See, e.g., HSBC Bank, N.A. v. Valentin, 2l N.Y. Misc. 3d 1123(A), 2008 WL 4764816 (Table) (N.Y. Sup.), Nov. 3, 2008. In addition, such a statute does not control in federal court where Fed. R. Civ. P. 17 and 19 (and Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7017 and 7019) apply.
SOME RECENT CASE LAW
These cases are arranged by state, for no particular reason.
Massachusetts
In re Schwartz, 366 B.R.265 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2007)
Schwartz concerns a Motion for Relief to pursue an eviction. Movant asserted that the property had been foreclosed upon prior to the date of the bankruptcy petition. The pro se debtor asserted that the Movant was required to show that it had authority to conduct the sale. Movant, and “the party which appears to be the current mortgagee…” provided documents for the court to review, but did not ask for an evidentiary hearing. Judge Rosenthal sifted through the documents and found that the Movant and thecurrent mortgagee had failed to prove that the foreclosure was properly conducted.
Specifically, Judge Rosenthal found that there was no evidence of a proper assignment of the mortgage prior to foreclosure. However, at footnote 5, Id. at 268, the Court also finds that there is no evidence that the note itself was assigned and no evidence as to who the current holder might be.
Nosek v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company (In re Nosek), 286 Br. 374 (Bankr D Mass. 2008).
Almost a year to the day after Schwartz was signed, Judge Rosenthal issued a second opinion. This is an opinion on an order to show cause. Judge Rosenthal specifically found that, although the note and mortgage involved in the case had been transferred from the originator to another party within five days of closing, during the five years in which the chapter 13 proceeding was pending, the note and mortgage and associated claims had been prosecuted by Ameriquest which has represented itself to be the holder of the note and the mortgage. Not until September of 2007 did Ameriquest notify the Court that it was merely the servicer. In fact, only after the chapter 13 bankruptcy had been pending for about three years was there even an assignment of the servicing rights. Id. at 378.
Because these misrepresentations were not simple mistakes: as the Court has noted on more than one occasion, those parties who do not hold the note of mortgage do not service the mortgage do not have standing to pursue motions for leave or other actions arising form the mortgage obligation. Id at 380.
As a result, the Court sanctioned the local law firm that had been prosecuting the claim $25,000. It sanctioned a partner at that firm an additional $25,000. Then the Court sanctioned the national law firm involved $100,000 and ultimately sanctioned Wells Fargo $250,000. Id. at 382-386.
In re Hayes, 393 B.R. 259 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2008).
Like Judge Rosenthal, Judge Feeney has attacked the problem of standing and authority head on. She has also held that standing must be established before either a claim can be allowed or a motion for relief be granted.
Ohio
In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F.Supp. 2d (S.D. Ohio 2007).
Perhaps the District Court’s orders in the foreclosure cases in Ohio have received the most press of any of these opinions. Relying almost exclusively on standing, theJudge Rose has determined that a foreclosing party must show standing. “[I]n a foreclosure action, the plaintiff must show that it is the holder of the note and the mortgage at the time that the complaint was filed.” Id. at 653.
Judge Rose instructed the parties involved that the willful failure of the movants to comply with the general orders of the Court would in the future result in immediate dismissal of foreclosure actions.
Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Steele, 2008 WL 111227 (S.D. Ohio) January 8, 2008.
In Steele, Judge Abel followed the lead of Judge Rose and found that Deutsche Bank had filed evidence in support of its motion for default judgment indicating that MERS was the mortgage holder. There was not sufficient evidence to support the claim that Deutsche Bank was the owner and holder of the note as of that date. Following In re Foreclosure Cases, 2007 WL 456586, the Court held that summary judgment would be denied “until such time as Deutsche Bank was able to offer evidence showing, by a preponderance of evidence, that it owned the note and mortgage when the complaint was filed.” 2008 WL 111227 at 2. Deutsche Bank was given twenty-one days to comply. Id.
Illinois
U

Not all federal district judges are as concerned with the issues surrounding the transfer of notes and mortgages. Cook is a very pro lender case and, in an order granting a motion for summary judgment, the Court found that Cook had shown no “countervailing evidence to create a genuine issue of facts.” Id. at 3. In fact, a review of the evidence submitted by U.S. Bank showed only that it was the alleged trustee of the securitization pool. U.S. Bank relied exclusively on the “pooling and serving agreement” to show that it was the holder of the note. Id.
Under UCC Article 3, the evidence presented in Cook was clearly insufficient.
New York
HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Valentin, 21 Misc. 3D 1124(A), 2008 WL 4764816 (Table) (N.Y. Sup.) November 3, 2008. In Valentin, the New York court found that, even though given an opportunity to, HSBC did not show the ownership of debt and mortgage. The complaint was dismissed with prejudice and the “notice of pendency” against the property was canceled.
Note that the Valentin case does not involve some sort of ambush. The Court gave every HSBC every opportunity to cure the defects the Court perceived in the pleadings.
California
In re Vargas, 396 B.R. 511 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008)
and
In re Hwang, 396 B.R. 757 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008)
These two opinions by Judge Bufford have been discussed above. Judge Bufford carefully explores the related issues of standing and ownership under both federal and California law.
Texas
In re Parsley, 384 B.R. 138 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2008)
and
In re Gilbreath, 395 B.R. 356 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2008)
These two recent opinions by Judge Jeff Bohm are not really on point, but illustrate another thread of cases running through the issues of motions for relief from stay in bankruptcy court and the sloppiness of loan servicing agencies. Both of these cases involve motions for relief that were not based upon fact but upon mistakes by servicing agencies. Both opinions deal with the issue of sanctions and, put simply, both cases illustrate that Judge Bohm (and perhaps other members of the bankruptcy bench in the Southern District of Texas) are going to be very strict about motions for relief in consumer cases.
SUMMARY
The cases cited illustrate enormous problems in the loan servicing industry. These problems arise in the context of securitization and illustrate the difficulty of determining the name of the holder, the assignee of the mortgage, and the parties with both the legal right under Article 3 and the standing under the Constitution to enforce notes, whether in state court or federal court.
Interestingly, with the exception of Judge Bufford and a few other judges, there has been less than adequate focus upon the UCC title issues. The next round of cases may and should focus upon the title to debt instrument. The person seeking to enforce the note must show that:
(1) It is the holder of t his note original by transfer, with all necessary rounds;
(2) It had possession of the note before it was lost;
(3) If it can show that title to the note runs to it, but the original is lost or destroyed, the holder must be prepared to post a bond;
(4) If the person seeking to enforce is an agent, it must show its agency status and that its principal is the holder of the note (and meets the above requirements).
Then, and only then, do the issues of evidence of debt and default and assignment of mortgage rights become relevant.
Filed under: CDO, CORRUPTION, Eviction, Investor, MODIFICATION, Mortgage, bubble,foreclosure, securities fraud | Tagged: borrower, disclosure, foreclosure defense, foreclosure offense, fraud, Lender Liability, mortgage meltdown, predatory lending, securitization, trustee
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28 Responses to “This is it! WHERE’S THE NOTE, WHO’S THE HOLDER: ENFORCEMENT OF PROMISSORY NOTE SECURED BY REAL ESTATE”
Alina, on March 6th, 2009 at 2:41 PM Said:
Here is another interesting tidbit. Yesterday, I searched all recorded assignments in my county for the servicing company on my loan. The guy who signed the assignement as Asst. Sec. for MERS, has also signed as Document Control Officer for the servicing company and as either an asst. sec or Document Control Officer for other banks. Each signature was notarized by the same person and witnessed by the same persons acknowledging that this person is ________ of _________ company. Assignors and assignees all have the same address.
Additionally, same law firm and same company prepared the assignment, a company out of Missouri. Definitely smells of fraud, a big smelly fish.
This is right along the lines of the King County, NY decision.
Don’t know how to present this evidence to the Court. Any suggestions? I was thinking of doing a Request for Judicial Notice. Thanks.
MSoliman, on March 6th, 2009 at 12:44 PM Said:
The structure for the Real Estate Trust prohibits ownership of Assets. Depositor and the Pass-through enitities including custodial roles and Master Servicer. must remin bankrupt insulate. Otherwise its debt and a big hypotheication.
If the assets are detemined to be held by any of the above the affilliates the Trust falls apart (I assue that would begin with the Sponsor / Depositor who acts as the TRS in a REIT).
These loans are treated as recievables with no regard for regulatory requirements – NO CAN DO.
SEC and HUD are in conflict and markets remain confused. The security remains tied into the UCC filing and the investors interest is fractionalized as are the other interests in the cash flow.
I have been waiting for this and that is the governments intereference into the real determination of accountability. Bernake revealed a sweeping change to GAAP and FASB interpretations of accounting policy….accountability rests with IRS reporting under the appropriate method of accoounting,
In other words the combinations will pass through revenue or show income and earings on a profit and loss. Basis accountig for the assets and any gain or loss on sale / reversion will likley fall onto the Federal Saving Bank. This is a capital reserves maintenance crisis for the FSB’s who are sheltered uner this mess.
M Soliman admin@borrowerhotline.com
livinglies, on March 6th, 2009 at 1:51 AM Said:
Allan: File motion with the court declaring you have not been served. If you want, go to Florida Bar Website and file grievance.
Allan (still trying to understand “holder in due course”!), on March 5th, 2009 at 6:23 PM Said:
I recorded a lien back in 2004 that put everyone on notice that borrower lacked capacity, that her identity was stolen, that her signatures were forged.
In 2005, after I reinstated the mortgage, it got securitized and placed by WAMU in SASCO 2005 RF5.
USBank N.A. claims it is the trustee for SASCO certificate holders. When I attempt to track down SASCO, all I come up with is Barclay’s. How does one track if SASCO still exists?
The IMPORTANT question here is, in this scenario, with assignments unrecorded and hastily assembled well after the lawsuit, WHO is “holder in due course”? and what rights do they have?
Also, Florida Default Law Group has been engaging in unethical tricks, including scheduling hearings on Summary Judgment Motions WITHOUT notice to me, though it certifies to the Court it has sent copies to me. What to do with such antics? Is there a Board of Bar Overseers? Do they have any teeth?
RSVP
Allan
BeMoved@AOL.com
Bryan Brey, on March 4th, 2009 at 7:07 PM Said:
@ Alina
Brilliant Alina, brilliant!
Alina, on March 4th, 2009 at 6:09 PM Said:
Bryan,
My argument exactly. U.S. Bank would fall under the definition of a “business trust.”
The business trust and its assets are managed for the benefit of persons who hold transferable certificates issued by the trustees. The ownership shares into which the beneficial interest in the property is divided are called “shares of beneficial interest.” These shares can be issued in the names of the beneficiaries or held by the trustees in “bearer form” (no designated owner name for each share).
Both Willey and Corcoran deal with a trust trying to foreclose. Per Willey, the trust cannot bring suit without including the trustee(s).
And per Corcoran, no business trust can bring suit on a mortgage and note in the State of Florida without authorization from its original state.
In my case, the purported assignment is to the trustee, not the trust.
Still researching all this. Also, reseraching FTC Holder in Due Course.
Bryan Brey, on March 4th, 2009 at 4:56 PM Said:
@ Alina
Reading

 Consumer and Saxon lack standing to pursue this litigation. 2 It is well
established that a plaintiff must prove standing by showing: (1) injury in
fact; (2) a causal connection between the injury and the defendant’s
conduct; and (3) a likelihood that a favorable outcome will redress the
injury. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S. Ct.
2130, 119 L. Ed. 2d 351 (1992).
Consumer [*14] seeks, in essence, to “enforce the [Promissory] Note and
Deed of Trust if [Ms.] Hillery does not pay the Rescission Balance by a date
set by this Court.” Compl. P 27. Thus, as Consumer itself acknowledges, to
proceed with this action, it must demonstrate that it is the holder of not
only the deed of trust but also the promissory note. If not, it has no
injury in fact. See In re ForeclosureCases, 521 F. Supp. 2d 650, 653 (S.D.

UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE COMMITTEE

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

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

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

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

WHERE’S THE NOTE, WHO’S THE HOLDER

INTRODUCTION

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

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

UCC SECTION 3-309

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

WHO’S THE HOLDER

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

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

BRIEF REVIEW OF UCC PROVISIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE RULES

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

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

STANDING

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

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

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

A BRIEF ASIDE: WHO IS MERS?

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

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

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

RULES OF EVIDENCE – A PRACTICAL PROBLEM

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

FORECLOSURE OR RELIEF FROM STAY

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

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

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

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

SOME RECENT CASE LAW

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

Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

Illinois

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

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

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

New York

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

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

California

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

and

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

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

Texas

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

and

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

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

SUMMARY

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

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

It is the holder of this note original by transfer, with all necessary rounds;
It had possession of the note before it was lost;
If it can show that title to the note runs to it, but the original is lost or destroyed, the holder must be prepared to post a bond;
If the person seeking to enforce is an agent, it must show its agency status and that its principal is the holder of the note (and meets the above requirements).

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

 Whether or not Saxon, the servicer of the loan, has standing in the instant
case rises and falls with whether or not Consumer has standing. See In re
Kang Jin Hwang, 393 B.R. 701, 712 (C.D. Cal. 2008)(indicating that a loan
servicer cannot bring an action without the holder of the promissory note).
That is, if Consumer can demonstrate that it is the owner of both the deed
of trust and the promissory note, then it was proper for Saxon to have been
named a plaintiff at the outset of the litigation along with Consumer.