In more fallout from the robo-signing scandal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a foreclosure Wednesday for a Lake Worth pro se appellant challenging JPMorgan Chase Bank for lack of standing.
In the unsigned opinion, the court agreed Chase failed to file evidence establishing it had possession of the note before filing its complaint in 2009. The bank was granted summary judgment by Palm Beach Circuit Judge John J. Hoy.
“Because Chase failed to submit any record evidence proving that it had the right to enforce the note on the date the complaint was filed, a material issue of genuine fact exists as to whether Chase had standing at the time the lawsuit was filed, thereby precluding entry of summary judgment,” the appellate panel wrote.
The final foreclosure judgment against Linda Zimmerman was reversed. On remand, the court said Chase must prove it was the holder of the endorsed note on the date the foreclosure was filed.
If evidence shows the note was endorsed in blank after the suit was filed or Chase was not the noteholder on that date, Chase will be found to have no standing and the case will be dismissed, the court determined. The bank would be allowed to file a new foreclosure action.
Royal Palm Beach attorney Thomas Ice, who represents homeowners in foreclosure, said the case was one of a string of cases the appellate courts have been reversing on standing issues.
“This woman will now have the opportunity to get a trial,” Ice of Ice Legal said. “It’s impressive that a pro se appellant can get a favorable opinion. I think it’s good that the appellate courts are continuing to emphasize that you have to prove standing at the time you file. You can’t just walk in with a note that’s endorsed in blank. You would think after being told this several times that the banks would stop going forward on summary judgment with this argument … and recognize they are leading the trial courts to errors.”
Pooling and servicing agreements on mortgages packaged for securitized sales routinely required notes in the pool to be endorsed in blank, a practice that may make it impossible for banks to prove they have the right to foreclose.
GrayRobinson lawyers Shayna Freyman, Thomas Loffredo and Jeffrey Kuntz, who represented Chase, did not return calls or emails by deadline.
The opinion was issued by Judges Dorian Damoorgian, Jonathan Gerber and Spencer Levine.