Posted on June 11, 2019 by Neil Garfield
Another case showing shifting attitudes toward illegal foreclosures. At the trial level there have been many such decisions, some with an expanded finding of fact showing that the foreclosure was a sham. On appeal, the courts were always looking for ways to sustain the foreclosure; they still do that but more and more appellate courts are starting to understand that there is no party who has standing in most instances — especially a creditor who actually paid value for the debt.
Note how they instruct that judgment must be entered for the borrowers — not dismissal.
And the other thing is that PennyMac is generally a sham in foreclosures. It doesn’t own the debt, it doesn’t own the mortgage, it doesn’t own the note and it probably doesn’t even own the servicing rights.
The big issue continues to be missed. Pleading is different from proof. Asserting standing may meet the requirements of pleading. Proving standing is all about whether the party claiming to be the creditor is the owner of the debt who has paid value for the loan. The presumption arises if the claimant has possession of the original note (if it really is an original and not a fabrication).
The presumption can be rebutted by simply showing that the indorsement was a sham and the assignment of mortgage was sham because there was no transaction in real life in which either party received or paid any money or other value for the loan. Article (§203 UCC prohibits enforcement of the mortgage under those circumstances.
It is black letter law in all jurisdictions that an assignment of mortgage without an actual transfer (purchase and sale of the debt) is a nullity precisely because all jurisdictions have adopted Article 9 §203 UCC.
“However, although the statute makes clear that an assignee has the “same means and remedies the mortgagee may lawfully have,” we have previously held that “[t]he mortgage follows the assignment of the promissory note, but an assignment of the mortgage without an assignment of the debt creates no right in the assignee.” Tilus v. AS Michai LLC, 161 So.3d 1284, 1286 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) (citing Bristol v. Wells Fargo Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, 137 So.3d 1130, 1133 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) );”[e.s.]
The allonge was undated and contained a signature by a JP Morgan representative, but no signature by a Chase Bank representative. The JP Morgan witness could not say when the allonge was executed or when it was imaged into any system.
we perceive the critical issue to be whether sufficient proof was presented at trial to show that Chase Bank transferred the note to JP Morgan, the original plaintiff, prior to suit being filed.
Through the JP Morgan witness, PennyMac also introduced into evidence the assignment of mortgage from JP Morgan to PennyMac.
Because it was substituted as plaintiff after suit was filed, PennyMac had to prove at trial that JP Morgan had standing when the initial complaint was filed, as well as its own standing when the final judgment was entered. Lamb v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC, 174 So.3d 1039, 1040 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). Throughout the proceedings below, the note was lost. Thus, PennyMac had to prove standing and the right to enforce the note, using section 673.3091, Fla. Stat. (2017). Section 673.3091(1)(a), requires in part that “[t]he person seeking to enforce the instrument was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred, or has directly or indirectly acquired ownership of the instrument from a person who was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred.” (emphasis added).
Standing may be established by possession of the note specially indorsed to the plaintiff or indorsed in blank. Peoples v. Sami II Tr. 2006–AR6, 178 So.3d 67, 69 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015); § 673.2031(1), Fla. Stat. (2017) (“An instrument is transferred when it is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument.”); § 673.2031(2), Fla. Stat. (“Transfer of an instrument, whether or not the transfer is a negotiation, vests in the transferee any right of the transferor to enforce the instrument ,including any right as a holder in due course ”).A plaintiff may also prove standing “through evidence of a valid assignment, proof of purchase of the debt, or evidence of an effective transfer.” Stone, 115 So.3d at 413 (quoting BAC Funding Consortium Inc. ISAOA/ATIMA v. Jean–Jacques, 28 So.3d 936, 939 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) ). That is because “if an instrument is transferred for value and the transferee does not become a holder because of lack of indorsement by the transferor, the transferee has a specifically enforceable right to the unqualified indorsement of the transferor ” § 673.2031(3), Fla. Stat. there are problems with PennyMac’s “multi-tiered evidence” arguments. First, it is unclear in what way Chase Bank and JP Morgan are “related entities.” No evidence was presented that JP Morgan and Chase Bank merged or that Chase Bank was completely bought out by JP Morgan.
As we have made clear in the past, separate corporate entities, even parent and subsidiary entities, are legally distinct entities. See Wright v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 169 So.3d 251, 251–52 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) (noting a parent corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary are separate and distinct legal entities and a parent corporation cannot exercise the rights of the subsidiary corporation); see also Houk v. PennyMac Corp., 210 So.3d 726, 734 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) (noting a conflict of allegations between affidavits and the complaint where the affidavits alleged PennyMac Loan Services, LLC was the servicer and the complaint alleged PennyMac Corp. was the servicer). There was no explicit testimony or other evidence that Chase Bank sold or equitably transferred the note to JP Morgan.
The major stumbling block is that the allonge was signed by a representative of JP Morgan, and there is no signature on the document by Chase Bank. Section 673.2041, Florida Statutes (2017), clearly requires a signature by the current note holder to constitute an indorsement and transfer of the note to another payee or bearer. § 673.2041, Fla. Stat. (“The term ‘indorsement’ means a signature for the purpose of negotiating the instrument [or] restricting payment of the instrument.”). We have previously said, “[t]o transfer a note, there must be an indorsement, which itself must be ‘on [the] instrument’ or on ‘a paper affixed to the instrument.’ ” Jelic v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, 178 So.3d 523, 525 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015)(second alteration in original) (emphasis added)(quoting § 673.2041(1), Fla. Stat.).