by Charles Marshall, Esquire
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
On the heels of Sciarratta v. US Bank, in the wake of Keshtgar v. US Bank, under the umbrella of Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage, comes now a unifying decision which applies at a base level at least these California Supreme Court and appellate decisions to the non-judicial firmament throughout the Greater West, that of Gieseke v. Bank of America.
Gieseke is a 9th Circuit decision, thus making itself persuasive if not controlling law in California and 9th Circuit states outside California, including Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii. While it is not mandatory for 9th Circuit Fed Courts in these states to follow Gieseke, due to the causes of action at issue being primarily state-based property claims as opposed to Fed-based claims, the persuasive authority of Gieseke will doubtless be useful and may prove to be compelling in many a future non-judicial foreclosure case in which the ‘borrower’ (never concede even, nay especially, fundamental terms in case pleading) is the Plaintiff.
It is also important to keep in mind that Federal authority is not controlling in a state litigation matter. Nevertheless, the persuasiveness of Fed to State and State to Fed authority must be acknowledged and understood among foreclosure litigants.
One of the reasons Glaski v. Bank of America failed largely to get traction until revived by Yvanova, is that even though it was controlling authority in the 5th Appellate District of California, and very much persuasive authority elsewhere in California, California’s Fed Courts tamped this brave and groundbreaking decision down from an oak to a stump, in a matter of months, following its publication in August of 2013.
Now with Gieseke, the entire 9th Circuit has greatly amplified the already-dramatic impact of Yvanova and its progeny Keshtgar and Sciarratta. Indeed, the way the Gieseke decision came to be is an event of great moment for this long-time foreclosure warrior-attorney. The underlying Gieseke case, which I had filed in the Northern District of California Fed Court on behalf of my clients back in late 2013, and appealed many months ago, was set for oral argument on July 5, 2016 before the 9th Circuit.
The Clerk of the 9th Circuit Court issued an order-to-show-cause (OTS) on May 2, 2016 with the breathtaking directive to the institutional defendants in the case, including Bank of America, to wit: why shouldn’t we the 9th Circuit simply remand this case summarily, in light of the Yvanova decision.
The institutional defendants had their best appellate firm at the ready, Severson Werson, and put forward a shallow but superficially credible case. I ‘marshalled’ (you’ll forgive the pun) my extensive network of resources, putting forward my considerably more credible Neil Garfield-inspired and ready arguments, and awaited the decision which just came down May 20: Gieseke Appellants win summarily, without even having to go to oral argument, which hearing was vacated upon the remand of the case to District Court, where it is to be reconsidered in light of Yvanova and Keshtgar.
Keep in mind that while Yvanova and Sciarratta are both post-auction cases, Keshtgar, and now Gieseke, are pre-auction, post-NOD cases. Which means at this point in California, through the California Supreme Court and now the 9th Circuit, all post-NOD lawsuits will have at least persuasive authority battering the opposition from the moment of filing. Strategically for once, Californians litigating non-judicial foreclosure matters have real options in choosing venue.
Where the focus of a case is directed to wrongful foreclosure and quiet title, state courts may be the better venue, since Yvanova and Keshtgar are controlling authority in all State Courts at this point. On the other hand, where rescission is an important cause of action in a compliant, a Federal venue using Gieseke for non-rescission state-based claims litigated in the same Federal venue may be the best way to frame a case.
Remember, Federal authority is persuasive, not mandatory, when applied to state claims. On the other hand, the breakthrough case of Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans is controlling authority throughout the US on the issue of rescission (always a Fed-based issue vis a vis the TILA Federal law), as the decision came out of the US Supreme Court.
One might reasonably anticipate at this juncture to wonder what might one expect in light of the above cases, in trying to move a given plaintiff’s foreclosure case forward. Here follows a primer: For starters, from case inception, when facing a sale date, TROs will be much more readily granted. Be mindful that the standard applied to granting a preliminary or permanent restraining order, and derivatively a TRO, is whether the movant for an injunction is likely to prevail on the merits in the litigation at issue.
Before Yvanova, getting TROs in foreclosure-related matters was fraught with difficulty, though still doable in a number of cases, depending upon the district, the court, etc, although winning the preliminary injunction hearing to follow was another matter typically. With Keshtgar and Gieseke (pre-auction holdings), a TRO and preliminary injunction movant is likely to find getting the relief requested is much more straightforward and readily available. Also take note that TROs and their kindred hearings are much more easily brought, procedurally, in state courts, as opposed to Federal courts, at least in California.
As a still-relatively new lawsuit moves forward in the new dispensation of our post-Yvanova foreclosure world, plaintiffs will likely face as before, a surfeit of demurrer filings from the usual-suspect institutional servicers and sales trustees, such as Chase and Quality Loan Service Corp. Do not be feint of heart. New playing field, to which our opposition will have trouble adjusting much more than our side will. The new field largely benefits us, and will doubtless delimit and one hopes eventually demoralize our opposition. Can’t wait for the role reversal.
If California courts, state or Federal, are working properly, demurrers in this new litigation climate should routinely be overruled where the proper causes of action are pled, such as wrongful foreclosure, various Homeowner Bill of Rights statutory sections such as California Civil Code 2924.17 and 2923.55, and quiet title—this latter cause of action I believe will see a great revival with our side finally getting standing to present our arguments.
Equally important in this new terrain, is of course to plead void not voidable, when it comes to addressing the broken chain of assignments, the front-dating, back-dating, and robo-signing associated with same assignments.
Expect to see many motions for summary judgment, and the occasional judgment on the pleadings, from our not-so-friendly and often ruthless defendants, who will resort to these at present little-used devices to try and get out of a case they are no longer able to exit via a demurrer.
So yes, be heartened as a plaintiff when you see the opposition file an Answer as opposed to a demurrer (State level) or motion to dismiss (Fed). Do be cautious though, as a motion for summary judgment may soon follow.
Which brings us to discovery: This aspect of our litigation will grow dramatically, as our cases move to trial, instead of being snuffed in a proverbial litigation crib. More about the useful tool of discovery in a future blog post. Also on deck for a future blog post: Trial practice in our foreclosure cases, and appellate practice.
California-licensed attorney Charles T. Marshall (CA Bar # 176091) earned his Juris Doctorate in 1992 from the University of San Diego School of Law. His practice includes Foreclosure Relief, Civil Litigation, Bankruptcy, Immigration, Estate Planning and all facets of Personal Financial Management.
Charles Marshall can be contacted at:
415 Laurel Street, Suite 405 San Diego CA 92101 US