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FORECLOSURE SALE STOPPED IN IDAHO BY FDN ATTORNEYS 30 MINUTES PRIOR TO THE SALE

July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010

FDN attorneys Jeff Barnes, Esq. and Monica Brennan, Esq. have today stopped a foreclosure sale in southern Idaho literally 30 minutes before the scheduled sale. The case came to Mr. Barnes and Ms. Brennan just days before the sale date and at a time when Mr. Barnes and Ms. Brennan were already booked with several other court matters. Mr. Barnes worked overtime late at night and early in the morning to research and prepare the papers which were filed and prosecuted by Ms. Brennan, resulting in the sale being stopped 1/2 hour before the borrower’s home was to be sold at a trustee’s sale.

The case is one of the most complicated seen in some time, involving at least three purported assignments of the mortgage loan from the (now defunct) original “lender” to the first trustee of the securitized mortgage loan trust, then to another trustee, then to another. There is also involvement of an alleged servicer.

Our thanks to Ms. Brennan for her diligent efforts.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

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FDN ATTORNEYS DEFEAT SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND STOP SALE IN CALIFORNIA; FDN’S JEFF BARNES, ESQ. OPENS NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA OFFICE

July 14, 2010

July 14, 2010

FDN attorney Bill Sloan, Esq. has defeated a plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a foreclosure case in South Carolina. The case thus continues to progress into discovery. This is Mr. Sloan’s second recent victory in a span of just weeks. Mr. Sloan is being assisted by FDN’s Jeff Barnes, Esq., who may seek admission PHV to the South Carolina court in the case. Mr. Sloan and Mr. Barnes have also just been retained on yet another case in South Carolina as well.

FDN’s Alan Geraci, Esq. has scored his second recent victory in California on papers drafted and prepared by Mr. Barnes. The Court entered a Temporary Restraining Order cancelling a trustee’s sale the day before the sale was to take place. The Order provides that the Defendants must produce certain discovery documents at this time, even before formal discovery has been instituted. The form of the Order is very similar to a prior Order entered by another California court which commanded the production of discovery documents relating to securitization, chain of title, and standing at the TRO stage, which Order was obtained by Mr. Geraci on papers prepared by Mr. Barnes. We previously published this significant result on this website.

As Mr. Barnes has literally been deluged with cases from California, Oregon, and Arizona recently and is receiving more and more inquiries as to cases in Hawaii, he has opened an office in Newport Beach, California which will ultimately replace the Las Vegas, Nevada office and will provide Mr. Barnes with five (5) different airports to better serve clients in numerous states. The transition is scheduled to be completed by the end of the first week of August, 2010. Mr. Barnes will continue to use the Nevada office for the remainder of the month of July. The Boca Raton, Florida office will continue to operate after the Nevada/California transition.

The California office is located at 2901 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, California 92663. All mail to that office should be directed to Suite 350.

Jeff Barnes, Esq.

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CALIFORNIA BANKRUPTCY COURT HOLDS THAT MERS CANNOT TRANSFER NOTE FOR WANT OF OWNERSHIP; CITES BOYKO, LANDMARK (KANSAS), LAMY, AND VARGAS CASES

July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California has issued a ruling dated May 20, 2010 in the matter of In Re: Walker, Case No. 10-21656-E-11 which found that MERS could not, as a matter of law, have transferred the note to Citibank from the original lender, Bayrock Mortgage Corp. The Court’s opinion is headlined stating that MERS and Citibank are not the real parties in interest.

The court found that MERS acted “only as a nominee” for Bayrock under the Deed of Trust and there was no evidence that the note was transferred. The opinion also provides that “several courts have acknowledged that MERS is not the owner of the underlying note and therefore could not transfer the note, the beneficial interest in the deed of trust, or foreclose on the property secured by the deed”, citing the well-known cases of In Re Vargas (California Bankruptcy Court), Landmark v. Kesler (Kansas decision as to lack of authority of MERS), LaSalle Bank v. Lamy (New York), and In Re Foreclosure Cases (the “Boyko” decision from Ohio Federal Court).

The opinion states: “Since no evidence of MERS’ ownership of the underlying note has been offered, and other courts have concluded that MERS does not own the underlying notes, this court is convinced that MERS had no interest it could transfer to Citibank. Since MERS did not own the underlying note, it could not transfer the beneficial interest of the Deed of Trust to another. Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law.”

Read that again: “Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note IS VOID UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW.” This conclusion was based upon California law cited in the opinion that the note and the mortgage are inseparable, with the former being essential while the latter is “an incident”, and that an assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it, “while an assignment of the latter [the mortgage] alone is a nullity.” As MERS must own the note in order to assign the incident deed of trust, MERS is legally precluded from assigning the deed of trust for want of ownership of the note, and cannot assign the note in any event as it never owned it. MERS’ lack of ownership interest in promissory note is a matter of decided case law based on a record stipulation of MERS’ own lawyers in the MERS v. Nebraska Dept. of Finance decision.

This opinion thus serves as a legal basis to challenge any foreclosure in California based on a MERS assignment; to seek to void any MERS assignment of the Deed of Trust or the note to a third party for purposes of foreclosure; and should be sufficient for a borrower to not only obtain a TRO against a Trustee’s Sale, but also a Preliminary Injunction barring any sale pending any litigation filed by the borrower challenging a foreclosure based on a MERS assignment.

The Court concluded by stating: “Since the claimant, Citibank, has not established that it is the owner of the promissory note secured by the trust deed, Citibank is unable to assert a claim for payment in this case.” Thus, any foreclosing party which is not the original lender which purports to claim payment due under the note and the right to foreclose in California on the basis of a MERS assignment does not have the right to do so under the principles of this opinion.

This ruling is more than significant not only for California borrowers, but for borrowers nationwide, as this California court made it a point to cite non-bankruptcy cases as to the lack of authority of MERS in its opinion. Further, this opinion is consistent with the prior rulings of the Idaho and Nevada Bankruptcy courts on the same issue, that being the lack of authority for MERS to transfer the note as it never owned it (and cannot, per MERS’ own contract which provides that MERS agrees not to assert any rights to mortgage loans or properties mortgaged thereby).

We thank one of our dedicated readers for providing this opinion to us.

Jeff Barnes, Esq.;, www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

 

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NEW JERSEY TRIAL COURT JUDGE ISSUES 53-PAGE OPINION DISMISSING FORECLOSURE COMPLAINT OF BANK OF NEW YORK AS SECURITIZED TRUSTEE: OPINION COULD PAVE THE WAY FOR AMENDMENTS TO NEW JERSEY RULES OF PROCEDURE REQUIRING FORECLOSURE COMPLAINTS TO BE CERTIFIED AND FOR FORECLOSING PARTIES TO PRODUCE SECURITIZATION DISCOVERY IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO PURSUE FORECLOSURE

July 6, 2010

July 6, 2010

In an extremely well-reasoned and detailed written opinion, New Jersey trial court Judge William C. Todd has issued a 53-page (yes, fifty-three page) Order dismissing a foreclosure action filed by Bank of New York as Trustee for Home Mortgage Investment Trust 2004-4 Mortgage-Backed Notes Series 2004-4, Docket No. F-7356-09, Atlantic County, New Jersey. The matter was decided on June 29, 2010 and the formal opinion was approved for publication this week after the matter was tried at the end of June, 2010.

The opinion sets forth an incredible analysis of a host of issues involving foreclosure in securitization contexts and highlights why a foreclosing plaintiff must comply with its obligations to prove standing in order to be able to pursue a foreclosure action. While we do not summarize the entire holding here, we do want to point out some of the significant findings.

The court found that there was no meaningful attempt by Bank of New York (hereafter “BONY”) to comply with applicable New Jersey procedural rules requiring a recitation of all assigments in the chain of title. BONY simple alleged that it had acquired possession of the note prior to the litigation being filed. However, the evidence at trial failed to establish this allegation, with the Court noting that there were missing documents incident to the securitization of the loan including the mortgage loan schedule that should have been attached to the mortgage loan purchase agreement. The Court also found that the “MERS assignment was potentially misleading”.

The Court found that there was a failure of proof as to BONY’s legal standing, warranting dismissal of the action and conditioning any refiling on a certification that the plaintiff is in possession of the original note at the time of filing. This is in line with the recent action of the Supreme Court of Florida which, as of February 11, 2010 by Administrative Order, requires all residential mortgage foreclosure complaints to be verified. It is no secret that Florida trial courts have and continue to dismiss foreclosure actions which do not comply with the verification requirement. It is hoped that the courts of New Jersey will adopt Judge Todd’s well-reasoned analysis and dismiss foreclosure complaints which do not comply with the New Jersey procedural rules requiring proof of legal standing to foreclose at inception and time of filing a Complaint for foreclosure.

Judge Todd also stated that additional discovery is to be produced when the foreclosure involves a securitization, lost note claims, or a holder in due course challenge (which may arise in the context of the purported assignment of a toxic loan to a securitized trust prior to the trustee of that trust instituting a foreclosure action, as well as any predatory loan claims against the original lender). Judge Todd recognized that there are dozens of legal issues and inquiries where a foreclosure involves a securitization, and that a borrower has both the right to know who owns the mortgage loan and whether a foreclosing party has the legal right to foreclose.

This incredibly significant decision will hopefully become the law in the state of New Jersey, and it is hoped that the Rules Committee for the New Jersey courts will soon adopt court rules requiring that all residential foreclosure complaints filed in New Jersey be accompanied by the filing of an appropriate Certification, and further requiring that all securitization discovery be produced in all foreclosure cases involving a securitized loan. We applaud and salute Judge Todd for his amazing effort to not only streamline foreclosure litigation in New Jersey, but also insuring that borrowers’ legal rights are protected as well.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

 

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THREE FORECLOSURE CASES DISMISSED IN ONE HOUR IN FLORIDA

June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010

FDN attorney Jeff Barnes, Esq. has just had three separate foreclosure actions filed by three separate law Firms representing three separate Plaintiffs dismissed in a Key West, Florida court in a span of less than one hour.

The foreclosing Plaintiffs were Deutsche Bank as Trustee for a securitized mortgage loan trust, Countrywide Bank, and American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc. The Court rejected the MERS assignment present in two of the three cases on the authority of the recent Collier County, Florida ruling which cites numerous anti-MERS cases from around the United States which have been previously discussed on this website. The Court found a “repugnancy” between the allegations of the Complaint and the exhibits attached to the Complaint, warranting dismissal.

All three cases were argued in person by Mr. Barnes.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

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TRUSTEE’S SALES STOPPED IN IDAHO AND OREGON BY FDN ATTORNEYS

June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010

FDN attorneys have stopped Trustee’s Sales in the states of Idaho and Oregon this week. Monica Flood Brennan, Esq., arguing a case prepared by Jeff Barnes, Esq., stopped a Trustee’s Sale this Monday, June 21 within hours of the sale. Elizabeth Lemoine, Esq. stopped a sale in Oregon as well on the same day.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

 

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ADDITIONAL SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE RECENT FLORIDA DECISION DISMISSING FORECLOSURE COMPLAINT FILED BY AURORA

June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

We recently advised of a Florida trial court decision which dismissed a foreclosure action filed by Aurora Loan Services LLC which had claimed the right to foreclose by virtue of a MERS assignment. In dismissing the Complaint, the Court specifically found that the purported assignment was “completely ineffective” and that the assignment was “invalid”, and ultimately finding that the Plaintiff had no standing and thus there was “no justiciable controversy between the parties”, mandating dismissal of the foreclosure action.

The Court specifically held that “There is no evidence of record that establishes that MERS was authorized to assign anything to Plaintiff”, citing the decisions from New York, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, and California. This is what the courts of those states, and the courts of Idaho, Missouri, and Nevada have been saying over and over and over again. The Florida court found, like the Idaho did, that “MERS has no substantive rights itself and, therefore, cannot assign what it does not have”.

Fortunately, most courts have recognized that MERS does not have any authority to assign anything, and as it has no substantive rights, it cannot undertake any actions to further a foreclosure, whether judicial or non-judicial (such as substituting a trustee or claiming itself to be the “beneficiary” for purposes of a Notice of Default or Notice of Trustee’s Sale in the nonjudicial states). However, there are a few courts that still do not get it, and sadly buy into the simplistic argument of the foreclosing party as to the presence of the claimed default and that “the borrower is living in the house for free”.

The issue of the default does not and should even be permitted to be argued unless and until the foreclosing party can first establish that they had the legal right to file a foreclosure action (in a judicial state) or claim a default and schedule a Trustee’s Sale (in a nonjudicial state), for if there is no legal right to foreclose, one never gets to the next issue, which is the claimed default. If MERS is involved in any alleged “Assignment” of the mortgage or deed of trust “together with the Note”, any foreclosure action filed or threatened is legally infirm as MERS has no rights, period, as found by and is continuing to be found by court after court after court from all across the United States.

The tide is turning. It is up to us engaged in this war to make sure that the judiciary understands what MERS is and what it is not, and what MERS can and cannot do. 13 states, at the trial and appellate levels and at the Federal and Bankruptcy levels, could not have all gotten it wrong.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

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SOUTH CAROLINA COURT RELIEVES BORROWERS FROM DEFAULT WHERE BORROWERS TIMELY FILED MOTIONS DIRECTED TO COMPLAINT

June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

A South Carolina court has relieved a couple from default status which they claim was wrongfully sought and obtained as they timely filed Motions directed to the Complaint per the instructions on the very Summons served upon them by the foreclosing Plaintiff. Although the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure provide only 15 days to respond to a Complaint, the Summons contained a 30-day response provision, which the pro se borrowers relied upon. The Plaintiff sought and obtained a default based on the 15-day procedural rule provision notwithstanding Plaintiff’s own Summons providing 30 days, and thereafter blocked the borrowers’ discovery requests based on the alleged default status.

FDN attorney Bill Sloan, Esq. filed a Motion seeking to set aside the default, which Motion has been granted. The ruling held the Plaintiff to its affirmative representations in its own Summons. The case now progresses into discovery.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

 

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FLORIDA JUDGE DISMISSES FORECLOSURE FILED BY AURORA IN FIVE PAGE WRITTEN OPINION CITING ANTI-MERS CASES FROM ACROSS UNITED STATES

June 15, 2010

June 15, 2010

A Florida Circuit Court Judge has issued a 5-page written opinion dismissing a foreclosure filed by Aurora Loan Services, LLC finding that the Plaintiff (Aurora) lacked standing at the inception of the case and that the MERS assignment was invalid.

The court cited several Florida cases and the Bellistri v. Ocwen case from Missouri as to the necessity of standing being established and that it cannot be waived. Aurora claimed to have standing by an alleged “equitable transfer” of the note, possession of the original note, and the MERS assignment. The court stated very bluntly “These arguments are without merit”.

As to the “equitable transfer” argument, the court found that there was no indication in the assignment that the note and mortgage were physically transferred to Aurora, and could not have been in view of the second count of the Complaint to “enforce a lost note”. The “physical possession” argument was vitiated by the fact that the exhibits attached to the Complaint, including the Note and Mortgage, were executed in favor of an entity other than Aurora (which we all know is nothing more than a servicer which was the servicer for the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers), and that when there is a conflict between what the Complaint alleges and what the exhibits show, the exhibits control. The court also found that none of the documents attached to the Complaint identified Aurora as the “holder”.

The Court went on to show why the MERS assignment was a legal nullity, citing the LaSalle Bank v. Lamy case from New York, the MERS v. Nebraska Department of Finance case, the Arkansas and Kansas Supreme Court cases on the lack of authority of MERS, the Saxon v. Hillery case from California, and the In Re Vargas case from the California Bankruptcy Court to demonstrate that MERS’ capacity is limited and that MERS had no authority to execute the assignment. The Court held the assignment to be invalid.

The Court finally noted that the lack of standing at the inception of the case is not a defect that may be cured by the acquisition of standing after the case is filed, citing a Florida appeals case from the same appellate court which issued the BAC Funding case on standing (which we previously discussed on this website).

The Court dismissed the foreclosure and reserved jurisdiction to address the borrower’s request for attorneys’ fees.

The importance of this April 28, 2010 opinion is severalfold: first, it shows that trial court Judges are willing to accept the law on MERS from other jurisdictions. Second, it shows that trial court Judges are going to hold foreclosing parties to their legal obligations of proving standing by competent evidence. Third, it shows that courts will dismiss legally infirm foreclosure cases and entertain borrower requests for attorneys’ fees in having to defend a legally infirm foreclosure.

Thanks to one of our devoted readers for providing us with this opinion today.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

 

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HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: DEUTSCHE BANK ATTEMPTS TO ASSIGN LOAN CLAIMED TO BE IN DEFAULT INTO SECURITIZED MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST

June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

In a new case where FDN’s Jeff Barnes, Esq. and local New Jersey counsel Michael Jacobson, Esq. have been retained, Deutsche Bank as Trustee for a securitized mortgage loan trust (Plaintiff, “DB”) filed a foreclosure action claiming entitlement to the mortgage and note by virtue of an alleged assignment which DB admits was unrecorded as of the date that the Complaint was filed, and where DB also admits that the loan was claimed to be in default over 4 months before the alleged assignment of mortgage was executed. As such, DB has admitted that it has assigned a loan which it knew to be toxic into a securitized mortgage loan trust as of the time of the alleged assignment.

This is exactly the same situation, also involving Deutsche Bank, which was the subject of the Ronaldo Campbell decision in New York from 2008 (the case having been filed in 2007) where Deutsche Bank purchased a loan which was 142 days in default from MERS, as ”nominee” of the original lender, for placement into a securitized mortgage loan trust. The court in that case indicated that this act was a violation of Deutsche Bank’s fiduciary duty to the noteholders of the trust. The NY court conditioned any refiling of DB’s motion for summary judgment, which was denied without prejudice, on several conditions, including an affidavit from an officer of the trust explaining why DB, as “trustee” for the trust, purchased a nonperforming loan from MERS. 

To date and despite repeated discovery requests from FDN attorneys in several cases, DB has failed and refused to provide any evidence of any source of authority for DB, as a “trustee” of a securitized mortgage loan trust, to transfer a known toxic loan into a securitized mortgage loan trust, which trust was allegedly created for the purpose of serving as collateral for mortgage-backed investments and where the income stream from the mortgage loans placed into the trust was intended to, among other things, satisfy overcollateralization requirements, fund expenses of the trust, and pay dividends to the noteholders.

We suspect that Deutsche Bank manufactured the purported “assignment” so that it could tap credit enhancements such as excess interest reserves, interest rate cap agreement payments, LPMI, and other insurances so that it could be paid at least once (and possibly more than once) on the Note (which is essentially the thurst of the SEC v. Goldman Sachs litigation), and then manufacture a fraudulent foreclosure so that it could take the borrower’s property as well.

As such, Deutsche Bank is still today, in 2010, doing with impunity what at least one court found to be very suspect two years ago.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www/.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

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