Friday, October 21, 2011

Second District Reverses Foreclosure Judgment

In Feltus v. U.S. Bank National Association (2D10-3727), the Second District reversed a summary judgment of foreclosure "because material issues of fact as to which entity holding the promissory note executed by Feltus existed at the time the trial court entered summary judgment." The court described the facts (in part) as follows:
On August 24, 2009, U.S. Bank filed an unverified complaint seeking to reestablish a lost promissory note and to foreclose the mortgage on Feltus's home. U.S. Bank attached to the complaint a copy of the note and the mortgage, but both documents showed the lender to be Countrywide Bank, N.A.....Notably, these allegations did not include an allegation that Countrywide had assigned the note to U.S. Bank.....
After Feltus filed a motion to dismiss alleging that U.S. Bank had failed to establish that it owned or held the subject note, on November 16, 2009, U.S. Bank filed an affidavit of indebtedness executed by Kathy Repka, an assistant secretary of BAC Home Loan Servicing, L.P., f/k/a Countrywide Home Loan Servicing, L.P. Repka asserted that her affidavit was based on the loan payment records of the servicing agent and her familiarity with those records.....Then on November 18, 2009, U.S. Bank filed another copy of the note as a supplemental exhibit to its complaint. In contrast to the copy attached to the complaint that contained no endorsements, this copy contained two endorsements that were side by side on the last page—the first stated "PAY TO THE ORDER OF: COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC. WITHOUT RECOURSE COUNTRYWIDE BANK, N.A." and the second stated "PAY TO THE ORDER OF: __________ WITHOUT RECOURSE COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC."....on June 4, 2010, the Bank filed a reply to Feltus's affirmative defenses in which it asserted that it is now in possession of the original note, which it attached and which is the same note it filed on November 18, 2009.
With regard to the legal issues, the Court stated:
We view U.S. Bank's filing of a copy of the note that it later asserted was the original note as a supplemental exhibit to its complaint to reestablish a lost note as an attempt to amend its complaint in violation of Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.190(a). U.S. Bank did not seek leave of court or the consent of Feltus to amend its complaint. A pleading filed in violation of rule 1.190(a) is a nullity, and the controversy should be determined based on the properly filed pleadings.
As to the main issue:
The properly filed pleadings before the court when it heard the Bank's motion for summary judgment were a complaint seeking to reestablish a lost note, Feltus's answer and affirmative defenses alleging that the note attached to the complaint contradicts the allegation of the complaint that U.S. Bank is the owner of the note, a motion for summary judgment alleging a lost note of which U.S. Bank is the owner, an affidavit of indebtedness alleging that U.S. Bank was the owner and holder of the note described in the complaint, and U.S. Bank's reply to Feltus's affirmative defenses asserting that it was now in possession of the original note, which it attached to the reply. But the note attached to the complaint showed the lender to be Countrywide Bank, N.A. And the complaint failed to allege that "[t]he person seeking to enforce the instrument was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred, or has directly or indirectly acquired ownership of the instrument from a person who was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred."
In addition, the affidavit of indebtedness revealed no basis for the affiant's assertion that U.S. Bank owns and holds the note. The affiant is an assistant secretary for the alleged servicing agent of the Bank, and she asserted that she had personal knowledge of the loan based on the loan payment records. She did not assert any personal knowledge of how U.S. Bank would have come to own or hold the note.
Judge Casanueva wrote a concurring opinion and stated:
....Because the affiant's competency was based only on her review of the loan payment records, she was not competent to aver as to actions of the Bank in accelerating the loan or hiring counsel, and her averments are hearsay and inadmissible at trial. The Bank could have easily established the facts of acceleration of the note and hiring of counsel with affidavits from the Bank's official in charge of foreclosing this loan and/or the Bank's counsel to establish the fact of hiring and of the fee arrangement. Such bank official or counsel would have direct personal knowledge, would be competent, and would have presented evidence admissible at trial. The affidavit the Bank submitted fell woefully short of these requirements and could not aid the Bank in any way to support its motion for summary judgment of foreclosure.


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