Does Yvanova Provide a Back Door to Closed Cases?

That is the question I am hearing from multiple people. My provisional answer is that in my opinion there is a strong argument for using it if the property has not been liquidated after the foreclosure auction. There might be a grey area while the property is REO and there might be a grey area where the property has been sold but the issue of a void assignment is raised in an eviction procedure. It will strain the minds of judges even more, but these issues are certain to come up. As things continue to progress Judges will shift from looking askance at borrowers and thinking their defenses are all hairsplitting ways to get out of a debt and get a free house. Upon reflection, over the next couple of years, you will see an increasing number of judges taking the same cynical view and turning it toward the banks and servicers who in most cases function neither as banks or servicers.

The Yvanova court took great pains to say that this was a very narrow ruling. Starting with that one might argue it only applied to that specific case. But they went further than that and we all know it. SO it stands for the proposition that a void assignment can be the basis of a wrongful foreclosure. AND most BANK LAWYERS agree that is a huge problem for them, at least in California but they think it will adopted across the country and I agree with the Bank lawyers on that assessment.

The reason is simple logic. If the foreclosure is wrongful then it seems stupidly simple to say that it was wrong in the first place. If it was “wrong” the questions that emerge in legal scholarship arise from two main paths.

What does “wrong” mean. Or to put it in Yvanova language is wrong the same as void or is it voidable. This would have a huge impact on issues of jurisdiction, res judicata, collateral estoppel etc. Does it mean that it was wrong and you can get damages or does it mean that it was wrong and therefore the homeowner still owns the house. I lean towards the former not by preference but by what I think the court was saying between the lines. The whole point of nonjudicial foreclosure (amongst two other points that are obvious) is to provide stability and confidence in the title system. So if a wrong foreclosure occurs the title would most likely remain in whoever bought it at auction — although the purgatory in which many properties remain (REO) might create a grey area in which there is no prejudice in vacating the sale. Indeed if the party holding the “FINAL” title did so by fraud (using a void assignment) then equity would seem to demand return of title to the homeowner. AND THEN you still have the problem of evictions or writs of possession or whatever they are called in your state. Title is one thing but possession is another. If you raise the void assignment can you defeat possession even if you can’t defeat the title transfer? It would SEEM not but equity would demand that a thief not further the rewards of his ill-gotten gains.

Next path. Procedure, evidence and objections. Going back in time the homeowner might have objected or even alleged things that the Yvanova court now finds to have merit. So a lay person might think that is all they need is to show the void assignment and presto they have title or money or both in their hands. Not so fast. Due process is intended to allow a person to be heard and the justice system is designed and created to FINALIZE disputes, whether the decision is right or wrong. SO questions abound about what happened at the trial court level. But there was a remedy for that. It is called an appeal. And there are choices to even go to Federal Court if the state court is rubber stamping void instruments. But the time for doing that has expired on all but a few cases and the judicial doctrine of finality is the most difficult to overcome. Even a condemned man usually will be put to death even if there is actual evidence of innocence after a period of time has expired and a number of appeals have been exhausted.

SO that is my long winded way of saying I don’t know. If Yvanova opens the door to many new openings of closed cases, it certainly doesn’t say so. But a defense of a current case — even one amended to cite Yvanova, might fare much better.

The real answer: pick a path and try it.
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