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Possession of the note "NO" recorded assignment "YES" civil code 2932.5 CARTER v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY (N.D.Cal. 1-27-2010)

4 Jul

Some courts appear to have reasoned that plaintiff’s position
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would create an explicit conflict with the statute’s provisions.
The statute authorizes the “trustee, mortgagee, or beneficiary,
or any of their authorized agents” to initiate foreclosure. Cal.
Civ. Code § 2924(a)(1). Under California Civil Code
section 2924(b)(4), a “person authorized to record the notice of default
or the notice of sale” includes “an agent for the mortgagee or
beneficiary, an agent of the named trustee, any person designated
in an executed substitution of trustee, or an agent of that
substituted trustee.” Several courts have held that this language
demonstrates that possession of the note is not required,
apparently concluding that the statute authorizes initiation of
foreclosure by parties who would not be expected to possess the
note. See, e.g., Spencer v. DHI Mortg. Co., No. 090925,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55191, *23*
24 (E.D. Cal. June 30, 2009)
(O’Neill, J.). However, the precise reasoning of these cases is
unclear.[fn14]
A second argument adopted by sister district courts is that
even if requiring possession of the promissory note does not
contradict the statute’s provisions, it nonetheless extends them,
and such extensions are impermissible. See, e.g., Bouyer v.
Countrywide Bank, FSB, No. C 085583,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53940, *23*
24 (N.D. Cal. June 25, 2009). California courts have
described the statute as establishing a “comprehensive scheme”
for nonjudicial
foreclosures. Homestead Sav. v. Darmiento,
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230 Cal. App. 3d 424, 433 (1991)). Because this scheme “is intended to be
exhaustive,” California courts have refused to incorporate
additional obligations, such as allowing a debtor to invoke a
separate statutory right to cure a default. Moeller,
25 Cal. App. 4th at 834 (refusing to apply Cal. Civ. Code § 3275). The
California Supreme Court has similarly held that “[t]he rights
and powers of trustees in nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings
have long been regarded as strictly limited and defined by the
contract of the parties and the statutes.” I.E. Associates v.
Safeco Title Ins. Co., 39 Cal. 3d 281, 288 (1985). I.E.
Associates held that while a trustee has a statutory duty to
contact a trustor at the trustor’s last known address prior to
nonjudicial
foreclosure, the Court could not impose a further
duty to search for the trustor’s actual current address. Id.
District courts have applied I.E. Associates and Moeller to hold
that the trustee’s duties are “strictly limited” to those
contained specifically in the nonjudicial
foreclosure statute,
section 2924 et seq. See, e.g., Bouyer v. Countrywide Bank, FSB,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53940, *23*
24 (N.D. Cal. June 25, 2009).
These courts have held that because section 2924 does not specify
that any party must possess the note, such possession is not
required. Id. Courts have similarly refused to require a trustee
“to identify the party in physical possession of the original
promissory note prior to commencing a nonjudicial foreclosure.”
Ritchie v. Cmty. Lending Corp.,
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2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73216, *20 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 12, 2009).[fn15]
contained specifically in the nonjudicial
foreclosure statute,
section 2924 et seq. See, e.g., Bouyer v. Countrywide Bank, FSB,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53940, *23*
24 (N.D. Cal. June 25, 2009).
These courts have held that because section 2924 does not specify
that any party must possess the note, such possession is not
required. Id. Courts have similarly refused to require a trustee
“to identify the party in physical possession of the original
promissory note prior to commencing a nonjudicial foreclosure.”
Ritchie v. Cmty. Lending Corp.,
Page 31
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73216, *20 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 12, 2009).[fn15]
Finally, while the above arguments have focused on and rejected
a requirement of production of the note, a series of opinions by
Judge Ishii have held that under California law, possession of
the note is not required either. Garcia v. HomEq Servicing Corp.,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77697 *11 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 18, 2009), Topete
v. ETS Servs., LLC, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77761 *10*
11(E.D. Cal. Aug. 18, 2009), Wood v. Aegis Wholesale Corp.,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57151, *14 (E.D. Cal. July 2, 2009). These opinions
reason as follows. Under Cal. Civ. Code § 2932.5, when the
beneficial interest under the promissory note is assigned, the
assignee may exercise a security interest in real property
provided that the assignment is “duly acknowledged and recorded.”
See, e.g., Wood, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57151 at *14.
The Ninth
Circuit has applied California law to hold that promissory notes
arising out of real estate loans could be sold without transfer
of possession of the documents themselves. Id. (citing In re
Golden Plan of Cal., Inc., 829 F.2d 705, 707, 708 n. 2, 710 (9th
Cir. 1986)). Judge Ishii concluded that because a party may come
to validly own a beneficial interest in a promissory note without
possession of the promissory note itself, and because this
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interest, if recorded on the deed of trust, carries with it the
right to foreclose, possession of the promissory note is not a
prerequisite to nonjudicial
foreclosure. Id.
Having reviewed the arguments adopted by the district courts,
the court is left with the sense that reasonable minds could
disagree. Notably, I.E. Associates held that trustee’s duties are
“strictly limited” to those arising under the “statutes,” and a
reasonable jurist could conclude that the plural “statutes”
incorporates the Commercial Code. Although the Civil Code
authorizes a number of parties to initiate nonjudicial
foreclosure, it could be that whichever of those parties
possesses the note may foreclose.
At some point, however, the opinion of a large number of
decisions, while not in a sense binding, are by virtue of the
sheer number, determinative. I cannot conclude that the result
reached by the district courts is unreasonable or does not accord
with the law. I further note that this conclusion is not
obviously at odds with the policies underlying the California
statutes. The apparent purpose of requiring possession of a
negotiable instrument is to avoid fraud. In the context of
nonjudicial
foreclosures, however, the danger of fraud is
minimized by the requirement that the deed of trust be recorded,
as must be any assignment or substitution of the parties thereto.
While it may be that requiring production of the note would have
done something to limit the mischief that led to the economic
pain the nation has suffered, the great weight of authority has
reasonably concluded that California law does not
CARTER v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY (N.D.Cal. 1-27-2010)

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impose this requirement.
While the court concludes that neither production nor
possession is required, the court need not decide whether this is
because promissory notes are not “negotiable instruments,” or
instead because Cal. Civ. Code § 2924 et seq. render the
Commercial Code inapplicable. The court leaves that question for
the California courts. The court solely concludes that neither
possession of the promissory note nor identification of the party
in possession is a prerequisite to nonjudicial
foreclosure.

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