I have not commented on the arguments regarding the statute of limitations here in Florida. It is time I did. The article here points out that the 3rd DCA has bent over backward and essentially broken its own backbone by creating legal fictions to save the banks. What they continue to ignore is that saving the banks means screwing the consumer, the citizen and the taxpayer. They also have essentially ruled that the banks can keep coming into court, filing the same lawsuit over and over again, until they win by attrition — few homeowners can afford to contest foreclosures repeatedly. The 3rd DCA decision essentially says that it isn’t over until the bank wins.
The obvious premise behind this flawed decision is that somehow this will make everything turn out “right.” It doesn’t. The court completely ignores the huge body of law and information in the public domain that reveals the banks as the perpetrators of epic fraud. Either the court doesn’t know about the fraud or it doesn’t care.
And what the court does not address is the nature of the fraud by assuming facts that don’t exist. These banks don’t have a penny invested in any of the loans that they are using for foreclosure and even modification where ownership of the debt gets transferred from the investors who advanced the money to the banks who sold them the bad deals. The investor is left with nothing in most cases while the borrower cleans out his savings account trying to save his/her home only to lose it to a party who is stealing the home from the borrower and the loan from the investor.
The court is creating multiple legal fictions. In so doing the court has destroyed the value of stare decisis — legal precedent. Or, if you look from another point of view creating a destructive legal precedent. Instead of taking each legal effective act as something that matters, they have bent and broken the language of the note and mortgage — essentially converting the act of acceleration to an option that means nothing unless foreclosure is successful.
If this decision is left standing then no case is over, ever. And lawyers will start arguing that even though their client committed themselves to an act with legal significance, they now choose to disavow that act and proceed on an alternative theory — after they have already lost the case in prior proceedings. This creates an endless chain of alleging “new facts” or “alternative facts” on every case where a party previously lost the legal contest, or where their case was dismissed.
The inherent presumption is that borrowers have no voice in this process because they received the benefit of fraudulent schemes. But in the courts where I grew up as a lawyer, no party was allowed presumptions if they had unclean hands seeking the equitable remedy of foreclosure.
Nor would a fraudster be allowed to benefit from his schemes once the scheme was revealed. The courts are turning this on its head. As stated in the Yvanova decision in California, it DOES matter if the wrong party is bringing the foreclosure action. It is not enough that the homeowner may owe someone money based upon some equitable theory of law; the homeowner must respond only to a claim from the actual party to whom the debt is owed, i.e., the creditor.
That California decision said it well — we don’t enter judgments against people simply because they must owe somebody (or anybody) money. The legal system is only available to those with legal standing — a party to whom the debt is actually owed because they paid for it.
This rush to “convict” the homeowner of bad behavior (breach of an unconscionable arrangement where there is no actual enforceable loan contract) is the insidious basis of most of the court decisions where the courts have “read in” fictions that never existed by contract, statute or legal precedent.
They did it with due process by putting the burden on homeowners to prove facts that were solely within the care, custody and control of third parties.
They rubbed it in when they blocked discovery to get to those facts.
They did it again by reading into TILA rescission that the homeowner must file a legal action to make rescission effective (despite the express wording of the statute to the contrary).
They did it again by reading into TILA rescission that the homeowner had to offer some tender to the “lender” in order to make rescission effective.
And they are doing it again, even after the Supreme Court of the United States told them they were wrong by reading into TILA rescission that the conditions precedent to a valid rescission mean that the rescission is not legally effective until a judge decides the issues raised by the pretender lenders. THAT theory brings us full circle around to the erroneous theory that TILA rescission is not effective upon mailing and that it is not effective until someone files a lawsuit. But they do it again when they say that the Court can decide the outcome of a nonexistent lawsuit filed by a nonexistent party.
This won’t end until the Courts return to basic contract law. The courts must abandon their intrusion into the legislative agendas where public policy is declared. They must especially back off when the court doctrines on public policy conflict with the legislators who are the ONLY people constitutionally permitted to make policy. Those legislators have spoken on Federal and State levels. But the courts are unconstitutionally refusing to abide by laws passed by the legislative branch. The statute of limitations is just another example.
The way it destroys legal precedent is that it directly conflicts with the doctrine of finality. For example if a person is in an auto accident and chooses to make the claim before they reach maximum medical improvement, the measure of damages is diminished because once they sue the damages are based upon the proven injury. They might even lose because the proven damages are inconsequential. When they later discover they have more injuries and more damages they cannot come back into court and say that their last claim was an option — and more importantly that the fact that their claim was dismissed should be ignored. And even more to the point, if their last claim was within the statute of limitations and their present claim is outside of the statute of limitations the plaintiff’s claim is dismissed on the basis of res judicata — the matter has already been litigated AND the statute of limitations.
If the judiciary is able to rewrite laws of the legislature from the bench in regards to Mortgages, then why shouldn’t the court do the same for ALL legal issues? It is only a matter of time until these cases are used to circumvent the statute of limitations in other cases- opening up an onslaught of new cases that have already been tried. Finality will be a thing of the past.
There can be little doubt that the banks control the judiciary. The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the statute of limitations in mortgage foreclosure actions are not applicable. The court had earlier determined in the 2014 Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais opinion that the statute barred Deutsche Bank from filing a foreclosure action five years after the borrower’s default and the lender’s acceleration demanding full payment of the loan.
The Third District Court reversed this decision in a 6-4 ruling on April 12 and held that the statute of limitations can NEVER bar a bank’s efforts to foreclose on a Florida homeowner! What does this mean? It means that the banks will have until 5 years after the maturity of the loan to foreclose, and the ability to repeatedly file foreclosure actions until they have outspent and exhausted the homeowner.
This decision is a travesty. This decision ensures the foreclosure crisis will continue for decades, and allows the banks unlimited court actions until they can successfully foreclose on the homeowner. Very few homeowners have the financial means to endure decades of litigation, and very few homeowner’s attorneys will have the endurance or desire to defend cases for long durations of time. This ruling allows the banks to regroup, correct the issue, and re-litigate (or fabricate documents to “cure” the error).
The Third District’s en banc decision was based on the 2004 Florida Supreme Court opinion in Singleton v. Greymar. In Singleton, the trial court dismissed the lender’s foreclosure action on an accelerated debt with prejudice after the bank failed to appear at a hearing. What is unclear from the Singleton record is why the lender failed to appear. The court should have recognized that there was an agreement to reinstate under which the borrower made payments prior to the dismissal.
The lender filed a second foreclosure action after the borrower defaulted on a new, subsequent workout plan. The borrower sought to avoid the second action claiming res judicata. It is noteworthy that the lender’s Supreme Court brief in Singleton was only four pages long, with only one paragraph of actual argument stating that to deny the foreclosure would create “uncertainty” for banks and a “windfall” for homeowners, offering no analysis of res judicata, collateral estoppel or the consideration of the statute of limitations.
Even the attorney who represented the lender in Singleton, Mark Evans Kass, said that Singleton has been misinterpreted and misapplied by many courts across Florida, including the Third District in Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais. The Florida Supreme Court found the two actions were different events and the second action involved a new and distinct default by the borrowers.
“There really is no mystery as to why the Florida Supreme Court ruled that my client was not barred by res judicata in bringing the second foreclosure action,” Kass stated. “It’s simple. The debtors, Gwendolyn and William Singleton, made payments and reinstated the loan after we accelerated the debt. A few months after reinstating and dismissing the first lawsuit, they defaulted again, which is why we filed a second lawsuit and alleged a subsequent and separate default date — because there actually was a subsequent and separate default.”
Kass commented on the Third District’s recent en banc opinion and said, “I would agree with the dissent that Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais has created a new legal fiction. In Singleton, we had a reinstatement and then a new and separate default. For that reason, our second foreclosure was a different cause of action. I understand that the borrower in Beauvais never reinstated the accelerated loan, never made additional payments, and there was never a new or subsequent default.”
The four dissenting judges in Beauvais agreed and stated that Beauvais: 1) creates a “legal fiction” that acceleration does not affect the installment nature of the loan; 2) rewrites the contract provisions between the parties; and 3) rewrites the statute of limitations to favor banks. Thus, the only exceptions to the statute of limitations in Florida are capital crimes like murder and now-mortgage foreclosures. However, ONLY murder is an exception actually carved out by a statute enacted by the Florida Legislature.
The Florida Supreme Court failed to address is how there can legally be a new default after a debt has already been accelerated. Over the years the banks have worked to convince the courts that Singleton supports the proposition that if a foreclosure is dismissed “for any reason,” there is an automatic reinstatement of the installment nature of the loan, thereby resetting the statute of limitations period for foreclosures.
In an unprecedented move, the Third District took Beauvais to an entirely new level claiming that the installment nature of the loan was never affected by the lender’s acceleration of the debt. Thus, even if a bank demands full repayment, the borrower is still obligated to make monthly payments as if there were no acceleration. The courts have opportunistically misinterpreted Singleton and the Florida Supreme Court will need to clarify whether Singleton changes the meaning and effect of “acceleration” and therefore nullified the statute of limitations for mortgages.
With so many courts misinterpreting the Florida Supreme Court’s Singleton opinion, the Florida Supreme Court must clarify whether Singleton changed the meaning and effect of “acceleration” and nullified the statute of limitations for mortgages. New exceptions to the statute of limitations is a Legislature issue, not for the judiciary to decide.