CAN A CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNER DEMAND THAT THE LENDER OR LOAN SERVICER PRODUCE THE NOTE AS A FORECLOSURE DEFENSE STRATEGY?
There is no guarantee the following is correct. Law changes all the time. This is for attorneys only and you should assume the information is not correct. This is general legal information only.
Unfortunately, court says “no way” and declares THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE ANYONE PRODUCE THE ORIGINAL PROMISSORY NOTE AS A PRE-REQUISITE TO PURSUING A PRIVATE TRUSTEE SALE. Here are a few snipets from the case:
MY COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD AND MERELY REPRESENT MY OPINION.
Chilton v. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n, Slip Copy, 2009 WL 5197869 (E.D.Cal.)
ORDER RE PROPOSED ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE AND MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
Plaintiff filed a complaint on December 16, 2009, alleging that Defendant, Federal National Mortgage Association, violated unspecified provisions of federal law within “Title 15 U.S.C. and/or Title 18 U.S.C.” because Defendant initiated non-judicial foreclosure on her property, located in Clovis, California, without possessing the genuine original note.” She advances no other bases for relief.
Plaintiff has also filed an “order to show cause and motion for temporary restraining order,” in an attempt to block the foreclosure process.
To obtain temporary or permanent injunctive relief, a plaintiff must demonstrate likelihood of success on the merits. Here, Plaintiff’s only legal theory has been resoundingly rejected as a basis for relief. It is well-established that non-judicial foreclosures can be commenced without producing the original promissory note.
THAT’S THE PART THAT HURTS. I SUPPOSE ANYONE WHO SHOWS UP ON FORECLOSURE DAY CLAIMING TO BE THE HOLDER OF THE LOAN (WHETHER IT IS MERS PRETENDING TO BE THE BENEFICIARY OR THE NOMINEE OF THE LENDER, THE LOAN SERVICER PRETENDING TO BE THE HOLDER OF THE LOAN OR SOME OTHER THIRD PARTY, LIKE WALLMART FOR EXAMPLE, CLAIMING TO BE THE HOLDER OF THE LOAN) GETS AN UNFETTERED RIGHT TO FORECLOSE, AND A FREE PASS FROM ANY JUDICIAL SCRUTINY WHATSOEVER.
The Court went on to state:
“Non-judicial foreclosure under a deed of trust is governed by California Civil Code Section 2924 which relevant section provides that a “trustee, mortgagee or beneficiary or any of their authorized agents” may conduct the foreclosure process.” California courts have held that the Civil Code provisions “cover every aspect” of the foreclosure process, (case cited), and are “intended to be exhaustive,”(another case cited). There is no requirement that the party initiating foreclosure be in possession of the original note.
AFTER LEVELING THIS BLOW THE COURT CITED A FEW OTHER CASES THAT RESULTED IN THE SAME OUTCOME FOR PLAINTIFFS ASSERTING THE “PRODUCE THE NOTE” FORECLOSURE DEFENSE STRATEGY (OBVIOUSLY IN AN ATTEMPT TO TELL FUTURE LITIGANTS IN CALIFORNIA “GIVE UP TRYING TO VERIFY ANYONES CREDENTIALS”):
(1) See, e.g., Nool v. HomeQ Servicing, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2009 WL 2905745 (Sep. 4 2009) (“There is no requirement that the party initiating foreclosure be in possession of the original note.”);
(2) Candelo v. NDEX West, LLC, 2008 WL 5382259, at *4 (E.D.Cal. Dec.23, 2008) (“No requirement exists under statutory framework to produce the original note to initiate non-judicial foreclosure.”);
(3) Putkkuri v. ReconTrust Co., 2009 WL 32567, *2 (S.D.Cal. Jan.5, 2009) (“Production of the original note is not required to proceed with a non-judicial foreclosure.”);
(4) Phillips v. MERS Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, 2009 WL 3233865, 9 (E.D.Cal.2009); Vargas v. Reconstruction Co., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100115, at *8-9 (E.D.Cal. Dec. 1, 2008).
WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY DISCUSSED THE KANSAS SUPREME COURT CASE THAT DISCUSSED THE ROLE OF MERS IN WHICH THE COURT SEEMED TO SUGGEST THAT MERS WAS NOT A BENEFICIARY UNDER THE DEED OF TRUST JUST BECAUSE THEY SAY THEY ARE IN THE DOCUMENT. THE COURT ADDRESSED PLAINTIFF’S RELIANCE ON THAT CASE:
“Plaintiff’s reliance on Landmark National Bank v. Kessler, 216 P.3d 158, 2009 Kan. LEXIS 834 (Kan.2009), is misplaced. That case concerned a company, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), that acted on behalf of a lender to finalize a second mortgage on Kessler’s home. For procedural reasons not relevant to the present case, it became necessary for the Kansas court to determine whether MERS possessed an interest in the second mortgage, eventually concluding that under the specific facts of that case, MERS was more like an agent than a buyer/owner of the note.”
THE COURT CONTINUED:
“In reaching this conclusion, the Landmark court noted: Indeed, in the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable. “The practical effect of splitting the deed of trust from the promissory note is to make it impossible for the holder of the note to foreclose, unless the holder of the deed of trust is the agent of the holder of the note. [Citation omitted.] Without the agency relationship, the person holding only the note lacks the power to foreclose in the event of default. The person holding only the deed of trust will never experience default because only the holder of the note is entitled to payment of the underlying obligation. [Citation omitted.] The mortgage loan becomes ineffectual when the note holder did not also hold the deed of trust.” Bellistri v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 284 S.W.3d 619, 623 (Mo.App.2009).”
THE COURT CHIMED IN ON THIS LEGAL REQUIREMENT:
“This language merely stands for the proposition that one possessing the deed of trust cannot foreclose on a mortgage without (1) also possessing some interest in the promissory note, or (2) obtaining permission to act as agent of the note-holder. This has nothing whatsoever to do with possession of the “original” promissory note document, i.e., the original piece of paper with original signatures, etc., the possession of which is not required to initiate non-judicial foreclosure in California. Because Plaintiff cannot possibly establish any likelihood of success on her current claim for relief, it is not necessary to set her motion for temporary injunctive relief for hearing. Her motion is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED.”
There you have it friends, as we have been telling callers to our office seeking foreclosure defense, DO NOT RELY ON “PRODUCE THE NOTE” AS A SILVER BULLET FORECLOSURE DEFENSE THAT IS GOING TO STOP YOUR FORECLOSURE WITH AN INJUNCTION AND GET YOUR HOUSE FOR FREE. IF THERE ARE GLARING IRREGULARITIES, AND OTHER LEGAL GROUNDS TO GET YOU INTO COURT VALIDLY, THEN YOU MAY WANT TO TAG ON THIS CLAIM AND SEE IF YOU CAN GET A DIFFERENT OUTCOME FROM A DIFFERENT JUDGE, BUT SUFFICE IT TO SAY AS A STAND-ALONE LEGAL THEORY, THERE IS SIMPLY NOT MUCH TEETH TO THE THEORY. MOST OF THE CASES WHERE YOU HEAR OF SOME SUCCESS COME FROM FLORIDA AND OHIO AND OTHER “JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE” STATES WHERE THE LENDER IS FORCED TO FILE IN COURT TO START THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS. IN THESE CASES, THE ISSUE BECOMES A QUESTION OF “STANDING” AND “REAL PARTY IN INTEREST.” THERE IS ALSO THE BANKRUPTCY ANGLE THAT WE WILL BE EXPLORING IN GREATER DETAIL IN FUTURE POSTS.
In a similar case, NEWBECK v. WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK, Slip Copy, 2010 WL 291821 (N.D.Cal.), the Court essentially held the same way when a Plaintiff tried to argue “produce the original note” as a strategy to set aside a foreclosure sale that had already occurred. In this case the Court first discussed the dreaded issue of challenging a foreclosure sale that had already been finalized, and the Court’s comments shed light on how one-sided the laws are when you dare take on a “lender” in Court
“Plaintiffs ask the Court to set aside Washington Mutual’s foreclosure sale of their property. They assert that Washington Mutual did not have possession of the original mortgage note or the deed of trust under which it was secured and, as a result, it was not entitled to foreclose. A plaintiff seeking to set aside a foreclosure sale must first allege tender of the amount of the secured indebtedness. Abdallah v. United Savings Bank, 43 Cal.App.4th 1101, 1109, 51 Cal.Rptr.2d 286 (1996) (citing FPCI RE-HAB 01 v. E & G Investments, Ltd., 207 Cal.App.3d 1018, 1021-22, 255 Cal.Rptr. 157 (1989)); Smith v. Wachovia, 2009 WL 1948829, at *3 (N.D.Cal.). Without pleading tender or the ability to offer tender, a plaintiff cannot state a cause of action to set aside a foreclosure sale. Karlsen v. Am. Savings & Loan Ass’n, 15 Cal.App.3d 112, 117, 92 Cal.Rptr. 851 (1971) (citing Copsey v. Sacramento Bank, 133 Cal. 659, 662 (1901)); Smith, 2009 WL 1948829, at * 3 (citing Karlsen ). Plaintiffs allege neither tender nor their ability to offer tender. Thus, they do not state a claim to set aside the foreclosure sale.
THIS MEANS, IF YOU ARE CHALLENGING A FORECLOSURE SALE AND SEEK TO SET IT ASIDE (ON WHATEVER PROPER GROUNDS YOU MAY HAVE) YOU NEED TO AT LEAST ALLEGE A WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO TENDER. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, YOU MAY WANT TO TELL THE JUDGE THAT YOU WILL TENDER THE FULL BALANCE DUE AFTER YOU COLLECT ON YOUR FRAUD JUDGEMENT. SOMETIMES THIS MAY BE ALL YOU HAVE WHEN YOU ARE WAY UPSIDE DOWN ON YOUR PROPERTY.
THE COURT THEN WENT ON TO DISCUSS WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN EVEN IF YOU COULD TENDER:
“Even if they alleged tender, the basis on which they appear to seek relief does not support their claim. In California, there is no requirement that a trustee produce the original promissory note prior to a non-judicial foreclosure sale. See, e.g., Pantoja v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 640 F.Supp.2d 1177, 1186 (N.D.Cal.2009); Smith, 2009 WL 1948829, at *3; Neal v. Juarez,2007 WL 2140640, *8 (S.D.Cal.) (citing R.G. Hamilton Corp. v. Corum, 218 Cal. 92, 94, 97, 21 P.2d 413 (1933); Cal. Trust Co. v. Smead Inv. Co., 6 Cal.App.2d 432, 435, 44 P.2d 624 (1935)).California Civil Code Sections 2924 through 2924k “provide a comprehensive framework for the regulation of a non-judicial foreclosure sale pursuant to a power of sale contained in a deed of trust.” Knapp v. Doherty, 123 Cal.App.4th 76, 86, 20 Cal.Rptr.3d 1 (2004) (quoting Moeller v. Lien, 25 Cal.App.4th 822, 830, 30 Cal.Rptr.2d 777 (1994)). Knapp explains the non-judicial foreclosure process as follows: Upon default by the trustor [under a deed of trust containing a power of sale], the beneficiary may declare a default and proceed with a nonjudicial foreclosure sale. The foreclosure process is commenced by the recording of a notice of default and election to sell by the trustee. After the notice of default is recorded, the trustee must wait three calendar months before proceeding with the sale. After the 3-month period has elapsed, a notice of sale must be published, posted and mailed 20 days before the sale and recorded 14 days before the sale. Knapp, 123 Cal.App.4th at 86, 20 Cal.Rptr.3d 1 (citation omitted).
I SUPPOSE YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO ASK WHO THE “BENEFICIARY” IS OR MAKE ANYONE PROVE THAT POINT BEFORE THEY TAKE YOUR HOUSE. ARE YOU ALSO ALLOWED TO ASK WHO THE BENEFICIARY IS FOR PURPOSES OF COMPLIANCE WITH CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE SECTION 2923.5 AND THE DECLARATION THAT IS MADE UNDER THIS SECTION? WE WILL DISCUSS THIS ISSUE IN ANOTHER BLOG POST.
ANYWAY, I DIGRESS, THE COURT CONTINUED:
“A properly conducted nonjudicial foreclosure sale constitutes a final 13 adjudication of the rights of the borrower and lender.” Plaintiffs have not pointed to controlling authority to show that this statutory scheme requires production of the original promissory note or deed of trust. Thus, even if they alleged tender, to the extent that they allege irregularities in the foreclosure sale based on Washington Mutual’s failure to produce the original promissory note or deed of trust, they do not state a claim.
AS DISCUSSED ABOVE, ONLY OUT OF STATE CLAIMS FOR PRODUCE THE NOTE WERE CITED (THESE COME FROM THE JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE STATES).
“Plaintiffs cite various out-of-state cases, which apply non-California law to judicial foreclosure actions. See In re Foreclosure Actions, 2007 WL 4034554 (N.D.Ohio); In re Foreclosure Cases, 2007 WL 3232430 (N.D.Ohio); Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kessler, 289 Kan. 528, 216 P.3d 158 (2009); U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Ibanez, 2009 WL 3297551 (Mass.Land Ct.). Because these cases do not apply California’s non-judicial foreclosure sale statutes, they do not support Plaintiffs’ position.”
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT, MORE PROOF OF THE MOUNTAIN YOU MUST CLIMB TO GET TO THE PROMISED LAND. AS WE TELL OUR CLIENTS, FORECLOSURE DEFENSE IS NOT AN EASY BUSINESS.
KEYWORDS: CALIFORNIA FORECLOSURE DEFENSE LAWYER / PHOENIX FORECLOSURE DEFENSE LAWYER / ARIZONA LOAN MODIFICATION LAWYER / PRODUCE THE NOTE FORECLOSURE DEFENSE STRATEGY / SCOTTSDALE LOAN MODIFICATION / PHOENIX BANKRUPTCY LAWYER / PHOENIX BK ATTORNEY / NEWPORT BEACH FORECLOSURE LAWYER / INJUNCTION TO STOP FORECLOSURE / TRO / LIS PENDENS / SB1137 / FILE CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY / MERS / SECURITIZED LOANS / QWR.
AUTHORS NOTE: IF THE CALIFORNIA FORECLOSURE STATUTES GOVERN THE FORECLOSURE SALE PROCESS, AND IF NOTHING ELSE REALLY MATTERS, THEN YOU NEED TO TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT WHETHER THAT STATUTE IS BEING COMPLIED WITH WHEN LOOKING TO OBTAIN AN INJUNCTION TO HALT FORECLOSURE.