Why You Need an Expert Witness and Why You Should be Aggressive in Discovery

MISSION STATEMENT: I believe that the mortgage crisis has produced manifest evil and injustice in our society. I believe our recovery will never reach the majority of struggling Americans until we restore equal protection for all citizens and especially borrowers in our debt-ridden society. LivingLies is the vehicle for a collaborative movement to provide homeowners with sufficient resources to combat bloated banks who are flooding the political market with money. We provide thousands of pages of free forms, articles and discussion of statutes, case precedent and policy on this site. And we provide paid services, books and products that enable us to maintain an infrastructure to provide a voice to the victims of Wall Street corruption.

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There are three central strategies that need to be pursued with vigor. The Banks have once again moved the goal posts because they are starting to lose cases with increasing frequency when confronted with the requirement that they actually prove their case with facts instead of presumptions. They are attacking the need for discovery, the need for an expert witness, and the need for foundation of fabricated documents by leveraging certain legal presumptions to achieve results that were never intended to be used to win a case that they would lose if they had to prove their case with actual facts from a witness who has personal knowledge.
Yet that is exactly what is happening. It happens almost automatically in non-judicial foreclosures and it happens most of the time in judicial states. “Legal presumptions” are being manipulated to win an unwinnable case. Those presumptions are for expedience and not to slant cases in favor of a litigant who is wrong.
In Discovery it is important to set a hearing on the blanket objections that are commonly filed by the Banks without any obligation on their part to set those objections for hearing. So it is up to the borrower to set the objections for hearings. Lawyers are finding that they must also file a motion to compel and that without a compelling memorandum of law supporting discovery or supporting the need for an expert witness, the banks will control the narrative by maintaining the impression that laws and presumptions about negotiable instruments are the only issues.For the Judge, the real issues are hidden from view, so you must reveal them. The latest iteration the the Bank tactics is the “Self-authenticating” document which is the subject of another article.
The central theme is always the same. The Banks can’t win on the actual facts, so they are relying upon and leveraging certain rules of evidence that allow certain documents to be admitted into evidence, where the contents of those documents are taken as true (despite the fact that they are barred by the hearsay rule) and the Judges are treating the contents as true over the objection of counsel for the borrower. Like Judicial notice, such documents might be admissible for the limited purpose of acknowledging their existence, but their contents are very much in issue.
However, many judges disregard the notion that the contents are at issue unless the borrower produces compelling evidence that the facts in the document are false. In my opinion, it is wrong to require a defendant who has no access to the actual facts — the money trail — to bear the burden of proof and doubly wrong when the borrower has asked for exactly that information through statutory, formal, informal and discovery requests only to be met with stonewalling.
My thought is that this is an opportunity to educate the judge — against what he or she wants to hear. It is an opportunity to get him to hear YOUR narrative twice. Iadvise lawyers to file a memorandum in opposition to objections and file a motion to compel to make your record. Present a credible argument for the need for the borrower to get information that either lies solely in the hands of theforecloser or in the hands of others who are co-venturers with theforecloser.The need for an expert is evident from the section of the PSA which is entitled “Definitions” which uses words, concepts, business processes, lending and practices that are outside of the statutory scheme for the transfer of loans. The same arguments exist for enforcing discovery. Attach a copy of the PSA Definitions section to your memo. Despite the current trend of the Banks toward introducing the PSA as an exhibit at trial, they continue to argue that the borrower has no standing to contest whether the procedures and restrictions of the PSA are relevant in a foreclosure case. Many judges agree. I believe they are wrong and that this is an evasion of the truth with the help of the Court.

They may seem unrelated but they are identical — only the other side has or does not have the actual evidence of the transactions that are presumed to exist by virtue of some document they are producing like an assignment, a mortgage, a note, or a notice. To the extent that they are responsive to discovery, the need for an expert diminishes or is reduced.

The plaintiff is alleging that a trust owns the mortgage and that various parties have authority to service, receive documents and pay for the the origination of acquisition of loans. It is only the PSA that establishes the right of the Plaintiff forecloser or beneficiary under a deed of trust to pursue foreclosure.

The very essence of the defense is that the Plaintiff does not own the loan, is not a holder with rights to enforce and is not a holder in due course because the plan laid out by the PSA, was never followed. That starts with the conclusion that the trust was never funded and therefore could not have the resources to pay for the origination or acquisition of loans. The defense theory is that based upon the pleadings and proof of the Plaintiff, it is a stranger to the loan transaction despite a snow storm of paper creating appearances to the contrary.

The Plaintiff has not alleged it is a holder in due course. Thus by law they are subject toall of the potential defenses of the borrower starting with the processes that began in the application stage for the loan, the presence of an assignment and assumption agreement that governed theactual events that occurred at closing — includingthe fact that the named party identified as “lender” was not the source of the loan and had no rights under the agreement with third parties toperform any act with respect to the loan except topermit their name to be used as a nominee.This was a table funded loan in which an undisclosed third party funded the loan. The importance of that is that the third party should have been identified on the note and mortgage and the mortgage should not have been executed, delivered or recorded. It is ONLY with the help of an expert who understands the terms and processes that are outside the norm of conventional lending — which is already so complex that Federal law requires that summaries and good faith estimates and disclosure are required to be delivered to the borrower prior to closing.

The plaintiff is taking two opposite positions at the same time — first that they have a trust that exists, that has engaged in business pursuant to the requirements of the PSA and who has paid for the origination or acquisition of the loan. Second, that it doesn’t matter whether the trust exists or owns the loan because they are a holder, and they want this court to presume that being a holder creates a presumption under state law that as such, they have the rights to enforce. Hence they want presumption to triumph over fact.
Theirposition is that they can close the matter of refunds and repurchasing obligations with the creditors by foreclosing the mortgage and getting a judgment on the note. Both the investors and the borrowers think otherwise.The defense theory of the case is that the trust was never funded nor used in this transaction and thus should not be allowed to enforce a loan that it never owned, funded, originated or acquired. The initial proof lies in the pleading of the Plaintiff in judicial cases. They never assert that they are a holder in due course, the elements of which are payment of value for the loan, acting in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. Through aggressive and relentless pursuit of truth in discovery (which only requires the possibility that it might lead to admissible evidence) you can easily establish that they are not claiming that the Trust was acting in bad faith or with knwoeldge fo the borrower’s defenses (although in some situations that might also be in issue). That leaves the single element of payment for the loan.

Each PSA sets forth the elements of a holder in due course for the loan to be accepted by the trustee. If the allegation is onlythat that there is a holder, or even a holder with rights to enforce, the only conclusion, from their own pleadings is that the trust has not paid for this loan. If it has not paid for the origination or acquisition of the loan, the Trust has no reasonable basis for claiming any interest in it. Hence it shouldn’t be suing for collection or foreclosure. And the allegation that the Trust or representative is a holder is contrary to the presumption underlying court proceedings that the Trust has paid money and will lose money if the loan is not enforced. The truth is that the investors will lose money if the loan IS enforced.The defense theory of the case is that there is a direct debtor-creditor relationship between the investors, as creditors and who should have been on the note and mortgage but were not, in order to create the illusion of a veil in which the investors would not be liable for fraudulent, deceptive or shady lending practices.

And the defense theory of the case is that the securitization plan under which the investors were supposedly parties through the Trust and the PSA never occurred and that therefore the mortgage was defective on its face for naming the wrong lender and for not disclosing, as required by Federal and Florida law all the parties to the transaction and all the intermediaries were were receiving compensation and profits arising from the origination of the loan. — since it was the investor funds that were used in the origination or acquisition of the loan.

Since we can presume that the distance of the Trust from theactual origination eliminates any questionas to whether they were proceeding in good faith IF they accepted the note and mortgage, we must then presume that were acting in good faith and without notice of the borrower’s defenses. Those are two out of three of the elements for a holder in due course.By alleging that the Trust owns the loan, that would by definition mean that that if the PSA was followed the Trust was intended to be a holder in due course — having paid value for the loan in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses.

That would mean that the PSA requires the Trust to be a holder in due course, because that would prevent the borrower from raising most defenses against the Trust when it seeks to enforce the loan. If it is not a holder in due course, the Trust provisions bar acceptance of the loan. Hence any allegation to the contrary is void under New York State law.

Thus the plaintiff is trying to slip by on two conflicting theories — that the trust owns the loan and that the trust can enforce it just by alleging it is a holder despite the fact that the trust is a stranger to the loan transaction and never transacted any business in which it acquired ownership of the loan. This leaves the actual creditor — a group of investors who were in the same darkness as the borrower — without having received the truth when the transaction was proposed to either of them.
What is interesting here is that the allegation is not that the trust is a holder in due course which can only mean that the Trust never paid consideration for the ownership of the loan. And the acceptance of the loan by the trustee has not been alleged because it most likely never happened because the transfer was outside of the cutoff period.The cutoff period exists for two reasons — to get certain tax advantages for the trust beneficiaries who are the real creditors and to prevent any defective loans from coming into the trust that would have an adverse consequence to the trust and its beneficiaries.

And the fact that the Trust is governed by New York State law means that any act that is expressly prohibited by the PSA is void not voidable. So the assignment is a cover-up for what really happened.

For the loan to be included in the pool of loans that form the res of the trust, the trustee must accept the loan. That acceptance is manifest after the cutoff period when the pool is closed. After that individual acceptances based upon opinions of counsel must be documented. None of that happened.

At best it is an offer that could never be accepted by the trust — because there was no acceptance by the trustee who could not accept because it would be a void act both because of the cutoff period and the fact that it produce adverse consequences in both tax treatment and actual money paid to them to allow the late deposit of a loan that has been declared in default). See the provisions for acceptance by the Trustee.

An expert witness steeped in the language and practice of investment banking and the securitization of loans is necessary to explain how this transaction must be interpreted and the conclusion that the investors are the direct creditors — not the trust — because their money was mismanaged, as the investors have alleged in their own complaints against the underwriters.

At worst, it is, as the investor suits and the suits by government and insurers allege outright fraud in which the money and the documents were intentionally managed in a way that was to the detriment of both the creditors and the debtor and ultimately the government and society.

The second point in the defense is that the documents submitted by the Plaintiff are not supported by anything because they have refused to provide appropriate responses to discovery that would show the actual authority to represent the actual creditors, based upon the actual creditors granting them that authority.At trial documents will be admitted for the forecloser if you have failed to enforce discovery. Admission into evidence is barred if they have failed to respond even after being ordered to do so by the court — but those cases don’t go to trial. They are settled. And that is the point.

Bank of America Ordered to Pay $1.2 BILLION for Fraudulent Mortgages

“Given the current environment where robo-signing became institutionalized as a practice even though it is the equivalent of forgery and where fabrication of documents by law offices and “document processors” were prepared according to a published menu of prices, why would anyone, least of all a court of law, apply general principles surrounding presumptions when established fact makes it more likely than not that the presumptions lead to the wrong conclusions? Where is the prejudice to anyone in abandoning these presumptions in light of all the information in the public domain?” — Neil Garfield, livinglies.me

THEY ACTUALLY CALLED IT “HUSTLE”

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ruled nine months after jurors found Bank of America and former Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone liable for defrauding government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) through the sale of shoddy loans by the former Countrywide Financial Inc in 2007 and 2008.

The case centered on a mortgage lending process known as “High Speed Swim Lane,” “HSSL” or “Hustle,” and which ended before Bank of America bought Countrywide in July 2008.

Investigators said the program emphasized quantity over quality, rewarding employees for producing more loans and eliminating checkpoints designed to ensure the loans’ quality. (see link below)

Now that an actual employee of the Bank has also been ordered to pay $1 Million, maybe others will start coming out of the woodwork seeking immunity for their testimony. There certainly has been a large exodus of employees and officers of Bank of America to other Banks and even other industries. They are all trying to distance themselves from the inevitable down fall of the Bank. Meanwhile the corrupt system is heavily engaged with financial news reporting. For every article pointing out that Bank of America might have hundreds of Billions of dollars in legal liabilities for their fraudulent practices in originating, acquiring, servicing and foreclosing mortgages, there are five articles spread over the internet telling investors that BOA is a good investment and it is advisable to buy the stock. I know how that system works. For favors or money some people will write anything.

THE BURDEN OF PLEADINGS AND PROOF MUST BE CHANGED

The question I continue to raise is that if there was an administrative finding of fraud by an agency of the government, which there was, and if there was a jury finding of fraud involved in the Countrywide mortgages (and other mortgages) why are we presuming in court that that the mortgage is valid?

I understand the statutory and common law presumptions arising out of certain instruments that appear to be facially valid. But I propose that lawyers challenge those presumptions based upon the widespread knowledge and information across the public domain that many if not most of the mortgages were procured by fraud, processed fraudulently, serviced fraudulently, and foreclosed fraudulently. In my opinion it is time for lawyers to challenge that presumption in light of the numerous studies, agency investigations and findings that the mortgages, from beginning to end, were fraudulently originated, acquired and processed.

Why should the filings of a pretender lender receive the benefit of the presumptions of validity just because it exists when we already know it is more likely than not that there are no underlying facts to support the presumptions — and knowing that there was probably fraud involved? Why should the burden remain on the borrowers who have the least access to the information about that fraud and who get nothing from the banks during discovery?

Forfeiture of the private residence of a person is the worst outcome of any civil litigation. It is like the death penalty in criminal litigation. Shouldn’t it require intense scrutiny instead of a rocket docket that presumes the validity of the mortgage and note, and presumes that a possessor of a note (that more likely than not was fabricated and forged by a machine) has the right to enforce?

In a REAL transaction in the REAL world, the originator of a loan would demand that all underwriting restrictions be applied, and confirmation of the submissions by the borrower. If anyone was buying the loan in the secondary market, they would demand the same thing and proof that the assignor, endorser or transferor of the loan had title to it in every conceivable way.

The buyer would demand copies of the actual documentation so that they could enforce the loan. These documents would exist and be kept in a vault because the fate of the investment normally depends upon the ability of the “lender” or “purchaser” of the loan to prove that the loan was properly originated and transferred for value in good faith without knowledge of any defenses of the borrower.

In short, they would demand that they receive proof of all aspects in the chain of title such that they would be considered a Holder in Due Course.

Today, nobody seems to allege they are a holder in due course and nobody seems to want to identify any party as a Holder in Due Course or even a creditor. They use the term “holder” with its presumptions as a sword against the hapless borrower who doesn’t have the information to know that his or her loan is likely NOT owned by anyone in the chain claimed by the foreclosing party.

If it were otherwise, all foreclosure cases would end with a thud — the loan would be produced in all its glory with everything in its place and fully disclosed. The only defense left would be payment. Instead the banks are waiting years to run the statute on TILA rescission and TILA violations before they start actively prosecuting a foreclosure.

What bank with a legitimate claim for foreclosure would want to wait before it got its hands on the collateral for a loan in default? Incredibly, these delays which often amount to five years or more, are ascribed to borrowers who are “buying time” without looking at the docket to see that the delay is caused by the Plaintiff foreclosing party, not the borrower who has been actively seeking discovery.

What harm would there be to anyone who is a legitimate stakeholder in this process if we required the banks to plead and prove in all cases — judicial and nonjudicial — the following:

  1. All closing documents with the borrower conformed with Federal and State law as to disclosures, Good Faith Estimate and appraisals.
  2. Underwriting and due diligence for approval of the loan application was performed by [insert name of party].
  3. The payee on the note loaned money to the borrower.
  4. The mortgagee on the mortgage (or beneficiary on the deed of trust) was the source of funds for the loan.
  5. The “originator” of the loan was the lender.
  6. No investor or third party was the creditor, investor or lender at the closing of the loan.
  7. Attached to the pleading are wire transfer receipts or canceled checks showing that the borrower received the funds from the party named on the settlement documents as the lender.
  8. Each assignment in the chain of title to the loan was the result of a transaction in which the loan was sold by the owner of the loan for value in good faith without knowledge of borrower’s defenses.
  9. Each assignment in the chain of title to the loan was the result of a transaction in which the loan was purchased by a bona fide purchaser for value in good faith without knowledge of borrower’s defenses.
  10. Attached to the pleading are wire transfer receipts or canceled checks showing that the seller of the loan received the funds from the party named on the assignment or endorsement as the purchaser.
  11. The creditor for this debt is [name the creditor]. The creditor has notice of this proceeding and has authorized the filing of this foreclosure [see attached authorization document].
  12. The date of the purchase by the creditor Trust is [put in the date]. Attached to the pleading are wire transfer receipts or canceled checks showing that the seller of the subject loan received the funds from the REMIC Trust named in the pleadings as the purchaser.
  13. The purchase by the Trust conformed to the terms and conditions of the Trust instrument which is the Pooling and Servicing Agreement [attached, or URL given where it can be accessed]
  14. The Creditor’s accounts show a deficiency in payments caused by the failure of the borrower to pay under the terms of the note.
  15. All payments received by the creditor (owner of the loan) have been posted whether received directly or received indirectly by agents of the creditor.
  16. The creditor has suffered financial injury and has declared a default on its own account. [See attached Notice of Default].
  17. The last payment received by the creditor from anyone paying on this subject loan account was [insert date].

When I represented Banks and Homeowner Associations in foreclosures against homeowners and commercial property owners, I had all of this information at my fingertips and could produce them instantly.

Given the current environment where robo-signing became institutionalized as a practice even though it is the equivalent of forgery and where fabrication of documents by law offices and “document processors” were prepared according to a published menu of prices, why would anyone, least of all a court of law, apply general principles surrounding presumptions when established fact makes it more likely than not that the presumptions lead to the wrong conclusions? Where is the prejudice to anyone in abandoning these presumptions in light of all the information in the public domain?

see http://thebostonjournal.com/2014/07/30/bank-of-america-ordered-to-pay-1-27-billion-for-countrywide-fraud/

For consultations, services, title and securitization reports, reviews and analysis please call 520-405-1688 or 954-495-9867.

Who REALLY Owns the Loan ?

With stories like this, we know that there are settlements, but we don’t know the terms. Just like the confidential settlements with homeowners that occur every day, we never hear the terms of settlement. The issue is whether the banks are being forced to either pay for the losses they created by writing bad loans or if they will be required to re-purchase the whole thing because the loans are, in the words of the investors, unenforceable.

If they are paying off the investors for the loss, and the loss is directly related to the bad underwriting on specific loans, then the payment has reduced the the amount receivable and identified who is to blame for this problem. If the banks are repurchasing the loans because they were bad, unenforceable loans, why are they being allowed to enforce loans that are admittedly unenforceable?

And if the investors are the lenders and the lenders are admitting against interest that the loans are bad and unenforceable how can anyone come to court and enforce the debt under the premise they are suing for the lenders and seeking the old balance?

In discovery, the homeowner should aggressively seek information regarding these settlements. It makes no sense to have the lender paid of in part or entirely and then to allow some intermediary to enforce it when the basis of the settlement was that the origination was bad and that the loans are not enforceable.

BlackRock, Pimco among those suing trust units of major banks over mortgages

  • The trustee units of Detusche Bank (DB), U.S. Bancorp (USB), Wells Fargo (WFC), HSBC, and Bank of New York Mellon (BK) face a lawsuit by an investor group led by BlackRock (BLK) and Pimco (and also including PRU and SCHW) over their role in overseeing and enforcing terms on more than 2K mortgage-backed bonds between 2004 and 2008.
  • The group is seeking damages for losses on the paper that have surpassed $250B, reports the WSJ. At issue, say the plaintiffs, is the banks breaching their duty to bondholders by failing to force the lenders and bond issuers to repurchase poorly underwritten loans.
  • A similar plaintiffs group has already won settlements from Bank of America and JPMorgan for their roles in originating and selling toxic mortgages.

Read more at Seeking Alpha:
http://seekingalpha.com/currents/post/1807443?source=ipadportfolioapp_email

Sent from the Seeking Alpha Portfolio app. Get the app.

Fannie and Freddie Slammed by Massachusetts AG

Martha Coakley gets it. Read her letter. Being a politician she does not say that the abstract fear of strategic defaults on all loans across the board is absurd. Well, actually she does say it. Principal reductions and ending patently illegal policies preventing homeowners from buying back their own property at auction are at the center of the solution to the foreclosure mess along with one more thing: things will change when we get the answer to the question IF THESE POLICIES HURT LENDERS, INVESTORS AND BORROWERS, WHY WOULD ANYONE LISTEN TO A THIRD PARTY WHO BENEFITS?

fhfa-letter-051414

As the new head of the Federal Agency administrating Fannie and Freddie, Watts, replacing DeMarco, signals a major change in policy and regulations. The question is whether he means it. There is no doubt at the White House that the economy will continue to be dragged down by foreclosures. Their answer to the problem lies in modifications with “principal reductions” and loosening some standards for lending and securitization.

While the modification policies should be changed, this isn’t enough. Modification has been used as a tool of Wall Street to lure unwary borrowers into the illusion of immediate relief only to be faced with terms that are worse than the borrowers had before when underwriting was virtually nonexistent — albeit with some fees and other “skin in the game” restrictions that could slow up some of the continuing securitization fraud.

The issue is still the same and the fear is still there — will the entire system collapse if we stop putting the full brunt of the foreclosure mess on the backs of unsophisticated homeowners who were induced to buy loan products that were filled with false pretenses, false assumptions and nonexistent review, verification and other underwriting procedures.

At this point, considering the rampant appraisal fraud, homeowners should be given an opportunity to regain equity and have some skin in the game — as opposed to the all or nothing proposition they are fighting in court with complete strangers to their transactions 000 alleged by parties relying on evidentiary presumptions rather than real facts of each transaction.

In 2007 I proposed amnesty for everyone and that everyone share in the the losses from civil and perhaps criminal fraud caused by the banks taking money from investors and applying it to loans that were guaranteed to fail and then scaring government into thinking that the world would end if they were called on this predatory and illegal practice on the basis of being too big too fail.

Too big to fail is a myth. First, the banks can’t collapse because they are cash rich off shore. Trillions were siphoned out of pension funds, taxpayers and insurers and guarantors taking so much money that the federal reserve had to engage in various schemes of direct and disguised quantitative easing (like buying mortgage bonds that were worthless at 100% of par value). The losses claimed by the banks were also fictional.

At this point everyone at the levers of power knows the truth. The trusts were never funded and the trusts never acquired the loans. This places the investors in the position of being undifferentiated and unattached creditors for loans they funded but were never  given proper documentation in the form of notes payable tot he investors and mortgages pledging collateral to the investors, leaving them as unsecured creditors.

But now the government is committed financially to a policy of continuing fraud started by the banks which is the same thing that is happening in court. The issue is not whether a deadbeat homeowner will get a free house (that is a choice presented by the banks in a false set of presumptions). despite the dire straits of investors in worthless and fraudulent mortgage bonds, homeowners are mostly willing to offer new notes and new mortgages that reflect economic reality. No, those deadbeats are nothing of the sort. They are hard working, play by the rules people who simply want a fair deal and they are willing to shoulder the loss forced on them by the banks.

Want to test it out? Call us about our AMGAR project — 7 years in the making — in which we call the bluff of the banks. It takes money, but the investors are starting to line up to help, and the homeowners with independent assets to offer the money rather than the foreclosure are racking up wins in case after case. Watch the banks back peddle as they reject the money in favor of their much needed foreclosure judgment and sale so they can report the loan was a bust — and therefore the money the banks received in servicer payments to the investors, insurance tot he banks, guarantees and other proceed from other obligors won’t need to be paid back.

And if played properly, the tax revenue due from the banks for violations of the REMIC provisions, part of which will fall on investors who fail to make their case against the broker dealers who sold them that mortgage crap, will more than offset the lack of revenue on Federal and State levels. All they need to do is give up on too big to fail and give up on thinking that killing the middle class is a good idea because the burden must fall somewhere. In fraud, the burden falls on the perpetrators not the victims although it is rare that restitution ever equals the loss. Virtually every foreclosure is merely the court’s complicity in the continuing fraud.

Remember the playbook of the bank attorneys into undermine your confidence until the very last second when they submit their voluntary dismissal in court. Call their bluff, offer the money based upon YOUR terms or the terms of an investor who is willing to make the commitment. Your terms require proof of ownership and proof of balance after credits for third party payments. you will find they don’t own the loan and the balance of the loan has already been paid down or paid off entirely.

Don’t just file motions to enforce discovery. File motions with affidavits from forensic analysts that explain why you need what you are asking for. You’ll get the order. And as soon as you get the order, the offers of settlement will start pouring in.

For information and further assistance please call 520-405-1688 or 954-495-9867. We provide help and guidance to professionals that know foreclosure defense, foreclosure offense, modifications, short-sales, Hardest Hit Funds and other Federal, State and private programs. Remember to ask about AMGAR. It is time to strike back. Let the other side start feeling the pain.

see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/business/Melvin-Watt-shifts-course-on-fannie-mae-and-freddie-mac.html?ref=business&_r=0

 

The Confusion Over Consideration: If they didn’t pay for it, they have nothing against the property

There have been multiple questions directed at me over the issue of consideration arising from presumptions made about a note and mortgage that appear to be facially valid. Those presumptions are rebuttable and indeed in many cases would be rebutted by the actual facts. That is why asserting the right defenses is so important to set the foundation for discovery.

The cases thrown at me usually relate to adequacy of consideration. Some relate wrongly to Article 3 as to enforcement of the note. I agree that enforcement of the note is easier than enforcement of the mortgage. But that is the point. If they really want the property even a questionable holder of the note might be able to get a civil judgment and that judgment might result in a lien against the property and it might even be foreclosed if the property is not homestead. That is how we protect creditors and property owners. To enforce the mortgage, the claim must be much stronger — it must be filed by a party who actually has the risk of loss because they paid for it.

One case just sent to me is a 2000 case 4th DCA in Florida. Ahmad v Cobb. 762 So 2d 944. The quote I lifted out of that case which was presented to me as though it contradicted my position is the most revealing:

“First, there is no doubt that Ahmad, as the assignee of the Resolution Trust Corporation, owned the rights to the Cobb Corner, Inc. note and mortgage and to the guarantees securing those obligations. He obtained a partial

[762 So.2d 947]

summary judgment which fixed the validity, priority and extent of his debt. Any questions as to the adequacy of the consideration he paid were settled in that ruling.

That is your answer. The time to contest consideration is best done before judgment when you don’t need to prove fraud by clear and convincing evidence. We are also not challenging adequacy of consideration — except that if it recites $10 and other value consideration for a $500,000 loan it casts doubt as to whether the third leg of the stool is actually present — offer, acceptance and consideration. People tend to forget that this is essentially contract law and the contract for loan is no exception to the laws of contract.

We are challenging whether there was any consideration at all because I already know there was none. There couldn’t be. The consideration flowed directly from the investors to the borrower. That is the line of sight of the debt, in most cases.

The closing agent mistakenly or intentionally applied funds from a third party who was not disclosed on the settlement documents. Without receiving any money from the “originator”, the closing agent proceeded to get the signature from the borrower promising to pay the originator when it was a third party who gave the closing agent the funds. If this was a “warehouse loan” in which the originator was borrowing the money with a risk of loss and the liability to pay it back then the originator is a proper party and any assignments from the originator would be valid — if they were supported by consideration. Some loans do fit that criteria but most do not.

I repeat that this is not an attempt to get out of the debt altogether. It is an attack on the note and mortgage because the actual terms of repayment were either never agreed between the investors and the borrowers or are as set forth in the PSA and NOT the note and mortgage.

If the third party (source of funds) is NOT in privity with the originator (which is the structure we are dealing with because the broker dealers wanted to shield themselves from liability for violating fair lending laws) then the closing agent should have obtained instructions from the source of funds as to the application of funds wired into escrow. Anyone who didn’t would be an idiot. But most of them, under that definition would qualify. The closing agent would also be wrong to have demanded the signature of the borrower on documents that (a) did not reveal the source of funds and (b) did not contain all the terms of repayment, as recited in the PSA.

The foreclosure crowd is saying the PSA is irrelevant — but only when it suits them. They are saying that the PSA gives them the authority to proceed with foreclosure but that the terms of the PSA are not relevant. That is crazy, but up until now judges have been buying it because they have not been presented with the fact pattern and legal argument that we are asserting.

In summary, we are saying there was NO CONSIDERATION. We are not attacking adequacy of consideration. I am saying there was no actual transaction between the originator and the borrower and there was no actual transaction between the assignor, indorsor, and the assignee or indorsee. Article 9 of the UCC is clear.

The terms of enforcement of a note govern a looser interpretation of when negotiable paper can be enforced. But the terms of a mortgage cannot be enforced by anyone unless they obtain it for value. Value is consideration. We are saying there wasn’t any consideration. Any decision to the contrary is wrong and can be contested with contrary decisions that are all correct and can be found not only in the public records but in treatises.

And this is absolutely necessary. In a mortgage foreclosure or even attachment, the party seeking the forfeiture must show that this forfeiture is necessary to secure repayment of a debt. It must also show that without this forfeiture, it will suffer a loss. In so doing they establish grounds not only for the foreclosure judgment but also for the foreclosure sale.

As pointed out in the above case, the creditor is the one who submits a creditor’s bid by definition. If the party bringing the action cannot satisfy the elements of a creditor in real money terms, then they are not permitted to bid anything other than cash. Allowing a party who did not acquire the mortgage rights for value would enable strangers to the transaction to acquire property for free, except the costs of litigation. Thus the “free house” argument is specious. It is a distraction from the real facts as to who is getting a free house.

BONY Objections to Discovery Rejected

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It has been my contention all along that these cases ought to end in the discovery process with some sort of settlement — money damages, modification, short-sale, hardest hit fund programs etc. But the only way the homeowner can get honest terms is if they present a credible threat to the party seeking foreclosure. That threat is obvious when the Judge issues an order compelling discovery to proceed and rejecting arguments for protective orders, (over-burdensome, relevance etc.). It is a rare bird that a relevance objection to discovery will be sustained.

Once the order is entered and the homeowner is free to inquire about all the mechanics of transfer of her loan, the opposition is faced with revelations like those which have recently been discovered with the Wells Fargo manual that apparently is an instruction manual on how to commit document fraud — or the Urban Lending Solutions and Bank of America revelations about how banks have scripted and coerced their employees to guide homeowners into foreclosure so that questions of the real owner of the debt and the real balance of the debt never get to be scrutinized. Or, as we have seen repeatedly, what is revealed is that the party seeking a foreclosure sale as “creditor” or pretender lender is actually a complete stranger to the transaction — meaning they have no ties i to any transaction record, and no privity through any chain of documentation.

Attorneys and homeowners should take note that there are thousands upon thousands of cases being settled under seal of confidentiality. You don’t hear about those because of the confidentiality agreement. Thus what you DO hear about is the tangle of litigation as things heat up and probably the number of times the homeowner is mowed down on the rocket docket. This causes most people to conclude that what we hear about is the rule and that the settlements are the exception. I obviously do not have precise figures. But I do have comparisons from surveys I have taken periodically. I can say with certainty that the number of settlements, short-sales and modifications that are meaningful to the homeowner is rising fast.

In my opinion, the more aggressive the homeowner is in pursuing discovery, the higher the likelihood of winning the case or settling on terms that are truly satisfactory to the homeowner. Sitting back and waiting to see if the other side does something has been somewhat successful in the past but it results in a waiver of defenses that if vigorously pursued would or could result in showing the absence of a default, the presence of third party payments lowering the current payments due, the principal balance and the dollar amount of interest owed. If you don’t do that then your entire case rests upon the skill of the attorney in cross examining a witness and then disqualifying or challenging the testimony or documents submitted. Waiting to the last minute substantially diminishes the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

What is interesting in the case below is that the bank is opposing the notices of deposition based upon lack of personal knowledge. I would have pressed them to define what they mean by personal knowledge to use it against them later. But in any event, the Judge correctly stated that none of the objections raised by BONY were valid and that their claims regarding the proper procedure to set the depositions were also bogus.

tentative ruling 3-17-14

Damages Rising: Wrongful Foreclosure Costs Wells Fargo $3.2 Million

Damage awards for wrongful foreclosure are rising across the country. In New Mexico a judge issued a $3.2 million judgment (including $2.7 million in punitive damages) against Wells Fargo for foreclosing on a man’s home after his death even though he had an insurance policy through the bank that paid the remaining balance on his mortgage. The balance “owed” on the mortgage was $125,000. Despite the fact that the bank knew about the insurance (because it was purchased through the bank) Wells Fargo continued to pursue foreclosure, ignoring the claim for insurance. It is because of cases like this that people are asking “why would they do that?”

The answer is what I’ve been saying for years.  Where a loan is subject to claims of securitization, and the investment banks lied to insurers, investors, guarantors and other co-obligors, they most likely have been paid many times for the same loan and never gave credit to the investors. By not crediting the investors they created the illusion of a higher balance that was due on the loan. They also created the illusion of a default that probably never occurred. But by pursuing foreclosure and foreclosure sale, they compounded the illusion and avoided claims for refund and repayment received from third parties and created claims for recovery of servicer advances. In many foreclosures that I have  reviewed, payments received from the FDIC under loss-sharing were never taken into account. Thus the bank collects money repeatedly for a loss it never incurred.

This case is another example of why I insist on following the money. By following the money trail you will discover that the documents upon which the foreclosure relies referred to  fictitious transactions. The documents are worthless, but nevertheless accepted in court unless a proper objection is made based upon preserving issues for trial and appeal by proper pleading and discovery.

Lawyers should take note of this profit opportunity. Most homeowners are looking for attorneys to take cases on contingency. Typical contingency fee is 40%. If these lawyers were on a typical contingency fee arrangement, their payday would have been around $1.2 million.

I should add that for every one of these judgments that are reported, I hear about dozens of confidential settlements that are of similar nature, to wit: clear title on the house, damages and attorneys fees.

Wells Fargo Ordered to Pay $3.2 Million for “Shocking” Foreclosure

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