News + updates + recent press
Today, the Fourth District Court of Appeal for Florida in Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Tan, Case No. 4D20-613, held that Fla. Stat. 702.036 barred the Court from granting relief as it related to a Senior Mortgagee seeking to vacate a judgment that was entered against them by a Junior Mortgagee. For a little more background on this holding, “a non-party purchased the real property at issue and executed a mortgage in favor of Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage Corporation. Bear Stearns assigned the mortgage to Wells Fargo. The non-party later sold the property to Chi Peng Tan, who executed a mortgage in favor of First Magnus Financial Corporation.
First Magnus filed a foreclosure complaint against multiple defendants, including Tan and Wells Fargo. A judgment was entered that foreclosed all interests, including the interest held by Wells Fargo. The record shows that Wells Fargo recorded its mortgage before First Magnus recorded its mortgage.”
This is case is not yet final.
Skyworks, Ltd. v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, No. 5:20-CV-2407, 2021 WL 911720 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 10, 2021) is a case of first impression for Ohio. While the Eastern District of Texas in Terkel v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 6:20-CV-00564, 2021 WL 742877 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 25, 2021), found that the CDC Order to be unconstitutional, Skyworks holds that the “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's orders—Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, 85 Fed. Reg. 55,292 (Sept. 4, 2020) and Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, 86 Fed. Reg. 8020 (Feb. 3, 2021)—exceed the agency's statutory authority provided in Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 264(a), and the regulation at 42 C.F.R. § 70.2 promulgated pursuant to the statute, and are, therefore, invalid.” The Ohio case focuses on statutory authority, while the Texas case focuses on constitutionality.
The Supreme Court of Texas, in PNC Mortgage v. Howard, recently held that the holder of a deed of trust was entitled to foreclose through equitable subrogation, even after the four-year foreclosure statute of limitations had lapsed. Click here to read the opinion.
In 2003, the borrowers purchased a home with loans secured by two purchase-money liens on their property. Two years later, the borrowers refinanced the mortgages with a new loan and paid off the purchase-money mortgages. The note and deed of trust securing the loan were subsequently assigned to and acquired by a new lending entity (“mortgagee”).
In January 2009, the mortgagee notified the borrowers of their default and intent to accelerate the loan, and five months later, accelerated the note. Concurrently, the original lender initiated foreclosure proceedings against the borrowers despite having assigned the loan to the mortgagee, which resulted in a sale of the property.
Arkansas Court of Appeals Holds Statute of Limitation Bars Foreclosure Five (5) Years After Acceleration Unless There Is Clear Intent to Abandon the Acceleration
On September 9. 2020, in the case of Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC v. Oden, 2020 Ark. App. 384, The Arkansas Court of Appeals clarified what is needed to abandon a prior acceleration of a loan for purposes of the statute of limitations. The Court held that the servicer must show a clear intent to abandon a prior acceleration to prevent the expiration of the limitation period.
In Oden, the borrower’s last payment was made in November 2010, and the servicer declared a default on December 2, 2010. The servicer then sent a Notice of Acceleration on March 17, 2011, after which two different non-judicial foreclosures were started then canceled. In 2015 and 2016, eight (8) separate “Delinquency Notices” were sent to the borrows that stated the number of days since the date the loan had become delinquent and the total amount necessary to bring the loan current. In 2017, the borrowers filed a declaratory judgment action claiming that foreclosure was barred by Arkansas’ five (5) year statute of limitations.
On January 14, 2021, the United States Supreme Court handed down their decision in City of Chicago v. Fulton, No. 19-357, 2021 WL 125106 (Jan. 14, 2021). The question before the Court was whether an entity violates §362(a)(3) by retaining possession of a debtor’s property after a bankruptcy petition is filed. The Court held that mere retention of estate property after the filing of a bankruptcy petition does not violate §362(a)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code.
Until this decision, the majority position held by the Second, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits was that the automatic stay prohibited a creditor’s passive retention of property seized before a bankruptcy case began. Weber v. SEFCU (In re Weber), 719 F.3d 72, 81 (2d Cir. 2013); Thompson v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 566 F.3d 699 (7th Cir. 2009), Knaus v. Concordia Lumber Co. (In re Knaus), 889 F.2d 773, 775 (8th Cir. 1989); California Emp’t Dev. Dep’t v. Taxel (In re Del Mission Ltd.), 98 F.3d 1147, 1151 (9th Cir. 1996); Motors Acceptance Corp. v. Rozier (In re Rozier), 376 F.3d 1323, 1324 (11th Cir. 2004).
Florida Supreme Court Holds Borrower is Entitled to Attorney’s Fees Despite Bank’s Failure to Prove Standing at the Inception of the Case
On December 31, 2020, in Page v. Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, No. SC19-1137, the Florida Supreme Court quashed the Fourth DCA’s ruling that the borrower was not entitled to attorney’s fees due to the bank's failure to prove standing, and approved the decisions made in Madl v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 244 So. 3d 1134 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017) and Harris v. Bank of New York Mellon, 2018 WL 6816177 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018).
In Page, the lower court held that the bank did not prove standing at the time the complaint was filed, but did establish standing at trial. The Fourth DCA ruled that the borrower who successfully argues that the bank lacked standing at the time the suit was filed cannot rely on the contract to obtain attorney’s fees under Fla. Stat. section 57.105(7).
The Fourth DCA in Page certified conflict with the Fifth DCA’s decision in Madl and the Second DCA’s decision in Harris. Both Madl and Harris held that a prevailing borrower is entitled to attorney’s fees if it is established that plaintiff became subject to the unilateral fee provision in the contract. In other words, if plaintiff lacks standing at the time the suit was filed, but subsequently establishes standing at trial, then the borrower is entitled to attorney’s fees under section 57.105(7). By contrast, in Page, the Fourth DCA did not give weight to the fact that the plaintiff subsequently established standing at trial.
PLG BLOG DISCLAIMER
The information contained on this blog shall not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion. The existence of or review and/or use of this blog or any information hereon does not and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Further, no information on this blog should be construed as investment advice. Independent legal and financial advice should be sought before using any information obtained from this blog. It is important to note that the cases are subject to change with future court decisions or other changes in the law. For the most up-to-date information, please contact Padgett Law Group (“PLG”). PLG shall have no liability whatsoever to any user of this blog or any information contained hereon, for any claim(s) related in any way to the use of this blog. Users hereby release and hold harmless PLG of and from any and all liability for any claim(s), whether based in contract or in tort, including, but not limited to, claims for lost profits or consequential, exemplary, incidental, indirect, special, or punitive damages arising from or related to their use of the information contained on this blog or their inability to use this blog. This Blog is provided on an "as is" basis without warranties of any kind, either express or implied, including, but not limited to, warranties of title or implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.