Jesinoski Update: Homeowner, Bank and Court All Get it Wrong

We get it. Judges don’t like statutory rescission under TILA. They are not required to like TILA rescission but they are required to follow it. This decision openly defies the SCOTUS ruling and refuses to apply it.

Despite clear legislative intent to prevent banks from stonewalling rescission they are succeeding in doing so nonetheless as they play upon the bias of courts against TILA Rescission.

This Federal Judge attempts to grapple with the issue of damages claimed by Jesinoski’s rescission. It is stunning that these are the same people who argued the case before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The plain truth is that nobody in that courtroom seemed to understand rescission or how to apply it. The singular overriding point is that the only substantive part of the rescission statute is that when mailed, rescission is effective and the loan contract is canceled, the mortgage and note are void.  There is no maybe in that statement. Nor is there a sentence that starts with “well, not if….”.

It appears in this case that this Jesinoski proceeding clouded the issues when plaintiff sued for damages under rescission. In so doing they apparently were trying to prove the basis of their rescission which was sent, as per SCOTUS, within the 3 years. Pleading the basis of rescission was a mistake because it raised the very issue that the statute and the SCOTUS decision said was unnecessary. The factual issue for Plaintiff was whether the rescission had been sent. PERIOD. Whether it was proper when sent was an issue the Defendant was required to raise, not the Plaintiff.

The next move within 20 days of receipt of the rescission would be for a creditor to plead a case to vacate the rescission. The danger here is that this decision could be affirmed because it was Jesinoski who raised the issue of whether or not the rescission was properly sent. Jesinoski might have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. By raising the issue of whether the rescission was proper, Jesinoski might have waived their objection that would be based upon the fact that no creditor had filed any lawsuit at any time, much less within the 20 day window.

But the court probably erred when it ignored the fact that the rescission was effective, plain and simple. It compounded the error by effectively ruling that rescission was only effective if a Court said it was effective and only if the borrower showed the ability to tender the full amount allegedly owed. In short this federal Judge was effectively overruling SCOTUS — a legal impossibility.

The statute and the SCOTUS decision on Jesinoski both clearly state that neither a lawsuit nor tender nor anything else is required of the borrower in the unique statutory scheme of rescission. The court is once again re-introducing common law rescission in direct contravention of the unanimous SCOTUS decision. Justice Scalia made it clear that NOTHING is required from the borrower after sending that notice.

Once the rescission is effective, the Court can only vacate it upon timely proper pleading from a party claiming injury. All the rest of the rescission statute is procedural. The failure of the creditor to actually bring an action to vacate the rescission within 20 days was fatal. Any other reading would require us to overrule SCOTUS and re-write the statute. It would mean that the rescission is NOT effective when mailed despite the clear wording of the statute that says it IS effective when mailed.

We get it. Judges don’t like statutory rescission under TILA. They are not required to like TILA rescission but they are required to follow it. This decision openly defies the SCOTUS ruling and refuses to apply it.

But the Plaintiff seems to have contributed to the problem. The damages sought are not based upon whether the rescission was proper. It was based upon the statute that says only if all three conditions are satisfied may the creditor demand any money. One of those conditions is the payment of all money ever paid to the “lender”. Those are the damages.

The issue is only the factual determination of the amount of those damages — not whether they are due at all. All three parties seem to have missed that point — Plaintiff, Defendant and Judge.

By inserting the tender requirement the Judge was not only ruling opposite to the content of the statute and opposite to the SCOTUS decision; it was expressly opposite the reasoning behind the “no-tender” component of TILA rescission, to wit: that payment could only be requested after the cancellation of the note, the release of the mortgage encumbrance, and the return of all money paid by the borrower since inception.

The clear reasoning behind this was that legislators in Congress expressly did not want to provide any method of stonewalling rescission. By requiring the disgorgement of money and the release of the encumbrance, the borrower was given the means to pay through application of the money received from the bank and the ability to get a new mortgage without damage to his/her/their credit. It was presumed by Congress that virtually no homeowner would have the means to tender without being able to cancel the old mortgage, release the encumbrance and get back their money FIRST.

Judges seem not to like the punitive nature of the statute. It is intended to be punitive, covering a wide array of possible lending violations and failures — instead of establishing a huge Federal agency that would review every mortgage loan.

The idea was to make the consequences of such behavior so gothic that the banks would police themselves. There is no Judge in the country who has the power or authority to re-write this very clear statute to match their own perceptions and belief that this statute is too draconian in its results. Public policy is for the legislative branch to decide. By resisting TILA rescission courts are encouraging more of the same bank behavior that still threatens all of the world’s economies and societies. By refusing to apply TILA rescission the courts are making themselves complicit in the greatest economic crime in human history.

——————————

Larry D. Jesinoski and Cheryle Jesinoski, individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., d/b/a America’s Wholesale Lender, subsidiary of Bank of America N.A.; BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America, N.A., a Texas Limited Partnership f/k/a Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP; Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., a Delaware Corporation; and John and Jane Does 1-10, Defendants.

Civil No. 11-474 (DWF/FLN).United States District Court, D. Minnesota.

July 21, 2016.Larry D. Jesinoski, Plaintiff, represented by Bryan R. Battina, Trepanier MacGillis Battina, P.A. & Daniel P. H. Reiff, Reiff Law Office, PLLC.

Cheryle Jesinoski, Plaintiff, represented by Bryan R. Battina, Trepanier MacGillis Battina, P.A. & Daniel P. H. Reiff, Reiff Law Office, PLLC.

Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Defendant, represented by Andre T. Hanson, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Joseph Mrkonich, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Ronn B. Kreps, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP & Sparrowleaf Dilts McGregor, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, Defendant, represented by Andre T. Hanson, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Joseph Mrkonich, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Ronn B. Kreps, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP & Sparrowleaf Dilts McGregor, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., Defendant, represented by Andre T. Hanson, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Joseph Mrkonich, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Ronn B. Kreps, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP & Sparrowleaf Dilts McGregor, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment brought by Defendants Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (“Countrywide”), Bank of America, N.A. (“BANA”) and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) (together, “Defendants”) (Doc. No. 51).[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants’ motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

This “Factual Background” section reiterates, in large part, the “Background” section included in the Court’s April 19, 2012 Memorandum Opinion and Order. (Doc. No. 23.)

On February 23, 2007, Plaintiffs Larry Jesinoski and Cheryle Jesinoski (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) refinanced their home in Eagan, Minnesota, by borrowing $611,000 from Countrywide, a predecessor-in-interest of BANA. (Doc. No. 7 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 7, 15, 16, 17; Doc. No. 55 (“Hanson Decl.”) ¶ 5, Ex. D (“L. Jesinoski Dep.”) at 125.) MERS also gained a mortgage interest in the property. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiffs used the loan to pay off existing loan obligations on the property and other consumer debts. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 114-15; Hanson Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. E (“C. Jesinoski Dep.”) at 49-50; Am. Compl. ¶ 22.)[2] The refinancing included an interest-only, adjustable-rate note. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 137.) Plaintiffs wanted these terms because they intended to sell the property. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 125-26, 137; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 38, 46-7.)

At the closing on February 23, 2007, Plaintiffs received and executed a Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) Disclosure Statement and the Notice of Right to Cancel. (Doc. No. 56 (Jenkins Decl.) ¶¶ 5, 6, Exs. C & D; L. Jesinoski Dep. at 61, 67, 159; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 30-33; Hanson Decl. ¶¶ 2-3, Exs. A & B.) By signing the Notice of Right to Cancel, each Plaintiff acknowledged the “receipt of two copies of NOTICE of RIGHT TO CANCEL and one copy of the Federal Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement.” (Jenkins Decl. ¶¶ 5, 6, Exs. C & D.) Per the Notice of Right to Cancel, Plaintiffs had until midnight on February 27, 2007, to rescind. (Id.) Plaintiffs did not exercise their right to cancel, and the loan funded.

In February 2010, Plaintiffs paid $3,000 to a company named Modify My Loan USA to help them modify the loan. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 79-81; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 94-95.) The company turned out to be a scam, and Plaintiffs lost $3,000. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 79-81.) Plaintiffs then sought modification assistance from Mark Heinzman of Financial Integrity, who originally referred Plaintiffs to Modify My Loan USA. (Id. at 86.) Plaintiffs contend that Heinzman reviewed their loan file and told them that certain disclosure statements were missing from the closing documents, which entitled Plaintiffs to rescind the loan. (Id. at 88-91.)[3] Since then, and in connection with this litigation, Heinzman submitted a declaration stating that he has no documents relating to Plaintiffs and does not recall Plaintiffs’ file. (Hanson Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. C (“Heinzman Decl.”) ¶ 4.)[4]

On February 23, 2010, Plaintiffs purported to rescind the loan by mailing a letter to “all known parties in interest.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 30; L. Jesinoski Dep., Ex. 8.) On March 16, 2010, BANA denied Plaintiffs’ request to rescind because Plaintiffs had been provided the required disclosures, as evidenced by the acknowledgments Plaintiffs signed. (Am. Compl. ¶ 32; L. Jesinoski Dep., Ex. 9.)

II. Procedural Background

On February 24, 2011, Plaintiffs filed the present action. (Doc. No. 1.) By agreement of the parties, Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint, in which Plaintiffs assert four causes of action: Count 1—Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601, et seq.; Count 2—Rescission of Security Interest; Count 3—Servicing a Mortgage Loan in Violation of Standards of Conduct, Minn. Stat. § 58.13; and Count 4—Plaintiffs’ Cause of Action under Minn. Stat. § 8.31. At the heart of all of Plaintiffs’ claims is their request that the Court declare the mortgage transaction rescinded and order statutory damages related to Defendants’ purported failure to rescind.

Plaintiffs do not dispute that they had an opportunity to review the loan documents before closing. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 152-58; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 56.) Although Plaintiffs each admit to signing the acknowledgement of receipt of two copies of the Notice of Right to Cancel, they now contend that they did not each receive the correct number of copies as required by TILA’s implementing regulation, Regulation Z. (Am. Compl. ¶ 47 (citing C.F.R. §§ 226.17(b) & (d), 226.23(b)).)

Earlier in this litigation, Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings based on TILA’s three-year statute of repose. In April 2012, the Court issued an order granting Defendants’ motion, finding that TILA required a plaintiff to file a lawsuit within the 3-year repose period, and that Plaintiffs had filed this lawsuit outside of that period. (Doc. No. 23 at 6.) The Eighth Circuit affirmed. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 729 F.3d 1092 (8th Cir. 2013). The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that a borrower exercising a right to TILA rescission need only provide his lender written notice, rather than file suit, within the 3-year period. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 790, 792 (2015). The Eighth Circuit then reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. (Doc. No. 38.) After engaging in discovery, Defendants now move for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Courts must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Weitz Co. v. Lloyd’s of London, 574 F.3d 885, 892 (8th Cir. 2009). However, “[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed `to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 1).

The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank of Mo., 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); see also Krenik v. Cty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995).

II. TILA

Defendants move for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiffs’ claims, all of which stem from Defendants’ alleged violation of TILA—namely, failing to give Plaintiffs the required number of disclosures and rescission notices at the closing.

The purpose of TILA is “to assure a meaningful disclosure of credit terms so that the consumer will be able to compare more readily the various credit terms available to him and avoid the uninformed use of credit . . .” 15 U.S.C. § 1601(a). In transactions, like the one here, secured by a principal dwelling, TILA gives borrowers an unconditional three-day right to rescind. 15 U.S.C. § 1635(a); see also id. § 1641(c) (extending rescission to assignees). The three-day rescission period begins upon the consummation of the transaction or the delivery of the required rescission notices and disclosures, whichever occurs later. Id. § 1635(a). Required disclosures must be made to “each consumer whose ownership interest is or will be subject to the security interest” and must include two copies of a notice of the right to rescind. 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(a)-(b)(1). If the creditor fails to make the required disclosures or rescission notices, the borrower’s “right of rescission shall expire three years after the date of consummation of the transaction.” 15 U.S.C. § 1635(f); see 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(a)(3).

If a consumer acknowledges in writing that he or she received a required disclosure or notice, a rebuttable presumption of delivery is created:

Notwithstanding any rule of evidence, written acknowledgment of receipt of any disclosures required under this subchapter by a person to whom information, forms, and a statement is required to be given pursuant to this section does no more than create a rebuttable presumption of delivery thereof.

15 U.S.C. §1635(c).

A. Number of Disclosure Statements

Plaintiffs claim that Defendants violated TILA by failing to provide them with a sufficient number of copies of the right to rescind and the disclosure statement at the closing of the loan. (Am. Compl. ¶ 47.) Defendants assert that Plaintiffs’ claims (both TILA and derivative state-law claims) fail as a matter of law because Plaintiffs signed an express acknowledgement that they received all required disclosures at closing, and they cannot rebut the legally controlling presumption of proper delivery of those disclosures.

It is undisputed that at the closing, each Plaintiff signed an acknowledgement that each received two copies of the Notice of Right to Cancel. Plaintiffs argue, however, that no presumption of proper delivery is created here because Plaintiffs acknowledged the receipt of two copies total, not the required four (two for each of the Plaintiffs). In particular, both Larry Jesinoski and Cheryle Jesinoski assert that they “read the acknowledgment . . . to mean that both” Larry and Cheryle “acknowledge receiving two notices total, not four.” (Doc. No. 60 (“L. Jesinoski Decl.”) ¶ 3; Doc. No. 61 (“C. Jesinoski Decl.”) ¶ 3.) Thus, Plaintiffs argue that they read the word “each” to mean “together,” and therefore that they collectively acknowledged the receipt of only two copies.

The Court finds this argument unavailing. The language in the Notice is unambiguous and clearly states that “[t]he undersigned each acknowledge receipt of two copies of NOTICE of RIGHT TO CANCEL and one copy of the Federal Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement.” (Jenkins Decl. ¶¶ 5, 6, Exs. C & D (italics added).) Plaintiffs’ asserted interpretation is inconsistent with the language of the acknowledgment. The Court instead finds that this acknowledgement gives rise to a rebuttable presumption of proper delivery of two copies of the notice to each Plaintiff. See, e.g., Kieran v. Home Cap., Inc., Civ. No. 10-4418, 2015 WL 5123258, at *1, 3 (D. Minn. Sept. 1, 2015) (finding the creation of a rebuttable presumption of proper delivery where each borrower signed an acknowledgment stating that they each received a copy of the disclosure statement—”each of [t]he undersigned acknowledge receipt of a complete copy of this disclosure”).[5]

The only evidence provided by Plaintiffs to rebut the presumption of receipt is their testimony that they did not receive the correct number of documents. As noted in Kieran, this Court has consistently held that statements merely contradicting a prior signature are insufficient to overcome the presumption. Kieran, 2015 WL 5123258, at *3-4 (citing Gomez v. Market Home Mortg., LLC, Civ. No. 12-153, 2012 WL 1517260, at *3 (D. Minn. April 30, 2012) (agreeing with “the majority of courts that mere testimony to the contrary is insufficient to rebut the statutory presumption of proper delivery”)); see also Lee, 692 F.3d at 451 (explaining that a notice signed by both borrowers stating “[t]he undersigned each acknowledge receipt of two copies of [notice]” creates “a presumption of delivery that cannot be overcome without specific evidence demonstrating that the borrower did not receive the appropriate number of copies”); Golden v. Town & Country Credit, Civ. No. 02-3627, 2004 WL 229078, at *2 (D. Minn. Feb. 3, 2004) (finding deposition testimony insufficient to overcome presumption); Gaona v. Town & Country Credit, Civ. No. 01-44, 2001 WL 1640100, at *3 (D. Minn. Nov. 20, 2001)) (“[A]n allegation that the notices are now not contained in the closing folder is insufficient to rebut the presumption.”), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 324 F.3d 1050 (8th Cir. 2003).

Plaintiffs, however, contend that their testimony is sufficient to rebut the presumption and create a factual issue for trial. Plaintiffs rely primarily on the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Bank of North America v. Peterson, 746 F.3d 357, 361 (8th Cir. 2014), cert. granted, judgment vacated, 135 S. Ct. 1153 (2015), and opinion vacated in part, reinstated in part, 782 F.3d 1049 (8th Cir. 2015). In Peterson, the plaintiffs acknowledged that they signed the TILA disclosure and rescission notice at their loan closing, but later submitted affidavit testimony that they had not received their TILA disclosure statements at closing. Peterson, 764 F.3d at 361. The Eighth Circuit determined that this testimony was sufficient to overcome the presumption of proper delivery. Id. The facts of this case, however, are distinguishable from those in Peterson. In particular, the plaintiffs in Peterson testified that at the closing, the agent took the documents after they had signed them and did not give them any copies. Id. Here, it is undisputed that Plaintiffs left with copies of their closing documents. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 94-95.) In addition, Plaintiffs did not testify unequivocally that they did not each receive two copies of the rescission notice. Instead, they have testified that they do not know what they received. (See, e.g., id. at 161.) Moreover, Cheryle Jesinoski testified that she did not look through the closing documents at the time of closing, and therefore cannot attest to whether the required notices were included. (C. Jesinoski Dep. at 85.)[6]

Based on the evidence in the record, the Court determines that the facts of this case are more line with cases that have found that self-serving assertions of non-delivery do not defeat the presumption. Indeed, the Court agrees with the reasoning in Kieran, which granted summary judgment in favor of defendants under similar facts, and which was decided after the Eighth Circuit issued its decision in Peterson. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not overcome the rebuttable presumption of proper delivery of TILA notices, and Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted as to the Plaintiffs’ TILA claims.

B. Ability to Tender

Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs’ claims fails as a matter of law on a second independent basis—Plaintiffs’ admission that they do not have the present ability to tender the amount of the loan proceeds. Rescission under TILA is conditioned on repayment of the amounts advanced by the lender. See Yamamoto v. Bank of N.Y., 329 F.3d 1167, 1170 (9th Cir. 2003). This Court has concluded that it is appropriate to dismiss rescission claims under TILA at the pleading stage based on a plaintiff’s failure to allege an ability to tender loan proceeds. See, e.g., Franz v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, Civ. No. 10-2025, 2011 WL 846835, at *3 (D. Minn. Mar. 8, 2011); Hintz v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, Civ. No. 10-119, 2010 WL 4220486, at *4 (D. Minn. Oct. 20, 2010). In addition, courts have granted summary judgment in favor of defendants where the evidence shows that a TILA plaintiff cannot demonstrate an ability to tender the amount borrowed. See, e.g., Am. Mortg. Network, Inc. v. Shelton, 486 F.3d 815, 822 (4th Cir. 2007) (affirming grant of summary judgment for defendants on TILA rescission claim “given the appellants’ inability to tender payment of the loan amount”); Taylor v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., Civ. No. 10-149, 2010 WL 4103305, at *5 (E.D. Va. Oct. 18, 2010) (granting summary judgment on TILA rescission claim where plaintiff could not show ability to tender funds aside from selling the house “as a last resort”).

Plaintiffs argue that the Supreme Court in Jesinoski eliminated tender as a requirement for rescission under TILA. The Court disagrees. In Jesinoski, the Supreme Court reached the narrow issue of whether Plaintiffs had to file a lawsuit to enforce a rescission under 15 U.S.C. § 1635, or merely deliver a rescission notice, within three years of the loan transaction. Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 792-93. The Supreme Court determined that a borrower need only provide written notice to a lender in order to exercise a right to rescind. Id. The Court discerns nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion that would override TILA’s tender requirement. Specifically, under 15 U.S.C. § 1635(b), a borrower must at some point tender the loan proceeds to the lender.[7] Plaintiffs testified that they do not presently have the ability to tender back the loan proceeds. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 54, 202; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 118-119.) Because Plaintiffs have failed to point to evidence creating a genuine issue of fact that they could tender the unpaid balance of the loan in the event the Court granted them rescission, their TILA rescission claim fails as a matter of law on this additional ground.[8]

Plaintiffs argue that if the Court conditions rescission on Plaintiffs’ tender, the amount of tender would be exceeded, and therefore eliminated, by Plaintiffs’ damages. In particular, Plaintiffs claim over $800,000 in damages (namely, attorney fees), and contend that this amount would negate any amount tendered. Plaintiffs, however, have not cited to any legal authority that would allow Plaintiffs to rely on the potential recovery of fees to satisfy their tender obligation. Moreover, Plaintiffs’ argument presumes that they will prevail on their TILA claims, a presumption that this Order forecloses.

C. Damages

Next, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs are not entitled to TILA statutory damages allegedly flowing from Defendants’ decision not to rescind because there was no TILA violation in the first instance. Plaintiffs argue that their damages claim is separate and distinct from their TILA rescission claim.

For the reasons discussed above, Plaintiffs’ TILA claim fails as a matter of law. Without a TILA violation, Plaintiffs cannot recover statutory damages based Defendants refusal to rescind the loan.

D. State-law Claims

Plaintiffs’ state-law claims under Minn. Stat. § 58.13 and Minnesota’s Private Attorney General statute, Minn. Stat. § 8.31, are derivative of Plaintiffs’ TILA rescission claim. Thus, because Plaintiffs’ TILA claim fails as a matter law, so do their state-law claims.

ORDER

Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. [51]) is GRANTED.

2. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint (Doc. No. [7]) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

[1] According to Defendants, Countrywide was acquired by BANA in 2008, and became BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP (“BACHLS”), and in July 2011, BACHLS merged with BANA. (Doc. No. 15 at 1 n.1.) Thus, the only two defendants in this case are BANA and MERS.

[2] Larry Jesinoski testified that he had been involved in about a half a dozen mortgage loan closings, at least three of which were refinancing loans, and that he is familiar with the loan closing process. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 150-51.)

[3] Plaintiffs claim that upon leaving the loan closing they were given a copy of the closing documents, and then brought the documents straight home and placed them in L. Jesinoski’s unlocked file drawer, where they remained until they brought the documents to Heinzman.

[4] At oral argument, counsel for Plaintiffs requested leave to depose Heinzman in the event that the Court views his testimony as determinative. The Court denies the request for two reasons. First, it appears that Plaintiffs had ample opportunity to notice Heinzman’s deposition during the discovery period, but did not do so. Second, Heinzman’s testimony will not affect the outcome of the pending motion, and therefore, the request is moot.

[5] See also, e.g., Lee v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 692 F.3d 442, 451 (6th Cir. 2012) (rebuttable presumption arose where each party signed an acknowledgement of receipt of two copies); Hendricksen v. Countrywide Home Loans, Civ. No. 09-82, 2010 WL 2553589, at *4 (W.D. Va. June 24, 2010) (rebuttable presumption of delivery of two copies of TILA disclosure arose where plaintiffs each signed disclosure stating “[t]he undersigned further acknowledge receipt of a copy of this Disclosure for keeping prior to consummation”).

[6] This case is also distinguishable from Stutzka v. McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 762 (8th Cir. 2005), a case in which a borrower’s assertion of non-delivery was sufficient to overcome the statutory presumption. In Stutzka, the plaintiffs signed acknowledgements that they received required disclosures but left the closing without any documents. Stutzka, 420 F.3d at 776.

[7] TILA follows a statutorily prescribed sequence of events for rescission that specifically discusses the lender performing before the borrower. See § 1635(b). However, TILA also states that “[t]he procedures prescribed by this subsection shall apply except when otherwise ordered by a court.” Id. Considering the facts of this case, it is entirely appropriate to require Plaintiffs to tender the loan proceeds to Defendants before requiring Defendants to surrender their security interest in the loan.

[8] The Court acknowledges that there is disagreement in the District over whether a borrower asserting a rescission claim must tender, or allege an ability to tender, before seeking rescission. See, e.g. Tacheny v. M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank, Civ. No. 10-2067, 2011 WL 1657877, at *4 (D. Minn. Apr. 29, 2011) (respectfully disagreeing with courts that have held that, in order to state a claim for rescission under TILA, a borrower must allege a present ability to tender). However, there is no dispute that to effect rescission under § 1635(b), a borrower must tender the loan proceeds. Here, the record demonstrates that Plaintiffs are unable to tender. Therefore, their rescission claim fails on summary judgment.

 

Quiet Title Revisited: Not Quite a Dead End

Void means that the instrument meant nothing when it was filed, not that it is unenforceable now.

 

I know how hard it is to let go of something that you really want to believe in. But for practical reasons I consider it unwise to continue on the QT path until we can find a way to get rid of the void assignment. That unto itself might a form of quiet title action and it is far easier to do. The allegation need only be that neither the assignor nor the assignee (a) had any right, justification or excuse to claim an interest in the recorded mortgage and (b) neither one was ever party to a completed transaction in which either of them had paid value for any interest in the recorded mortgage. Hence the assignment is void and should be removed from the chain of title reflected in the county records. So that takes care of one of several problems and the attack does not seek to remove the mortgage — yet.

 

Quiet title is a very limited remedy. In nearly all cases if the facts are contested it almost automatically means that there is no quiet tile relief available. It is meant to remove wild deeds or any other void (not voidable) instrument. Void means that the instrument meant nothing when it was filed, not that it is unenforceable now.

I contributed to the mystery of quiet title because it was apparent that the mortgage was void because it never named the true lender. In fact the existence and identity of the true source of funds for the transaction was intentionally withheld from the borrower leaving the mortgage with only one party instead of two.

 

The problem many courts are having with this is that the mortgage might still be subject to reformation that would insert the correct name of the actual lender (theoretically, potentially reformation). The fact that there is no such creditor whose name can be inserted does not make the mortgage void. It makes it voidable. Actually proving that there is no such creditor won’t be easy since only the banks have the information that shows that.

 

If there are any future events that could revive the mortgage deed, then quiet title can’t work. Add to that the fact that judges are not treating these attacks seriously and routinely ruling for the banks and you have a what appears to be a dead end.

 

All that said, there ARE causes of action that could attack the void assignment and the voidable mortgage in which the court could theoretically declare that in the absence of information sought from the defendants, who appear to be the only potential claimants, the mortgage is THEN declared void by court order, THEN a second count in quiet title would be in order. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Judges are going to be very resistant to this but I think that appellate courts are starting to understand what happened with false claims of securitization.

 

Essentially, the Court must state that:

  1. The mortgage failed to name the correct party as lender.
  2. That failure makes the mortgage voidable.
  3. Despite publication and notice, there are no parties who could answer to the description of the creditor whose name should have been on the mortgage.
  4. The mortgage is therefore void
  5. Court declares title to be vested in the name of Smith and Jones without any encumbrance arising out of the mortgage recorded at Page 123 Book 456 of the public records of XXXX County, Florida.
 This of course directly challenges the judicial notion that once the homeowner receives money, it is a loan, it is enforceable and it doesn’t matter who comes into court to enforce it. To say that this judicial “law” opened the door to mayhem and moral hazard would be an understatement. Using the opinions written by trial judges, appellate judges and even Supreme Court justices, people who like to “leverage the system” have seized on this obvious opening to steal receivables from the rightful recipient — with no negative consequences. They write a letter that appears on its face to be correct and valid. According to current practices this raises the presumption that the contents of the letter are true.
 Hence the self-serving letter creates the legal presumption that the writer is authorized to tell the debtor that the writer is now the owner of the debt and to direct payments to the “new owner.” This isn’t speculation. Starting in California this business plan is spreading across the country. By the time the rightful owner of the debt wakes up the Newco Debt Servicing company has collected or settled the account.
Since the presumption is raised that the thief writing the letter is authorized, the real party in interest cannot beat the defense of payment by a debtor who thought they were doing the right thing. Reasonable reliance by the borrower is presumed since the authority and the validity of the letter was presumed. And that is not just a description of some dirty rag tag gangsters; it is a verifiable description of what the banks have been doing for years with mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loan debt and every other kind of debt imaginable.
By the time the investors wake up and find out their money was not used to fund a trust or real business entity, their money is gone and they are at the mercy of the big time banks who will offer settlements of claims that should have resulted in jail time for the bankers. Instead we have literally authorized small time crooks to emulate the behavior of the banks thus throwing the marketplace into further chaos.
So if you start off knowing that the banks can never come up with the name and contact information of a creditor, then you begin to see how there are some attacks on the position of banks that could have enormous traction even though on their face those strategies look like losers.

Yale Law Review: “In Defense of “Free Houses”

MEGAN WACHSPRESS, JESSIE AGATSTEIN & CHRISTIAN MOTT published an article that takes dead aim at the “free house” controversy. In the Yale Law Review they come to the conclusion that (1) the house isn’t free to any homeowner even if they escape the mortgage and (2) the projected social cost of  market values are wrong. But probably the most stinging criticism of the judicial system is that judges are abandoning the rule of law for ad hoc rulings whose only purpose is to avoid a result the judge doesn’t like.

Unfortunately, the article does not fully address the issue of why the banks are failing to prove what is ordinarily a slam dunk case. The authors seem to assume that the debt is legitimate and that it is mainly a paperwork problem. I would add my usual comment: if the banks simply had continued with the standard procedures they would not have had any paperwork problems no matter how many times the loan was sold. The greater evil that is not addressed in case decisions and law review articles is that this was all part of fraudulent scheme and THAT is why the banks had to resort to more fraud (in documentation).

We should remember that banks basically drafted the statutes and are the source of all paperwork on consumer loans, especially mortgage loans. For hundreds of years they knew how to do it, knew how to keep it and rarely misplaced anything. It strains belief to think that suddenly the banks  forgot what took hundreds of years to develop. The more insidious reason is what is feared to be the nuclear option — that the mortgages, notes and loan contracts were all an illusion, even if the money was real.

In the end, for reasons other than those expressed on these pages, the authors come to the same conclusion that I did — the “free house” is going to the banks every time a foreclosure is granted.

Here are some quotes from their article that I think are self-explanatory.

When addressing faulty foreclosures, courts are afraid to bar future attempts to foreclose—that is, afraid of giving borrowers “free houses.” While courts rarely explain the reasoning behind this aversion, it seems to arise from a reflexive belief that such an outcome would be unjust. Courts are therefore quick to sidestep well-established principles of res judicata in favor of ad hoc measures meant to protect banks against the specter of “free houses.” [e.s.]

This Comment argues that this approach is misguided; courts should issue final judgments in favor of homeowners in cases where banks fail to prove the elements required for foreclosure. Furthermore, these judgments should have res judicata effect—thus giving homeowners “free houses.” This approach has several benefits: it is consistent with longstanding res judicata principles in other forms of civil litigation, it provides a necessary market-correcting incentive to promote greater responsibility among foreclosure litigators, and it alleviates the tremendous costs of successive foreclosure proceedings.

In a foreclosure suit, the bank must generally prove the following: (1) the homeowner has signed both the note (the underlying loan) and the mortgage assigning the house as collateral for that note; (2) the bank owns the note and mortgage; (3) the homeowner still owes a debt to the bank; (4) the homeowner is behind on that debt; and (5) the bank has accelerated that remaining debt in accordance with the terms of the note itself. When a bank fails to prove these elements, a judge is legally required to rule in favor of the homeowner.

Recently, courts have been inundated with suits where homeowners question the bank’s ability to prove the second element. Litigation over “proof- of-ownership” issues in foreclosures is a growing nationwide problem; sampling suggests a ten-fold increase between the periods immediately preceding and following the 2007 collapse of the housing market.

To demonstrate ownership without expending more resources than pooling and servicing agreements allotted, bank employees signed hundreds of thousands of affidavits asserting that they had seen and could attest to the contents of original documents demonstrating ownership of the underlying mortgage. Although such affidavits were a legally acceptable means of demonstrating such ownership, a significant number of them were actually fraudulent.

…ethical transgressions have affected hundreds of thousands of foreclosures.

Judge Schack, a trial judge sitting in the New York Supreme Court for Kings County, has repeatedly sanctioned law firms for bringing improper foreclosure suits when he has independently discovered the inadequacy of the plaintiffs’ evidence as to defendants’ indebtedness or plaintiffs’ ownership of the note. See, e.g., Argent Mortg. Co. v. Maitland, 958 N.Y.S.2d 306 (Sup. Ct. 2010); Wells Fargo Bank v. Hunte, 910 N.Y.S.2d 409 (Sup. Ct. 2010); NetBank v. Vaughn, 841 N.Y.S.2d 827 (Sup. Ct. 2007).

By focusing on the immediate consequence of a ruling for homeowners, the courts ignore perverse incentives created by allowing banks to continue to externalize the costs of their mistakes.

…one approach—that taken by the Florida and Maine Supreme Courts—is to bend the rules of res judicata to avoid a windfall for homeowners. This approach creates few benefits and significant economic problems. In this Part, we argue that further subsidizing banks’ poor litigation practices results in deadweight loss by contributing to negative public-health outcomes and by disincentivizing banks from improving their servicing and litigation techniques. We also explain how granting winning homeowners “free houses” will not negatively affect the mortgage market.

…broader social subsidization of irresponsible [bank] behavior.

…prolonged foreclosure proceedings create negative social externalities, depressing surrounding homes’ resale value, reducing local governments’ tax revenues, and increasing criminal activity.44 Foreclosures also appear to have significant effects on community members’ physical and mental health, and correlate with increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, cardiovascular disease, and emergency-care treatment.

…although judges have expressed concern about homeowner windfalls, the alternative creates a windfall for banks that cut corners in managing and prosecuting foreclosures. The risk and costs of losing foreclosures should already be internalized in the price of current mortgages. Empirical studies suggest that greater protection for mortgagors historically corresponds to slightly higher mortgage rates among lenders. These studies indicate that lenders adjust the price of mortgages based on what they anticipate the cost, and not just the likelihood, of foreclosures will be.

 

The Money Trail: Does anyone meet the definition of a creditor?

WE HAVE REVAMPED OUR SERVICE OFFERINGS TO MEET THE REQUESTS OF LAWYERS AND HOMEOWNERS. This is not an offer for legal representation. In order to make it easier to serve you and get better results please take a moment to fill out our FREE registration form https://fs20.formsite.com/ngarfield/form271773666/index.html?1453992450583 
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THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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I speak to people across the country. As I discuss the issues that get increasingly complex, we reach areas in which there are differences of opinion which is why you need to consult with someone who is licensed in your state and who has done the heavy research (no skimming allowed). The issue is what payments should be credited to whom. And the answer really is you should be asking an accountant and a lawyer. This is why my team is reaching out to accountants and auditors to round out what is needed in cases.

The problem is that this is a grey area. Payments made to the beneficiaries of the trust were never intended to discharge the debt from the “borrower.” That’s obvious. But payments were made on account of this debt. So we go back to the law of presumptions. If the creditor receives a payment and the payment is on account of a particular debt due from a particular debtor, then it is discharged to the extent of the payment — regardless of the stated “intent” of the payor after the fact. So servicer advances definitely fall into that category. But in addition, if the entire debt has been discharged by the replacement of the obligation with another obligation from another party, then you have similar issues.

So first of all, the beneficiaries agreed to take payments from the REMIC Trust — not the “borrowers”. There is no relationship between the beneficiaries of a trust and any single “borrower” or group of “borrowers.” The REMIC Trust doesn’t pay the beneficiaries despite the paperwork to the contrary. The REMIC Trust is inactive with no assets, bank accounts, business activity etc.

It is the Master Servicer that pays the beneficiaries. And the Master Servicer makes those payments regardless of whether it has received payments from the beneficiaries. (servicer advances). The note and mortgage name a specific payee that is neither the Trust (or Trustee) nor the Master Servicer. So the first real legal question that I raised back in 2007 was the issue of who was the owner of the debt or the holder in due course?

The debt arose when the “borrower” accepted the benefits of funding that came from an unidentified source. It is presumed not to be a gift. The “borrower” has signed a note and mortgage in favor of a party that never loaned him any money — hence there is no loan contract and the signed note and mortgage should have been destroyed or released back to the “borrower.” Such a loan is table-funded and is almost certainly “predatory per se” as described in REG Z.

Since there is no privity between the “originator” and the Trust or Master Servicer the loan documents cannot be said to be useful, much less enforceable. Those documents should be considered void, not voidable, when the payee and mortgagee failed to fund the loan. The repeated transfers of the loan documents without anyone ever paying for them clearly means that the consideration at the base “closing” was absent. Hence there is no consideration at either the origination or acquisition of the loan documents. Acquisition of the loan documents does not mean acquisition of the loan. If there was no valid loan contract or there is no valid loan contract (rescission) executing endorsements, assignments and powers of attorney are meaningless.

So there is a serious question about whether there is a legal creditor involved in any of these loans. There are parties with equitable and legal claims, but not with respect to the loan documents that should have been shredded at the very beginning. All those claims are unsecured. And the foreclosures, in truth, are for the benefit of parties who have no relationship with the actual money that was used to the benefit of the alleged “borrower” who is looking more and more like a party who is not a borrower but who could be debtor if there is anyone answering to the description of “creditor.” No party in this scenario seems to answer to that description.

And THAT would explain why NO PARTY steps forward to challenge rescissions as a creditor and instead they attempt to retain their status of having apparent “Standing” and attack the rescission through arguments that require the court to interpret the TILA Rescission Statute, 15 USC §1635. But the US Supreme Court has already declared that it is the law of the land that this statute is not subject to interpretation by the courts because it is clear on its face. So such parties are seeking relief they didn’t ask for (vacating the rescission) using the void note and void mortgage as their basis for standing.

Thus without someone filing an equitable claim showing that their money is tied up in the money given to the “borrower” there does not seem to be a creditor at law.

Add that to the fact that most of the “Trusts” were resecuritized by more empty trusts and you have the original beneficiaries completely out of the picture as to any particular loan and the so-called REMIC Trust being completely out of the picture with respect to the loan or loan documents that were originated, even if they were not consummated.

BIAS IN THE COURTS: UCC and TILA REVIEW

Our legal history has many examples of enormous errors committed by the Courts that were obvious to some but justified by many. The result is usually mayhem. The cause is a bias toward some underlying fact that was untrue at the time. Some examples include
  1.  the infamous Dred Scott decision where the Supreme Court ruled that a black man is not a person within the meaning of the constitution and therefore could not sue to protect his rights because he was not a citizen by virtue of the FACT that his ancestors had been brought to America as slaves. The underlying bias was considered axiomatically true: that “negroes” were fundamentally subhuman. It took a civil war that took 500,000 casualties and a constitutional amendment to change the results of that decision. We are still dealing with lingering thoughts about whether the color of one’s skin is in any way related to our status as humans, persons and citizens.
  2. the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Supreme Court upheld that decision on the basis of national security. The underlying bias was considered axiomatically true: that people of Japanese descent would have loyalty to the Empire of Japan and not the United States. People of German descent were not interred, probably because they looked more like other Americans. As the war progressed and the military realized that people of Japanese descent were resources rather than enemies, the government came to realize that acknowledging these people as citizens with civil rights was more important than the perception of a nonexistent threat to national security. Americans of Japanese descent proved invaluable in the war effort against Japan.
  3. the Citizens United decision in which the Supreme Court gave the management of corporations a “Second vote” in the court of public opinion. The underlying bias was considered axiomatically true: that entities created on paper were no less important than the rights of real people as citizens. The additional underlying bias was that corporations are better than people.
  4. the hundreds of thousands of decisions from thousands of courts that relied on the fictitious power of the court to rewrite legislation that Judge(s) didn’t like. A current perfect example was reading common law (inferior, legally speaking) precedent to override express statutory procedures for the exercise and effect of statutory rescission under the Federal Truth in Lending Act. Over many years and many courts at the trial and appellate level the Judges didn’t like TILA rescission so they changed the wording of the statute to mean that common law procedures and principles apply — thus requiring the homeowner to file suit in order to make rescission effective, and requiring the tender of money or property to even have standing to rescind. This was contrary to the express provisions of the TILA rescission statute. Approximately 8 million+ people were displaced from their homes because of those decisions and the property records of thousands of counties have been forever debauched, likely requiring some legislative action to clear title on some 80+ million transactions involving tens of trillions of dollars. The underlying bias was considered axiomatically true: that the legislature could not have meant that individuals have as much power as big corporation and they should not have such power. Then the short Supreme Court decision from a unanimous court in Jesinoski v Countrywide made the correction, effectively overturning hundreds of thousands of incorrect decisions. A court may not interpret a statute that is clear on its face. A court may not MAKE the law.
  5. the millions of foreclosures that have been allowed on the premise that the “holder” of a note should get the same treatment as a “holder in due course.” More than 16 million people have been displaced from their homes as a result of an underlying bias that was and often remains axiomatically true: decisions in favor of homeowners would give them a free house and decisions that allow foreclosure protect legitimate creditors. Both “axioms” are as completely wrong as the decisions about TILA Rescission.
It is the last item that I address in this article. A holder in due course is allowed to both plead and prove only the elements of Article 3 of the UCC. Article 3 of the UCC states that a party who purchases negotiable paper in good faith without knowledge of the maker’s defenses and before the terms are breached is presumed to be entitled to relief upon making their prima facie case — which are the elements already listed here. Even if there were irregularities or even fraud at the time of the origination of the loan or at a later time but before the HDC purchased the paper, the HDC will get judgment for the relief demanded. A “holder” (on the other hand) comes in many flavors under Article 3 but they all have one thing in common: they are not holders in due course.
The fundamental error of the courts has been to treat the “holder” as a “holder in due course” at the time of trial. It is true that the holder may survive a motion to dismiss merely by alleging that it is a holder — but fundamental error is being committed at trial where the holder must prove its underlying prima facie case. It should be noted that the requirement of consideration is repeated in Article 9 where it states that a security instrument must be purchased by a successor not merely transferred. So regardless of whether one is proceeding under Article 3 or Article 9, no foreclosure can be allowed without paying real money to a party who actually owned the mortgage. The Courts universally have ignored these provisions under the bias that it is axiomatically true that the party seeking to enforce the paper is so sophisticated and trustworthy that their mere request for relief should result in the relief demanded. This bias is “supported” by an additional bias: that failure to enforce such documents would undermine the entire economy of the country — a policy decision that is not within the province of the courts. And deeper still the bias is that it is axiomatically true that the paper would not exist without the actual existence of monetary transactions for origination and transfer of the paper. These “axioms” are not true.
As a result, courts have regularly rubber-stamped the extreme equitable remedy of foreclosure in favor of a party who has no financial interest in the alleged paper, nor any risk of loss or actual loss. The foreclosures are part of a scheme to make money at the expense of the actual people who are losing money. If this was not true, there would have been thousands of instances in which the “holder” presented the money trail that supposedly was the foundation for the paper that was executed and delivered, destroyed or lost. They never do. If they did, the volume of litigated foreclosure cases would drop to a drizzle. And these parties fight successfully to avoid not only the burden of proof but even the ability of the homeowner to inquire (discovery) about the “transactions” about which the paper is referring — either at origination or in purported transfers. Backdating assignments and endorsements would be unnecessary. “Robo-signing” would also be unnecessary. And the constant flux of new servicer and new trustees would also be unnecessary. Many of these events consist of illegal acts that are routinely ignored by the courts for reasons of bias rather than judicial interpretation.
A holder in due course proves their prima facie case by
a) proffering a witness with personal knowledge
b) proffering testimony that allows the commercial paper to be admitted as evidence (the note). This evidence need only be to the effect that the witness, or his company, physically has possession of the original note and presents it in court.
c) proffering testimony and records showing that the paper (the note) was purchased for good and valuable consideration by the party seeking to enforce it. This means showing proof of payment for the paper like a wire transfer receipt or a cancelled check.
d) proffering testimony and records showing that the mortgage, which is not a negotiable instrument, was purchased withe the note.
e) proffering testimony and records that the transactions were real and in good faith
f) proffering testimony that the purchaser of the paper had no knowledge of the maker’s defenses
g) proffering testimony that no default existed at the time of purchase of the paper.
Because of bias, the Courts, just as they did with TILA rescission, have mostly committed fundamental error by allowing to alleged “holders” a lesser standard of proof than the party who is legitimately in a superior position of being a holder in due course. It starts with a correct decision denying the homeowner’s motion to dismiss but ends up in fundamental error when the court “forgets” that the enforcing party has a factual case to prove beyond mere possession of an instrument they say is the original note.
The holder, in contrast to the holder in due course, is not entitled to any such presumptions at trial, except that they hold with rights to enforce. They don’t hold with automatic rights to win the case however.
A holder proves its prima facie case by
a) proffering a witness with personal knowledge
b) proffering testimony and records that allow the commercial paper to be admitted as evidence (the note). This evidence need only be to the effect that the witness, or his company, physically has possession of the original note and presents it in court.
c) proffering testimony and evidence as to the chain of custody of the paper the party seeks to enforce.
d) proffering testimony and records together with proof of payment of the original transaction (a requirement generally ignored by the courts). This means proof that the original party in the “chain” relied upon by the party seeking to enforce actually funded the alleged “loan” with funds of its own or for which it is responsible (e.g., a real warehouse credit arrangements where the originator bears the risk of loss).
e) proffering testimony and records showing that the paper (note) was purchased for good and valuable consideration by the creditor on whose behalf the party is seeking to enforce it. This means showing proof of payment for the paper like a wire transfer receipt or a cancelled check.
f) proffering testimony and records showing that the mortgage was also purchased by the creditor for good and valuable consideration. This means showing proof of payment for the paper like a wire transfer receipt or a cancelled check.
g) proffering testimony and records that the transactions was real and in good faith
h) proffering testimony that no default existed at the time of purchase of the paper. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be commercial paper and the party seeking to enforce would need to allege and prove  its standing and its prima facie case without benefit of the note or mortgage.
It should be added here that the non-judicial foreclosure states essentially make it even easier for an unrelated party to force the sale of property. Those statutory procedures are wrongly applied leaving the burden of proof as to UCC rights to enforce squarely on the homeowner who in most cases is not even a “borrower” in the technical sense. Such states are allowing parties to obtain a forced sale of property in cases where they would not or should not prevail in a judicial foreclosure. The reason is simple: the procedure for realignment of the parties has been ignored. When a homeowner files an action against the “new trustee” (substituted by virtue of the self proclaimed and unverified status of a third party beneficiary under the note and mortgage), the homeowner is somehow seen as the party who must prove that the prima facie case is untrue (giving the holder the rights of a holder in due course); the homeowner is being required to defend a case that was never filed or alleged. Instead of immediately shifting the burden of proof to the only party that says it has the rights and paperwork to justify the forced sale. This is an unconstitutional aberration of the rights of due process. The analogy would be that a defendant accused of murder must prove he did not commit the crime before the State had any burden to accuse the defendant or put on evidence. Realignment of the parties would comply with the constitution without changing the non-judicial statutes. It would require the challenged party to prove it should be allowed to enforce the forced sale of the property. Any other interpretation requires the the homeowner to disprove a case not yet alleged, much less proven in a prima facie case.

Rockwell P. Ludden, Esq. — A Lawyer who gets it on Securitization and Mortgages

see FORECLOSURE, SECURITIZATION DON’T MIX ROCKY&#39S+ARTICLE+in+the+CAPE+COD+TIMES+February+21,+2015

As I write this, I have no recall of Mr. Ludden before today. BUT his article in of all places, the Cape Cod Times, struck me as astonishing in its concise description of the illegal foreclosures that are skimming past Judges desks with hardly a look much less the usually required judicial scrutiny. He says

No one should have the legal right to take your home merely by winking and nodding their way around a significant flaw in the securitization model and whatever burrs it may leave on the industry’s saddle. …

Is there anyone with a present contractual connection to you or the loan who has actually suffered a default? If not, any… foreclosure begins to bear an uncanny resemblance to double dipping.

It is time for Judges to dust off the principle of fundamental fairness that lies at the heart of our legal system, demand a level playing field, and stand behind alternatives to foreclosure that serve the legitimate interests of homeowner and industry alike.

His article is both insightful and concise, which is more than I can say for some of the things that I have written at length. And I guess if you are in the Cape Cod area it probably would be a good idea to contact him at rpl@luddenkramerlaw.com. He pierces through layers upon layers of subterfuge by the financial industry and comes up with the right conclusion — separation not just of note and mortgage — but more importantly the separation between the note and the ultimate certificate that spells out the rights of a creditor to repayment and the rights of anonymous individuals and entities to foreclose. In securitization practice the note ceases to exist.

He correctly concludes that the assignments (and I would add endorsements and powers of attorney) are a sham, designed to conceal basic flaws in the entire securitization model. The only thing I would add is something that has not quite made it to the surface of these chaotic waters — that the money from the investors never made it into the trust — something that is perfectly consistent with ignoring the securitization model and the securitization documents.

The ‘assignment’ creates the appearance of [the] missing connection. But it is all hogwash, the only discernible purpose of which is to grease the skids for an illegal foreclosure. It is done long after the Trust has closed its doors. [referring to both the cutoff date and the fact that the trust actually does not ever get to own the debt, loan, note or mortgage]

The banks kept the money and assigned the losses to the investors. Then they bet on the losses and kept the profits from their intentionally watered down underwriting practices. Then they stole the identity of the borrowers and the investors and bought insurance that covered “losses” that were never incurred by the named insured — the Banks. The family resemblance to Ponzi scheme seems closer than mere double dipping in an infinite scheme of dipping into the funds of thousands of institutional investors and into the lives of millions of homeowners.

see also A 21st Century Trust Indenture Act?

posted by Adam Levitin

Two Different Worlds — Note and Mortgage

Further information please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

No radio show tonight because of birthday celebration — I’m 68 and still doing this

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The enforcement of promissory notes lies within the context of the marketplace for currency and currency equivalents. The enforcement of mortgages on real property lies within the the context of the marketplace for real estate transactions. While certainty is the aim of public policy in those two markets, the rules are different and should not be ignored.

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see http://www.uniformlaws.org/Shared/Committees_Materials/PEBUCC/PEB_Report_111411.pdf

This article is not a substitute for getting advice from an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which your property is or was located.

Back in 2008 I had some correspondence and telephone conversations with an attorney in Chicago, Robert Wutscher when I was writing about the reality of the way in which banks were doing  what they called “securitization of mortgages.” Of course then they were denying that there were any trusts, denying that any transfers occurred and were suing in the name of the originator or MERS or anyone but the party who actually had their money used in loan transactions.  It wasn’t done the right way because the obvious intent was to play a shell game in which the banks would emerge as the apparent principal party in interest under the illusion created by certain presumptions attendant to being the “holder” of a note. For each question I asked him he replied that Aurora in that case was the “holder.” No matter what the question was, he replied “we’re the holder.” I still have the letter he sent which also ignored the rescission from the homeowner whose case I was inquiring about for this blog.

He was right that the banks would be able to bend the law on rescission at the level of the trial courts because Judges just didn’t like TILA rescission. I knew that in the end he would lose on that proposition eventually and he did when Justice Scalia, in a terse opinion, simply told us that Judges and Justices were wrong in all those trial court decisions and even appellate court decisions that applied common law theories to modify the language of the Federal Law (TILA) on rescission. And now bank lawyers are facing the potential consequences of receiving notices of TILA rescission where the bank simply ignored them instead of preserving the rights of the “lender” by filing a declaratory action within 20 days of the rescission. By operation of law, the note and mortgage were nullified, ab initio. Which means that any further activity based upon the note and mortgage was void. And THAT means that the foreclosures were void.

Is discussing the issue of the “holder” with lawyers and even doing a tour of seminars I found that the confusion that was apparent for lay people was also apparent in lawyers. They looked at the transaction and the rights to enforce as one single instrument that everyone called “the mortgage.” They looked at me like I had three heads when I said, no, there are three parts to every one of these illusory transactions and the banks fail outright on two of them.

The three parts are the debt, the note and the mortgage. The debt arises when the borrower receives money. The presumption is that it is a loan and that the borrower owes the money back. it isn’t a gift. There should be no “free house” discussion here because we are talking about money, not what was done with the money. Only a purchase money mortgage loan involves the house and TILA recognizes that. Some of the rules are different for those loans. But most of the loans were not purchase money mortgages in that they were either refinancing, or combined loans of 1st mortgage plus HELOC. In fact it appears that ultimately nearly all the outstanding loans fall into the category of refinancing or the combined loan and HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit that exactly matches the total loan requirements of the transaction (including the purchase of the home).

The debt arises by operation of law in favor of the party who loaned the money. The banks diverged from the obvious and well-established practice of the lender being the same party as the party named on the note as payee and on the mortgage as mortgagee (or beneficiary under a Deed of Trust). The banks did this through a process known as “Table Funded Loans” in which the real lender is concealed from the borrower. And they did this through agreements frequently called “Assignment and Assumption” Agreements, which by contract called for both parties (the originator and the aggregator to violate the laws governing disclosure (TILA and frequently state law) which means by definition that the contract called for an illegal act that is by definition a contract in contravention of public policy.

A loan contract is created by operation of law in which the borrower is obligated to pay back the loan to the source of the funds with or without a written instrument. If the loan contract (comprised of offer, acceptance and consideration) does not exist, then there is nothing to enforce at law although it is possible to still force the borrower to repay the money to the actual source of funds through a suit in equity — mainly unjust enrichment. The banks, through their lawyers, argue that the Federal disclosure requirements should be ignored. I think it is pretty clear that Justice Scalia and a unanimous United States Supreme Court think that argument stinks. It is the bank’s argument that should be ignored, not the law.

Congress passed TILA specifically to protect consumers of financial products (loans) from the overly burdensome and overly complex nature of loan documents. This argument about what is important and what isn’t has already been addressed in Congress and signed into law against the banks’ position that it doesn’t matter whether they really follow the law and disclose all the parties involved in the transaction, the true identity of the lender, the compensation of all the parties that made money as a result of the origination of the loan transaction. Regulation Z states that a pattern of behavior (more than 5) in which loans are table funded (disclosure of real lender withheld from borrower) is PREDATORY PER SE.

If it is predatory per se then there are remedies available to the borrower which potentially include treble damages, attorneys fees etc. Equally important if not more so is that a transaction, whether illusory or real, that is predatory per se, is therefore against public policy and the party seeking to enforce an otherwise enforceable document cannot do so because of the doctrine of unclean hands. In fact, if the transaction is predatory per se, it is dirty hands per se. And this is where Judges get stuck and so do many lawyers. The outcome of that unavoidable analysis is, they say, a free house. And their remedy is to give the party with unclean hands a free house (because they paid nothing for the origination or acquisition of the loan). I think the Supreme Court will not look kindly upon this “legislating from the bench.” And I think the Court has already signaled its intent to hold everyone to the strict construction of TILA and Regulation Z.

So there are two reason the debt can’t be enforced the way the banks want. (1) There is no loan contract because the source of the money and the borrower never agreed to anything and neither one knew about the other. (2) the mortgage cannot be enforced because it is an action in equity and the shell game of parties tossing the paperwork around all have unclean hands. And there is a third reason as well — while the note might be enforceable based merely on an endorsement, the mortgage is not enforceable unless the enforcer paid for it (Article 9, UCC).

And THAT is where the confusion really starts — which bank lawyers depend on every time they go to court. Bank lawyers add to the confusion by using the tired phrase of “the note follows the mortgage and the mortgage follows the note.” At one time this was a completely true presumption backed up by real facts. But now the banks are asking the courts to apply the presumption even when the courts actually know that the facts presumed by the legal presumption are untrue.

Notes and mortgages exist in two different marketplaces or different worlds, if you like. Public policy insists that notes that are intended to be negotiable remain negotiable and raise certain presumptions. The holder of a note might very well be able to sue and win a judgment ON THE NOTE. And the judgment holder might be able to record a judgment lien and foreclose on it subject to homestead exemptions.

But it isn’t as simple as the banks make it out to be.

If someone pays for the note in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses when the note is not in default, THAT holder can enforce the note against the signor or maker of the note regardless of lack of consideration or anything else unless there is a provable defense of fraud and perhaps conspiracy. But any other holder steps into the shoes of the original lender. And if there was no consummated loan contract between the payee on the note and the borrower because the payee never loaned any money to the borrower, then the holder might have standing to sue but they don’t have the evidence to win the suit. The borrower still owes the money to whoever was the source, but the “holder” of the note doesn’t get a judgment. There is a difference between standing to sue and a prima facie case needed to win. Otherwise everyone would get one of those mechanical forging machines and sign the name of someone with money and sue them on a note they never signed. Or they would promise to loan money, get the signed note and then not complete the loan contract by making the loan.

So public policy demands that there be reasonable certainty in the negotiation of unqualified promises to pay. BUT public policy expressed in the UCC Article 9 says that if you want to enforce a mortgage you must not only have some indication that it was transferred to you, you must also have paid valuable consideration for the mortgage.

Without proof of payment, there is no prima facie case for enforcement of the mortgage, but it does curiously remain on the chain of title of the property (public records) unless nullified by the fact that the mortgage was executed as collateral for the note which was NOT a true representation of the loan contract based upon the real debt that arose by operation of law. The public policy is preserve the integrity of public records in the real estate marketplace. That is the only way to have reasonable certainty of title and encumbrances.

Forfeiture, an equitable remedy, must be done with clean hands based upon a real interest in the alleged default — not just a pile of paper that grows each year as banks try to convert an assignment of mortgage into a substitute for consideration.

Hence being the “holder” might mean you have the right to sue on the note but without being a holder in due course or otherwise paying fro the mortgage, there is no automatic basis for enforcing the mortgage in favor of a party with no economic interest in the mortgage.

see also http://knowltonlaw.com/james-knowlton-blog/ucc-article-3-and-mortgage-backed-securities.html

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