Tag Archives: Foreclosure

wrongful forecosure Other Jurisdictions

16 Mar

Other Jurisdictions

Contrary to California’s ruling in Gomes, a MERS has come under fire in Utah. In Harvey v. Garbett Mortgage, Utah 3rd Dist. Case No. 100907587 (2010) (unpublished) (Herinafter Harvey),  quiet title action resulted in a deed clear of any liens because the trustee, the legal title holder, did not have any idea who the beneficiary was, did not have physical possession of the mortgage note, and did not know whether a split of the note and trust deed occurred. The plaintiff quickly sold the property after the ruling, and thus has no interest in the land. The loan is now unsecured, and the plaintiff is still liable to the lender to pay the debt. An interesting procedural note about the Harvey case is that the plaintiff did not name MERS as a defendant in this case, even though MERS was the nominal beneficiary, because MERS did not have any actual interest in the property. However, this strategy would not be successful in California, because MERS has standing to foreclose, has a statutory created interest in the land, and a quiet title proceeding is final and binding only upon named defendants.

CONCLUSION:

In California, a quiet title action brought by a mortgage borrower in default against a lender will not result in free property. Courts quickly dismiss quiet title actions without any allegation of wrongful practice by the lender. However, a quiet title action in conjunction with a claim of wrongful foreclosure can allow a homeowner stay in their house for an extended period. A debtor in receipt of a notice of default must act quickly if they want to stay in their home. The first steps of filing a complaint and applying for an injunction require technical legal knowledge and sharpened persuasive ability; two characteristics that cannot be learned by the homeowner fast enough to prevent eviction. The homeowner should seek counsel from an experienced attorney regarding the possible benefits and costs of offensive legal action

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Foreclosure in California

16 Mar

925-957-9797

ISSUE:

Many Californians in default on their mortgage and facing foreclosure have filed quiet title and wrongful foreclosure actions. What is a quiet title action against a lender, and are plaintiffs successful in California?

BRIEF ANSWER:                                                                                                         

            A quiet title action in California to determine the owner of property does not generally allow a mortgage borrower in default on their payments to claim title to the land free of liens. However, the action when combined with a wrongful foreclosure claim is often successful in extending the amount of time a defaulted borrower can remain in the house. While in essence, this is simply prolonging the inevitable, it can give a borrower a temporary feeling of control over their own destiny.

DISCUSSION:

Quiet Title Actions as a Defense to Foreclosure

A cause of action to quiet title seeks to determine adverse claims to real or personal property. (Cal. Code Civ. § 760.020.) The action is commonly commenced by homeowners when a lender wrongfully forecloses on their property. My research has not found a favorable California decision quieting title in a mortgage borrower challenging foreclosure. The filing of quiet title actions only prolongs the amount of time a borrower can remain in a house after defaulting.

Theory behind the current suits

The UCC governs negotiable instruments such as mortgages, and it defines a loan as a transferable, signed document that promises to pay the bearer a sum of money at a future date or on demand. Most mortgages are made by investment banks, who then package many similar loans into a mortgage backed security and sell the securities. To convert the mortgages into stocks, each mortgage note must be destroyed. A mortgage and a stock certificate cannot exist at the same time. This creates a gap in the chain of title, and theoretically making the loan invalid. As a result, homeowners can fight foreclosure through a quiet title action and receive clear title. The current trend to argue a break in chain of title is weak, because a “plaintiff may recover only upon the strength of his or her own title, however, and not upon the weakness of the defendant’s title.” (Ernie v. Trinity Lutheran Church (1959) 51 Cal.2d 702, 706.)

A promissory note is usually secured by a deed of trust in the real property. The trust names the security owner as the beneficiary and a loan servicer as the trustee. A trust is a form of ownership in which the legal title of a property is vested in a trustee, who has equitable duties to hold and manage it for the benefit of the beneficiaries. (Restatement of Trusts, Second, §2 (1959).) The trustee under a valid trust deed has exclusive control over the trust property. Usually, the lender records a deed of trust with the county to secure the loan to the debtor. The deeds identify the trustee, and most often identify Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) as the nominal beneficiary.

Challenges to MERS

MERS is a company created by the banking industry to bypass recording statutes and filing fees. MERS records who currently owns the notes on a mortgage. A foreclosure may be brought in the name of MERS, and the trustee may act on behalf of MERS to effectuate a non-judicial foreclosure. MERS may also directly initiate a foreclosure proceeding, and California’s “statutory scheme (§§ 2924–2924k) does not provide for a preemptive suit challenging standing.” (Robinson v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., (2011) 199 Cal. App. 4th 42, 46.)

The MERS system of foreclosure has been upheld in California based upon two rationales. First, courts have held that MERS, acting as the agent of the beneficial owner, does not need to prove authorization by the beneficiary to foreclose. (Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 1149, 55-56.) Second, contract law legitimizes the system, because recent deeds of trust require that the borrower agree that MERS can proceed with foreclosure in the event of default. (Id. at 1157.)

Procedural Requirements for Plaintiffs

California mortgagors must file in the Superior Court, which has the authority to grant the equitable relief of quieting title in an individual. (Cal. Code Civ. §760.040.) Once a party has filed the action, they must file a notice of pendency with the office of the county recorder. (Id. §762.010(b).) This notice puts all other parties who are claiming the party on notice that the plaintiff is claiming the land as his, and stops any transfers of the property during the lawsuit.

To survive a demurer, A plaintiff must file a verified complaint that includes: (1) A legal description and street address of the subject real property; (2) The title of plaintiff as to which determination is sought and the basis of the title; (3) The adverse claims to the title of the plaintiff against which a determination is sought; (4) The date as of which the determination is sought; and (5) A prayer for the determination of the title of the plaintiff against the adverse claims. It is highly likely that a claim merely alleging that the plaintiff has an interest in the land will not make it past a demurer. (See Mangindin v. Washington Mut. Bank, 637 F. Supp. 2d 700, 712 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (Dismissing claim merely alleging plaintiff had an interest in land foreclosed upon by bank).)

Tender Rule

A plaintiff seeking to quiet title in the face of a foreclosure must allege tender, which is “an unconditional offeror an offer of performance of their obligations under the Note, made in good faith, with the ability and willingness to perform.” The “Tender Rule” is derived from several cases involving disputes between junior and senior lienholders. (See Arnolds Mgmt. Corp. v. Eishen (1984) 158 Cal. App. 3d 575, 580; FPCI RE-HAB 01 v. E & G Investments, Ltd. (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1018, 1022.)

The policy behind the rule is that it would be a useless act to set aside a foreclosure sale based upon a procedural defect when a mortgage borrower cannot redeem the property in absence of that defect. (Karlsen v. American Sav. & Loan Assn. (1971) 15 Cal.App.3d 112, 118.) Some courts interpret the Tender Rule to only require that the mortgage borrower tender delinquent pre-foreclosure payments prior to any claim of quiet title. (Id. at 117; Ghervescu v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg., Inc., 2005 WL 6559918.)

Recently, defendants have successfully demurred to plaintiff’s complaints for quiet title for failure to allege valid tender. (Vasquez v. OneWest Bank, FSB (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 4, 2011, B225624) 2011 WL 5248294; Dupree v. Merrill Lynch Mortg. Lending, Inc. (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 24, 2011, B225150) 2011 WL 5142051 (Affirming demurrer and denial of leave to amend complaint).)

Qusetions I am being asked about the Mass Joinder and Kaslow and Kramer and Mitchell Stien

25 Aug

Attorney’s Frequently Asked Questions

1 Who is Mitchell J. Stein

2 Who is Philip A. Kramer

3 Lead Attorney Phillip A Kramer Introduces The Lawsuit(s)

4 Can I get a local lawyer to sue my lender or do a lawsuit myself?

5 What are Attorney Phillip A Kramer’s qualifications?

6 How do I know if my loan is the type that can join the suit?

7 What are my possible outcomes if I become a Named Plaintiff

8 What is MERS and why is it illegal and fraudulent?

9 What is the difference between Loan Modification and this Litigation?

10 What documents do I need to provide?

11 What is the flow of communication between my attorney and myself?

12 Should I continue to make my mortgage payments if I am accepted as a plaintiff on this suit?

13 What if I’m dealing with a pending foreclosure?

14 What about those annoying calls from my lender(s)?

15 How long until I can expect resolution?

16 What is the motivation behind this law suit?

17 In a nutshell, what did the banks do wrong?

18 How did this whole mess happen?

19 What is Securitization?

20 Litigation Verses Modification In Table Format

Who Is Mitchell J Stein?
http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/121750

Who Is Philip A Kramer?

http://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/member_detail.aspx?x=113969

Lead Attorney Phillip A Kramer Introduces The Lawsuit(s)

Can I get a local lawyer to sue my lender or do a lawsuit myself?

What are Attorney Phillip A Kramer’s qualifications?

How do I know if my loan is the type that can join the suit?

What are my possible outcomes if I become a Named Plaintiff

What is MERS and why is it illegal and fraudulent?

What is the difference between Loan Modification and this Litigation?

What documents do I need to provide?
What is the flow of communication between my attorney and myself?

Should I continue to make my mortgage payments
if I am accepted as a plaintiff on this suit?

What if I’m dealing with a pending foreclosure?

What about those annoying calls from my lender(s)?

How long until I can expect resolution?

What is the motivation behind this law suit?

In a nutshell, what did the banks do wrong?

How Did This Whole Mess Happen?

The Breakdown

To put this in perspective…the banks got greedy, really greedy. They were not satisfied with just making the 6% interest on your mortgage, they wanted more. So they chopped up their home loan portfolios and packaged them into “mortgage backed securities” (MBS) that could then be sold to Wall Street investors for even bigger profits. The only problem was, Wall Street had a huge appetite for these MBS’s and could not get enough of them. They kept demanding more of them from the banks so they did everything in their power to churn more out but unfortunately they took time to package and properly securitize. What happened next is where they went wrong. The banks decided to cut corners and avoid two critical steps in the securitization process so they could speed up the funding of these loans from the standard 45 – 60 days to as quick as 4 to 5 days. We all know time is money on Wall Street right? They committed this fraud knowingly and just kept doing it, over and over again 62 million times as shown on all of the documents being currently presented to the courts. The banks left their fingerprints on the gun, providing homeowners with the legal leverage needed to expose this fraud and use it to save their homes from imminent foreclosure.

The question is….will you choose to take action like so many have already done or will you sit back and wait to see what happens? The banks are counting on you doing nothing and going quietly? Become the “squeaky wheel” – show them you are serious about defending your home!

Securitization Explained

The Alphabet Problem – The Pooling and Servicing Agreement

The Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) is the document that actually creates a residential mortgage backed securitized trust and establishes the obligations and authority of the Master Servicer and the Primary Servicer. The PSA also establishes that mandatory rules and procedures for the sales and transfers of the mortgages and mortgage notes from the originator’s to the Trust. It is this unbroken chain of assignments and negotiations that creates what we have called “The Alphabet Problem.”

In order to understand the “Alphabet Problem,” you must keep in mind that the primary purpose of securitization is to make sure the assets (e.g., mortgage notes) are both FDIC and Bankruptcy “remote” from the originator. As a result, the common structures seek to create at least two “true sales” between the originator and the Trust. You therefore have in the most basic securitized structure the originator, the sponsor, the depositor and the Trust. We refer to these parties as the A (originator), B (sponsor), C (depositor) and D (Trust) alphabet players. The other primary but non-designated player in my alphabet game is the Master Document Custodian for the Trust. The MDC is entrusted with the physical custody of all of the “original” notes and mortgages and the assignment, sales and purchase agreements. The MDC must also execute representations and attestations that all of the transfers really and truly occurred “on-time” and in the required “order” and that “true sales” occurred at each link in the chain. Section 2.01 of most PSAs includes the mandatory conveyancing rules for the Trust and the representations and warranties. The basic terms of this Section of the standard PSA is set-forth below:

The complete inability of the mortgage servicers and the Trusts to produce such unbroken chains of proof along with the original documents is the genesis for all of the recent court rulings. One would think that a simple request to the Master Document Custodian would solve these problems. However, a review of the cases reveals a massive volume of transfers and assignments executed long after the “closing date” for the Trust from the “originator” directly to the “trust.” We refer to these documents as “A to D” transfers and assignments. There are some serious problems with the A to D documents. First, at the time these documents are executed the A party has nothing to sell or transfer since the PSA provides such a sale and transfer occurred years ago. Second, the documents completely circumvent the primary objective of securitization by ignoring the “true sales” to the Sponsor (the B party) and the Depositor (the C party). In a true securitization, you would never have any direct transfers (A to D) from the originator to the trust. Third, these A to D transfers are totally inconsistent with the representations and warranties made in the PSA to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to the holders of the bonds (the “Certificate holders”) issued by the Trust. Fourth, in many cases the A to D documents are executed by parties who are not employed by the originator but who claim to have “signing authority” or some type of “agency authority” from the originator. Finally, in many of these A to D document cases the originator is legally defunct at the time the document is in fact signed or the document is signed with a current date but then states that it has an “effective date” that was one or two years earlier. Hence, this is what we call the Alphabet Problem. In the eyes of the courts and millions of homeowners nationwide, all of this spells out the word FRAUD, and there is no legal defense for the lender on this.

editors comment

THEY COULD HAVE A LEGITIMATE CAUSE OF ACTION.
THE BIG FIVE LENDERS SAT AROUND A TABLE SOMEWHERE AND PLANNED FOR THE INFUSION OF CAPITAL AND THE PUMPING OF THE REAL ESTATE MARKET IN AN UNPRECEDENTED AMOUNT. SEE THE DOCUMENTARY “INSIDE JOB” ACADEMY AWARD WINNER FOR A DOCUMENTARY. AT SOME TIME THEY KNEW THAT THEY WHERE GOING TO STOP THE MUSIC AND THERE WOULD BE NO CHAIRS TO SIT IN ONCE THE MUSIC STOPPED.
THE KRAMER LAWSUIT IS ABOUT THIS FRAUD PERPETRATED ON THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER. THE PROBLEM IS IT WAS SOLD AS A FORECLOSURE DEFENSE METHOD WHICH IT IS NOT. THE OTHER PROBLEM IS THAT AN ATTORNEY NEEDS TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS CLIENT TO DIRECTLY REPRESENT THE CLIENTS INTEREST. WITH OVER 10,000 CLIENTS AND 55 MILLION IN FEES THIS WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TASK. I BELIEVE THIS IS WHERE THE FALSE ADVERTISING ISSUE PRESENTS ITSELF.

Bombshell – Judge Orders Injunction Stopping ALL Foreclosure Proceedings by Bank of America; Recontrust; Home Loan Servicing; MERS et al

7 Jul

June 7, 2010 by TheWryEye
Filed under New World order

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Posted by Foreclosure Fraud on June 6, 2010
(St. George, UT) June 5, 2010 – A court order issued by Fifth District Court Judge James L. Shumate May 22, 2010 in St. George, Utah has stopped all foreclosure proceedings in the State of Utah by Bank of America Corporation, ; Recontrust Company, N.A; Home Loans Servicing, LP; Bank of America, FSB; http://www.envisionlawfirm.com. The Court Order if allowed to become permanent will force Bank of America and other mortgage companies with home loans in Utah to adhere to the Utah laws requiring lenders to register in the state and have offices where home owners can negotiate face-to-face with their lenders as the state lawmakers intended (Utah Code ‘ 57-1-21(1)(a)(i).). Telephone calls by KCSG News for comment to the law office of Bank of America counsel Sean D. Muntz and attorney Amir Shlesinger of Reed Smith, LLP, Los Angeles, CA and Richard Ensor, Esq. of Vantus Law Group, Salt Lake City, UT were not returned.

The lawsuit filed by John Christian Barlow, a former Weber State University student who graduated from Loyola University of Chicago and receive his law degree from one of the most distinguished private a law colleges in the nation, Willamette University founded in 1883 at Salem, Oregon has drawn the ire of the high brow B of A attorney and those on the case in the law firm of Reed Smith, LLP, the 15th largest law firm in the world.

Barlow said Bank of America claims because it’s a national chartered institution, state laws are trumped, or not applicable to the bank. That was before the case was brought before Judge Shumate who read the petition, supporting case history and the state statute asking for an injunctive relief hearing filed by Barlow. The Judge felt so strong about the case before him, he issued the preliminary injunction order without a hearing halting the foreclosure process. The attorney’s for Bank of America promptly filed to move the case to federal court to avoid having to deal with the Judge who is not unaccustomed to high profile cases and has a history of watching out for the “little people” and citizen’s rights.

The legal gamesmanship has begun with the case moved to federal court and Barlow’s motion filed to remand the case to Fifth District Court. Barlow said is only seems fair the Bank be required to play by the rules that every mortgage lender in Utah is required to adhere; Barlow said, “can you imagine the audacity of the Bank of America and other big mortgage lenders that took billions in bailout funds to help resolve the mortgage mess and the financial institutions now are profiting by kicking people out of them homes without due process under the law of the State of Utah.

Barlow said he believes his client’s rights to remedies were taken away from her by faceless lenders who continue to overwhelm home owners and the judicial system with motions and petitions as remedies instead of actually making a good-faith effort in face-to-face negotiations to help homeowners. “The law is clear in Utah,” said Barlow, “and Judge Shumate saw it clearly too. Mortgage lender are required by law to be registered and have offices in the State of Utah to do business, that is unless you’re the Bank of America or one of their subsidiary company’s who are above the law in Utah.”

Barlow said the Bank of America attorneys are working overtime filing motions to overwhelm him and the court. “They simply have no answer for violating the state statutes and they don’t want to incur the wrath of Judge Shumate because of the serious ramifications his finding could have on lenders in Utah and across the nation where Bank of America and other financial institutions, under the guise of a mortgage lender have trampled the rights of citizens,” he said.

“Bank of America took over the bankrupt Countrywide Home Loan portfolio June 3, 2009 in a stock deal that has over 1100 home owners in foreclosure in Utah this month alone, and the numbers keep growing,” Barlow said.

The second part of the motion, Barlow filed, claims that neither the lender, nor MERS*, nor Bank of America, nor any other Defendant, has any remaining interest in the mortgage Promissory Note. The note has been bundled with other notes and sold as mortgage-backed securities or otherwise assigned and split from the Trust Deed. When the note is split from the trust deed, “the note becomes, as a practical matter, unsecured.” Restatement (Third) of Property (Mortgages) § 5.4 cmt. a (1997). A person or entity only holding the trust deed suffers no default because only the Note holder is entitled to payment. Basically, “[t]he security is worthless in the hands of anyone except a person who has the right to enforce the obligation; it cannot be foreclosed or otherwise enforced.” Real Estate Finance Law (Fourth) § 5.27 (2002).

*MERS is a process that is designed to simplifies the way mortgage ownership and servicing rights are originated, sold and tracked. Created by the real estate finance industry, MERS eliminates the need to prepare and record assignments when trading residential and commercial mortgage loans. http://www.mersinc.org

Does MERS Registration and Mortgage Fractionalization Extinguish Mortgage Rights?

5 Jul

By: Cynthia Kouril Wednesday September 30, 2009 5:00 pm

Mortgage – Rev Dan Catt

The Kansas Court of Appeals has issued a decision that is both stunning in its own right, but also demonstrates the trend in courts all over this nation which spells HUGE changes in the real estate and mortgage landscape. Realtors and banksters take note:

In a long and thoughtful decision in the case of Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kessler the Kansas Court of Appeals has held that MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.) does not have standing to bring foreclosure actions on behalf of the owners of mortgage notes archived in its system.

Some background:

In the good old days, the legislatures of the various states set up a system for recording mortgages, usually in the County Clerk’s Office. Anyone wishing to know what obligations were imposed upon the real estate, like for instance a title search company, could go to the County Clerk’s Office and look up the block and lot number of the property and know who owned what, who owed what and to whom and whether there were any liens or mortgages on the property and who had what priority.

If you took out a mortgage from bank A, and A later resold your mortgage to refinance company B, well B would go to the County Clerk’s Office and record the transfer of the mortgage. Are you following me so far? B would also receive the original signature copy-the one where you wrote your name in blue ink-of the mortgage paperwork. In order to foreclose, the mortgagee/creditor is supposed to present the original documents in court as one way of proving that it is the true party to whom the debt is own and for whom the mortgage trust (the interest in the real estate) exists.

There are filing fees and costs to have a person go down to the County Clerk’s Office to record the mortgage transfer.

Some “genius” got the bright idea of forming a private entity to circumvent the government filing system; and “poof” MERS was born.

Banks pay a fee to “join” MERS. They then send all their mortgage records or at least their mortgage record information (MERS is very secretive about just how they do what they do) to MERS. MERS is supposed to keep track of the information about each mortgage. Then the mortgage gets split. The Promissory Note, that is the right to receive payments from the borrower, gets either sold or farmed out to a servicer who is paid “fees” to collect the payments and do other administrative tasks like manage any payments for taxes and the like out of escrow funds.

The mortgage deed or mortgage trust, that is the legal interest in the real estate that would normally give a lender the right to foreclose in the event of non-payment-may be sold to someone else. The payments themselves are “securitized” that is bundled with other mortgages and sold as Credit Backed Securities, which we now know as Wall Street Toxic Assets.

Up until recently when a homeowner fell behind in the mortgage payments and the it came time to foreclose, the servicer – who owned no interest whatsoever in the real estate – would appear as plaintiff and the lawyer would fill out an affidavit saying that the actual, blue ink signature, original copy of the mortgage documents were lost, or destroyed, but that the court should waive that requirement because MERS can appear on behalf of the owner of the right to foreclose and certify that the owner is somewhere in the MERS system. The transfers are not recorded in the County Clerk’s Office and all you will see is the transfer to MERS, if that, but not any subsequent transfers within MERS.

In the beginning, homeowners did not realize and often stipulated to waive presentation of the original documents. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. Then a few wised up and found that their cases got postponed indefinitely. Not a “win” but at least they still had a roof over their heads for the time being.

Then banks got the bright idea of saying that MERS was the agent for the true owner. The Kansas decision says that won’t fly either.

BUT, now for the good part:

The court opined that

Indeed, an assignment of a mortgage without the debt transfers nothing. 55 Am. Jur. 2d, Mortgages § 1002. Thus, the mortgagee, who must have an interest in the debt, is the lender in a typical home mortgage.

Understand the possible implications of this. If other states take the same approach as Kansas, that means the splitting of the debt from the mortgage note effectively cancels the “mortgage interest” that is the power over the real property and converts the debt to a simple unsecured personal debt just on a promissory note. Which means they couldn’t take your house in foreclosure, though they can sue you personally on the debt, just like any other unsecured creditor can. I am assuming, without going to deep into it today, that as a personal debt, it may be dischargeable in bankruptcy. But we will have to wait for a few test cases to prove this.

What this also means is, that in the meantime, if you are trying to buy a house, you have to find out if your seller has a mortgage that may have been repackaged and lodged in MERS because you will have no way of knowing – since your title company cannot tell who actually might own the mortgage interest in your real estate if all the County Clerk’s records say is “MERS”.

This makes for a scary time for title insurers, I’m guessing.

There will be more on this case, I’m sure, it will just take some time to suss out all the ramifications.

Update: The NYTimes take on it.

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
Page 29
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,
Page 30
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.,
Page 31
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
Page 32
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)

Page 33
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.

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.