Another PennyMac Crash! CA Case for Homeowner

American jurisprudence is clearly still struggling with the fact that in most cases the forecloser either does not exist or does not have any interest in the loans they seek to enforce. In virtually all instances PennyMac is acting in the role of a sham conduit while allowing its name to be used as the front for a nonexistent lender.

Such foreclosers use semantics and legal procedure to create and cover-up the illusion of “ownership” of the debt (the loan) and the illusion of having the rights to enforce the note bestowed by a true creditor. This case opinion is correct in every respect and it conforms with basic black letter law in all 50 states; yet courts still strive to find ways to allow disinterested parties to foreclose.

Get a consult and Chain of Title Analysis! 202-838-6345
https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-
Hat tip to Bill Paatalo
see GULIEX v. PennyMAC HOLDINGS LLC, Cal: Court of Appeal, 5th Appellate Dist. 2017 https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9436462246811997539&hl=en&lr=lang_en&as_sdt=2006&as_vis=1&oi=scholaralrt
This case amply demonstrates the following:
  1. The need for a chain of title report
  2. The need for a chain of title analysis
  3. The need for legal research and good memorandums of law
  4. The need to understand “chains of title” or “chains of events” and the laws applicable thereto (e.g. judicial notice, legal presumptions etc.)
  5. The need to formulate a presentation to the judge that is very persuasive.
  6. The need to appeal when trial judges don’t apply the law or don’t apply the law correctly.

The following are significant quotes from the case.

Plaintiff, a homeowner and borrower, sued the defendant financial institution for wrongs allegedly committed in connection with a nonjudicial foreclosure sale of his residence. Plaintiff’s main theory was that the financial institution did not own his note and deed of trust and, therefore, lacked the authority to foreclose under the deed of trust. (e.s.)

The financial institution convinced the trial court that (1) it was, in fact, the beneficiary under the deed of trust, (2) a properly appointed substitute trustee conducted the foreclosure proceedings, and (3) the plaintiff lacked standing to claim the foreclosure was wrongful. The financial institution argued its chain of title to the deed of trust was established by facts stated in recorded assignments of deed of trust and a recorded substitution of trustee. The trial court took judicial notice of the recorded documents. Based on these documents, the court sustained a demurrer to some of the causes of action and granted summary judgment as to the remaining causes of action. On appeal, plaintiff contends he has standing to challenge the foreclosure and, furthermore, the judicially noticed documents do not establish the financial institution actually was the beneficiary under the deed of trust. We agree. (e.s.)

As to standing, the holding in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corp. (2016) 62 Cal.4th 919 (Yvanova) clearly establishes plaintiff has standing to challenge the nonjudicial foreclosure on the ground that the foreclosing party lacked the authority to initiate the foreclosure because it held no beneficial interest under the deed of trust. (e.s.)

As to establishing facts by judicial notice, it is well recognized that courts may take notice of the existence and wording of recorded documents, but not the disputed or disputable facts stated therein. (e.s.) (Yvanova, supra, 62 Cal.4th at p. 924, fn. 1; Herrera v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1366, 1375 (Herrera).) Under this rule, we conclude the facts stated in the recorded assignments of deed of trust and the substitution of trustee were not subject to judicial notice. (e.s.) Therefore, the financial institution did not present evidence sufficient to establish its purported chain of title to the deed of trust. Consequently, the financial institution failed to show it was the owner of the deed of trust and had the authority to foreclose on plaintiff’s residence.

We therefore reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

….

The Links in PennyMac’s Purported Chain of Title

“Links” in a chain of title are created by a transfer of an interest in the underlying property from one person or entity to another. An examination of each link in the purported chain of title relied upon by PennyMac reveals that certain links were not established for purposes of the demurrer. Our analysis begins with a description of each link in the purported chain (and each related document, where known), beginning with the husband and wife who sold the residence to Borrower and ending with the trustee’s sale to PennyMac.

Link One-Sale: Clarence and Betty Dake sold the residence to Borrower pursuant to a grant deed dated April 19, 2005, and recorded on June 30, 2005. The parties do not dispute this transfer.

Link Two-Loan: Borrower granted a beneficial interest in the residence to Long Beach Mortgage Company pursuant to a deed of trust dated June 21, 2005, and recorded on June 30, 2005. The parties do not dispute this transfer.

Link Three-Purported Transfer: Long Beach Mortgage Company purportedly transferred its rights to Washington Mutual Bank by means of a document or transaction not identified in the appellate record. Also, the appellate record does not identify when the purported transaction occurred. Borrower disputes the existence of this and subsequent transfers of the deed of trust. (e.s.)

Link Four-Purported Transfer: Washington Mutual Bank purportedly transferred its rights to JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association in an unidentified transaction at an unstated time. (e.s.)

Link Five-Assignment: JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, successor in interest to Washington Mutual Bank, successor in interest to Long Beach Mortgage Company, purportedly transferred the note and all beneficial interest under the deed of trust to “JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association” pursuant to an assignment of deed of trust dated July 25, 2011, and recorded on July 26, 2011.

Link Six(A)-Assignment: JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association transferred all beneficial interest in the deed of trust to PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust Holdings I, LLC pursuant to a “California Assignment of Deed of Trust” dated September 14, 2013, and recorded on November 15, 2013.

Link Seven-Trustee’s Sale: California Reconveyance Company, as trustee under the deed of trust, (1) sold the residence to PennyMac at a public auction conducted on November 20, 2013, and (2) issued a trustee’s deed of sale dated November 21, 2013 and recorded on November 22, 2013. PennyMac, the grantee under the deed upon sale, was described in the deed as the foreclosing beneficiary.

Link Six(B)-Purported Assignment: The day after the trustee’s sale, JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association executed a “Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust” dated November 21, 2013, purporting to transfer the deed of trust without recourse to PennyMac Holdings, LLC. The assignment was recorded November 22, 2013. This assignment was signed (1) after JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association had signed and recorded the “California Assignment of Deed of Trust” described earlier as Link Six(A) and (2) after the trustee’s sale was conducted on November 20, 2013. Consequently, it is unclear whether any interests were transferred by this “corporate” assignment.

3. Links Three and Four Are Missing from the Chain

Postscript from Editor: This Court correctly revealed the fraudulent strategy of the banks, to wit: they created the illusion of multiple transfers giving the appearance of a solid chain of title BUT 2 of the transfers were fake, leaving the remainder of the chain void.

Wilmington-Christiana Fail in Back-door Attempt to Have “Trust” Identified as the Owner of Debt, Note and Mortgage

If they had been successful the entire question of whether the Trustee could be named as the foreclosing party would have been off the table — if other courts followed suit. And the entire question of “debt purchasing” could never have been raised despite obvious flaws and defects in fabricated paperwork.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345
https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-
Hat tip to Bill Paatalo and others
see below for case opinion Blackstone v Sharma v Marvastian, Maryland Special Appeals Court
 *
In their never ending quest to validate illegal acts, misrepresentation and fraud, the banks are throwing as much legal theory against the wall in hopes that some of it will stick. This one starts with the fact that “debt purchasers” are still “debt collectors” regardless of how they self-describe themselves.
 *
There has been a trend in which “debt purchasers” step in front of the pile off fabricated documents and then make the claim for foreclosure or enforcement of the debt. By calling themselves “debt purchasers” they once again are using self-serving descriptions that are designed to confuse homeowners, lawyers and the courts. The truth is that no debt, note or mortgage was purchased by anyone. If there had been a purchase the  foreclosing party would merely refer to EVIDENCE that they paid money for a “loan” that was “owned” by the preceding party. Instead they rely upon legal presumptions carried in fabricated documents.
 *
Despite there having been no movement of the debt by virtue of an actual purchase and sale they continue to call themselves “debt purchasers.” They are not and the implication that the debt was purchase thus morphs into we MUST have purchased it because we now “hold” the note and mortgage.
 *
This case highlights the issues with “substitution of trustees,” and fabricated transfer documents. It also provides guidance on the “substitution of plaintiffs” in non-judicial states. There is no difference.
 *
The Trustee on a deed of trust cannot be fired and replaced by anyone other than the ACTUAL beneficiary.
 *
The Plaintiff in a judicial foreclosure case cannot change unless the attorneys are wiling to amend their pleading to show how the fabricated documents were transferred from the old Plaintiff (which never owned the debt, note or mortgage) to the newly designated Plaintiff.
 *
Both reveal that the actual party in interest in the foreclosure is the subservicer and Master Servicer for a trust that doesn’t really exist and which does not own any assets, have any liabilities nor conduct any business.
 *
====================

KYLE BLACKSTONE, ET AL.,
v.
DINESH SHARMA, ET AL.
TERRANCE SHANAHAN, SUBSTITUTE. TRUSTEE, ET AL.,
v.
SEYED MARVASTIAN, ET AL.

Nos. 1524, 1525 Consolidated Case, September Term, 2015.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Filed: June 6, 2017.

Wright, Shaw Geter, Salmon, James P., (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Opinion by SALMON, J.

This consolidated appeal originates from two foreclosure cases filed in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. In both cases, substitute trustees (collectively, “appellants”) acting on behalf of Ventures Trust 2013-I-H-R (“Ventures Trust”), a statutory trust formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, filed orders to docket foreclosure suits against homeowners in the State of Maryland. The circuit court judges who considered the cases dismissed the actions, determining that pursuant to the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Act (“MCALA”), codified at Maryland Code (1992, 2015 Repl. Vol.), Business Regulation Article (“B.R.”) § 7-101, et seq., Ventures Trust was required to be licensed as a collection agency and, because Ventures Trust had not obtained such a license, any judgment entered as a result of the foreclosure actions would be void. The dismissal of these foreclosure actions, without prejudice, presents us with two questions:

1. Under the MCALA, does a party who authorizes a trustee to initiate a foreclosure action need to be licensed as a collection agency before filing suit?

2. If the answer to question one is in the affirmative, does the licensing requirement apply to foreign statutory trusts such as Ventures Trust?

We shall answer “yes” to both questions and affirm the judgments entered by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

BACKGROUND

Appeal No. 1524

On August 4, 2006, Dinesh Sharma, Santosh Sharma, and Ruchi Sharma[1](collectively “the Sharmas”) executed a deed of trust that encumbered real property in Potomac, Maryland, in order to secure a $1,920,000 loan. Washington Mutual Bank, FA was the lender. The Sharmas, in December 2007, defaulted on the loan by failing to make payments when due.

Ventures Trust, by its trustee MCM Capital Partners, LLC (“MCM Capital”), acquired ownership and “all beneficial interest” of the loan on October 9, 2013. The substitute trustees[2] appointed by Ventures Trust filed an order to docket, initiating the foreclosure action, on November 25, 2014. The Sharmas owed $3,008,536.23 on the loan as of November 25, 2014.

The Sharmas responded to the foreclosure action by filing a counterclaim which was later severed by order of the circuit court. They also filed a motion to dismiss or enjoin the foreclosure sale pursuant to Md. Rule 14-211.[3] The substitute trustees moved to strike the Sharmas’ motion, which the court granted on May 7, 2015. The Sharmas filed a motion to alter or amend the May 7th order. On June 22, 2015 the court vacated its May 7th order, denied the substitute trustees’ motion to strike the Sharmas’ motion to dismiss, and set a hearing date for arguments concerning the motion to dismiss.

Following a hearing, the court, on August 28, 2015, issued an opinion and order granting the motion to dismiss the foreclosure action without prejudice. In its written opinion the circuit court determined that, pursuant to the MCALA, Ventures Trust was a collection agency and was therefore required to be licensed before attempting to collect on the deed of trust. The circuit court ruled that because Ventures Trust was not licensed as a collection agency, it had no right to file a foreclosure action. In its written opinion, the court also rejected Ventures Trust’s contention that it was a “trust company” and was therefore exempt from MCALA’s licensure requirements. The substitute trustees noted a timely appeal.

Appeal No. 1525

On June 23, 2006, Seyed and Sima Marvastian executed a deed of trust on property in Bethesda, Maryland in order to secure a $1,396,500 loan. Premier Mortgage Funding, Inc. was the lender. The Marvastians defaulted on the loan by failing to make payments when due in December 2012.

Ventures Trust by its trustee MCM Capital acquired the Marvastians’ loan in February 2014. On October 20, 2014, the substitute trustees filed an order to docket, initiating the foreclosure process. At the time of filing, the substitute trustees alleged that the Marvastians owed $1,632,303.26 on the loan.

The Marvastians responded by filing a counterclaim, which was severed by order of the circuit court. They also filed a motion to dismiss or stay the foreclosure sale pursuant to Md. Rule 14-211. Following extensive briefing and a hearing, the court granted the Marvastians’ motion to dismiss, albeit without prejudice. The judge’s reasons for dismissing the case were exactly the same as those given for dismissing the foreclosure case that is the subject of Appeal No. 1524.

I.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[B]efore a foreclosure sale takes place, the defaulting borrower may file a motion to stay the sale of the property and dismiss the foreclosure action. In other words, the borrower, may petition the court for injunctive relief, challenging the validity of the lien or . . . the right of the [lender] to foreclose in the pending action. The grant or denial of injunctive relief in a property foreclosure action lies generally within the sound discretion of the trial court. Accordingly, we review the circuit court’s denial of a foreclosure injunction for an abuse of discretion. We review the trial court’s legal conclusions de novo.

Hobby v. Burson, 222 Md. App. 1, 8 (2015) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). See also Svrcek v. Rosenberg, 203 Md. App. 705, 720 (2012). In the two cases that are the subject of this appeal, the trial judges based their rulings on their legal conclusions. Thus we review those conclusions de novo.

II.

In Finch v. LVNV Funding, LLC, 212 Md. App. 748, 758-64 (2013) we stated that without a license, a collection agency has no authority to file suit against the debtor. Accordingly, a “judgment entered in favor of an unlicensed debt collector constitutes a void judgment[.]” Id. at 764. See also Old Republic Insurance v. Gordon, 228 Md. App. 1, 12-13 (2016) (footnote omitted).

Maryland Code B.R. § 7-101(c) defines a collection agency as follows:

“Collection agency” means a person who engages directly or indirectly in the business of:

(1)(i) collecting for, or soliciting from another, a consumer claim; or

(ii) collecting a consumer claim the person owns, if the claim was in default when the person acquired it;

(2) collecting a consumer claim the person owns, using a name or other artifice that indicates that another party is attempting to collect the consumer claim;

(3) giving, selling, attempting to give or sell to another, or using, for collection of a consumer claim, a series or system of forms or letters that indicates directly or indirectly that a person other than the owner is asserting the consumer claim; or

(4) employing the services of an individual or business to solicit or sell a collection system to be used for collection of a consumer claim.

(Emphasis added.)

As used in the Business Regulations Article, “person” means “an individual . . . trustee . . . fiduciary, representative of any kind, partnership, firm, association, corporation, or other entity.” B.R. § 1-101(g). B.R. 7-101(e) defines a “consumer claim” as meaning a “claim that: 1) is for money owed or said to be owed by a resident of the State; and 2) arises from a transaction in which, for a family, household, or personal purpose, the resident sought or got credit, money, personal property, real property, or services.”

Before the law was amended in 2007, MCALA applied only to businesses that collected debts owed to another person. Old Republic, 228 Md. App. at 16. In 2007, the statute was broadened to include persons who engage in the business of “collecting a consumer claim the person owns, if the claim was in default when the person acquired it[.]” B.R. § 7-101(c)(1)(ii).

The legislative history of the 2007 amendment, insofar as here pertinent, was set forth in Old Republic as follows:

[T]he legislative history makes clear that the General Assembly enacted the 2007 amendments to regulate “debt purchasers,” who were exploiting a loophole in the law to bypass the MCALA’s licensing requirements.

The Senate Finance Committee Report on House Bill 1324 explained:

House Bill 1324 extends the purview of the State Collection Agency Licensing Board to include persons who collect consumer claims acquired when the claims were in default. These persons are known as “debt purchasers” since they purchase delinquent consumer debt resulting from credit card transactions and other bills; these persons then own the debt and seek to collect from consumers like other collection agencies who act on behalf of original creditors.

Charles T. Turnbaugh, Commissioner of Financial Regulation and Chairman of the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Board offered the following testimony:

[T]he evolution of the debt collection industry has created a “loophole” used by some entities as a means to circumvent current State collection agency laws. Entities, such as “debt purchasers” who enter into purchase agreements to collect delinquent consumer debt rather than acting as an agent for the original creditor, currently collect consumer debt in the State without complying with any licensing or bonding requirement. The federal government has recognized and defined debt purchasers as collection agencies, and requires that these entities fully comply with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This legislation would include debt purchases within the definition of “collection agency,” and require them to be licensed by the Board before they may collect consumer claims in this State. Other businesses that are collecting their own debt continue to be excluded from this law.

Susan Hayes, a member of the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Board, submitted the following in support of the bill:

The traditional method of dealing with distressed accounts has been for creditors to assign these accounts to a collection agency. These agencies, operating under a contingency fee arrangement with the creditor, keep a portion of the amount recovered and return the balance to the creditor. Today, a different option is available — selling accounts receivables to a third party debt collector at a discount.

* * *

HB 1324 closes a loophole in licensing of debt collectors under Maryland law. Just because a professional collector of defaulted debt “purchases” the debt, frequently on a contingent fee basis, should not exclude them from the licensing requirements of Maryland law concerning debt collectors.

Id. at 19-20.

Ventures Trust is in the business of buying from banks, at a discount, mortgages and deeds of trust that are in default. In the cases here at issue, there is no dispute that: 1) when Ventures Trust purchased the loans in question, the loans were in default; and 2) Ventures Trust, by filing (through its agents — the trustees) the foreclosure actions it was attempting to collect “consumer debt.”

As we said in Old Republic, the legislative history of the 2007 amendments to the MCALA make it “clear that the General Assembly had a specific purpose in mind in adopting the 2007 amendments, i.e., including [under the Act] debt purchasers, people who purchased defaulted accounts receivable at a discount, within the purview of MCALA.” Id. at 21. Money owed on a note secured by a deed of trust or a mortgage certainly qualifies as an account receivable. And Ventures Trust is in the business of buying up defaulted mortgages or deeds of trust and instituting foreclosure actions to obtain payment.

Appellants contend that the MCALA does not require a party to be licensed as a collection agency in order to file a foreclosure action. They support that contention with the following argument:

Foreclosures are not mentioned [in B.R. § 7-101(c)], although the Legislature clearly knew how to do so if it had wished. There is no specific statement in the MCALA to the effect that “doing business” as a “collection agency” includes actions taken to enforce a security interest, such as foreclosing on a deed of trust, nor is there any specific statement that such actions would fall into the definition of “collecting” a consumer claim. Neither this Court nor the Court of Appeals has ever ruled that pursuing a foreclosure proceeding amounts to “doing business” in Maryland as a “collection agency” under the Act, and for good reason. As the Legislature has made clear in numerous statutes, a foreign entity — including a statutory trust such as Ventures Trust — pursuing foreclosure is not “doing business” in Maryland[.]

Appellants emphasize that Md. Code (2014 Repl. Vol.), Corporations and Associations Article § 12-902(a) requires any foreign statutory trust doing business in Maryland to register with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (“SDAT”). Section 12-908(a)(5) provides, however, that “[f]oreclosing mortgages and deeds of trust on property in this State” is not considered “doing business.”

According to appellants, because of “the Legislature’s” express decision to make clear that a foreclosure proceeding brought by a foreign statutory trust is by definition, not doing business in Maryland, a foreign trust does not need to be licensed as a collection agency to file a Maryland foreclosure action. That argument would be strong were it not for the fact (relied upon by both circuit court judges who ruled against appellants below) that section 12-908(a) of the Corporations and Associations Article expressly states that the “doing business” exception granted to foreign trusts is “for the purposes of this subtitle[.]” In other words, the foreign trust exception does not apply to the MCALA.

It is true, as appellants point out, that no Maryland appellate court has ever held that a foreign trust needs a license under the MCALA to file a foreclosure action. But the matter has simply not been addressed by any Maryland appellate court.

Judge Ellen Hollander, in Ademiluyi v. PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust Holdings I, LLC, et al., 929 F.Supp.2d 502, 520-24 (D. Md. 2013) did hold that a MCALA license was needed to bring a foreclosure action based on the allegations set forth in the complaint filed in that case. In Ademiluyi, the holder of the mortgage (PennyMac), filed a foreclosure action on a mortgage even though (it was alleged) that PennyMac purchased the mortgage after it was in default and did not have a debt collection license. Id. at 520. The issue in that case was whether, based on the allegations in the complaint, PennyMac needed a license prior to bringing a foreclosure action. Id.

After a lengthy discussion, Judge Hollander said:

I am persuaded that, even if actions pertinent to mortgage foreclosure are taken in connection with enforcement of a security interest in real property, such actions may constitute debt collection activity under the MCALA. Therefore, based on the facts alleged by plaintiff, PennyMac Holdings may qualify as a collection agency under the MCALA with respect to mortgage debt it seeks to collect, including through judicial foreclosure proceedings or other conduct pertinent to foreclosure.

Id. at 523.

Support for Judge Hollander’s conclusion can be found in a twenty-one page order, dated December 8, 2013, signed by Gordon M. Cooley, Chairperson of the Maryland State Collection Agency Licensing Board.[4] Mr. Cooley ordered several entities, including NPR Capital, LLC, to stop attempting to collect consumer debts by filing foreclosure actions. At page 17 of his order, the Acting Commissioner determined, inter alia, that NPR Capital violated the provisions of the MCALA (specifically B.R. § 7-401(a)) by attempting to collect a debt by filing a foreclosure action at a time when it was not licensed as a collection agency.

When interpreting the MCALA, the ruling by Commissioner Cooley is of consequence because, as the Court of Appeals recently said, it is well established that appellate courts “should ordinarily give `considerable weight’ to `an administrative agency’s interpretation and application of the statute'” it is charged with administering. Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City v. Kougl, 451 Md. 507, 514 (2017), (quoting Maryland Aviation Administration v. Noland, 386 Md. 556, 572 (2005)). As can be seen, the Board that administers the MCALA statute is of the view that the MCALA covers persons who attempt to collect consumer debt by filing a foreclosure action.

In support of their position, appellants point out, accurately, that nowhere in the legislative history of the 2007 amendment to the MCALA, is there any mention of foreclosure actions. From this, appellants ask us to infer that the General Assembly did not intend that persons who purchase defaulted mortgages or deeds of trust and then file foreclosure actions needed to purchase a debt collection license. In our view, the absence of a specific reference in the legislative history is not dispositive because, insofar as the issue here presented is concerned, the MCALA is unambiguous.

With exceptions not here relevant except the one discussed in Part III, infra, “a person must have a license whenever the person does business as a collection agency in the State.” B.R. § 7-301(a). The definition of a “collection agency” has five elements. Old Republic, 228 Md. App. at 23 (Nazarian, J. dissenting). Those elements are:

“[a] a person who [b] engages directly or indirectly in the business of . . . collecting a [c] consumer claim the [d] person owns, [e] if the claim was in default when the person acquired it.” BR § 7-101(c)(ii).

Id.

Ventures Trust admits that it meets elements (a), (c), (d) and (e). It argues, however, that element (b) is not met because it does not “engage in the business of collecting” debt by filing foreclosure actions. Boiled down to its essence, appellants’ “not in the business” argument is based on the contention that the General Assembly intended to exempt from the MCALA persons who attempt to collect consumer debt by bringing foreclosure actions. We can find no such intent in the words of the statute or in anything in the Act’s legislative history. We therefore reject that contention and hold that unless some exception to the MCALA is applicable, the licensing requirements of the MCALA applies to persons who attempt to collect a consumer debt by bringing a foreclosure action.

III.

The MCALA states: “This title does not apply to . . . a trust company[.]” B.R. § 7-102(b)(8). The statute does not define “trust company.” See B.R. § 7-101. Appellants claim that even if the MCALA licensing requirement applies to a person who brings a foreclosure action in order to enforce a consumer debt, the MCALA does not apply to Ventures Trust because it is a “trust company.” Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014) defines “trust company” as “[a] company that acts as a trustee for people and entities and that sometimes also operates as a commercial bank.” The appellants claim that Ventures Trust meets that definition because, purportedly, Ventures Trust “certainly holds and maintains trust property.”

We pause at this point to discuss what the record reveals about Ventures Trust. In appellants’ filing with the Montgomery County Circuit Court, appellants’ counsel stated that Ventures Trust is the holder of the notes at issue, and that it is a statutory trust formed in Delaware under 12 DEL. CODE § 3801(g). Ventures Trust has two trustees. They are MCM Capital and Wilmington Federal Savings Fund Society, FSB doing business as Christiana Trust. In Appeal No. 1525, counsel for the substitute trustees orally told the motions judge that Ventures Trust was “like an account at Christiana Bank” and that Christiana Trust was the trustee of Ventures Trust. That representation was also made by counsel for the substitute trustee in that case in a supplemental memorandum where it was said: “Ventures Trust. 2013-I-H-R…, is the holding of a Federal Savings Bank[,] which serves as its co-trustee….”

Using the Black’s Law Dictionary (10th edition) definition of “trust company” set forth above, Ventures Trust does not fit within that definition. It does not act as a bank. Moreover, other entities act as trustees for it. There is nothing in the record that shows that Ventures Trust acts as a trustee for anyone.

Appellants also suggest that we use the slightly different definition of “trust company” set forth in Black’s Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979) because that edition of Black’s was published “around the time of the 1977 amendment” that exempted trust companies from the MCALA. Black’s 1979 definition of “trust company” was as follows: “a corporation formed for the purpose of taking, accepting, and executing all such trusts as may be lawfully committed to it, and acting as testamentary trustee, executor, guardian, etc.” There is no indication in the record that Ventures Trust is a corporation or, as already mentioned, that it acts as a trustee for anyone. Therefore, Ventures Trust does not meet that definition either.

The words “trust company” is defined in Md. Code (2011 Repl. Vol.), Financial Institutions Article (“Fin. Institutions”) § 3-101(g) as meaning “an institution that is incorporated under the laws of this State as a trust company.” But that definition only applies to matters set forth in the Fin. Institutions Article section 3-101(a). In Fin. Institutions §3-501(d), governing common trust funds, the term “trust companies” is defined as including a national banking association that has powers similar to those given to a trust company under the laws of “this State.” That definition, however, only applies to subtitle 5 of the Financial Institutions Article. Md. Code (2011 Repl. Vol.), Estates and Trusts Article§ 1-101(v) also contains a definition of “Trust Company” but it applies only to laws governing the “estates of decedents.” See Estates & Trusts Article § 1-101(a). Lastly, the term “statutory trust” is defined in Md. Code (2011 Repl. Vol.), Corporations and Associations Article § 12-101(h) as meaning: an unincorporated business, trust, or association:

(i) Formed by filing an initial certificate of trust under § 12-204 of this title; and

(ii) Governed by a governing instrument.

(2) “Statutory trust” includes a trust formed under this title on or before May 31, 2010, as a business trust, as the term business trust was then defined in this title.

Ventures Trust admits that it does not fit within any of the above definitions of “trust company” or “statutory trust.” Moreover, even if it did meet one or more of those definitions, there is no indication that the legislature, in 1977, when it exempted “trust companies” from the MCALA, intended those definitions to be used. As appellants concede, we are thus left with the general definition of “trust company” as set forth in Black’s Law Dictionary. See Ishola v. State, 404 Md. 155, 161 (2008)(Dictionary definitions help clarify the plain meaning of a statute.).

The circuit court judge who dismissed the foreclosure action that is the subject of Appeal 1524 reached the following legal conclusion with which we are in complete accord:

MCALA expressly limits the scope of its license requirement exemptions to those “… provided in this title….” Md. Code Ann., Bus. Reg. § 7-301(a) (emphasis added). MCALA does not explicitly exempt “foreign statutory trusts” that bring foreclosure actions from its licensing requirements. See Bus. Reg. § 7-102(b). In fact, the term “foreign statutory trust” never appears in MCALA. See Bus. Reg. § 7-101, et seq. Thus, the General Assembly expressed a clear intent to subject foreign statutory trusts that bring foreclosure actions in Maryland, like Ventures Trust, to MCALA’s licensing requirements.

CONCLUSION

A debt purchaser that attempts to collect a consumer debt by bringing a foreclosure action is required to have a license unless some statutory exemption applies. Contrary to appellants’ contention, Ventures Trust is not a “trust company” within the meaning of the MCALA and must therefore obtain a debt collection license in accordance with the provisions of the MCALA before bringing a foreclosure action. Because Ventures Trust had no such license, it was barred from filing, through its agents, the two foreclosure actions here at issue.

JUDGMENTS AFFIRMED; COSTS TO BE PAID BY APPELLANTS.

2d Florida DCA Knocks Down CitiMortgage – PennyMac Dance

“In order to establish its entitlement to enforce the lost note, PennyMac could establish standing “through evidence of a valid assignment, proof of purchase of the debt, or evidence of an effective transfer.” BAC Funding Consortium, 28 So. 3d at 939. PennyMac’s filings in support of its motion for summary judgment did not present evidence of any of these things. In the absence of such evidence, the order of substitution standing alone was ineffective to establish PennyMac’s entitlement to enforce the lost note. See Geweye v. Ventures Trust 2013-I-H-R, 189 So. 3d 231, 233 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016); Creadon v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 166 So. 3d 952, 953-54 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015); Sandefur v. RVS Capital, LLC, 183 So. 3d 1258, 1260 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016); Lamb, 174 So. 3d at 1040-41.”

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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See http://stopforeclosurefraud.com/2017/02/16/houk-v-pennymac-corp-fl-2dca-pennymac-failed-to-meet-its-burden-of-showing-the-nonexistence-of-a-genuine-issue-of-material-fact-regarding-its-entitlement-to-enforce-the-lost-note/

The Second  District Court of Appeal in Florida has issued an opinion that diligently follows the law and the facts. This decision should serve as the blue print of foreclosure defense in all cases involving the dance between CitiMortgage and PennyMac. It is a shell game and the Court obviously is growing weary of the claims of “immunity” issued by the banks in foreclosure cases.

It all starts with self serving proclamations of owning the note, the mortgage or both. It NEVER starts with an allegation or assertion of ownership of the debt because they don’t own the debt. When the note was made payable to someone other than the owner of the debt, there could be no merger wherein the debt became merged into the note. And the reason for all this is that the mega banks were engaged in the a program of institutionalizing theft from investors.

The aim of the game is to get a court to enter an order which then raises the presumption that everything that preceded the entry of the order was legal — a presumption that is hard to rebut. So the strategic path for borrowers is to show that the program or scheme is not legal before the foreclosure is entered or to attack for damages based upon fraud after the foreclosure judgment or sale is entered.

In this decision lies the foundation for most cases involving foreclosure defense. The reader is encouraged to use the above link to read and then reread the decision. My comment on the highlights follows:

“In order to establish its entitlement to enforce the lost note, PennyMac could establish standing “through evidence of a valid assignment, proof of purchase of the debt, or evidence of an effective transfer.” BAC Funding Consortium, 28 So. 3d at 939.

COMMENT: Merely alleging that it was the holder of a note when it was lost is insufficient to assume standing to enter a judgment on behalf of the foreclosing party (in this case PennyMac). In the absence of physical possession of the note standing can be established by (1) EVIDENCE of (2) a VALID assignment or (3) PROOF of PURCHASE OF THE DEBT or (4) evidence of “effective” transfer.

The steamrolling presumptions that buried millions of homeowners are now hitting the wall. The main point here is that an allegation is not enough and most importantly standing to file suit does NOT mean that the party has standing for the entry of judgment in favor of the foreclosing party.

The error that both courts and lawyers for litigants have consistently made for the last 10 years is their assumption that a sufficient allegation that a party has legal standing at the time suit is filed (or notice of sale, notice of default, notice of acceleration) means that the party has proven standing with evidence. It does not. Like any other allegation it is subject to being discredited or rebutted. AND it requires proof, which places the burden of persuasion upon the party making that allegation. It is neither the law of the case nor subject to any twisted notion of res judicata to assume that matter is proven when merely alleged.

The 2d DCA shows it has a firm grasp of this basic fact. The fact that standing was challenged in an unsuccessful motion to dismiss does NOT mean the matter is resolved or has been litigated.

Fundamentally the issue in all these cases is about money. The question of foreclosure should always have been a secondary issue of much less importance. American jurisprudence is filled with recitations of how foreclosure was a severe remedy that requires greater scrutiny by the court. Up until about 15 years ago, Judges would sift through the paperwork and deny foreclosure even if it was uncontested if the paperwork raises some unanswered questions. That tradition follows centuries of tradition and doctrine.

Thus the 2d DCA has placed purchasing of the debt and ownership of the debt in the center of the table. In the absence of a party who owns the actual debt, it is possible for a party to seek enforcement of the note, the mortgage or both — but that can only be true if the foreclosing party has indeed acquired the right to enforce the instrument from an instrument signed by the owner of the debt; simply alleging that one is owner of the note has no effect at trial or summary judgment as to evidence of ownership of the debt. And without evidence of the true owner of the debt being the payee on the note, the grant of authority through Powers of Attorney, Servicing agreements or anything else is evidence of nothing.

The use of the word “effective” (i.e., effective transfer) in this decision also opens the door to the rescission debate that was actually settled by the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Jesinoski v Countrywide. What does it mean that something is effective? Reviewing court decisions and legislative histories it is clear that “effective” means that the event or thing has already happened at the moment of its rendering. Thus the court here is talking about an effective assignment (not just a piece of paper entitled “assignment”), meaning that all the elements of a proper assignment had been met, and NOT just the writing or execution of the instrument. It is not effective if the elements are missing. And the elements are missing if the proponent of the assignment does not prove the elements — not just allege them.

There is a difference between pleading and proof.

In the absence of such evidence, the order of substitution standing alone was ineffective to establish PennyMac’s entitlement to enforce the lost note. See Geweye v. Ventures Trust 2013-I-H-R, 189 So. 3d 231, 233 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016); Creadon v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 166 So. 3d 952, 953-54 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015); Sandefur v. RVS Capital, LLC, 183 So. 3d 1258, 1260 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016); Lamb, 174 So. 3d at 1040-41.”

COMMENT: This addresses the musical chairs tactics that have perplexed the Courts, borrowers and attorneys for nearly 2 decades. The court here is presenting for consideration the notion that substitution of parties does not confer anything on the apparent successor or new foreclosing party. What it DOES accomplish is removing the original party from having any legal standing for judgment to be entered in its favor. The claim of “succession”must be proven by the party making the claim — not by the party defending. What it does NOT accomplish is bootstrapping the allegations of standing from the original plaintiff or foreclosing party to a new party also having standing to pursue the judgment.

In all events therefore, the party alleging and/or asserting standing must prove it before the homeowner is required to rebut or even cross examine it.

 

 

Pennymac Forgeries Produce Some New Law

Pennymac tried to outwit the court system, succeeding at the trial level and then failing on appeal. The simple fact is that it is a rare instance where a party can lose a lawsuit based upon a forged instrument. The court will (and should) always find a way to deny such relief.

see sanabria-v-pennymac-mortgage-investment-trust-holdings-i-llc

Simple case. Closing attorney still had copy of the note — 5 pages. Pennymac sued on a 6 page note. Defendants denied that the note was real and denied they signed the document upon which Pennymac was relying. Pennymac said that Florida statutes required Defendants to file a cause of action to get rid of a forged document. The trial court agreed. The appellate court said no, the authenticity of the document and the signature is put in play once it is apparent to all that this the gravamen of the defense.

Florida Statutes 673.308.1 reads in relevant part: [Note §673 is UCC Article 3]

In an action with respect to an instrument, the authenticity of, and authority to make, each signature on the instrument is admitted unless specifically denied in the pleadings. If the validity of a signature is denied in the pleadings, the burden of establishing validity is on the person claiming validity, but the signature is presumed to be authentic and authorized unless the action is to enforce the liability of the purported signer and the signer is dead or incompetent at the time of trial of the issue of validity of the signature.

Pennymac Trust likens the statute’s passing reference to “specifically” denying a signature’s authenticity to the specificity required to plead a cause of action for fraud under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.120(b): “In all averments of fraud or mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake shall be stated with such particularity as the circumstances may permit.”

So as long as you don’t contest the signature specifically there is an iron clad presumption that you signed it. If the facts fit, then deny or set forth an answer or affirmative defense that specifically denies you signed it. But the word of caution here is that denying it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have some pretty hard evidence, like this case, that shows that the document and/or the signature is not authentic. In this case the proof was straightforward.

BUT notice that the obvious nature of the forgery, fraud upon the court still somehow managed to escape the Plaintiff Pennymac and the attorneys for Pennymac. I wonder when someone important will look at that and say that is not the way to practice law.

 

 

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