Hawaii Supreme Court: Yes to wrongful foreclosure counterclaim BEFORE foreclosure is completed and no to”plausible” pleading

Now that the courts are no longer in fear of precipitating an economic meltdown, it’s time to return to legal decisions instead of political decisions. The Hawaii Supreme Court has done just that in a common sense decision that sweeps aside most of the Wall Street arguments against allowing homeowners to raise the fraudulent foreclosure issue. The decision goes back decades in reaffirming the law and the intent of the rules of civil procedure.

The bottom line is that homeowners must be allowed an opportunity to prove their claim at the same time they are defending a foreclosure action. This levels the playing field and hopefully is a harbinger of future decisions from the high court in each of the states.

Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult.

I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM. A few hundred dollars well spent is worth a lifetime of financial ruin.

PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION. OUR PRIVACY POLICY IS THAT WE DON’T USE THE FORM EXCEPT TO SPEAK WITH YOU OR PERFORM WORK FOR YOU. THE INFORMATION ON THE FORMS ARE NOT SOLD NOR LICENSED IN ANY MANNER, SHAPE OR FORM. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345 or 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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see Landmark Hawaii Supreme Court Case

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., SUCCESSOR BY MERGER TO BAC HOME LOANS SERVICING, LP FKA COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS SERVICING LP, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. GRISEL REYES-TOLEDO, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant,

Remember that while this decision could be used as persuasive authority, it is not binding authority over the courts of any state other than Hawaii.

There are several parts to this decision each consistent with the others.

  1. On a motion to dismiss, plausibility of the allegations are now irrelevant. The homeowner must be given the opportunity to prove the allegations of the complaint. As the Court correctly points out, the plausibility test requires some consideration of some facts that have not been proven or disproven. Hence the plausibility test conflicts directly with the presumption, on a motion to dismiss, that all allegations are true. “Notice pleading” is the law in Hawaii and purportedly is so in many other states where plausibility tests are nonetheless applied. This opinion may go a long way to reversing that erroneous trend.
  2. Notice pleading requires only a short plain statement of ultimate facts upon which the relief sought could be granted. But I would add that the rules about fraud and deceit are still in play, i.e., I don’t believe that any state, including Hawaii would allow a count sounding in fraud without giving some examples in the pleading of the misleading and/or deceitful way that the defendant(s) acted. This decision basically addresses violation of statute and similar kinds of actions.
  3. The implication of this decision is that the pleading should be short and that the homeowner must be given a fair chance to prove his/her allegations.
    1. I am quite certain that this Court would insist on allowing discovery to penetrate far more deeply that is currently generally allowed.
    2. The arguments that the actual transactions and the actual creditor’s identities are private, proprietary and remote was silly to begin with.
    3. This decision will be used by practitioners in Hawaii to demand access to records and to get it through court orders. This alone will result in a landslide of settled cases under seal of confidentiality — if lawyers for homeowners insist on such discovery.
  4. Further moving the ball forward, this Court decided emphatically that claims of wrongful foreclosure can be filed in a counterclaim against the parties involved with the  initiation of wrongful or illegal foreclosure proceedings. That means that contrary to California law and other states, the homeowner does not need to wait to file the claim.
    1. This is a two edged sword. It virtually mandates the filing of the wrongful foreclosure claim because the clock is probably ticking on the statute of limitations the moment the foreclosure is initiated by either judicial or nonjudicial means.
    2. The California doctrine has always been ridiculous and anti-consumer. By denying access to the courts for what is already known to be a wrongful foreclosure based upon false documentation they tie both hands behind the backs of attorneys representing homeowners in foreclosure cases.
    3. Knowing this, most lawyers are now declining representation of homeowners despite clear defects, lies and fabrication of documents relied upon by the lawyers supposedly representing a foreclosing party that many times does not even exist.
    4. Hence the doctrine that wrongful foreclosure claims ONLY arise after the foreclosure is complete produces an absurd result. Once the homeowner proves his/her claims they shouldn’t have lost their home, their life-style and their credit reputation, all based upon illegal acts that were known at the outset, the only remedy under that doctrine is money damages.
  5. The decision also addresses the very important issue of standing. Simply stated, if some party is designated as the foreclosing party, it is the duty of that party and the attorney representing that party to perform sufficient due diligence as to
    1. whether the entity exists,
    2. whether it has possession of the note,
    3. whether the note is endorsed to them by a party who owned the debt,
    4. whether the mortgage or deed of trust was assigned to them by a party that owned the mortgage and the debt, and
    5. whether the debt was in fact transferred from a party who owned the debt to the party claiming the right to foreclose.
  6. If they fail or refuse to perform that due diligence they are violating the law in Hawaii and most likely in dozens of other states. In Hawaii that alone gives rise to a cause of action for damages if damages can be proven, which in most cases is fairly easy. So they are liable for damages if they didn’t perform due diligence.
  7. If they did perform the due diligence and filed knowing that the threshold markers of legal standing are absent, it is malicious abuse of process, it is breach of statutory duties, and it is fraud because the filing of the the lawsuit is a representation that the due  diligence was completed and showed legal standing. And it is probably RICO.

Summary: While it is difficult to predict how and when other states will react to this opinion, it seems likely that this decision in the State of Hawaii will make jurists in other states very uncomfortable. The bias to rule for the alleged foreclosing party just received a blow to any rationality supporting that bias.

STANDING: THE CRUX TO DEFENDING FALSE CLAIMS OF SECURITIZATION OF MORTGAGE LOANS

Mortgage foreclosure is the civil equivalent of the death penalty. in criminal cases. Many court decisions have enthusiastically supported that notion and attached much more stringent rules to the enforcement of a mortgage or deed of trust than they use in enforcement of a note. That is, until the last 20 years.

If you begin with the assumption that securitization is false, you start looking at the cover-up. Banks continue to win foreclosures because the truth is counterintuitive. Tactically the homeowner does not need to prove securitization fail in order to block a foreclosure. If that was the goal you would need to know and prove things that are in the exclusive possession, care, custody, and control of documents of third parties who are not even parties to the litigation nor mentioned in correspondence, notices or forms.

Successful defenders know that the securitization is faked and use that knowledge to ferret out relevant grounds to undermine and impeach testimony and documents proffered by lawyers for “stand-ins” called “naked nominees”, “lenders,” successors by merger, attorneys in fact, etc. wherein each such designation represents another layer of obfuscation.

Legal standing requires that the party who brings a foreclosure action must have legal injury resulting solely from nonpayment of the debt. The Federal Practice Manual published by and for Legal Aid describes and analyses gives good guidance that should be followed up with competent legal research of statutes and  cases in your state.

Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult.

I provide advice and consent to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM. A few hundred dollars well spent is worth a lifetime of financial ruin.

PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION. OUR PRIVACY POLICY IS THAT WE DON’T USE THE FORM EXCEPT TO SPEAK WITH YOU OR PERFORM WORK FOR YOU. THE INFORMATION ON THE FORMS ARE NOT SOLD NOR LICENSED IN ANY MANNER, SHAPE OR FORM. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345 or 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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see Legal Aid Federal Practice Manual on STANDING

Published by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Rights

Here are some of the more salient quotes from the guide.

The law of standing has its roots in Article III’s case and controversy requirement.1 The U.S. Supreme Court has established a three-part test for standing. The “irreducible constitutional minimum of standing” requires the plaintiff to establish:

First … an “injury in fact”—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) “actual or imminent,” not “conjectural” or “hypothetical.” Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of—the injury has to be “fairly … trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not … th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court.” Third, it must be “likely,” as opposed to merely “speculative,” that the injury will be “redressed by a favorable decision.”2

So the ONLY party with standing to bring an action to foreclose on a mortgage is (a) the party who would suffer economic loss if the debt is paid (and the party entitled to payments on the debt) and (b) the party who would actually receive the proceeds of sale in a foreclosure action because they are holding a loan receivable reflecting ownership of the debt relating to the subject mortgage.

Both defense attorneys and judges have made the mistake of confusing standing to collect on a note, which does not necessarily require ownership of a debt, and standing to foreclose or otherwise enforce a mortgage which does require ownership of the debt. This is the law in every state under their adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC — Article 3 (NOTE) and Article 9 (MORTGAGE).

The cover for this erroneous conclusion is amply provided by the failure of homeowners to object resulting in default foreclosure sales. And further cover is provided by the fact that the delivery of the original note is presumed to be delivery of ownership of the debt. However, this is ONLY true if the execution of the note merged with the debt.

Merger ONLY occurs if the note and the debt are, in fact, the same, i.e., the Payee on the note is the same as the creditor who loaned the money. Banks have engaged in various illusions to cause courts to assume that merger occurred. But in fact, the substance of the loan transaction remains the same as what I wrote 10 years ago, to wit: (1) the sale of certificates naming an issuer without existence on behalf of the “underwriter”/”master servicer” of the nonexistent entity, (2) the underwriter taking the money and using it, in part, to fund loans through pre-purchase agreements (before anyone has even applied for loan) and through form warehouse loans that are in substance pre-purchase of loans.

Hence in all cases the money at the closing table came from the underwriter forwarding the funds to the closing agent. Since the money came from parties intending to be investors, the owner of the debt is (a) a group of investors (b) the underwriter or (c) both the group of investors and the underwriter, with the underwriter acting as agent. But the agency of the underwriter is at the very least problematic.

The underwriter may claim that the agency arises because of the Pooling and Servicing Agreement for the nonexistent “REMIC TRUST” to which the investors agreed. But the investors would be quick to point out (and have done so in hundreds of lawsuits) that the PSA and the “Trust” were sham conduits and fabricated documents to create the illusion that investor money would be entrusted to the named Trustee for administration within a trust, not a blanket power of attorney for the underwriter to use the money anyway they wished. It is the opposite of a power of attorney or agency because it arises by breach of the terms and conditions of the sale of the certificates.

While the standing test is easily stated, it can be difficult to apply. The Supreme Court has observed that “[g]eneralizations about standing to sue are largely worthless as such.”3

The Supreme Court also imposes “prudential” limitations on standing to ensure sufficient “concrete adverseness.”4 These include limitations on the right of a litigant to raise another person’s legal rights, a rule barring adjudication of generalized grievances more appropriately addressed legislatively, and the requirement that a plaintiff’s complaint must fall within the zone of interests protected by the statute at issue.5

The Supreme Court has made it clear that the burden of establishing standing rests on the plaintiff.6 At each stage of the litigation—from the initial pleading stage, through summary judgment, and trial—the plaintiff must carry that burden.7Standing must exist on the date the complaint is filed and throughout the litigation.8 Moreover, standing cannot be conferred by agreement and can be challenged at any time (e.s.) in the litigation, including on appeal, by the defendants or, in some circumstances, by the court sua sponte.9 Finally, plaintiffs must demonstrate standing for each claim and each request for relief.10  There is no “supplemental” standing: standing to assert one claim does not create standing to assert claims arising from the same nucleus of operative facts.11

The Supreme Court has held that, to satisfy the injury in fact requirement, a party seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court must show three things: (1) “an invasion of a legally protected interest,” (2) that is “concrete and particularized,” and (3) “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.”12

In foreclosure cases, trial courts have nearly universally found that a party had standing because of legal presumptions without any proof of ownership of the debt. The good practitioner will drill down on this showing that the “presumption” is conjecture or hypothetical and that there is no harm in making the foreclosing party prove its status instead of relying on presumptions.

One last comment on both judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure. In typical civil cases if the defending party makes it clear that he/she is challenging standing, the party bringing the action must then prove it. In foreclosure cases judges typically adopt the position that the homeowner brought it up and must prove the non-existence of standing. This is the opposite of what is required under Article 3 of the US Constitution.

The party who “brought it up” is the foreclosing party. It manifestly wrong to shift the burden to the homeowner just because the foreclosing party asserts, or as in many cases, implies standing, In fact, in my opinion, nonjudicial foreclosure is constitutional but NOT in the way it is applied — by putting an impossible burden on the homeowner that makes it impossible for the homeowner to confront his/her accusers.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DEBT IF THE COURTS APPLY THE LAW? The debt still exists in the form of a liability at law and/or in a  court of equity. The creditor is a group of investors who have constructive or direct rights to the debt, and potentially the note and mortgage. The difference is that decisions on settlement and modification would be undertaken by the creditors — or designated people they currently trust. And that  means the creditors would be maximizing their financial return instead of minimizing it through intermediaries. But there is also the possibility that the investors have in fact been paid or have accepted payment in the form of settlements with the underwriters. Those settlements preserve the illusion of the status quo. In that case it might be that the underwriter is the actual creditor, if they can prove the payment.

HOW CAN THE NOTE BE TRANSFERRED WITHOUT THE DEBT?

Here is an analogy that might help this counterintuitive process.

Assume I own a car. I enter into an agreement with my friend Jane to sell the car to her. I sign the title and give it to her. Afterwards we both decide we didn’t want to do that. Jane pays nothing for the car. Jane does not get the car. Jane never uses the car. I still have and use the car and both Jane and I disregard the fact that I gave her a signed title. She does nothing with the title. Later in a loan application she lists the car as an asset. Then the car is stolen from me.

Who gets the insurance proceeds? The question is whether the title represents an actual agreement to buy the car. And all courts that would boil down to whether or not Jane paid me. She didn’t. I get the insurance proceeds because I lawfully applied for a duplicate title and received it.

But Jane still has one copy of the title signed by me in original form. She has also made copies of it that can be printed out with the appearance of an original. So far, she has sold the car 42 times and taken out 7 loans on the car.

One of the people that received the title records it with the DMV. There is a problem with that. I still have title and possession of the car. The gullible person who “bought” the car has a title signed by Jane, who has produced evidence that she received title from me. One Jane’s lenders on car stops receiving payments from Jane’s Ponzi scheme.

They “repo” the car and we go to court. The lender to Jane has no legal title even though they have what looks like an original title that is facially valid. Do I get my car back or does the lender” get to keep it.

One step further: if jane’s lender was actually a co-conspirator who accepted the false title and never gave a loan, does that change anything? I ask because this is exactly what is happening in nearly all foreclosures. The named “successor” in title engaged in no transaction to acquire the debt.

Transfer of the note was without regard to transferring the debt because neither the grantor nor grantee owned the debt. If the truth comes out, the transfer of the note will be seen as a sham paper transfer and the debt will be owned by whoever has money in the loan deal. Hence transfer of the note is not transfer of the debt. By denying the transfer of the note, the burden of proof should be on the would-be foreclosing party to show it was part of a real transaction.

TILA Rescission Time Limits

If you slow down and logically go through the statute and the Jesinoski decision it is easy to analyze the situation and come to a correct conclusion. This is not argument of law, it is the application of logic. SCOTUS and the statute state unequivocally that the rescission is effective WHEN it is mailed, by operation of law. Everything else happens afterwards.

Let us help you plan your TILA rescission strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult

PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION. OUR PRIVACY POLICY IS THAT WE DON’T USE THE FORM EXCEPT TO SPEAK WITH YOU OR PERFORM WORK ORDERED BY YOU. THE INFORMATION ON THE FORMS IS NOT SOLD NOR LICENSED IN ANY MANNER, SHAPE OR FORM. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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The “three year” limitation is an affirmative defense that only arises AFTER rescission is effective by operation of law. It is only an affirmative act resulting in a court order that can revoke or vacate a TIILA rescission. To state it more bluntly, merely raising a dispute does not mean (a) you have the standing to do so nor (b) that the matter is at issue. The error here is that the parties are usually already in court.
As soon as the court is apprised of the rescission having been sent (whether 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago) the case changes, to wit: any action based upon the note and mortgage must be struck or dismissed.
  • Any party who was pursuing a claim based upon the note and mortgage is out — they no longer have legal standing and the Court no longer has subject matter jurisdiction over their claims or defenses.
  • Any party who is the actual creditor could, within 20 days from notice of rescission, either comply with the statute or file a lawsuit invoking and standing or any other basis upon which they dispute that the rescission was properly sent.
  • Any party failing to invoke the remedy of repayment or the duty of compliance within one year from date of mailing is barred from pursuing any statutory claim.
  • Title stays unchanged as of the date of mailing, to wit: fee simple absolute with no encumbrance of mortgage or deed of trust.
Once the statutory scheme is invoked, everything changes. The statutory scheme replaces the loan agreement just as the statutory scheme for nonjudicial foreclosure replaces the constitutional requirement of due process PROVIDED that the homeowner may still invoke the right to due process. If not, the statutory nonjudicial scheme is all that remains. The same analysis applies when looking at the nonjudicial cancelation of the loan agreement. If the “lender” fails to object with a lawsuit to vacate or revoke the rescission, then the statutory nonjudicial scheme is all that remains.
*
Once TILA rescission is sent, the note and mortgage no longer exist, by operation of law. The courts may not simply apply a note (new or old), much less an encumbrance (new or old) on land by fiat as this deprives the homeowner of his right to due process before his clear title can be taken away from him. Such an act must be preceded by formal application to a court by a party who has legal standing, and a trial occurs producing the court order. That application must be filed within 20 days of notice of rescission.
*
People are pointing to the reference in Jesinoski to the three year limitation. That is dicta — i.e., there is no ruling or opinion on when or whether that defense can be invoked. That defense does not arise by operation of law like the effectiveness of the rescission notice. But we do know by definition that such defenses can only arise after notice of rescission is sent. The argument that SCOTUS said that a notice sent outside the three year period is void is wrong. There is no place in the opinion where the court says that. And it isn’t likely they they will issue such an opinion.
*
The reason is that if SCOTUS were to say that rescission is NOT effective upon mailing if it was mailed beyond the three year limitation, then an added condition is being inserted into the statute. The option stands for exactly the opposite conclusion. No conditions may be added. Period. Any interpretation or ruling that adds a condition means that the rescission is not effective upon mailing by operation of law. Such a ruling inserts “unless….” into the wording of the statute and the ruling of SCOTUS.
*
Lastly, within the context of 15  USC §1635 and Jesinoski, the rescission and simultaneous destruction of the note and mortgage does NOT start a clock on any statute of limitations any more than a Deed starts a clock on a statute of limitations as to the title. But for the same reason it is true that SCOTUS is unlikely to say both a 2008 and 2017 rescission were effective. Once the first rescission was sent (and assuming there is no doubt about that) the loan agreement was canceled; hence, there was nothing to rescind in 2017.

BLOOMBERG: Mortgage Crisis Still Unresolved, New Crisis Looming

No two financial crises are ever quite the same. The next one won’t be like the last. But history teaches lessons, and there’s no excuse for ignoring them.

Regulators have done a lot to reform the financial system since the 2008 crisis, but they still haven’t fixed the market where the trouble started: U.S. mortgages. It’s an omission they need to put right before the next crisis hits.

GO TO LENDINGLIES to order forms and services

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Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 954-451-1230 or 202-838-6345. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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see https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-30/america-s-mortgage-market-is-still-broken

David Shipley, Senior Editor for Bloomberg Views has hit the nail on the head. While there are some errors in his article, they are understandable.

He’s right when he says that the servicers lacked the necessary incentives and resources and still lack those incentives and resources. But when he talks about “delinquencies” he fails to grasp the fact that those “delinquencies” are based upon a debt that neither the servicer nor its client is authorized to administer.

This failure of perception is understandable. It is difficult to to accept the fact that the debt went up in smoke and therefore no creditor has authorized the administration or collection of the debt. It is challenging to accept the notion that the banks engineered this scheme so they could step in as if they were creditors without actually saying so.

But he gets very close when he says

Private-label mortgages (which aren’t guaranteed by the government) were packaged into securities with extremely poor mechanisms for deciding who — investors, packagers or lenders — would take responsibility for bad or fraudulent loans.

The whole idea was to make it unclear who would be injured by nonpayment of a debt. That was how the banks, as intermediaries, transformed themselves into apparent principals and how entities created the illusion of self proclaimed servicers. Or as Shipley puts it

The parties involved in securitizations became embroiled in legal battles about who owed what to whom — litigation that goes on to this day.

So even amongst the principals of the scheme coined as “securitization fail” (Adam Levitin) there is no agreement and in fact fierce court battles as to the identity of the injured party. In other words their pleadings in court constitute admissions that are inconsistent with the pleadings in foreclosure cases. If there is no identified party with injury then there is no legal standing.

What is clear now is that the money taken from investors was not used to fund REMIC trusts, that the REMIC Trusts never bought any debts and in fact never bought any of the dubious paper that was issued in connection with origination or transfer of the “loans.” Those investors were largely not becoming beneficiaries of the trust; instead they were becoming creditors of the trust.

Knowing that, investors are stuck — if they blow the whistle on the diversion of their money into a completely different “investment” than the one they thought they were buying, they are undermining their potential claim based upon the “security” offered by the mortgages. And they are undercutting the value of the certificates they bought. That is what threatens a large segment of the shadow banking market.

The fix that Shipley thinks should happen will never come to fruition because the government has been convinced that a fix would eviscerate the shadow banking market where derivatives are traded. Nobody knows what the outcome will be if that market fails.

But in the meanwhile current policy reflects a decision to let investors and borrowers take the entire brunt of the scheme that ultimately left the banks in solid control and rising profits despite small settlements compared to the amount of money siphoned out of the US economy. So the Federal reserve and American taxpayers continue the bailout by lending support to the false presumption that the RMBS derivatives are based upon mortgage loans owned by a trust.

Shipley narrowly misses the point when he says

Advancing payments to investors when loans go delinquent — a core responsibility of servicers — demands a lot of cash. It also requires ample capital to absorb possible losses on servicing rights, an asset whose value can quickly evaporate if defaults and prepayments eat into expected fees.

Think about it. Why would a company guarantee payments from a third party? Who would take that risk on loans known to be at best fragile? Where is the money coming from to make those payments? Is it really the “servicer.” And if the money is “recovered” as “servicer advances” when the property is liquidated, is the foreclosure really a disguised suit to force the recovery of servicer advances rather than a true foreclosure — contrary to the interests of the certificate holders?

And if Ocwen was actually entitled to receive and expected to receive recovery of servicer advances why would it be teetering on the edge of bankruptcy? The more likely scenario is that subservicers like Ocwen have nothing at all to do with servicer advances. They don’t make them, they don’t initiate them and they don’t collect them. The Wall Street playbook has the real puppet masters hidden behind several layers of curtains. Ocwen, like so many others, is just there to get tossed under the bus to make people happy that they extracted a pound of flesh — except there was no skin in the game.

Another Countrywide Sham Goes Down the Drain

Banks use several ploys to distract the court, the borrower and the foreclosure defense attorney from the facts. One of them is citing a merger in lieu of presenting documents of transfer of the debt, note or mortgage. We already know that the debt is virtually never transferred because the transferor never had any interest in the debt and thus had no authority to administer the debt (i.e., as servicer).

So the banks have successfully pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes by citing a merger, as though that automatically transferred the note and mortgage from one party to another. Mergers come in all kinds of flavors and here the 5th Circuit in Florida recognizes that simple fact and emphatically states that the relationship between the parties must be proven along with proof that the note, or authority to enforce the note, must be proven by competent evidence.

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see Green v Green Tree Servicing Countrywide Home Loans et al 5D15-4413.op

*Judgment for Borrower (Involuntary Dismissal)
*Failure to provide evidence to explain relationships in mergers
*Failure to provide evidence of the terms of the merger and the transfer of the subject loan
* Failure to to provide evidence of standing at commencement of the lawsuit

An interesting side note to this case is that it never mentions the debt, which is the third rail of all claims of transfers and securitization. The opinion starts off with a recital of facts that differs from most other cases, to wit: it talks about how the homeowner signed the note and mortgage, and does not reference a loan made to him by the originator, Countrywide Home Loans (CHL).

The court remains strictly in the confines of who owns, controls or has the right to enforce the note — a fact that is relevant only if the note is evidence of an underlying debt. If no such debt exists between CHL and the homeowner, then the note is irrelevant — unless a successor possessor actually paid for it, in which case the successor could claim that it is a holder in due course and that the risk of loss shifts to the maker of the note under such circumstances.

The Green case here stands for the proposition that the banks may not paper over ownership or control or the right to enforce the note with vague references to a merger. The court points out that a merger might not include all the assets of one party or the other. More particularly, a merger, if it occurred must be proven along with some transfer of the subject note and mortgage.

And very specifically, the court says that entities may not be used interchangeably. The foreclosing party must explain the relationship between the parties affiliated with the “merged” entities.

[NOTE: Bank of America did not directly acquire CHL. CHL was merged into Red Oak Merger Corp., controlled by BofA. One of the reasons for doing it that way is to segregate questionable assets and liabilities from the rest of the BofA. BofA claimed ownership of CHL, and changed the name of CHL to BAC Home Loans. But it didn’t just change the name; it also made assertions, when it suited BofA that BAC was a separate entity, possibly an independent entity, which is also not true. So the Court’s objection to the lack of evidence on the merger is very well taken].

The Court also takes note of the claim that DiTech Financial was formerly known as Green Tree Servicing. That is not true. The DiTech name has been used by several different entities, been phased out, then phased in again. Again a reason why the court insists upon evidence that explains the actual relationship between actual entities, and not just names thrown around as though that meant anything.

Ultimately Green Tree, which no longer existed, was made the Plaintiff in the action. Some certificate of merger was introduced indicating a merger again, this time between DiTech Financial and GreenTree. In this lawsuit Green tree was presented as the surviving entity. But in all other cases DiTech Financial is presented as the surviving entity — or at least the DiTech name survived. There is considerable doubt whether the combination of Green Tree was anything more than rebranding an operation merging out of the Ally Financial bankruptcy and ResCap operations.

A sure sign of subterfuge is when the lawyer for the foreclosing party attempts to lead the court into treating multiple independent companies as a single entity. That, according to this court, would ONLY be acceptable if there was competent evidence admitted into the court record showing a clear line of succession such that a reasonable person could only conclude that the present successor company in fact encompasses all of the business activities and assets of the predecessors or, at the very least, encompasses a clear chain of possession, title and authorization of the subject loan.

[PRACTICE NOTES: Discovery of actual merger documents and documents of transfer should be vigorously pursued against expected opposition. Cite this case as mandatory or persuasive authority that the field of inquiry is perfectly proper — as long as the foreclosing entity is attempting tons the mergers and presumptive transfers against the homeowner.]

 

 

 

The difference between paper instruments and real money

There is a difference between the note contract and the mortgage contract. They each have different terms. And there is a difference between those two contracts and the “loan contract,” which is made up of the note, mortgage and required disclosures.Yet both lawyers and judges overlook those differences and come up with bad decisions or arguments that are not quite clever.

There is a difference between what a paper document says and the truth. To bridge that difference federal and state statutes simply define terms to be used in the resolution of any controversy in which a paper instrument is involved. These statutes, which are quite clear, specifically define various terms as they must be used in a court of law.

The history of the law of “Bills and Notes” or “Negotiable Instruments” is rather easy to follow as centuries of common law experience developed an understanding of the problems and solutions.

The terms have been defined and they are the law not only statewide, but throughout the country, with the governing elements clearly set forth in each state’s adoption of the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) as the template for laws passed in their state.

The problem now is that most judges and lawyers are using those terms that have their own legal meaning without differentiating them; thus the meaning of those “terms of art” are being used interchangeably. This reverses centuries of common law and statutory laws designed to prevent conflicting results. Those laws constrain a judge to follow them, not re-write them. Ignoring the true meaning of those terms results in an effective policy of straying further and further from the truth.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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So an interesting case came up in which it is obvious that neither the judge nor the bank attorneys are paying any attention to the law and instead devoting their attention to making sure the bank wins — even at the cost of overturning hundreds of years of precedent.
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The case involves a husband who “signed the note,” and a wife who didn’t sign the note. However the wife signed the mortgage. The Husband died and a probate estate was opened and closed, in which the Wife received full title to the property from the estate of her Husband in addition to her own title on the deed as Husband and Wife (tenancy by the entireties).
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Under state law claims against the estate are barred when the probate case ends; however state law also provides that the lien (from a mortgage or otherwise) survives the probate. That means there is no claim to receive money in existence. Neither the debt nor the note can be enforced. The aim of being a nation of laws is to create a path toward finality, whether the result be just or unjust.
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There is an interesting point here. Husband owed the money and Wife did not and still doesn’t. If foreclosure of the mortgage lien is triggered by nonpayment on the note, it would appear that the mortgage lien is presently unenforceable by foreclosure except as to OTHER duties to maintain, pay taxes, insurance etc. (as stated in the mortgage).

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The “bank” could have entered the probate action as a claimant or it could have opened up the estate on their own and preserved their right to claim damages on the debt or the note (assuming they could allege AND prove legal standing). Notice my use of the terms “Debt” (which arises without any documentation) and “note,” which is a document that makes several statements that may or may not be true. The debt is one thing. The note is quite a different animal.
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It does not seem logical to sue the Wife for a default on an obligation she never had (i.e., the debt or the note). This is the quintessential circumstance where the Plaintiff has no standing because the Plaintiff has no claim against the Wife. She has no obligation on the promissory note because she never signed it.
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She might have a liability for the debt (not the obligation stated on the promissory note which is now barred by (a) she never signed it and (b) the closing of probate. The relief, if available, would probably come from causes of action lying in equity rather than “at law.” In any event she did not get the “loan” money and she was already vested with title ownership to the house, which is why demand was made for her signature on the mortgage.
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She should neither be sued for a nonexistent default on a nonexistent obligation nor should she logically be subject to losing money or property based upon such a suit. But the lien survives. What does that mean? The lien is one thing whereas the right to foreclose is another. The right to foreclose for nonpayment of the debt or the note has vanished.

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Since title is now entirely vested in the Wife by the deed and by operation of law in Probate it would seem logical that the “bank” should have either sued the Husband’s estate on the note or brought claims within the Probate action. If they wanted to sue for foreclosure then they should have done so when the estate was open and claims were not barred, which leads me to the next thought.

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The law and concurrent rules plainly state that claims are barred but perfected liens survive the Probate action. In this case they left off the legal description which means they never perfected their lien. The probate action does not eliminate the lien. But the claims for enforcement of the lien are effected, if the enforcement is based upon default in payment alone. The action on the note became barred with the closing of probate, but that left the lien intact, by operation of law.

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Hence when the house is sold and someone wants clear title for the sale or refinance of the home the “creditor” can demand payment of anything they want — probably up to the amount of the “loan ” plus contractual or statutory interest plus fees and costs (if there was an actual loan contract). The only catch is that whoever is making the claim must actually be either the “person” entitled to enforce the mortgage, to wit: the creditor who could prove payment for either the origination or purchase of the loan.
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The “free house” mythology has polluted judicial thinking. The mortgage remains as a valid encumbrance upon the land.

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This is akin to an IRS income tax lien on property that is protected by homestead. They can’t foreclose on the lien because it is homestead, BUT they do have a valid lien.

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In this case the mortgage remains a valid lien BUT the Wife cannot be sued for a default UNLESS she defaults in one or more of the terms of the mortgage (not the note and not the debt). She did not become a co-borrower when she signed the mortgage. But she did sign the mortgage and so SOME of the terms of the mortgage contract, other than payment of the loan contract, are enforceable by foreclosure.

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So if she fails to comply with zoning, or fails to maintain the property, or fails to comply with the provisions requiring her to pay property taxes and insurance, THEN they could foreclose on the mortgage against her. The promissory note contained no such provisions for those extra duties. The only obligation under the note was a clear statement as to the amounts due and when they were due.  There are no duties imposed by the Note other than payment of the debt. And THAT duty does not apply to the Wife.

The thing that most judges and most lawyers screw up is that there is a difference between each legal term, and those differences are important or they would not be used. Looking back at AMJUR (I still have the book award on Bills and Notes) the following rules are true in every state:

  1. The debt arises from the circumstances — e.g., a loan of money from A to B.
  2. The liability to pay the debt arises as a matter of law. So the debt becomes, by operation of law, a demand obligation. No documentation is necessary.
  3. The note is not the debt. Execution of the note creates an independent obligation. Thus a borrower may have two liabilities based upon (a) the loan of money in real life and (b) the execution of ANY promissory note.
  4. MERGER DOCTRINE: Under state law, if the borrower executes a promissory note to the party who gave him the loan then the debt becomes merged into the note and the note is evidence of the obligation. This shuts off the possibility that a borrower could be successfully attacked both for payment of the loan of money in real life AND for the independent obligation under the promissory note.
  5. Two liabilities, both of which can be enforced for the same loan. If the borrower executes a note to a third person who was not the party who loaned him/her money, then it is possible for the same borrower to be required, under law, to pay twice. First on the original obligation arising from the loan, (which can be defended with a valid defense such as that the obligation was paid) and second in the event that a third party purchased the note while it was not in default, in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. The borrower cannot defend against the latter because the state statute says that a holder in due course can enforce the note even if the borrower has valid defenses against the original parties who arranged the loan. In the first case (obligation arising from an actual loan of money) a failure to defend will result in a judgment and in the second case the defenses cannot be raised and a judgment will issue. Bottom Line: Signing a promissory note does not mean the maker actual received value or a loan of money, but if that note gets into the hands of a holder in due course, the maker is liable even if there was no actual transaction in real life.
  6. The obligor under the note (i.e., the maker) is not necessarily the same as the debtor. It depends upon who signed the note as the “maker” of the instrument. An obligor would include a guarantor who merely signed either the note or a separate instrument guaranteeing payment.
  7. The obligee under the note (i.e., the payee) is not necessarily the lender. It depends upon who made the loan.
  8. The note is evidence of the debt  — but that doesn’t “foreclose” the issue of whether someone might also sue on the debt — if the Payee on the note is different from the party who loaned the money, if any.
  9. In most instances with nearly all loans over the past 20 years, the payee on the note is not the same as the lender who originated the actual loan.

In no foreclosure case ever reviewed (2004-present era) by my office has anyone ever claimed that they were a holder in due course — thus corroborating the suspicion that they neither paid for the loan origination nor did they pay for the purchase of the loan.

If they had paid for it they would have asserted they were either the “lender” (i.e., the party who loaned money to the party from whom they are seeking collection) or the holder in due course i.e., a  third party who purchased the original note and mortgage for good value, in good faith and without any knowledge of the maker’s defenses). Notice I didn’t use the word “borrower” for that. The maker is liable to a party with HDC status regardless fo whether or not the maker was or was not a borrower.

“Banks” don’t claim to be the lender because that would entitle the “borrower” to raise defenses. They don’t claim HDC status because they would need to prove payment for the purchase of the paper instrument (i.e., the note). But the banks have succeeded in getting most courts to ERRONEOUSLY treat the “banks” as having HDC status, thus blocking the borrower’s defenses entirely. Thus the maker is left liable to non-creditors even if the same person as borrower also remains liable to whoever actually gave him/her the loan of money. And in the course of those actions most homeowners lose their home to imposters.

All of this is true, as I said, in every state including Florida. It is true not because I say it is true or even that it is entirely logical. It is true because of current state statutes in which the UCC was used as a template. And it is true because of centuries of common law in which the current law was refined and molded for an efficient marketplace. But what is also true is that law judges are the product of law school, in which they either skipped or slept through the class on Bills and Notes.

Foreclosure Offense and Defense: Lender must Own the Mortgage

Mortgage Lender Must Have Ownership Of Loan When Foreclosure Is Filed, Holds Brooklyn Judge

May 21, 2008

The case of Indymac Bank, FSB v. Ross, Supreme Court, Kings County Index No. 24713/07 (January 15, 2008) began normally enough. Indymac filed a summons and complaint on July 6, 2007. The borrower failed to appear or answer, and Indymac asked the court to grant a judgment of foreclosure on default.

What Indymac got was a denial not only of the judgment, but a denial of the entire foreclosure case.

The original lender of the subject October 4, 2006 mortgage was Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as nominee for Mortgageit, Inc. MERS then assigned the loan to Indymac. But that assignment was not dated until July 11, 2007 – five full days AFTER the foreclosure was filed.

Though the assignment states that “[tjhis assignment is effective on or before June 1, 2007,” the court found such retroactive assignment to be ineffective.

The court stated as follows:

. . . such an attempt to retroactively assign the mortgage is insufficient to establish plaintiff’s ownership interest at the time the action was commenced. See Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. v. Taylor, 17 Misc3d 595 (Sup. Ct. Suffolk Co. 2007). Plaintiffs attempt to foreclose upon a mortgage in which it had no “legal or equitable interest was without foundation in law or fact…” Katz v. East- Ville Realty Co., 249 AD2d 243 (1st Dept 1998). See US Bank Nat. Ass’n v. Merino, 16 Misc3d 209, 212 (Sup. Ct. Suffolk Co. 2007). Moreover, “foreclosure of a mortgage may not be brought by on who has no title to it….” Kluge v. Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 538 (2d Dept 1998). See RCR Services Inc. v. Herbil Holding Co., 229 AD2d 379 (2d Dept 1996). Finally, plaintiffs standing to bring the within action goes to the basis of a court’s authority to adjudicate a dispute. See Stark v. Goldberg, 297 AD2 203 (1st Dept 2002) (wherein the court held that sua sponte dismissal of the action was warranted despite the lack of any assertion by defendants of an objection to plaintiffs’ standing) .

So what does this all mean for you, the person going into foreclosure? It means that it’s important for you to fight back and to defend the foreclosure. Don’t think that there’s no hope for you, that an inability to pay the mortgage means you automatically lose. You have powerful rights, and need to be sure to use them.

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