livinglies.worpress.com | February 20, 2017
By Neil Garfield
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.”
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.
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.
Back to February 2017 Archive
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