Tag Archives: quiet title

Tell me not to make my payments could come back to bite the Bank. “Downey Savings could not take advantage of its own wrong. (Civ. Code, § 3517.)”

12 Sep

Ragland v. U.S. Bank N.A. (2012) , Cal.App.4th

[No. G045580. Fourth Dist., Div. Three. Sept. 11, 2012.]

PAM RAGLAND, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION et al., Defendants and Respondents.

(Superior Court of Orange County, No. 30-2008-00114411, Gregory H. Lewis, Judge.)

(Opinion by Fybel, J., with Aronson, Acting P.J., and Ikola, J., concurring.)

COUNSEL

Travis R. Jack for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Karin Dougan Vogel, J. Barrett Marum and Mark G. Rackers for Defendants and Respondents. {SLIP OPN. PAGE 2}

OPINION

FYBEL, J.-

INTRODUCTION

After Pam Ragland lost her home through foreclosure, she sued defendants U.S. Bank National Association (U.S. Bank), the successor in interest to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as the receiver for Downey Savings and Loan Association (Downey Savings); DSL Service Company (DSL), the trustee under the deed of trust; and DSL’s agent, FCI Lender Services, Inc. (FCI). (We refer to U.S. Bank, DSL, and FCI collectively as Defendants.) She asserted causes of action for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of oral contract, violation of Civil Code section 2924g, subdivision (d) (section 2924g(d)), intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and rescission of the foreclosure sale. Ragland appeals from the judgment entered after the trial court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and summary adjudication.

Applying basic contract and tort law, we reverse the judgment in favor of U.S. Bank on the causes of action for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, violation of section 2924g(d), and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Ragland produced evidence creating triable issues of fact as to whether Downey Savings induced her to miss a loan payment, thereby wrongfully placing her loan in foreclosure, and whether she suffered damages as a result. We affirm summary adjudication of the causes of action for breach of oral contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and rescission, and affirm the judgment in favor of DSL and FCI because Ragland is no longer pursuing claims against them.

The FDIC took control of Downey Savings in November 2008 and later assigned its assets, including Ragland’s loan, to U.S. Bank. For the sake of clarity, we continue to use the name “Downey Savings” up through December 17, 2008, the date of the foreclosure sale. {Slip Opn. Page 3}

FACTS

I. Ragland Refinances Her Loan. Her Signature Is Forged on Some Loan Documents.

In June 2002, Ragland refinanced her home mortgage through Downey Savings. She obtained the refinance loan through a mortgage broker. The loan was an adjustable rate mortgage with an initial yearly interest rate of 2.95 percent, and the initial monthly payment was $1,241.03.

Ragland thought that Downey Savings had offered her a fixed rate loan and claimed her mortgage broker forged her name on certain loan documents. In July 2002, she sent a letter to the escrow company, asserting her signature had been forged on the buyer’s estimated closing statement and on the lender’s escrow instructions, and, in September 2002, she notified Downey Savings of the claimed forgery. A handwriting expert opined that Ragland’s signature had been forged on those two documents, and on a statement of assets and liabilities, an addendum to the loan application, a provider of service schedule, and an itemization of charges. By August 2002, Ragland had consulted two attorneys about the forged documents, one of whom wanted to file a class action lawsuit on her behalf, and the other of whom advised her of her right to rescind the loan. Ragland signed, and did not dispute signing, the adjustable rate mortgage note, the deed of trust, and riders to both instruments.

II. Ragland Seeks a Loan Modification. She Is Told to Miss a Loan Payment to Qualify.

By April 2008, the yearly interest rate on Ragland’s loan had increased to 7.022 percent and her monthly payment had increased to over $2,600. On April 13, Ragland spoke with a Downey Savings representative named John about modifying her {Slip Opn. Page 4} loan. John told Ragland her loan was not “behind” but he would work with her to modify it. He told Ragland not to make the April 2008 loan payment because “the worst thing that’s going to happen is you are going to have a late fee, we will get this done for you.” When Ragland asked if there was a chance the loan modification would not “go through,” John replied, “usually not, you are pre-qualified.”

John told Ragland a $1,000 fee would be charged to modify the loan, and Downey Savings would not waive that fee. She replied that Downey Savings should waive the fee because her “loan was forged and nothing was done about it.” John said he would check with his supervisor about waiving the fee.

John did not call back, and on April 16, 2008, the last day to make a timely loan payment for April, Ragland, who was nervous about a late payment, called him. John told her nothing could be done about the loan, so she asked to speak to his supervisor. The supervisor told Ragland, “[i]f you have one document in your packet that’s forged, you may not be responsible for anything in your loan, at all, you may not have to even pay your loan.” When Ragland said she had 13 to 15 forged documents, the supervisor checked her record and told her, “I can see that you reported . . . this to us. We are going to have to put it in legal.” The supervisor told Ragland that Downey Savings could not collect from her while its legal department investigated the forgery. Ragland had planned to make her April 2008 loan payment but, based on what John and the supervisor told her, manually cancelled the automatic payment from her checking account.

In late April 2008, Downey Savings sent Ragland a notice that her loan payment was delinquent. On April 29, 2008, Ragland spoke with Downey Savings representatives named Joseph and Claudia and made notes on the delinquency notice of her conversations with them. Ragland noted that Claudia or Joseph told her: “Can’t do modi[fication] while investigat[e] [¶] . . . Collection activity ‘frozen.’” Claudia told Ragland that Downey Savings was initiating an investigation into her claim of forgery {Slip Opn. Page 5} and could not accept further loan payments from her during the investigation. Ragland noted that Joseph also told her, “collection activity frozen.”

No one from Downey Savings further discussed a loan modification with Ragland or requested financial information from her. Ragland testified in her deposition, “once it went into legal, that was it. It was like the legal black hole.”

In May 2008, a withdrawal was made from Ragland’s checking account and transmitted to Downey Savings as the May 2008 loan payment. Downey Savings refused to accept the payment.

On May 5, 2008, Downey Savings sent Ragland a letter entitled “Notice of Intent to Foreclose” (some capitalization omitted). According to the letter, the amount required to reinstate the loan was $5,487.80. On May 9, Ragland called Downey Savings in response to this letter. Her notes for this conversation indicate she spoke with “Reb,” who transferred her to “Jasmine,” who transferred her to “Lilia,” who said the loan was in Downey Savings’s legal department and “they[']ll C/B.”

III. Downey Savings Institutes Foreclosure Proceedings; Ragland Gets the Runaround.

Nobody from Downey Savings called Ragland back. In early July 2008, Ragland received a letter from Downey Savings’s collection department, informing her that foreclosure proceedings on her home had begun. On July 15, Ragland had a telephone conversation with each of three Downey Savings representatives, identified in her notes of the conversations as Eric, Gail, and Leanna. Ragland spoke first with Eric, who told her the account was in foreclosure and transferred her to the foreclosure department. Ragland next spoke with Gail, who said she could not speak to her because the account was in foreclosure. Gail transferred Ragland to Leanna. Leanna told Ragland that the legal department failed to put a red flag in the computer to indicate the loan was being investigated and that the loan should never have been placed in {Slip Opn. Page 6} foreclosure. Leanna told Ragland that Downey Savings was “waiting for legal,” and Ragland’s attorney needed to “write the letter to legal and ask them . . . for a status update on the investigation, and that we had time, because it had just been referred in June and the sale wasn’t set for quite a while.” Ragland’s notes from the conversation include, “[f]oreclosure on hold.”

IV. Downey Savings Institutes Foreclosure Proceedings; Ragland Attempts to Make Loan Payments.

On July 18, 2008, Downey Savings instructed DSL, the trustee under the deed of trust, to initiate foreclosure proceedings on Ragland’s home. DSL assigned its agent, FCI, to take the actions necessary to foreclose the deed of trust on Ragland’s home.

Ragland attempted to make payments on her loan in September, October, and November 2008 through transfers from her checking account. Downey Savings rejected the payments.

On October 30, 2008, FCI recorded a notice of trustee’s sale, stating the foreclosure sale of Ragland’s home would be held on November 20. Ragland filed this lawsuit against Downey Savings on November 7, 2008. Several days later, Ragland’s attorney, Dean R. Kitano, spoke with general counsel for Downey Savings, Richard Swinney, about Ragland’s allegations of fraud and forgery in connection with the origination of her loan. Swinney agreed to postpone the foreclosure sale until December 9, 2008.

By letter dated November 12, 2008, Swinney informed Kitano that until Downey Savings received certain documentation from Ragland, it would not consider modifying her loan. The letter stated that any loan modification would require that she bring the loan current and described as “not credible” Ragland’s contention that a Downey Savings representative told her to skip a monthly payment. The forgery issue, {Slip Opn. Page 7} according to the letter, “has no impact on this loan” because Ragland did not claim her signatures on the disclosure statement, note, or deed of trust were forged.

Later in November 2008, the Office of Thrift Supervision closed Downey Savings, and the FDIC was appointed as its receiver. U.S. Bank acquired the assets of Downey Savings from the FDIC. Ragland’s loan was among those assets acquired by U.S. Bank.

V. Ragland’s Home Is Sold at Foreclosure Sale on the Day After the Trial Court Denied Ragland’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.

On November 12, 2008, Ragland filed an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the foreclosure sale scheduled for December 9. The ex parte application was heard on November 26, on which date the trial court issued an order stating: “Plaintiff shall be entitled to a temporary restraining order enjoining the foreclosure sale on December 9, 2008; upon bringing the loan current by Dec[ember] 16. Current is as of Nov[ember] 26, 2008.” A hearing on Ragland’s motion for a preliminary injunction was scheduled for December 16, 2008.

Following the ex parte hearing, Downey Savings provided Ragland a statement showing the amount necessary to reinstate her loan was $24,804.57, of which about $4,074 was for late charges, interest on arrears, property inspection and foreclosure costs. Kitano sent Downey Savings a letter, dated December 2, 2008, stating that “[c]urrently, my client is unable to pay the arrearage to make the loan current” and proposing that (1) $12,000 of the reinstatement amount be “tacked onto the back end of the loan” and (2) Downey Savings forgive the remaining amount.

In advance of the hearing on Ragland’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the trial court issued a tentative decision that stated, in part: “The court’s order of November 26, 2008, conditions the TRO [(temporary restraining order)] on plaintiff’s {Slip Opn. Page 8} bringing her payments current as of November 26, 20[08] by no later than December 16, 2008. According to defendant, t[he] amount necessary to bring the loan current is $24,804.57. Plaintiff does not dispute that she owes regular monthly mortgag[e] payments on the loan, and therefore whether or not she is likely to prevail on the merits is not at issue insofar as her responsibilit[ies] to bring the loan payments current [are] concerned. If plaintiff fails to bring her payments current by the hearing date, there is no reason to issue a preliminary injunction, since the injunction would serve no purpose but to prolong the inevitable to no good purpose. . . . [¶] If plaintiff does bring her payments current by the hearing date, then there is no basis for a foreclosure sale because the arrears would have been cured. Hence there would seem to be no need for the issuance of a preliminary injunction under such circumstances.”

Ragland did not pay the amount demanded by Downey Savings to reinstate the loan by December 16, 2008. She had sufficient funds to make the back payments due under the note, but not to pay the additional fees.

On December 16, 2008, the trial court denied Ragland’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and the foreclosure sale was conducted the next day. Ragland’s home was sold at the sale for $375,000.

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Ragland’s third amended complaint asserted causes of action against U.S. Bank for negligent misrepresentation, breach of oral contract, and fraud, and against Defendants for violations of section 2924g(d), intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and rescission of foreclosure sale.

In December 2010, Defendants moved for summary judgment and, in the alternative, for summary adjudication of each cause of action. In May 2011, the trial court granted the motion for summary judgment on the ground Ragland could not pay the full amount demanded by Downey Savings to reinstate her loan. The trial court ruled: {Slip Opn. Page 9} “A valid and viable tender of payment of the indebtedness owing is essential to an action to cancel a voidable sale under a deed of trust . . . . [Citation.] [¶] This rule . . . is based upon the equitable maxim that a court of equity will not order a useless act performed . . . if plaintiffs could not have redeemed the property had the sale procedures been proper, any irregularities in the sale did not result in damages to the plaintiffs. [¶] [Citation.] [¶] The defendants have shown that all of plaintiff’s damages under each cause of action were suffered as a result of the foreclosure sale of her property. . . . Plaintiff alleges that the foreclosure sale occurred six days too early in violation of Civil Code §2924g. Even if this were true, plaintiff’s damages are not recoverable because plaintiff was incapable of reinstating her loan. . . . This was made clear by plaintiff’s counsel in his letter to Downey Savings’ counsel two weeks before the foreclosure sale (December 2, 2008). Plaintiff’s counsel stated that ‘. . . my client is unable to pay the arrearage to make the loan current[.'] . . . Plaintiff’s failure to reinstate the loan by the December 16, 2008 preliminary injunction hearing confirmed as much, and plaintiff also admitted this in her deposition.”

As to the contention that Ragland could have made the past due loan payments but not the added fees, the trial court ruled: “Plaintiff claims that she indicated in her deposition that she had the money to make up the back payments, but not enough money to also make up the fees. Plaintiff’s Separate Statement, page 6, lines 16-18. The referenced deposition testimony amounts to a claim that plaintiff had only part of the money necessary to reinstate the loan.” The court also rejected the contention that Ragland was prepared to file bankruptcy to delay the foreclosure sale, stating, “[t]his is a further admission that plaintiff was incapable of reinstating her loan even if the foreclosure sale had been delayed an additional six days.”

Ragland timely filed a notice of appeal from the judgment entered in Defendants’ favor. {Slip Opn. Page 10}

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE AND MOTION TO STRIKE

I. Ragland’s Request for Judicial Notice

Ragland requests that we take judicial notice of 18 discrete facts concerning the financial condition of Downey Savings from 2005 to the time of its acquisition by U.S. Bank, the nature of Downey Savings’s assets in that timeframe, the resale of Ragland’s home, and the condition of the Orange County housing market. She argues those 18 facts are relevant to show “when Downey Savings’ disastrous financial condition beg[a]n showing in late 2007, and bec[ame] clear by April, 2008, Downey’s desperate need for cash explains its unusual behavior.” She concedes, “[t]he matters concerning which judicial notice is requested were not presented to the trial court.” We deny the request for judicial notice.

Ragland requests we take judicial notice pursuant to Evidence Code section 452, subdivision (h), which provides the court “may” take judicial notice of “[f]acts and propositions that are not reasonably subject to dispute and are capable of immediate and accurate determination by resort to sources of reasonably indisputable accuracy.” The Court of Appeal has the same power as the trial court to take judicial notice of matters properly subject to judicial notice. (Evid. Code, § 459.) “‘Matters that cannot be brought before the appellate court through the record on appeal (initially or by augmentation) may still be considered on appeal by judicial notice.’” (Fitz v. NCR Corp. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 702, 719, fn. 4.)

As evidentiary support for the request for judicial notice, Ragland offers 12 exhibits, consisting of an audit report of Downey Savings, prepared by the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of the Treasury (exhibit 1), printed pages from various Web sites and blogs (exhibits 2-6 and 8-12), and a recorded grant deed (exhibit 7). Ragland’s request for judicial notice requires us (with one exception) to take judicial notice of, and accept as true, the contents of those exhibits. While we may {Slip Opn. Page 11} take judicial notice of the existence of the audit report, Web sites, and blogs, we may not accept their contents as true. (Unruh-Haxton v. Regents of University of California (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 343, 364.) “When judicial notice is taken of a document, however, the truthfulness and proper interpretation of the document are disputable. [Citation.]” (StorMedia Inc. v. Superior Court (1999) 20 Cal.4th 449, 457, fn. 9.)

Although the audit report is a government document, we may not judicially notice the truth of its contents. In Mangini v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1057, 1063, overruled on another ground in In re Tobacco Cases II (2007) 41 Cal.4th 1257, 1276, the plaintiff sought judicial notice of a report of the United States Surgeon General and a report to the California Department of Health Services. The California Supreme Court denied the request: “While courts may notice official acts and public records, ‘we do not take judicial notice of the truth of all matters stated therein.’ [Citations.] ‘[T]he taking of judicial notice of the official acts of a governmental entity does not in and of itself require acceptance of the truth of factual matters which might be deduced therefrom, since in many instances what is being noticed, and thereby established, is no more than the existence of such acts and not, without supporting evidence, what might factually be associated with or flow therefrom.’” (Mangini v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., supra, at pp. 1063-1064.)

Nor may we take judicial notice of the truth of the contents of the Web sites and blogs, including those of the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register. (See Zelig v. County of Los Angeles (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1112, 1141, fn. 6 ["The truth of the content of the articles is not a proper matter for judicial notice"]; Unlimited Adjusting Group, Inc. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 883, 888, fn. 4 [statements of facts contained in press release not subject to judicial notice].) The contents of the Web sites and blogs are “plainly subject to interpretation and for that reason not subject to judicial notice.” (L.B. Research & Education Foundation v. UCLA Foundation (2005) 130 Cal.App.4th 171, 180, fn. 2.) {Slip Opn. Page 12}

The exception is the grant deed. A recorded deed is an official act of the executive branch, of which this court may take judicial notice. (Evid. Code, §§ 452, subd. (c), 459, subd. (a); Evans v. California Trailer Court, Inc. (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 540, 549; Cal-American Income Property Fund II v. County of Los Angeles (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 109, 112, fn. 2.) The grant deed purports to show that Ragland’s home was conveyed by the purchaser at the foreclosure sale to another party. While we may take judicial notice of the grant deed, we decline to do so because we conclude it is not relevant to any issue raised on appeal.

In addition, Ragland has not shown exceptional circumstances justifying judicial notice of facts that were not part of the record when the judgment was entered. (Vons Companies, Inc. v. Seabest Foods, Inc. (1996) 14 Cal.4th 434, 444, fn. 3; Duronslet v. Kamps (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 717, 737.)

II. Defendants’ Motion to Strike Portions of Ragland’s Opening Brief

Defendants move to strike (1) six passages from Ragland’s opening brief that are supported by citations to the exhibits attached to the request for judicial notice or by citations to Web sites outside the record on appeal, and (2) three passages accusing Downey Savings of trying to swindle Ragland to generate cash.

California Rules of Court, rule 8.204(a)(1)(C) states an appellate brief must “[s]upport any reference to a matter in the record by a citation to the volume and page number of the record where the matter appears.” We may decline to consider passages of a brief that do not comply with this rule. (Doppes v. Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 967, 990.) As a reviewing court, we usually consider only matters that were part of the record when the judgment was entered. (Vons Companies, Inc. v. Seabest Foods, Inc., supra, 14 Cal.4th at p. 444, fn. 3.) {Slip Opn. Page 13}

We have denied Ragland’s request for judicial notice; we therefore decline to consider those passages of the appellant’s opening brief, noted in the margin, which are supported solely by citations to exhibits attached to that request or to Web sites outside the appellate record. fn. 1 The three passages from the appellant’s opening brief accusing Downey Savings of trying to swindle Ragland also are not supported by record references, fn. 2 but we consider those three passages to be argument rather than factual assertions.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

“A trial court properly grants summary judgment where no triable issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. [Citation.] We review the trial court’s decision de novo, considering all of the evidence the parties offered in connection with the motion (except that which the court properly {Slip Opn. Page 14} excluded) and the uncontradicted inferences the evidence reasonably supports. [Citation.]” (Merrill v. Navegar, Inc. (2001) 26 Cal.4th 465, 476.) We liberally construe the evidence in support of the party opposing summary judgment and resolve all doubts about the evidence in that party’s favor. (Hughes v. Pair (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1035, 1039.)

DISCUSSION

I. Negligent Misrepresentation Cause of Action

In the first cause of action, for negligent misrepresentation, Ragland alleged: “On or about April 29, 2008, Downey [Savings] represented to Plaintiff that Downey [Savings] could modify Plaintiff’s current loan during the time that the legal department was investigating the fraud allegation on Plaintiff’s loan. However, in order to do a modification of Plaintiff’s loan, Plaintiff would have to be in arrears on her current loan. Downey[ Savings]‘s representative then told Plaintiff not to pay April’s mortgage payment. Upon . . . Downey[ Savings]‘s representations Plaintiff did not pay April’s mortgage payment. Thereafter, Downey [Savings] informed Plaintiff that Downey [Savings] could not accept any further mortgage payments from Plaintiff until the legal department investigated the alleged fraud on the initial mortgage.”

The elements of negligent misrepresentation are (1) a misrepresentation of a past or existing material fact, (2) made without reasonable ground for believing it to be true, (3) made with the intent to induce another’s reliance on the fact misrepresented, (4) justifiable reliance on the misrepresentation, and (5) resulting damage. (Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. FSI, Financial Solutions, Inc. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1559, 1573; National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA v. Cambridge Integrated Services Group, Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 35, 50.)

In opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, Ragland presented evidence that John or his supervisor represented (1) her loan was not “behind” {Slip Opn. Page 15} but he would work with her to modify the loan; (2) she should not make the April 2008 loan payment because “the worst thing that’s going to happen is you are going to have a late fee, we will get this done for you”; and (3) her loan modification request likely would be approved because she was prequalified. Ragland also presented evidence that several days later, on the last day for her to make a timely loan payment for April, John’s supervisor told her the loan would be turned over to the legal department because Ragland had reported some of the loan documents were forged. The supervisor told Ragland that Downey Savings would not attempt to collect from her until the matter had been investigated by the legal department.

Ragland presented evidence that in reliance on the representations made by John or his supervisor, she did not make her April 2008 loan payment. Defendants assert Ragland was already in default when she first spoke with John on April 13, 2008, because she failed to make her payment due April 1, 2008. The note stated Ragland’s monthly payment was due on the first day of each month, but that the monthly payment would be deemed timely if paid by the end of the 15th day after the due date. In addition, Ragland presented evidence that John told her on April 13, 2008, she was not “behind” but he would work with her to modify the loan. The payments made by Ragland for September and October 2008, which were rejected by Downey Savings, were dated the 16th of the month, and the rejected payment for November 2008 was dated the 14th. At the very least, there is a triable issue of fact whether Ragland was in default when she spoke with John on April 13.

Defendants argue Ragland did not rely on the misrepresentations because she tried to make her loan payments in May, September, October, and November 2008. Ragland made her loan payment by automatic transfer from her checking account. She manually prevented or undid the automatic payments for April, June, July, and August 2008. As Ragland argues in her reply brief, an inference could be drawn that she inadvertently did not stop the May 2008 payment. We draw all reasonable inference in {Slip Opn. Page 16} favor of the party against whom the summary judgment motion was made. (Crouse v. Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 1509, 1520.)

Defendants argue Ragland’s reliance was not justified because she was told her loan was in the foreclosure department and nobody at Downey Savings ever told her she could stop making loan payments. The evidence presented by Ragland created a triable issue of fact whether her reliance was justified. On April 29, 2008, Ragland spoke with Joseph and Claudia at Downey Savings, and they told her Downey Savings was initiating an investigation of her forgery claim; during the investigation, Downey Savings would not accept loan payments; and collection activity was frozen. In May 2008, on receiving a letter stating her loan was in foreclosure, Ragland called Downey Savings. Her call was transferred several times, until a person named Lilia told her the loan was in Downey Savings’s legal department, which would call her back. Nobody from the legal department called Ragland back. In July 2008, Ragland received a letter from Downey Savings, telling her foreclosure proceedings had begun. After receiving the letter, she called Downey Savings and spoke with three different representatives. The third, Leanna, told Ragland the legal department had failed to place a red flag on the loan and it should never have been placed in foreclosure. Ragland’s notes from the conversation include the statement, “[f]oreclosure on hold.”

The trial court granted summary judgment against Ragland on the ground she suffered no damages because, on the date of the foreclosure sale, she could not reinstate the loan by tendering $24,804.57–the amount Downey Savings claimed was due and owing. The evidence created at the very least a triable issue of fact on damages. Ragland testified in her deposition that as of the date of the foreclosure sale, “I could have covered the back payments but not the fees, not all the fees.” Those fees were tacked on because Ragland’s failure to make the April 2008 loan payment placed the loan in foreclosure. However, Ragland presented evidence that she did not make the April 2008 payment because she relied on misrepresentations made by Downey Savings. In {Slip Opn. Page 17} July 2008, Downey Savings told Ragland her loan should not have been placed in foreclosure and the foreclosure was “on hold.” If Downey Savings wrongfully placed Ragland’s loan in foreclosure, as Ragland alleges, then it had no right to demand payment of additional fees and interest to reinstate the loan. Downey Savings could not take advantage of its own wrong. (Civ. Code, § 3517.)

Defendants point to the December 2, 2008 letter from Ragland’s attorney as undermining her claim she could make the past due monthly loan payments. In that letter, the attorney stated that Ragland could not pay the full amount required to bring the loan current and proposed $12,000 of the reinstatement amount be “tacked onto the back end of the loan.” Defendants ask, if Ragland could have made all of the past due monthly loan payments, why did she not offer to pay them? The question is rhetorical: If she had offered to pay the past due monthly loan payments, Downey Savings certainly would have rejected the offer, just as now Defendants vigorously argue a tender must be unconditional and offer payment of additional fees.

Defendants argue Ragland’s declaration is inconsistent with her deposition testimony because, in her deposition, Ragland could not identify precisely the people from whom she asked to borrow money to make the past due monthly loan payments. Her declaration is consistent with her deposition testimony. Ragland testified, under oath, in her deposition that as of the date of the foreclosure sale, she “could have covered the back payments but not the fees.” The evidence established she was not behind on her monthly payments when she spoke with John at Downey Savings on April 13, 2008, and Downey Savings rejected her payments for May, September, October, and November 2008. A reasonable inference from this evidence, which we liberally construe in Ragland’s favor, is that Ragland would have been able to make the past due monthly payments by the time of the foreclosure sale. (Miller v. Department of Corrections (2005) 36 Cal.4th 446, 470 ["We stress that, because this is an appeal from a grant of {Slip Opn. Page 18} summary judgment in favor of defendants, a reviewing court must examine the evidence de novo and should draw reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party"].)

II. Breach of Oral Contract Cause of Action

In her second cause of action, for breach of oral contract, Ragland alleged Downey Savings breached its promise to investigate her allegations of forgery. On appeal, she does not attempt to support a claim of breach of oral contract and argues instead, “[t]he second cause of action for breach of oral promise to investigate should have been labeled as a cause of action for promissory estoppel.” While conceding the second cause of action does not include the required allegation of detrimental reliance (Kajima/Ray Wilson v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2000) 23 Cal.4th 305, 310), she argues a detrimental reliance allegation may be extrapolated from the fraud cause of action.

The second cause of action did not incorporate by reference the allegations of the fraud cause of action. Ragland argues we must ignore labels, but however labeled, the second cause of action does not allege promissory estoppel. On remand, Ragland may seek leave to amend her complaint to allege a promissory estoppel cause of action.

III. Fraud Cause of Action

In the third cause of action, for fraud, Ragland alleged Downey Savings “falsely and fraudulently” made the representations alleged in the negligent misrepresentation cause of action.

The elements of fraud are (1) the defendant made a false representation as to a past or existing material fact; (2) the defendant knew the representation was false at the time it was made; (3) in making the representation, the defendant intended to deceive {Slip Opn. Page 19} the plaintiff; (4) the plaintiff justifiably and reasonably relied on the representation; and (5) the plaintiff suffered resulting damages. (Lazar v. Superior Court (1996) 12 Cal.4th 631, 638.)

Defendants argue U.S. Bank was entitled to summary adjudication of the fraud cause of action because no evidence was presented of “a misrepresentation, reliance or damages.” As explained in part I. of the Discussion on negligent misrepresentation, Ragland presented evidence in opposition to the motion for summary judgment that was sufficient to create triable issues as to misrepresentation, reliance, and damages.

Defendants do not argue lack of evidence of elements two (knowledge of falsity) and three (intent to deceive) and did not seek summary adjudication of the fraud cause of action on the ground of lack of evidence of either of those elements. fn. 3 Since Ragland submitted evidence creating triable issues of misrepresentation, reliance, and damages, summary adjudication of the fraud cause of action is reversed.

IV. Violation of Section 2924g(d) Cause of Action

In the fourth cause of action, Ragland alleged Defendants violated section 2924g(d) by selling her home one day after the expiration of the temporary restraining order.

Section 2924g(d) reads, in relevant part: “The notice of each postponement and the reason therefor shall be given by public declaration by the trustee at the time and {Slip Opn. Page 20} place last appointed for sale. A public declaration of postponement shall also set forth the new date, time, and place of sale and the place of sale shall be the same place as originally fixed by the trustee for the sale. No other notice of postponement need be given. However, the sale shall be conducted no sooner than on the seventh day after the earlier of (1) dismissal of the action or (2) expiration or termination of the injunction, restraining order, or stay that required postponement of the sale, whether by entry of an order by a court of competent jurisdiction, operation of law, or otherwise, unless the injunction, restraining order, or subsequent order expressly directs the conduct of the sale within that seven-day period.” (Italics added.)

On November 26, 2008, the trial court issued an order stating: “Plaintiff shall be entitled to a temporary restraining order enjoining the foreclosure sale on December 9, 2008; upon bringing the loan current by Dec[ember] 16. Current is as of Nov[ember] 26, 2008.” The foreclosure sale was conducted on December 17, 2008.

A. Section 2924g(d) Creates a Private Right of Action and Is Not Preempted by Federal Law.

In their summary judgment motion, Defendants argued section 2924g(d) does not create a private right of action and is preempted by federal law. Although Defendants do not make those arguments on appeal, we address, due to their significance, the issues whether section 2924g(d) creates a private right of action and whether it is preempted by federal law. Following the reasoning of Mabry v. Superior Court (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 208 (Mabry), we conclude section 2924g(d) creates a private right of action and is not preempted.

In Mabry, supra, 185 Cal.App.4th at page 214, our colleagues concluded Civil Code section 2923.5 may be enforced by private right of action. Section 2923.5 requires a lender to contact the borrower in person or by telephone before a notice of default may be filed to “‘assess’” the borrower’s financial situation and “‘explore’” options to prevent foreclosure. (Mabry, supra, at pp. 213-214.) Section 2923.5, though {Slip Opn. Page 21} not expressly creating a private right of action, impliedly created one because there was no administrative mechanism to enforce the statute, a private remedy furthered the purpose of the statute and was necessary for it to be effective, and California courts do not favor constructions of statutes that render them advisory only. (Mabry, supra, at p. 218.)

There is no administrative mechanism to enforce section 2924g(d), and a private remedy is necessary to make it effective. While the Attorney General might be responsible for collective enforcement of section 2924g(d), “the Attorney General’s office can hardly be expected to take up the cause of every individual borrower whose diverse circumstances show noncompliance with section [2924g(d)].” (Mabry, supra, 185 Cal.App.4th at p. 224.)

The Mabry court also concluded Civil Code section 2923.5 was not preempted by federal law because the statute was part of the foreclosure process, traditionally a matter of state law. Regulations promulgated by the Office of Thrift Supervision pursuant to the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933 (12 U.S.C. § 1461 et seq.) preempted state law but dealt with loan servicing only. (Mabry, supra, 185 Cal.App.4th at pp. 228-231.) “Given the traditional state control over mortgage foreclosure laws, it is logical to conclude that if the Office of Thrift Supervision wanted to include foreclosure as within the preempted category of loan servicing, it would have been explicit.” (Id. at p. 231.) Section 2924g(d), as section 2923.5, is part of the process of foreclosure and therefore is not subject to federal preemption.

B. The Foreclosure Sale Violated Section 2924g(d).

Defendants argue the foreclosure sale did not violate section 2924g(d) on the ground the trial court’s November 26, 2008 order was not a temporary restraining order because it conditioned injunctive relief on Ragland bringing her loan current by December 16, 2008. That condition was not met, and, therefore, Defendants argue, a temporary restraining order was never issued. {Slip Opn. Page 22}

We disagree with Defendants’ interpretation of the November 26 order. The foreclosure sale had been scheduled for December 9, 2008. The November 26 order was for all intents and purposes a temporary restraining order subject to section 2924g(d) because the effect of that order was to require postponement of the sale at least to December 16, 2008. The requirement that Ragland bring the loan current by that date was not a condition precedent to a temporary restraining order, which in effect had been issued, but a condition subsequent, the failure of which to satisfy would terminate injunctive relief. fn. 4

Defendants argue they were entitled nonetheless to summary adjudication of the fourth cause of action because Ragland could not have brought her loan current within seven days of December 16, 2008. Although Ragland submitted evidence that she could pay back amounts due, she did not present evidence she could bring the loan current, including payment of additional fees, as required by the trial court’s November 26 order.

The purpose of the seven-day waiting period under section 2924g(d) was not, however, to permit reinstatement of the loan, “but to ‘provide sufficient time for a trustor to find out when a foreclosure sale is going to occur following the expiration of a court order which required the sale’s postponement’ and ‘provide the trustor with the opportunity to attend the sale and to ensure that his or her interests are protected.’ [Citation].” (Hicks v. E.T. Legg & Associates (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 496, 505.) “The bill [amending section 2924g(d) to add the waiting period] was sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty in response to an incident in which a foreclosure sale was held one day after a TRO was dissolved. The property was sold substantially below fair {Slip Opn. Page 23} market value. The trustor, who had obtained a purchaser for the property, did not learn of the new sale date and was unable to protect his interests at the sale.” (Ibid.)

Thus, in obtaining relief under section 2924g(d), the issue is not whether Ragland could have reinstated her loan within the seven-day waiting period but whether the failure of Downey Savings to comply with the statute impaired her ability to protect her interests at a foreclosure sale. Defendants did not raise that issue as ground for summary adjudication of the fourth cause of action.

V. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Cause of Action

In the fifth cause of action, Ragland alleged that in December 2008, Defendants intentionally caused her severe emotional distress by selling her home in a foreclosure sale.

Defendants argue Ragland cannot recover emotional distress damages–either intentionally or negligently inflicted–because she suffered property damage at most as result of their actions. (See Erlich v. Menezes (1999) 21 Cal.4th 543, 554 ["'No California case has allowed recovery for emotional distress arising solely out of property damage'"].) Erlich v. Menezes and other cases disallowing emotional distress damages in cases of property damage involved negligent infliction of emotional distress. (Ibid. [negligent construction of home does not support emotional distress damages]; Butler-Rupp v. Lourdeaux (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1220, 1228-1229 [negligent breach of lease of storage space]; Camenisch v. Superior Court (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 1689, 1693 [negligent infliction of emotional distress based on legal malpractice]; Smith v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1033, 1040 ["mere negligence will not support a recovery for mental suffering where the defendant's tortious conduct has resulted in only economic injury to the plaintiff"].) The rule does not apply to intentional infliction of emotional distress: “[R]ecovery for emotional distress caused by injury to property is permitted {Slip Opn. Page 24} only where there is a preexisting relationship between the parties or an intentional tort.” (Lubner v. City of Los Angeles (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 525, 532; see also Cooper v. Superior Court (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 1008, 1012 [no recovery for emotional distress arising solely out of property damage "absent a threshold showing of some preexisting relationship or intentional tort"].)

The elements of a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress are (1) the defendant engages in extreme and outrageous conduct with the intent to cause, or with reckless disregard for the probability of causing, emotional distress; (2) the plaintiff suffers extreme or severe emotional distress; and (3) the defendant’s extreme and outrageous conduct was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s extreme or severe emotional distress. (Potter v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. (1993) 6 Cal.4th 965, 1001.) “Outrageous conduct” is conduct that is intentional or reckless and so extreme as to exceed all bounds of decency in a civilized community. (Ibid.) The defendant’s conduct must be directed to the plaintiff, but malicious or evil purpose is not essential to liability. (Ibid.) Whether conduct is outrageous is usually a question of fact. (Spinks v. Equity Residential Briarwood Apartments (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1004, 1045 (Spinks).)

Ragland argues Downey Savings engaged in outrageous conduct by inducing her to skip the April loan payment, refusing later to accept loan payments, and selling her home at foreclosure. She likens this case to Spinks, supra, 171 Cal.App.4th 1004, in which the appellate court reversed summary adjudication in the defendants’ favor of a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendants in Spinks were landlords of an apartment complex in which the plaintiff resided under a lease entered into by her employer. (Id. at p. 1015.) When the plaintiff’s employment was terminated following an industrial injury, the defendants, at the employer’s direction, changed the locks on the plaintiff’s apartment, causing her to leave her residence. (Ibid.) The Court of Appeal rejected the contention the defendants’ conduct was not outrageous {Slip Opn. Page 25} as a matter of law: “First, as a general principle, changing the locks on someone’s dwelling without consent to force that person to leave is prohibited by statute. [Citation.] Though defendants’ agents were polite and sympathetic towards plaintiff, they nevertheless caused her to leave her home without benefit of judicial process. . . . ‘While in the present case no threats or abusive language were employed, and no violence existed, that is not essential to the cause of action. An eviction may, nevertheless, be unlawful even though not accompanied with threats, violence or abusive language. Here the eviction was deliberate and intentional. The conduct of defendants was outrageous.’” (Id. at pp. 1045-1046.) In addition, the defendants’ onsite property manager had expressed concern over the legality of changing the locks, and the plaintiff was particularly vulnerable at the time because she was recovering from surgery. (Id. at p. 1046.)

Defendants argue Spinks is inapposite because changing locks on an apartment to force the tenant to leave is unlawful, while, in contrast, Downey Savings proceeded with a lawful foreclosure after Ragland defaulted and had a legal right to protect its economic interests. (See Sierra-Bay Fed. Land Bank Assn. v. Superior Court (1991) 227 Cal.App.3d 318, 334 ["It is simply not tortious for a commercial lender to lend money, take collateral, or to foreclose on collateral when a debt is not paid"]; Quinteros v. Aurora Loan Services (E.D.Cal. 2010) 740 F.Supp.2d 1163, 1172 ["The act of foreclosing on a home (absent other circumstances) is not the kind of extreme conduct that supports an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim"].)

This argument assumes Downey Savings had the right to foreclose, an issue at the heart of the case. Ragland created triable issues of fact on her causes of action for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and violation of section 2924g(d). Defendants do not argue Downey Savings would have had the right to foreclose if any of those causes of action were meritorious. Ragland’s treatment by Downey Savings, if proven, was at least {Slip Opn. Page 26} as bad as the conduct of the defendants in Spinks and was so extreme as to exceed all bounds of decency in our society.

VI. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Cause of Action

In the sixth cause of action, Ragland alleged that in December 2008, Defendants negligently caused her severe emotional distress by selling her home in a foreclosure sale. As explained above, Ragland cannot recover under her cause of action for negligent infliction because Defendants’ conduct resulted only in injury to property. In addition, she cannot recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress because she cannot prove a relationship giving rise to a duty of care.

There is no independent tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress; rather, “[t]he tort is negligence, a cause of action in which a duty to the plaintiff is an essential element.” (Potter v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., supra, 6 Cal.4th at p. 984.) “That duty may be imposed by law, be assumed by the defendant, or exist by virtue of a special relationship.” (Id. at p. 985.)

Ragland asserted a “direct victim” claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress rather than a “bystander” claim. “‘Direct victim’ cases are cases in which the plaintiff’s claim of emotional distress is not based upon witnessing an injury to someone else, but rather is based upon the violation of a duty owed directly to the plaintiff. ‘[T]he label “direct victim” arose to distinguish cases in which damages for serious emotional distress are sought as a result of a breach of duty owed the plaintiff that is “assumed by the defendant or imposed on the defendant as a matter of law, or that arises out of a relationship between the two.” [Citation.] In these cases, the limits [on bystander cases . . . ] have no direct application. [Citations.] Rather, well-settled principles of negligence are invoked to determine whether all elements of a cause of {Slip Opn. Page 27} action, including duty, are present in a given case.’” (Wooden v. Raveling (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 1035, 1038.)

Ragland argues a relationship between her and Defendants, sufficient to create a duty of care, arose by virtue of (1) the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the loan documents and (2) financial advice rendered by John or Joseph during the telephone calls in April 2008.

The implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is a contractual relationship and does not give rise to an independent duty of care. Rather, “‘[t]he implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is limited to assuring compliance with the express terms of the contract, and cannot be extended to create obligations not contemplated by the contract.’” (Pasadena Live v. City of Pasadena (2004) 114 Cal.App.4th 1089, 1094.) Outside of the insured-insurer relationship and others with similar qualities, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing does not give rise to tort damages. (Foley v. Interactive Data Corp. (1988) 47 Cal.3d 654, 692-693; see also Cates Construction, Inc. v. Talbot Partners (1999) 21 Cal.4th 28, 61 [no tort recovery for breach of implied covenant arising out of performance bond]; Applied Equipment Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia Ltd. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 503, 516 ["In the absence of an independent tort, punitive damages may not be awarded for breach of contract" even when the breach was willful, fraudulent, or malicious]; Mitsui Manufacturers Bank v. Superior Court (1989) 212 Cal.App.3d 726, 730-732 [commercial borrower may not recover tort damages for lender's breach of implied covenant in loan documents].)

No fiduciary duty exists between a borrower and lender in an arm’s length transaction. (Oaks Management Corporation v. Superior Court (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 453, 466; Union Bank v. Superior Court (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 573, 579; Price v. Wells Fargo Bank (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 465, 476.) “[A]s a general rule, a financial institution owes no duty of care to a borrower when the institution’s involvement in the loan transaction does not exceed the scope of its conventional role as a mere lender of {Slip Opn. Page 28} money.” (Nymark v. Heart Fed. Savings & Loan Assn. (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 1089, 1096.)

Relying on Barrett v. Bank of America (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 1362 (Barrett), Ragland argues Downey Savings exceeded the scope of its role as a lender of money because John and Joseph gave her what amounted to investment advice by telling her not to make her April 2008 loan payment. In Barrett, the plaintiffs executed personal guarantees to the defendant bank of two loans made to a corporation of which the plaintiffs were the principal shareholders. (Id. at p. 1365.) Soon after the loans funded, the plaintiffs were informed the corporation was in technical default because the corporation’s liability to asset ratios no longer met the bank’s requirements. (Ibid.) The bank’s loan officer assigned to the matter suggested three different ways to improve the corporation’s financial situation. As to the third suggestion, merger or acquisition, the loan officer told the plaintiffs a merging company would be responsible for the loans and the plaintiffs would be released from the guarantees. (Ibid.)

The plaintiffs followed the third suggestion, and their corporation merged with another one. The merging corporation soon could not make the payments on the loans. (Barrett, supra, 183 Cal.App.3d at pp. 1365-1366.) The assignee of the loans enforced them against the plaintiffs and instituted foreclosure proceedings against their home. (Id. at p. 1366.) The plaintiffs sued the bank for various causes of action, including constructive fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Ibid.) The jury returned a verdict in favor of the bank. (Id. at pp. 1366-1367.)

The issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on constructive fraud. (Barrett, supra, 183 Cal.App.3d at p. 1368.) The Court of Appeal, reversing, concluded substantial evidence supported a constructive fraud theory of recovery. (Id. at p. 1369.) Constructive fraud usually arises from a breach of duty in which a fiduciary relationship exists. (Ibid.) The court reasoned the bank acted as the plaintiffs’ fiduciary because one plaintiff perceived his relationship with the loan officer {Slip Opn. Page 29} as “very close,” relied on the loan officer’s financial advice, shared confidential financial information with the loan officer, and relied on the loan officer’s advice about mergers. (Ibid.) In addition, a consultant for the merging corporation testified the loan officer assured him the plaintiffs would not be released from their guarantees. (Ibid.)

The evidence presented in opposition to the motion for summary judgment did not create a triable issue of Ragland’s relationship with Downey Savings. In contrast with the extensive financial and legal advice given by the loan officer in Barrett, John or his supervisor at Downey Savings told Ragland not to make her April 2008 loan payment in order to be considered for a loan modification. This advice was directly related to the issue of loan modification and therefore fell within the scope of Downey Savings’s conventional role as a lender of money.

The undisputed facts established there was no relationship between Ragland and Downey Savings giving rise to a duty the breach of which would permit Ragland to recover emotional distress damages based on negligence. The trial court did not err by granting summary adjudication of the cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

VII. Rescission Cause of Action

Ragland concedes her seventh cause of action, for rescission, is no longer viable (“a dead letter”) because her home was resold after the foreclosure sale to a bona fide purchaser for value. For that reason too, she states she is no longer asserting claims against DSL and FCI.

VIII. Temporary Restraining Order

Ragland argues the trial court’s November 26, 2008 order violated her due process rights because it, in effect, required her to pay nearly $25,000 to bring her loan {Slip Opn. Page 30} current or face foreclosure of her home. There are two fundamental problems with Ragland’s challenge to the November 26 order. First, an order granting or dissolving an injunction, or refusing to grant or dissolve an injunction, is directly appealable. (Code Civ. Proc., § 904.1, subd. (a)(6).) Ragland did not file a notice of appeal from the November 26 order or from the later order denying her motion for a preliminary injunction. Second, even if Ragland properly had appealed, the sale of her home at foreclosure would have rendered the appeal moot. An appeal from an order denying a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction will not be entertained after the act sought to be enjoined has been performed. (Finnie v. Town of Tiburon (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 1, 10.) “An appeal should be dismissed as moot when the occurrence of events renders it impossible for the appellate court to grant appellant any effective relief. [Citation.]” (Cucamongans United for Reasonable Expansion v. City of Rancho Cucamonga (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 473, 479.)

Ragland concedes her attempt to halt the foreclosure sale, like her rescission cause of action, is a “dead letter” and she is not seeking to set aside the November 26 order or the order denying a preliminary injunction. She argues, “the denial of due process at the application for temporary restraining order was a substantial factor in [the] trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bank.” We fail to see the connection. In any event, we are reversing the judgment as to U.S. Bank, and affirming summary adjudication only of the causes of action for breach of oral contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and rescission.

DISPOSITION

The judgment in favor of DSL and FCI, and summary adjudication of the causes of action for breach of oral contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and rescission are affirmed. Ragland may seek leave to amend in the trial court, as explained {Slip Opn. Page 31} in this opinion. In all other respects, the judgment is reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. Ragland shall recover costs incurred on appeal.

Aronson, Acting P.J., and Ikola, J., concurred.

­FN 1. 1. From page 4, the third full paragraph beginning “In October, 2007, Downeys’ publicly traded common stock,” through page 6, the citation following the first full paragraph and ending http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bank-16076-fremont-fdic.html).

2. On page 7, footnote 3 that continues from page 6, the second sentence beginning “Between April 2008″ and ending “[$543,000 + 14% = $619,020].”

3. From page 7, in the third paragraph, the second sentence beginning “By that time, Downey’s” to page 8, the first line ending “(http:/www.bankaholic.com/ downey-savings/).”

4. On page 8, the second full paragraph beginning “In late July, 2008.”

5. From page 9, the third full paragraph beginning “On November 21, 2008″ through the first full paragraph on page 10.

6. From page 31, the first full paragraph beginning “Going through a foreclosure can be so stressful” through page 32, the first full paragraph ending “(http://abcnews.go.com/Health/DepressionNews/story?id=5444573&page=1).”

­FN 2. The three passages are:

1. On page 16, the first full paragraph beginning “In the present case.”

2. On page 16, footnote 4.

3. On page 30, in the first full paragraph, the fourth sentence beginning “Downey Savings took Ms. Ragland’s home.”

­FN 3. In its notice of motion and separate statement of undisputed material facts, U.S. Bank moved for summary adjudication of two issues (issues 9 and 10) related to the fraud cause of action: “9. U.S. Bank is entitled to summary adjudication against Plaintiff on the third cause of action for Fraud because U.S. Bank did not make an actionable misrepresentation. [¶] 10. U.S. Bank is entitled to summary adjudication against Plaintiff on the third cause of action for Fraud because all of Plaintiff’s alleged damages arise from the foreclosure of her property and Plaintiff was incapable of reinstating the loan at the time of the foreclosure.”

­FN 4. The requirement that Ragland bring her loan current might also be viewed as a condition precedent to a preliminary injunction. But, as the trial court noted: “If plaintiff does bring her payments current by the hearing date, then there is no basis for a foreclosure sale because the arrears would have been cured. Hence there would seem to be no need for the issuance of a preliminary injunction under such circumstances.”

The Trustee sale can be set aside

20 Dec

Bank of America, N.A. v. La Jolla Group II, 129 Cal. App. 4th 706, 15 710,717 (5th Dist. 2005) (void foreclosure sale required rescission of trustee’s deed returning title to the status quo prior to the foreclosure sale); Dimock v. Emerald Properties, 81 Cal. App. 4th 868, 874 (4th Dist. 2000) (sale under deed of trust by former trustee void, and tender of the amount due is unnecessary).

THE COURT MUST STRICTLY ENFORCE

THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR A FORECLOSURE.

The harshness of non-judicial foreclosure has been recognized. “The exercise of the power of sale is a harsh method of foreclosing the rights of the grantor.” Anderson v. Heart Federal Savings (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 202, 6 215, citing to System Inv. Corporation v. Union Bank (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 137, 153.  The statutory requirements are intended to protect the trustor from a wrongful or unfair loss of his property Moeller v. Lien (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 822, 830; accord, Hicks v. E.T. Legg & Associates (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 496, 503; Lo Nguyen v. Calhoun (6th District 2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 428, 440, and a valid foreclosure by the private power of sale requires strict compliance with the requirements of the statute. Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.179; Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn., 208 Cal. App. 3d 202, 211 (3d Dist. 1989), reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989); Miller v. Cote (4th Dist. 1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 888, 894; System Inv. Corp. v. Union Bank (2d Dist. 1971) 21 Cal. App. 3d 137, 152-153; Bisno v. Sax (2d Dist. 1959) 175 Cal. App. 2d 714, 720.

It has been a cornerstone of foreclosure law that the statutory requirements, intending to protect the Trustor and or Grantor from a wrongful or unfair loss of the property, must be complied with strictly. Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.182.   “Close” compliance does not count. As a result, any trustee’s sale based on a statutorily deficient Notice of Default is invalid (emphasis added). Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.182; Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (3dDist. 1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d 202, 211, reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989); Miller v. Cote (4th Dist. 1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 888, 894; System Inv. Corp. v. Union Bank (2d Dist. 1971) 21 Cal. App. 3d 137, 152-153; Saterstrom v. Glick Bros. Sash, Door & Mill Co.(3d Dist. 1931) 118 Cal. App. 379.

Additionally, any Trustee’s Sale based on a statutorily deficient Notice of Trustee Sale is invalid.  Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (3d Dist. 1989) 11 208 Cal.App. 3d 202, 211, reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989). The California Sixth District Court of Appeal observed, “Pursuing that policy [of judicial interpretation], the courts have fashioned rules to protect the debtor, one of them being that the notice of default will be strictly construed and must correctly set forth the amounts required to cure the default.” Sweatt v. The Foreclosure Co., Inc. (1985 – 6th District) 166 Cal.App.3d 273 at 278, citing to Miller v. Cote (1982) 127 Cal.App.3d 888, 894 and SystemInv. Corp. v. Union Bank (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 137, 152-153.

The same reasoning applies even to a Notice of Trustee’s Sale.  Courts will set aside a foreclosure sale when there has been fraud, when the sale has been improperly, unfairly, or unlawfully conducted, or when there has been such a mistake that it would be inequitable to let it stand. Bank of America Nat. Trust & Savings Ass’n v. Reidy (1940) 15 Cal. 2d 243, 248; Whitman v. Transtate Title Co.(4th Dist. 1985) 165 Cal. App. 3d 312, 322-323; In re Worcester (9th Cir. 1987) 811 F.2d 1224, 1228.  See also Smith v. Williams (1961) 55 Cal. 2d 617, 621; Stirton v. Pastor (4th Dist. 1960) 177 Cal. App. 2d 232, 234; Brown v. Busch (3d Dist. 1957) 152 Cal.App. 2d 200, 203-204.

English: Foreclosure auction 2007

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Challenge Your Lender… Now!

13 Dec

Don’t delay – Opt in to the follow Blog and gain access to over 680 ideas and posts to hold your Lender accountable new post every day!

Do you want to hold your lender responsible for their illegal actions?

Challenge Your Lender… Now!

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My name is Timothy McCandless, and I’m here to tell you what most banks and mortgage loan servicers don’t want you to know: More than 65 million homes in the US may not be subject to foreclosure after all, and your home is very likely one of the “safe” homes. The reason these homes are not technically subject to foreclosure is because the lenders, mortgage companies, mortgage servicers, and title companies broke the law throughout the process of managing your loan, both at the inception of your loan and throughout the life of the loan. Because of their fraudulent actions, they are unable to produce a title for, or show ownership of, your property. This causes what we call a “defect of title”, and legally prohibits your lender or servicer from foreclosing, regardless of whether or not your loan is current.

This situation is all over the news, and now, starting today, you can learn how to protect yourself from unlawful foreclosure.

WE CAN TRAIN YOU HOW TO CHALLENGE YOUR LENDER

Most Mortgage Assignments are Illegal

In a major ruling in the Massachusetts Supreme Court today, US Bank National Association and Wells Fargo lost the “Ibanez case”, meaning that they don’t have standing to foreclose due to improper mortgage assignment. The ruling is likely to send shock waves through the entire judicial system, and seriously raise the stakes on foreclosure fraud. Bank stocks plummeted after this ruling. These assignments are what people need to challenge in their own mortgages.

I am prepared to show you the most amazing information on how you can actually Challenge Your Lender. Once you opt in for our free ebook (just enter your email address above and to the right), you’ll get immediate access to our first, very informative webinar, as well as to our free ebook. You’ll learn more about the Challenge Your Lender program, and more importantly, how the US mortgage system is rigged to take advantage of you and how to can fight back. My program will show you exactly how to get a copy of your loan documents that your lender or loan servicer currently has in their possession, and then how to begin examining these documents to learn more about how your lender, as well as other parties involved, has used your name and credit to make millions of dollars. Analyzing your loan documents is a crucial first step in beginning the Challenge Your Lender process.


Save your home from foreclosure

The information that you will be receiving in my free material and webinar will further your knowledge on what most lenders are doing to homeowners, and how you can save yourself from foreclosure. You will have the opportunity to acquire a free copy of my Challenge Your Lender workbook and learn how to begin building the paper trail that you will need to defend yourself and to prove the wrongdoings of your lender and loan servicer. Once you go through the workbook and listen in on the free webinar, you will be on top of your Challenge and ready to begin the program.

The Challenge Your Lender program will help put you in a position of power and control over your loan, and will allow you to decide what you would like to do with your property. This leverage will be advantageous when you begin negotiating your foreclosure. Most importantly, your lender or loan servicer should not be able to foreclose on you once you notify them that you have identified fraudulent activity. My program is your first step in saving your property from foreclosure.

Don’t wait – opt in today. Every day counts in the battle against your lender.

Best regards,
Tim

Clouds on Title

19 Nov

 

 

ALTA Counsel Discusses Recourse for Homeowners in Foreclosure Scandal

 

Many homeowners who lost their homes over the past few years are wondering what the robo-signing scandal means for them. Steve Gottheim, ALTA’s Legislative Counsel, tells a reporter at NBC News that homeowners who purchased a house at a foreclosure sale should have obtained an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy.

 

The statements by Steve Gottheim, ALTA’s Legislative Counsel, are not doubt the last thing the four surviving major commercial members of the title insurance industry wanted publicly stated by a major player in that industry. In prior correspondence with the group and others we have expressed the potential affect and concerns the ongoing mortgage fraud foreclosure crisis has had upon the title insurance industry. The issue first appeared in a DIRT discussion relating to “insuring title to foreclosed properties in the face of litigation” back in mid-May of this year. It confirms what we had previously then stated. To which Ms. Charney replied (i) “the knowledge of the defects are open, notorious and obvious to all, the defect may be fatally defective . . . so egregious as to render the title serving as the underlying security for the debt to be defective and pass no insurable interest whatsoever along to the alleged assignee.” Professor Whitman then chimed in stating: “Bill – actually, I think you are right on target. There have been many questionable foreclosures, and in some cases the defects are doubtless sufficient to make the foreclosure either void or voidable (the latter meaning that the sale won’t be set aside if the property has passed to a BFP). Moreover, since the defects in many cases are a matter of public record, it could be very difficult for a buyer to satisfy a court that he is a BFP. To which he added (iii) “In time many of these sales are going to come back and bite the title insurers who insured them. Obviously, the industry would rather not call attention to this likelihood, but it is there all the same.” And again, (iv) “if the defect is curable, it is important the curing documents be placed of record for the benefit of future title examiners”. To which both I and the recent Report of the ACS concluded (v) “the burden of proving the right to foreclose must be placed on the foreclosing party; i.e., if a remote assignee or securitization trustee claims the right to foreclose, it must prove the legal basis for that claim. It cannot be the case that a remote party can claim the right to foreclose, with the property owner then forced to disprove its entitlement to that action.

 

The statements of the ALTA Legislative Counsel only confirm our prior warning. They

may be found at Questions for Homeowners in Foreclosure Scandal, NBC News | November 17, 2011.

Fighting Foreclosure in California

11 Nov

Using the Courts to Fight a California or Other Non-Judicial Foreclosure – 3-Stage Analysis – including a Homeowner Action to “Foreclose” on the Bank’s Mortgage Security Interest – rev.

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California real property foreclosures are totally different from foreclosures in New York and many other states. The reason is that more than 99% of the California foreclosures take place without a court action, in a proceeding called a “non-judicial foreclosure”. Twenty-one states do not have a non-judicial foreclosure. [These states are CT, DE, FL, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, NE, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, PA, SC, UT, VT. - Source: realtytrac.com] In California, the lending institution can go through a non-judicial foreclosure in about 4 months from the date of the filing and recording of a “Notice of Default”, ending in a sale of the property without any court getting involved. The California homeowner can stop the sale by making full payment of all alleged arrears no later than 5 days prior to the scheduled sale. Unlike a judicial foreclosure, the homeowner will have no right to redeem the property after the sale (“equity of redemption”, usually a one-year period after judicial foreclosure and sale). For a visual presentation of the timeline for California and other state non-judicial foreclosures, go to Visual Timeline for California Non-Judicial Foreclosures.

A 50-state analysis of judicial and non-judicial foreclosure procedures is available at 50-State Analysis of Judicial and Non-Judicial Foreclosure Procedures.]

The problem I am going to analyze and discuss is under what circumstances can a homeowner/mortgagor go into court to obtain some type of judicial relief for wrongful or illegal conduct by the lender or others relating to the property and mortgage. My discussion applies as to all states in which non-judicial foreclosures are permitted.

There are three distinct stages that need to be separately discussed. These stages are the borrower’s current situation. The three stages are:

 

  • Homeowner is not in any mortgage arrears [declaratory judgment action]
  • Homeowner is behind in mortgage payments – at least 5 days before auction [injunction action, which could even be called an action by a homeowner to "foreclose" upon or eliminate the lending institution's mortgage security interest]
  • Property was sold at auction [wrongful foreclosure action]

 

I. Homeowner Is Not in any Mortgage Arrears [Declaratory Judgment Action]

As long as a homeowner keeps making the mortgage payments, and cures any occasional short-term default, the homeowner is in a position to commence an action in federal or state court for various types of relief relating to the mortgage and the obligations thereunder. One typical claim is a declaratory judgment action to declare that the mortgage and note are invalid or that the terms are not properly set forth. There are various other types of claims, as well. The filing of such an action would not precipitate a non-judicial foreclosure. Compare this to a regular foreclosure, in which the homeowner stops paying on the mortgage, gets sued in a foreclosure action, and then is able in the lawsuit to raise the issues (as “defenses”) which the California homeowner would raise as “claims” or “causes of action” in the lawsuit being discussed for this first stage.

II. Homeowner Is Behind in Mortgage Payments – at Least 5 Days before Auction [Injunction Action seeking TRO and Preliminary Injunction, which you might say is a homeowner's own "foreclosure proceeding against the bank and its mortgage interest"]

This is the most difficult of the three stages for making use of the courts to oppose foreclosure. The reasons are: foreclosure and sale is apt to take place too quickly; the cost of seeking extraordinary (injunctive) relief is higher because of the litigation papers and hearing that have to be done in a very short period of time to obtain fast TRO and preliminary injunctive relief to stop the threatened sale; the cost of this expensive type of injunctive litigation is probably much higher for many homeowners than just keeping up the mortgage payments; and, finally, you would have to show a greater probability of success on the merits of the action than you would need to file a lawsuit as in Stage 1, so that the homeowner’s chances of prevailing (and getting the requested injunction) are low and the costs and risks are high.

Nevertheless, when the facts are in the homeowner’s favor, the homeowner should consider bringing his plight to the attention of the court, to obtain relief from oppressive lending procedures. The problem with most borrower-homeowners is that they do not have any idea what valid bases they may have to seek this kind of relief. What anyone should do in this case is talk with a competent lawyer as soon as possible, to prevent any further delay from causing you to lose an opportunity to fight back. You need to weigh the cost of commencing a court proceeding (which could be $5,000 more or less to commence) against the loss of the home through non-judicial foreclosure.

 

III. Property Was Sold at Auction [Wrongful Foreclosure Action]

If the property has already been sold, you still have the right to pursue your claims, but in the context of a “wrongful foreclosure” lawsuit, which has various legal underpinnings including tort, breach of contract and statute. This type of suit could not precipitate any foreclosure and sale of the property because the foreclosure and sale have already taken place. Your remedy would probably be monetary damages, which you would have to prove. You should commence the action as soon as possible after the wrongful foreclosure and sale, and particularly within a period of less than one year from the sale. The reason is that some of your claims could be barred by a short, 1-year statute of limitations.

If you would like to talk about any possible claims relating to your mortgage transaction, please give me a call. There are various federal and state statutes and court decisions to consider, with some claims being substantially better than others. I am available to draft a complaint in any of the 3 stages for review by your local attorney, and to be counsel on a California or other-state action “pro hac vice” (i.e., for the one case) when associating with a local lawyer.

Tim McCandless Blogs its amazing what you can do if you don’t watch TV

1 Sep

timothymccandless.wordpress.com
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fairdebtcollectionpracticesact.wordpress.com
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mortgagereductionlaw.wordpress.com
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http://mybk7.com
http://mortgagereductionlaw.com
http://evictiondefender.com
http://prodefenders.com
http://neilgarfield.com
http://massjoinderlitigation.info
http://fairdebtcollectionpracticesact.org
http://thestopforeclosureplan.com

KISS: KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID from Garfield

28 Aug

Finality versus good and evil. In the battlefield it isn’t about good and evil. It is about winner and losers. In military battles around the world many battles have been one by the worst tyrants imaginable.

Just because you are right, just because the banks did bad things, just because they have no right to do what they are doing, doesn’t mean you will win. You might if you do it right, but you are up against a superior army with a dubious judge looking on thinking that this deadbeat borrower wants to get out of paying.

The court system is there to mediate disputes and bring them to a conclusion. Once a matter is decided they don’t want it to be easy to reopen a bankruptcy or issues that have already been litigated. The court presumably wants justice to prevail, but it also wants to end the dispute for better or for worse.

Otherwise NOTHING would end. Everyone who lost would come in with some excuse to have another trial. So you need to show fundamental error, gross injustice or an error that causes more problems that it solves.

These are the same issues BEFORE the matter is decided in court. Foreclosures are viewed as a clerical act or ministerial act. The outcome is generally viewed as inevitable.

And where the homeowner already admits the loan exists (a mistake), that the lien is exists and was properly filed and executed (a mistake) and admits that he didn’t make payments — he is admitting something he doesn’t even know is true — that there were payments due and he didn’t make them, which by definition puts him in default.

It’s not true that the homeowner would even know if the payment is due because the banks refuse to provide any accounting on the third party payments from bailout, insurance CDS, and credit enhancement.

That’s why you need reports on title, securitization, forensic reviews for TILA compliance and loan level accounting. If the Judges stuck to the law, they would require the proof first from the banks, but they don’t. They put the burden on the borrowers —who are the only ones who have the least information and the least access to information — to essentially make the case for the banks and then disprove it. The borrowers are litigating against themselves.

In the battlefield it isn’t about good and evil, it is about winners and losers. Name calling and vague accusations won’t cut it.

Sure you want to use the words surrogate signing, robo-signing, forgery, fabrication and misrepresentation. You also want to show that the court’s action would or did cloud title in a way that cannot be repaired without a decision on the question of whether the lien was perfected and whether the banks should be able to say they transferred bad loans to investors who don’t want them — just so they can foreclose.

But you need some proffers of real evidence — reports, exhibits and opinions from experts that will show that there is a real problem here and that this case has not been heard on the merits because of an unfair presumption: the presumption is that just because a bank’s lawyer says it in court, it must be true.

Check with the notary licensing boards, and see if the notaries on their documents have been disciplined and if not, file a grievance if you have grounds. Once you have that, maybe you have a grievance against the lawyers. After that maybe you have a lawsuit against the banks and their lawyers.

But the primary way to control the narrative or at least trip up the narrative of the banks is to object on the basis that counsel for the bank is referring to things not in the record. That is simple and the judge can understand that.

Don’t rely on name-calling, rely on the simplest legal requirements that you can find that have been violated. Was the lien perfected?

If the record shows that others were involved in the original transaction with the borrowers at the inception of the deal, then you might be able to show that there were only nominees instead of real parties in interest named on the note and mortgage.

Without disclosure of the principal, the lien is not perfected because the world doesn’t know who to go to for a satisfaction of that lien. If you know the other parties involved were part of a securitization scheme, you should say that — these parties can only be claiming an interest by virtue of a pooling and servicing agreement. And then make the point that they are only now trying to transfer what they are calling a bad loan into the pool that the investors bought — which is expressly prohibited for multiple reasons in the PSA.

This is impersonation of the investor because the investors don’t want to come forward and get countersued for the bad and illegal lending practices that were used in getting the borrower’s signature.

Point out that the auction of the property was improperly conducted where you can show that to be the case. Nearly all of the 5 million foreclosures were allowed to be conducted with a single bid from a non-creditor.

If you are not a creditor you must bid cash, put up a portion before you bid, and then pay the balance usually within 24-72 hours.

But instead they pretended to be the creditor when their own documents show they were supposed to be representing the investors who were not part of the lawsuit nor the judgment.

SO they didn’t pay cash and they didn’t tender the note. THEY PAID NOTHING. In Florida the original note must actually be filed with the court to make sure that the matter is actually concluded.

There is a whole ripe area of inquiry of inspecting the so-called original notes and bringing to the attention the fraud upon the court in submitting a false original. It invalidates the sale, by operation of law.

Ask for a 402 hearing and then dissmiss the eviction !!!

10 Jul

If the court follows the rules of evidence (and they do) if proper objections are filed. No eviction of a secuitized loan should ever prevail on an eviction; they cannot produce the foundation to authenticate the Trustees Deed it is based upon preliminary facts that they are unable and unwilling to bring to court. The Assignments Civil code 2932.5 , The Servicer, The Accounting, The Trustee, MERS, The Robo signer, The person that purportedly contacted the Borrower Trustor, The compliance documents with Civil Code 2924, all these are preliminary facts upon which the admission of the Trustees Deed depend Evidence code 400,401,402,403. Check out this motion !!

Timothy L. McCandless, Esq.  (SBN 147715)

LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY L. MCCANDLESS

Attorney for Defendant,

SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA

IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF SOLANO

SOLANO COURT/ LIMITED JURISDICTION

FANNIE MAE et al,

Plaintiff,

v.

Defendant.

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)Case No.:

 

DEFENDANT’S IN LIMINE MOTION TO EXCLUDE ALL EVIDENCE (RE:FACIALLY INVALID DEED OF TRUST)

TRIAL DATE:  Tues., June 15, 2010 ) 

To the Court, to Plaintiff FANNIE MAE, and its attorney of record:

            PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that, on Tuesday, June 15, 2010, at 8:30 AM, or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, Defendant, MICHELLE CABESAS, will in limine judicii move the court, and hereby does move, for an order excluding from trial all evidence proffered by Plaintiff FANNIE MAE.

          The motion will be heard in Department  26, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Honorable Judge Davis  of the Solano Court of the above-captioned court.

The motion will be brought pursuant to Evidence Code sections 353 and 400 et seq., Code of Civil Procedure section 430.10(b), and related decisional law.

The ground of the motion will be that the Unlawful Detainer Complaint, together with the publicly-filed “Deed of Trust” that is necessarily incorporated into it, is facially invalid because the  Beneficiary did not have the power of sale. Such irregularities should constitute sufficient grounds to set aside the entire non-judicial foreclosure process. Therefore, the Trustee’s Deed After Sale should not be admitted as no lawful basis exists for its execution. Additionally, the Notice of Default, and Notice of Default Declaration should be excluded.

The failure of Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff’s agent to perform a condition precedent pursuant to Civil Code Section 2923.5 is fatal. The Notice of Default Declaration fails is several regards, (1) the language of the Notice does not comply with the statute because it does not set forth facts of how the statute was performed; (2) the Declaration is not sworn under penalty of perjury; (3) the only date of the Declaration is the date of execution which is one day prior to the Notice of Default which was recorded only five days later, thus, thirty days did not pass from the date of execution of the Declaration and the date of recordation. As such, under Section 2923.5, the Notice of Default Declaration is void and could not support the recordation of the Notice of Default.  Because the non-judicial foreclosure process is subject to strict scrutiny, and given the material failure of a condition precedent by Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff’s agent, the entire non-judicial foreclosure process is invalid.  Therefore, the Trustee’s Deed After Sale cannot be admitted into evidence, as no lawful foundation can be laid.

//

DATED:  June 14, 2010.                  ________________________________________

LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY L. MCCANDLESS

By: Timothy P. McCandless, Esq.

Attorney for Defendant,

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

I.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The court’s records for this case will show that Plaintiff FANNIE MAE filed its Complaint on or about  August 4, 2009.   The apparent foreclosing beneficiary was plaintiff, FANNIE MAE.  [See attachment to Unlawful Detainer Complaint entitled “Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale.”]

This motion ensued in its present form, because sufficient time did not remain before trial, in order to permit Defendant CABESAS to bring a regularly-noticed general demurrer or “motion for judgment on the pleadings”.

II.

THE COURT HAS POWER TO EXCLUDE ALL EVIDENCE FROM TRIAL, ON GROUNDS ANALOGOUS TO A GENERAL DEMURRER.

            The court has power to consider and grant an objection to all evidence under Evidence Code sections 353 and 400 et seq.  If no cause of action or defense is stated by the respective pleading, then no “factual issue” any longer exists, and therefore no evidence may be admitted on grounds of “relevance” under Evidence Code sections 400 et seq.

It is well established that a party may bring an in limine objection in order to exclude all evidence, as a sort of general demurrer or “motion for judgment on the pleadings”.  “Although not in form a motion, this method of attacking the pleading is identical in purpose to a general demurrer and motion for judgment on the pleadings and is governed by the same rules.  [Citations.]”  5 WITKIN, Cal.Proc.3rd page 386, “Pleading” at §953.  See also 6 WITKIN, Cal.Proc.3rd pages 571-573, “Proceedings Without Trial” at §§272-273.

According to 5 WITKIN, Cal.Proc.3rd page 340, “Pleading” at §899, a “general” demurrer concerns only the defense that the pleading does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action or defense.  That is precisely what defendant contends here: the Unlawful Detainer Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted.

III.

THE COURT MUST STRICTLY ENFORCE

THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR A FORECLOSURE.

            The harshness of non-judicial foreclosure has been recognized. “The exercise of the power of sale is a harsh method of foreclosing the rights of the grantor.” Anderson v. Heart Federal Savings (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 202, 6 215, citing to System Inv. Corporation v. Union Bank (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 137, 153.  The statutory requirements are intended to protect the trustor from a wrongful or unfair loss of his property Moeller v. Lien (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 822, 830; accord, Hicks v. E.T. Legg & Associates (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 496, 503; Lo Nguyen v. Calhoun (6th District 2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 428, 440, and a valid foreclosure by the private power of sale requires strict compliance with the requirements of the statute. Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.179; Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn., 208 Cal. App. 3d 202, 211 (3d Dist. 1989), reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989); Miller v. Cote (4th Dist. 1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 888, 894; System Inv. Corp. v. Union Bank (2d Dist. 1971) 21 Cal. App. 3d 137, 152-153; Bisno v. Sax (2d Dist. 1959) 175 Cal. App. 2d 714, 720.

It has been a cornerstone of foreclosure law that the statutory requirements, intending to protect the trustor from a wrongful or unfair loss of the property, must be complied with strictly. Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.182.   “Close” compliance does not count. As a result, any trustee’s sale based on a statutorily deficient Notice of Default is invalid (emphasis added). Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.182; Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (3dDist. 1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d 202, 211, reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989); Miller v. Cote (4th Dist. 1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 888, 894; System Inv. Corp. v. Union Bank (2d Dist. 1971) 21 Cal. App. 3d 137, 152-153; Saterstrom v. Glick Bros. Sash, Door & Mill Co.(3d Dist. 1931) 118 Cal. App. 379.

Additionally, any trustee’s sale based on a statutorily deficient Notice of Trustee Sale is invalid.  Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (3d Dist. 1989) 11 208 Cal.App. 3d 202, 211, reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989). The California Sixth District Court of Appeal observed, “Pursuing that policy [of judicial interpretation], the courts have fashioned rules to protect the debtor, one of them being that the notice of default will be strictly construed and must correctly set forth the amounts required to cure the default.” Sweatt v. The Foreclosure Co., Inc. (1985 – 6th District) 166 Cal.App.3d 273 at 278, citing to Miller v. Cote (1982) 127 Cal.App.3d 888, 894 and SystemInv. Corp. v. Union Bank (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 137, 152-153.

The same reasoning applies even to a notice of a trustee’s sale.  Courts will set aside a foreclosure sale when there has been fraud, when the  sale has been improperly, unfairly, or unlawfully conducted, or when there has  been such a mistake that it would be inequitable to let it stand. Bank of America Nat. Trust & Savings Ass’n v. Reidy (1940) 15 Cal. 2d 243, 248; Whitman v. Transtate Title Co.(4th Dist. 1985) 165 Cal. App. 3d 312, 322-323; In re Worcester (9th Cir. 1987) 811 F.2d 1224, 1228.  See also Smith v. Williams (1961) 55 Cal. 2d 617, 621; Stirton v. Pastor (4th Dist. 1960) 177 Cal. App. 2d 232, 234; Brown v. Busch (3d Dist. 1957) 152 Cal.App. 2d 200, 203-204.

If somehow these foreclosing predecessor-in-interest can establish this standing, or right, to extrajudicially foreclose, still it should be prevented from pursuing this eviction action, because such an action, if successful, would result in a wrongful foreclosure, due to the predecessor-in-interest’s exercise of a non-existent extrajudicial power.

IV.

PLAINTIFF, OR PLAINTIFF’S PREDECESSOR-IN-INTEREST,

DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXTRAJUDICIALLY FORECLOSE

The foreclosing predecessor-in-interest simply did not have the right to foreclose under the subject trust deed, because the notice of default  facially invalid.

The reason why the security instrument is not valid, is because it is facially void        !  A copy of the subject trust deed – a public record!! — is attached hereto.  Further, the trueness of the copy is readily verifiable, since it is a publicly-recorded document.  Clear as daylight, contact with the trustor 30 days prior to the notice was imjpossible. The was no lender MERS is not a lender Plaintiff  did not get the assignment  till 7/8/2009  . The notice of default was recorded 7/31/2009 only 23 days after the assignment.

A trust deed adds a third party, of sorts, namely the beneficiary.  It has been observed that a trust deed naming a purely fictitious person as beneficiary may be void.  Woodward v. McAdam (1894), 101 Cal. 438.  It has been held that a trust deed might be void for uncertainty, where the deed of trust does not name or describe any of the beneficiaries, but only classified them by reference to a common attribute.  Watkins v. Bryant (1891), 91 Cal. 492.  There seems to be no common-sense reason why the same principle should not apply to the designation of the grantee/ trustee, even were the law of deeds not generally applicable to trust deeds.

Beneficiary did not have the power of sale. Such irregularities should constitute sufficient grounds to set aside the entire non-judicial foreclosure process. Therefore, the Trustee’s Deed After Sale should not be admitted as no lawful basis exists for its execution. Additionally, the Notice of Default, and Notice of Default Declaration should be excluded.

The failure of Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff’s agent to perform a condition precedent pursuant to Civil Code Section 2923.5 is fatal. The Notice of Default Declaration fails is several regards, (1) the language of the Notice does not comply with the statute because it does not set forth facts of how the statute was performed; (2) the Declaration is not sworn under penalty of perjury; (3) the only date of the Declaration is the date of execution which is one day prior to the Notice of Default which was recorded only five days later, thus, thirty days did not pass from the date of execution of the Declaration and the date of recordation. As such, under Section 2923.5, the Notice of Default Declaration is void and could not support the recordation of the Notice of Default.  Because the non-judicial foreclosure process is subject to strict scrutiny, and given the material failure of a condition precedent by Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff’s agent, the entire non-judicial foreclosure process is invalid.  Therefore, the Trustee’s Deed After Sale cannot be admitted into evidence, as no lawful foundation can be laid.

CONCLUSION

          The Plaintiff’s entire case rests upon the “facial” or “on the public record” legitimacy of the extrajudicial foreclosure by its predecessor-in-interest.  The foreclosure was facially void.  The case should be dismissed, upon the court’s determination that no factual “issue” remains.

Respectfully submitted,

DATED:  June 14, 2010             _______________________________________

LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY L. MCCANDLESS

By: Timothy P. McCandless

ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT

current rulings on wrongful foreclosure

9 Jun
20.  TIME:  9:00   CASE#: MSC11-00162

 CASE NAME: CHRISTINA PENNES  vs.  PNC MORTGAGE

 HEARING ON DEMURRER TO COMPLAINT of PENNES

 FILED BY PNC BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

* TENTATIVE RULING: *

 

 

Defendant PNC Bank, N.A.’s Demurrer to each cause of action within the Complaint is sustained with leave to amend in part and without leave to amend in part. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc., section 430.10, subd. (e).)

 

1st cause of action for Cancellation of Instruments (Assignment of Deed of Trust), 2nd cause of action for Cancellation of Instruments (Notice of Default), and  3rd cause of action for Cancellation of Instruments (Notice of Default), sustained with leave to amend. Actions to remove a cloud on title, under Civil Code section 3412, are equitable in nature, and differ from actions to quiet title in that they are aimed at a particular instrument or piece of evidence. Reiner v. Danial (1989) 211 Cal. App. 3d 682, 689.  To state a cause of action to remove a cloud, instead of pleading in general terms that the defendant claims an adverse interest, the plaintiff must allege, inter alia, facts showing actual invalidity of the apparently valid instrument or piece of evidence. (5 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Pleading, sections 671-674, pp. 97-99.) Plaintiffs have not met this burden. See Complaint par 20, Ex D. See also, Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (2011) 192 Cal. App. 4th 1149 1154-55 [under Civ C  section 2924(a)(1), a trustee, mortgagee, or beneficiary, or any of their authorized agents, may initiate the foreclosure process. Nowhere, however, does the statute provide for a judicial action to determine whether the person initiating the foreclosure process is indeed authorized, and the court saw no ground for implying such an action, which would have been inconsistent with the policy behind nonjudicial foreclosure of providing a quick, inexpensive and efficient remedy.]

 

4th cause of action for wrongful foreclosure, sustained with leave to amend. The elements of a common-law cause of action for damages for wrongful foreclosure are:  (1) Trustee or mortgagee caused an illegal, fraudulent or willfully oppressive sale of real property; (2) pursuant to a power of sale contained in a mortgage or deed of trust; and (3) the Trustor or mortgagor sustained damages. (Munger v. Moore (1970) 11 Cal. App. 3d 1, 7; see 4 Witkin, Sum. Of Cal. Law (10th ed. 2005) Secured Transactions in Real Property, §168.)

The Plaintiffs  do not allege that the foreclosure sale has taken place. Thus, Plaintiffs fail to plead a necessary element of this cause of action.

 

5th cause of action for violation of UCL,  and 8th caused of action for violation of Rosenthal Debt Collection Practices Act [Civ C section 1788], sustained without leave to amend. California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) prohibits any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practice. (B&P Code section 17200.)  The broad scope of the statute encompasses both anti-competitive business practices and practices injurious to consumers. (Cel‑Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 163, 180.)

This cause of action is based in part upon the 8th cause of action for violation of the Rosenthal Debt Collection Practices Act [Civ C § 1788.]

The Rosenthal Debt Collection Practices Act [RDCPA] prohibits debt collectors from engaging in abusive, deceptive and unfair practices in the collection of consumer debts.  (Civ. Code  section 1788, et. Seq.)  Consumer debt is statutorily defined as money, property or the equivalent owed by reason of a consumer credit transaction, which in turn is defined as a transaction in which property, etc. is acquired on credit for personal, family or household purposes. Cal. Civ. Code  section 1788.2(b), (e)-(f), (h).  There are no California State Court opinions to date applying this statute to the enforcement of deeds of trust or to foreclosure proceedings.

 

6th cause of action for quiet title, sustained with leave to amend:

To state a claim for quiet title,  the complaint shall be verified. CCP section 761.020.  The Complaint is not verified.  Additionally, in order to quiet title, plaintiff  must tender the entire outstanding principal.  See, e.g., Aguilar v. Bocci (1974) 39 Cal.App.3d 475, 477 [Plaintiff cannot quiet title without discharging his debt; the cloud upon his title persists until the debt is paid.]

 

7th cause of action for rescission, sustained without leave to amend. To state a claim for contract rescission, plaintiff must allege some grounds for rescission-fraud, mistake, coercion, etc. (Civ. Code, § 1689, subd. (b).) plaintiffs do not meet hits pleading burden.

Plaintiffs Opposition does not address this cause of action, therefore, they concede that it has no merit.

 

9th cause of action for  violation of Civ C § 2923.5, sustained with leave to amend:

Actual contact is not required. See, Civil Code section 2923.59(g). Additionally, the only remedy for a Section 2923.5 violation is a postponement of the foreclosure sale to enable the defendants to comply with the requirements of the statute — not a claim for damages. (Mabry v. Superior Court (2010) 185 Cal. App. 4th 208, 235.)

The Plaintiffs do not allege that a foreclosure sale date has been noticed.

Defendant’s Request for Judicial Notice is granted. (Evid. Code, section 452(c)[public records].

 

In light of the ruling on the general demurrer, the special demurrer is moot. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc., section 430.10, subd. (f).)

 
 21.  TIME:  9:00   CASE#: MSC11-00162

 CASE NAME: CHRISTINA PENNES  vs.  PNC MORTGAGE

 HEARING ON MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFFS’ COMPLAINT

 FILED BY PNC BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

* TENTATIVE RULING: *

 

In llight of the ruling on the general demurrer, the Motion to Strike is moot.

 

Paragraph 22 in ALL Deeds of Trust lenders don’t follow the contract

3 Jun

BOMBSHELL- ANOTHER 2ND DCA SMACKDOWN- KONSULIAN! June 1st, 2011 Paragraph 22 of almost every mortgage contains a provision that requires the plaintiff to provide notice and an opportunity to cure the default prior to foreclosure. The principle behind this paragraph and the right to cure is not just a helpful little piece for the defendant, the default and cure provisions recited are an essential element of the entire legal process of foreclosure, deeply rooted in our American Jurisprudence. This is a subject that is discussed in some length in the recent Cardozo Law Review Article on Foreclosures. (attached) That’s all some deep stuff, but here’s where the rubber behind all that hits the road…in an opinion just released today….. Under Florida law, contracts are construed in accordance with their plain language, as bargained for by the parties. Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Anderson, 756 So. 2d 29, 34 (Fla. 2000). Further, Busey did not refute Konsulian’s defenses nor did it establish that Konsulian’s defenses were legally insufficient. Because Busey did not prove that it met the conditions precedent to filing for foreclosure, it failed to meet its burden, and it is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In addition to being prematurely filed, Konsulian claims that the acceleration letter failed to state the default as required by the mortgage terms. We agree and reverse. Now there are default letters floating all around in Foreclosureland, but I doubt that many of them comply with the express terms of the contract the banks created…..

Quiet title by code and verified

22 May

Cause of Action to Quiet Title – To assert a cause of action
to quiet title, the complaint must be verified and meet the other
pleading requirements set forth in CCP § 761.020.

The complaint shall be verified and shall include all of the following:

(a)A description of the property that is the subject of the action. In the case of tangible personal property, the description shall include its usual location. In the case of real property, the description shall include both its legal description and its street address or common designation, if any.

(b)The title of the plaintiff as to which a determination under this chapter is sought and the basis of the title. If the title is based upon adverse possession, the complaint shall allege the specific facts constituting the adverse possession.

(c)The adverse claims to the title of the plaintiff against which a determination is sought.

(d)The date as of which the determination is sought. If the determination is sought as of a date other than the date the complaint is filed, the complaint shall include a statement of the reasons why a determination as of that date is sought.

(e)A prayer for the determination of the title of the plaintiff against the adverse claims.

MERS MEANS QUIET TITLE IN SALT LAKE CITY

22 Jan

Posted on January 17, 2011 by Foreclosureblues

How accurate are property records?
By Tom Harvey
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: January 16, 2011 04:41PM
Updated: January 16, 2011 01:01AM

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune

Walter Keane poses for a portrait at his office Friday January 7, 2011. Keane has filed lawsuit that resulted in homeowners getting title to their property even if they owed someone money because of flaws introduced into the nation’s property recording system by an entity created by the Mortgage Bankers Association.
A Utah court case in which the owner of a Draper townhouse got clear title to the property, even though he still owed $132,000 on it, raises new legal and financial questions about a property-records database created by mortgage bankers.
The award of a title free of liens means that whoever owns the promissory note on the Draper property — likely a group of faraway investors — no longer has the right to foreclose to collect on a delinquent loan. Indeed, the townhouse owner has sold the property and kept the money. Those who own the promissory note probably don’t even know what occurred.
Decisions such as the one 3rd District Judge Glen Iwasaki handed down in the Draper case could have a big impact as the state wends its way through hundreds of lawsuits involving foreclosures, loans on properties for more than they’re worth and predatory lending practices that led Utahns to lose their homes as the real-estate bubble burst.

Quiet title • Last year, the owner of the Draper property contacted attorney Walter T. Keane to help him deal with lenders, though Keane won’t say what the problem was and the owner declined an interview request.
Keane filed what’s called a “quiet title action,” a lawsuit in which the owner seeks clear title to a property free of liens by lenders or others.
In Utah, when you take out a mortgage loan to buy a home, you sign a promissory note held by the lender and a deed of trust that is recorded at the county recorder’s office. The promissory note gives the holder the right to collect payments on the loan. The recording of the deed of trust gives the lender the right to foreclose on the property if you default on the loan.
A trustee appointed by the lender also is recorded with the county and actually holds legal title to your property subject to the conditions of the trust deed.
The lawsuit over the title to the townhouse named Garbett Mortgage and Citibank FSB as the holders of promissory notes as recorded on trust deeds filed with the recorder’s office. Integrated Title Services was listed as trustee of the Garbett Mortgage trust deed, while First American Title was the trustee of the CitiBank trust deed.

Trust deed tag-along • But there also was another entity listed on the trust deeds called the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). The Mortgage Bankers Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents major mortgage lenders, created MERS in the mid-1990s.
MERS is a database where promissory note owners are recorded, with MERS itself then listed on trust deeds at county recorder offices as the “beneficiary” of the note instead of the real lenders or note owners.
The new arrangement greased the way for mortgages to be packaged together and sold to investors who were relieved of the need under the traditional system to record the true owner of the promissory notes and to pay the county recording fees, which average around $35. Attorneys charge MERS is largely an instrument to avoid paying fees every time a promissory note is sold and resold and eventually packaged with others and owned by group of investors.
During the latter part of the real-estate boom, hundreds of thousands of subprime loans were packaged and sold using the MERS system. MERS has registered about 31 million loans, the company’s chief executive said in congressional testimony in November. CEO R.K. Arnold also said in a 2009 deposition that the system had saved its members an estimated $2.4 billion that would have gone to county governments.

Who’s the beneficiary? • Under the state’s quiet title laws, Keane said he did not have to name MERS or serve it legal papers in the lawsuit because it was not the legal owner of title to the property. Those were title companies. In addition, attorneys contend, MERS cannot be the “beneficiary” or holder of the promissory note because it readily has admitted it has no financial interest in any notes or mortgages.
Normally, a trustee named in a trust deed has a legal duty in Utah to the entity that holds the promissory note and for fair dealing with the homeowner. But in the townhouse case, First American Title filed a response to the quiet title action saying that it had no idea who had the right to collect payments on the promissory note, nor did it admit to knowing any other basic information about the property.
“The fact of the matter is First American Title doesn’t know who the beneficiary of the trust deed is and basically they disavow any interest in it,” Keane said. “It’s an acknowledgement [the recording system on this property is] a fiction, that they don’t have any real interest in it.”
Garbett Mortgage also told the court it no longer held an interest in the property. Integrated Title never filed a response to the lawsuit but did withdraw as a trustee with the Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office.
“Considering the owner of the property [the title companies who were trustees] failed to dispute the matter, and further considering that the original lender claims no further interest, the court nullified the trust deeds prior to setting any type of trial date,” Keane said.
So in the four months that the process took, the owner was able to gain title and deny the owners of his loan the ability to foreclose on the property for nonpayment. That means the promissory note owned by investors may be worth far less than they paid for it because it is no longer backed by an asset.

Record reliability • MERS spokeswoman Karmelo Lejarde said MERS actually added reliability to the system of county recording offices.
“Prior to the creation of MERS [when servicers routinely held the mortgage lien for the note owner], the information in the public land records was not accurate due to delays in recording assignments or missing assignments that never got recorded,” she said in e-mail that appears to be a boilerplate response to questions about MERS’ role in the nation’s property registration system.
“With the MERS System, mortgage data is more accurate and title information more reliable. The MERS process creates accountability and transparency, helps keep costs low, reduces the risk of errors in record keeping and makes it easier to keep track of the lien if a loan is sold to other banks and investors.”
Gary Ott, the elected Salt Lake County recorder for the past 10 years, disagrees. He characterizes his office as a neutral party that permanently safeguards records, all of which are available for public inspection. In the past, parties were able to record each transaction or lien involving a property so a clear picture emerges of the title history of a property, Ott said, adding that with computerization, the recording is now nearly instantaneous once documents are received by his office.
“You can trust what you see at the recorder’s office because it’s up to this date, everything is in order,” said Ott, “and you can’t see at MERS if it’s in order at all. That’s the scary part, and people’s homes are something you shouldn’t mess with.”

Default judgment • Keane said he’s been able to obtain quiet title in the same manner in two other cases. Another attorney, Abraham Bates, said he recently also won a quiet title action in a similar case in Salt Lake County.
In Bates’ case, a couple who owed $417,000 on a house whose value had dropped way below that also sued for quiet title.
He named the original lender and a title company listed as trustee on the trust deed. Because neither responded to the lawsuit as legally required, the judge granted the couple a default judgment that still must be verified in court, Bates said.
Bates said under Utah laws, it was not necessary to serve MERS legal papers, as it was not in the Draper townhouse case.
“MERS is not the beneficiary of the trust deed,” Bates said. “MERS did not make the mortgage loan.”

New questions • While these decisions stripped the owners of the promissory notes of the ability to foreclose on the property to recoup missed payments, it does not preclude them from suing the people who signed the notes to try to recover lost monies.
But that action would open up a new line of questions about the MERS method of property recording, said Christopher Peterson, a University of Utah law professor who has made a national name for himself recently by questioning the legal foundations of MERS’ appearance in property-recording records and its role in foreclosures.
Under laws adopted by all 50 states, the owner of a “negotiable instrument” such as a promissory note must be in physical possession of the document, said Peterson. Otherwise it would be like someone trying to cash a photocopy of a check instead of the actual check.
“One cannot be a holder of a note unless one is in physical possession of that note,” he said.
But Peterson said evidence is coming out in courts that shows the actual promissory notes or mortgages signed by buyers were not transferred as the notes made their way into the mortgage-backed securities investment pools.
That could mean in these cases that no one is in a position to try to collect because the actual notes are lost or destroyed, potentially making some promissory notes investors think they hold worthless.

Right to foreclose • Bates said he has more than 100 lawsuits pending over MERS-related questions and has hired more attorneys for his firm to handle the increasing load.
State courts have been more favorable than federal courts to homeowners seeking to halt foreclosure proceedings based on questions about MERS’ legal standing under state and federal laws, the attorneys say.
Rulings have gone different ways in different courts. But Bates said he and Peterson are teaming up to appeal a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell that dismissed a lawsuit claiming MERS did not have the legal right to initiate foreclosure proceedings.
The attorneys are appealing Campell’s ruling as it relates to Utah law to the Utah Supreme Court. A decision will help sort out the issues with MERS over whether it actually can initiate foreclosures even if it does not have any financial interest in the promissory note, Bates said.
A ruling favorable to the homeowner “would be an absolute tsunami in terms of foreclosure in the state of Utah,” he said.
If MERS is not able to start a foreclosure action, “then there will be a brick wall put up over all nonjudicial foreclosures prosecuted in this state,” Bates said.
tharvey@sltrib.com

What is MERS?
The Mortgage Bankers Association created the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, in the mid-1990s. It is a database that holds the names of the entities that have a financial interest in a particular mortgage, such as investment funds that bought bundles of mortgages called mortgage-backed securities. MERS is recorded on many property deeds of trust in Utah as the “beneficiary” of a loan taken out on a property even if that loan is sold and resold many times. MERS allows the actual loan owners to avoid paying fees every time a loan is sold.

SB 94 and its interferance with the practice

5 Sep

CA SB 94 on Lawyers & Loan Modifications Passes Assembly… 62-10

The California Assembly has passed Senate Bill 94, a bill that seeks to protect homeowners from loan modification scammers, but could end up having the unintended consequence of eliminating a homeowner’s ability to retain an attorney to help them save their home from foreclosure.

The bill, which has an “urgency clause” attached to it, now must pass the State Senate, and if passed, could be signed by the Governor on October 11th, and go into effect immediately thereafter.

SB 94’s author is California State Senator Ron Calderon, the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the bigger picture. Sen. Calderon, while acknowledging that fee-for-service providers can provide valuable services to homeowners at risk of foreclosure, authored SB 94 to ensure that providers of these services are not compensated until the contracted services have been performed.

SB 94 prevents companies, individuals… and even attorneys… from receiving fees or any other form of compensation until after the contracted services have been rendered. The bill will now go to the Democratic controlled Senate where it is expected to pass.

Supporters of the bill say that the state is literally teeming with con artists who take advantage of homeowners desperate to save their homes from foreclosure by charging hefty fees up front and then failing to deliver anything of value in return. They say that by making it illegal to charge up front fees, they will be protecting consumers from being scammed.

While there’s no question that there have been some unscrupulous people that have taken advantage of homeowners in distress, the number of these scammers is unclear. Now that we’ve learned that lenders and servicers have only modified an average of 9% of qualified mortgages under the Obama plan, it’s hard to tell which companies were scamming and which were made to look like scams by the servicers and lenders who failed to live up to their agreement with the federal government.

In fact, ever since it’s come to light that mortgage servicers have been sued hundreds of times, that they continue to violate the HAMP provisions, that they foreclose when they’re not supposed to, charge up front fees for modifications, require homeowners to sign waivers, and so much more, who can be sure who the scammers really are. Bank of America, for example, got the worst grade of any bank on the President’s report card listing, modifying only 4% of the eligible mortgages since the plan began. We’ve given B of A something like $200 billion and they still claim that they’re having a hard time answering the phones over there, so who’s scamming who?

To make matters worse, and in the spirit of Y2K, the media has fanned the flames of irrationality with stories of people losing their homes as a result of someone failing to get their loan modified. The stories go something like this:

We gave them 1,000. They told us to stop making our mortgage payment. They promised us a principal reduction. We didn’t hear from them for months. And then we lost our house.

I am so sure. Can that even happen? I own a house or two. Walk me through how that happened again, because I absolutely guarantee you… no way could those things happen to me and I end up losing my house over it. Not a chance in the world. I’m not saying I couldn’t lose a house, but it sure as heck would take a damn sight more than that to make it happen.

Depending on how you read the language in the bill, it may prevent licensed California attorneys from requiring a retainer in advance of services being rendered, and this could essentially eliminate a homeowner’s ability to hire a lawyer to help save their home.

Supporters, on the other hand, respond that homeowners will still be able to hire attorneys, but that the attorneys will now have to wait until after services have been rendered before being paid for their services. They say that attorneys, just like real estate agents and mortgage brokers, will now only be able to receive compensation after services have been rendered.

But, assuming they’re talking about at the end of the transaction, there are key differences. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are paid OUT OF ESCROW at the end of a transaction. They don’t send clients a bill for their services after the property is sold.

Homeowners at risk of foreclosure are having trouble paying their bills and for the most part, their credit ratings have suffered as a result. If an attorney were to represent a homeowner seeking a loan modification, and then bill for his or her services after the loan was modified, the attorney would be nothing more than an unsecured creditor of a homeowner who’s only marginally credit worthy at best. If the homeowner didn’t pay the bill, the attorney would have no recourse other than to sue the homeowner in Small Claims Court where they would likely receive small payments over time if lucky.

Extending unsecured credit to homeowners that are already struggling to pay their bills, and then having to sue them in order to collect simply isn’t a business model that attorneys, or anyone else for that matter, are likely to embrace. In fact, the more than 50 California attorneys involved in loan modifications that I contacted to ask about this issue all confirmed that they would not represent homeowners on that basis.

One attorney, who asked not to be identified, said: “Getting a lender or servicer to agree to a loan modification takes months, sometimes six or nine months. If I worked on behalf of homeowners for six or nine months and then didn’t get paid by a number of them, it wouldn’t be very long before I’d have to close my doors. No lawyer is going to do that kind of work without any security and anyone who thinks they will, simply isn’t familiar with what’s involved.”

“I don’t think there’s any question that SB 94 will make it almost impossible for a homeowner to obtain legal representation related to loan modifications,” explained another attorney who also asked not to be identified. ”The banks have fought lawyers helping clients through the loan modification process every step of the way, so I’m not surprised they’ve pushed for this legislation to pass.”

Proponents of the legislation recite the all too familiar mantra about there being so many scammers out there that the state has no choice but to move to shut down any one offering to help homeowners secure loan modifications that charges a fee for the services. They point out that consumers can just call their banks directly, or that there are nonprofit organizations throughout the state that can help homeowners with loan modifications.

While the latter is certainly true, it’s only further evidence that there exists a group of people in positions of influence that are unfamiliar , or at the very least not adequately familiar with obtaining a loan modification through a nonprofit organization, and they’ve certainly never tried calling a bank directly.

The fact that there are nonprofit housing counselors available, and the degree to which they may or may not be able to assist a given homeowner, is irrelevant. Homeowners are well aware of the nonprofit options available. They are also aware that they can call their banks directly. From the President of the United States and and U.S. Attorney General to the community newspapers found in every small town in America, homeowners have heard the fairy tales about about these options, and they’ve tried them… over and over again, often times for many months. When they didn’t get the desired results, they hired a firm to help them.

Yet, even the State Bar of California is supporting SB 94, and even AB 764, a California Assembly variation on the theme, and one even more draconian because of its requirement that attorneys only be allowed to bill a client after a successful loan modification has been obtained. That means that an attorney would have to guarantee a homeowner that he or she would obtain a modification agreement from a lender or servicer or not get paid for trying. Absurd on so many levels. Frankly, if AB 764 passes, would the last one out of California please turn off the lights and bring the flag.

As of late July, the California State Bar said it was investigating 391 complaints against 141 attorneys, as opposed to nine investigations related to loan modifications in 2008. The Bar hasn’t read anywhere all of the complaints its received, but you don’t have to be a statistician to figure out that there’s more to the complaints that meets the eye. So far the State Bar has taken action against three attorneys and the Attorney General another four… so, let’s see… carry the 3… that’s 7 lawyers. Two or three more and they could have a softball team.

At the federal level they’re still reporting the same numbers they were last spring. Closed 11… sent 71 letters… blah, blah, blah… we’ve got a country of 300 million and at least 5 million are in trouble on their mortgage. The simple fact is, they’re going to have to come up with some serious numbers before I’m going to be scared of bumping into a scammer on every corner.

Looking Ahead…

California’s ALT-A and Option ARM mortgages are just beginning to re-set, causing payments to rise, and with almost half of the mortgages in California already underwater, these homeowners will be unable to refinance and foreclosures will increase as a result. Prime jumbo foreclosure rates are already up a mind blowing 634% as compared with January 2008 levels, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

Clearly, if SB 94 ends up reducing the number of legitimate firms available for homeowners to turn to, everyone involved in its passage is going to be retiring. While many sub-prime borrowers have suffered silently through this horror show of a housing crisis, the ALT-A and Option ARM borrowers are highly unlikely to slip quietly into the night.

There are a couple of things about the latest version of SB 94 that I found interesting:

1. It says that a lawyer can’t collect a fee or any other compensation before serivces have been delivered, but it doesn’t make clear whether attorneys can ask the client to deposit funds in the law firm’s trust account and then bill against thsoe funds as amounts are earned. Funds deposited in a law firm trust account remain the client’s funds, so they’re not a lawyer’s “fees or other compensation”. Those funds are there so that when the fees have been earned, the lawyer doesn’t have to hope his or her bill gets paid. Of course, it also says that an attorney can’t hold any security interest, but money in a trust account a client’s money, the attorney has no lien against it. All of this is a matter of interpretation, of course, so who knows.

2. While there used to be language in both the real estate and lawyer sections that prohibited breaking up services related to a loan modification, in the latest version all of the language related to breaking up services as applied to attorneys has been eliminated. It still applies to real estate licensed firms, but not to attorneys. This may be a good thing, as at least a lawyer could complete sections of the work involved as opposed to having to wait until the very end, which the way the banks have been handling things, could be nine months away.

3. The bill says nothing about the amounts that may be charged for services in connection with a loan modification. So, in the case of an attorney, that would seem to mean that… well, you can put one, two and three together from there.

4. Lawyers are not included in definition of foreclosure consultant. And there is a requirement that new language be inserted in contracts, along the lines of “You don’t have to pay anyone to get a loan modification… blah, blah, blah.” Like that will be news to any homeowner in America. I’ve spoken with hundreds and never ran across one who didn’t try it themselves before calling a lawyer. I realize the Attorney General doesn’t seem to know that, but look… he’s been busy.

Conclusion…

Will SB 94 actually stop con artists from taking advantage of homeowners in distress? Or will it end up only stopping reputable lawyers from helping homeowners, while foreclosures increase and our economy continues its deflationary free fall? Will the California State Bar ever finishing reading the complaints being received, and if they ever do, will they understand what they’ve read. Or is our destiny that the masses won’t understand what’s happening around them until it sucks them under as well.

I surely hope not. But for now, I’m just hoping people can still a hire an attorney next week to help save their homes, because if they can’t… the Bar is going to get a lot more letters from unhappy homeowners.

Don’t get HAMP ED out of your home!

5 Sep

By Walter Hackett, Esq.
The federal government has trumpeted its Home Affordable Modification Program or “HAMP” solution as THE solution to runaway foreclosures – few things could be further from the truth. Under HAMP a homeowner will be offered a “workout” that can result in the homeowner being “worked out” of his or her home. Here’s how it works. A participating lender or servicer will send a distressed homeowner a HAMP workout agreement. The agreement consists of an “offer” pursuant to which the homeowner is permitted to remit partial or half of their regular monthly payments for 3 or more months. The required payments are NOT reduced, instead the partial payments are placed into a suspense account. In many cases once enough is gathered to pay the oldest payment due the funds are removed from the suspense account and applied to the mortgage loan. At the end of the trial period the homeowner will be further behind than when they started the “workout” plan.
In California, the agreements clearly specify the acceptance of partial payments by the lender or servicer does NOT cure any default. Further, the fact a homeowner is in the workout program does NOT require the lender or servicer to suspend or postpone any non-judicial foreclosure activity with the possible exception of an actual trustee’s sale. A homeowner could complete the workout plan and be faced with an imminent trustee’s sale. Worse, if a homeowner performs EXACTLY as required by the workout agreement, they are NOT assured a loan modification. Instead the agreement will include vague statements that the homeowner MAY receive an offer to modify his or her loan however there is NO duty on the part of the servicer or lender to modify a loan regardless of the homeowner’s compliance with the agreement.

A homeowner who fully performs under a HAMP workout is all but guaranteed to have given away thousands of dollars with NO assurance of keeping his or her home or ever seeing anything resembling an offer to modify a mortgage loan.
While it may well be the case the government was making an honest effort to help, the reality is the HAMP program is only guaranteed to help those who need help least – lenders and servicers. If you receive ANY written offer to modify your loan meet with a REAL licensed attorney and ask them to review the agreement to determine what you are REALLY agreeing to, the home you save might be your own.

A ‘Little Judge’ Who Rejects Foreclosures, Brooklyn Style

2 Sep

By Michael Powell – NY Times – 8/30/09

The judge waves you into his chambers in the State Supreme Court building in Brooklyn, past the caveat taped to his wall — “Be sure brain in gear before engaging mouth” — and into his inner office, where foreclosure motions are piled high enough to form a minor Alpine chain.

“I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate,” Justice Arthur M. Schack said.

Every week, the nation’s mightiest banks come to his court seeking to take the homes of New Yorkers who cannot pay their mortgages. And nearly as often, the judge says, they file foreclosure papers speckled with errors.

He plucks out one motion and leafs through: a Deutsche Bank representative signed an affidavit claiming to be the vice president of two different banks. His office was in Kansas City, Mo., but the signature was notarized in Texas. And the bank did not even own the mortgage when it began to foreclose on the homeowner.

The judge’s lips pucker as if he had inhaled a pickle; he rejected this one. “I’m a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn’t belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?” he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. “I won’t accept their comedy of errors.”

The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale. While national debate focuses on bank bailouts and federal aid for homeowners that has been slow in coming, the hard reckonings of the foreclosure crisis are being made in courts like his, and Justice Schack’s sympathies are clear. He has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years. And his often scathing decisions, peppered with allusions to the Croesus-like wealth of bank presidents, have attracted the respectful attention of judges and lawyers from Florida to Ohio to California. At recent judicial conferences in Chicago and Arizona, several panelists praised his rulings as a possible national model.

His opinions, too, have been greeted by a cry of affront from a bank official or two, who say this judge stands in the way of what is rightfully theirs. HSBC bank appealed a recent ruling, saying he had set a “dangerous precedent” by acting as “both judge and jury,” throwing out cases even when homeowners had not responded to foreclosure motions. Justice Schack, like a handful of state and federal judges, has taken a magnifying glass to the mortgage industry. In the gilded haste of the past decade, bankers handed out millions of mortgages — with terms good, bad and exotically ugly — then repackaged those loans for sale to investors from Connecticut to Singapore. Sloppiness reigned. So many papers have been lost, signatures misplaced and documents dated inaccurately that it is often not clear which bank owns the mortgage.

Justice Schack’s take is straightforward, and sends a tremor through some bank suites: If a bank cannot prove ownership, it cannot foreclose. “If you are going to take away someone’s house, everything should be legal and correct,” he said. “I’m a strange guy — I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate.”

Justice Schack has small jowls and big black glasses, a thin mustache and not so many hairs combed across his scalp. He has the impish eyes of the high school social studies teacher he once was, aware that something untoward is probably going on at the back of his classroom. He is Brooklyn born and bred, with a master’s degree in history and an office loaded with autographed baseballs and photographs of the Brooklyn Dodgers. His written decisions are a free-associative trip through popular, legal and literary culture, with a sideways glance at the business pages.

Confronted with a case in which Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs passed a defaulted mortgage back and forth and lost track of the documents, the judge made reference to the film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the evil banker played by Lionel Barrymore. “Lenders should not lose sight,” Justice Schack wrote in that 2007 case, “that they are dealing with humanity, not with Mr. Potter’s ‘rabble’ and ‘cattle.’ Multibillion-dollar corporations must follow the same rules in the foreclosure actions as the local banks, savings and loan associations or credit unions, or else they have become the Mr. Potters of the 21st century.”

Last year, he chastised Wells Fargo for filing error-filled papers. “The court,” the judge wrote, “reminds Wells Fargo of Cassius’s advice to Brutus in Act 1, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ ”

Then there is a Deutsche Bank case from 2008, the juicy part of which he reads aloud:

“The court wonders if the instant foreclosure action is a corporate ‘Kansas City Shuffle,’ a complex confidence game,” he reads. “In the 2006 film ‘Lucky Number Slevin,’ Mr. Goodkat, a hit man played by Bruce Willis, explains: ‘A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left.’ ”The banks’ reaction? Justice Schack shrugs. “They probably curse at me,” he says, “but no one is interested in some little judge.”

Little drama attends the release of his decisions. Beaten-down homeowners rarely show up to contest foreclosure actions, and the judge scrutinizes the banks’ papers in his chambers. But at legal conferences, judges and lawyers have wondered aloud why more judges do not hold banks to tougher standards.

“To the extent that judges examine these papers, they find exactly the same errors that Judge Schack does,” said Katherine M. Porter, a visiting professor at the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a national expert in consumer credit law. “His rulings are hardly revolutionary; it’s unusual only because we so rarely hold large corporations to the rules.”

Banks and the cottage industry of mortgage service companies and foreclosure lawyers also pay rather close attention. A spokeswoman for OneWest Bank acknowledged that an official, confronted with a ream of foreclosure papers, had mistakenly signed for two different banks — just as the Deutsche Bank official did. Deutsche Bank, which declined to let an attorney speak on the record about any of its cases before Justice Schack, e-mailed a PDF of a three-page pamphlet in which it claimed little responsibility for foreclosures, even though the bank’s name is affixed to tens of thousands of such motions. The bank described itself as simply a trustee for investors.

Justice Schack came to his recent prominence by a circuitous path, having worked for 14 years as public school teacher in Brooklyn. He was a union representative and once walked a picket line with his wife, Dilia, who was a teacher, too. All was well until the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

“Why’d I go to law school?” he said. “Thank Mayor Abe Beame, who froze teacher salaries.”

He was counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association in the 1980s and ’90s, when it was on a long winning streak against team owners. “It was the millionaires versus the billionaires,” he says. “After a while, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘He’s making $4 million, he’s making $5 million, and I’m worth about $1.98.’ ”

So he dived into a judicial race. He was elected to the Civil Court in 1998 and to the Supreme Court for Brooklyn and Staten Island in 2003. His wife is a Democratic district leader; their daughter, Elaine, is a lawyer and their son, Douglas, a police officer.Justice Schack’s duels with the banks started in 2007 as foreclosures spiked sharply. He saw a plague falling on Brooklyn, particularly its working-class black precincts. “Banks had given out loans structured to fail,” he said.

The judge burrowed into property record databases. He found banks without clear title, and a giant foreclosure law firm, Steven J. Baum, representing two sides in a dispute. He noted that Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John G. Stumpf, made more than $11 million in 2007 while the company’s total returns fell 12 percent. “Maybe,” he advised the bank, “counsel should wonder, like the court, if Mr. Stumpf was unjustly enriched at the expense of W.F.’s stockholders.”

He was, how to say it, mildly appalled. “I’m a guy from the streets of Brooklyn who happens to become a judge,” he said. “I see a bank giving a $500,000 mortgage on a building worth $300,000 and the interest rate is 20 percent and I ask questions, what can I tell you?”

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