Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-11-2383 Peterson, Judge
Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-11-2383 William Bernard Butler, Butler Liberty Law, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellants)
Phillip James Ashfield, William Anders Folk, Leonard, Street and Deinard, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondents JPMorgan, et al.)
Gerald G. Workinger, Jr., Usset Weingarden & Liebo, PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent Usset, Weingarden and Liebo)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
Appellants-mortgagors challenge the summary-judgment dismissal of their action challenging the validity of mortgage interests asserted by respondents, arguing that (1) fact issues exist regarding whether respondents' purported interests in appellants' properties were invalidated by unrecorded mortgage assignments; and (2) the district court erred in concluding that the evidence presented by appellant-mortgagors was speculative. We affirm.
Appellants are six homeowners who obtained loans to purchase their homes. Appellants executed promissory notes in favor of the lenders and mortgages to secure the loans. The mortgages named respondent Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) as the mortgagee, as nominee for the lenders and their successors. The supreme court has explained that
MERS is an electronic registration system that was created in the aftermath of the 1993 savings and loan crisis. MERS does not originate, lend, service, or invest in home mortgage loans. Instead, MERS acts as the nominal mortgagee for the loans owned by its members. The MERS system is designed to allow its members, which include originators, lenders, servicers, and investors, to assign home mortgage loans without having to record each transfer in the local land recording offices where the real estate securing the mortgage is located. MERS members pay subscriber fees to register on the MERS system, as well as other fees on each loan registered and each transaction conducted.
Jackson v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 770 N.W.2d 487, 490 (Minn. 2009). Respondents JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Chase Home Finance, LLC, and EMC Mortgage Corporation were involved in assignments of appellants' loans and mortgages. Respondent Usset, Weingarden and Liebo, P.L.L.P., is a law firm retained by respondents to foreclose on three of appellants' mortgages.
In 2004, appellants Patrick and Jacqueline Wollmering obtained a loan to purchase a home in Scott County. The Wollmerings executed a promissory note in favor of GreenPoint Mortgage Funding, Inc., and a mortgage in favor of MERS, as nominee for GreenPoint and its successors. The mortgage was recorded in Scott County on September 21, 2004. In December 2004, the Wollmerings' loan was sold to Structured Asset Mortgage Investments II, Inc. Bear Stearns ALT-A Trust, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2004-13 (the Wollmering Trust). The Wollmering Trust is subject to a pooling-and-servicing agreement (PSA) among Structured Asset Mortgage Investment II Inc. (the depositor), JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (the trustee), Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (the master servicer and securities administrator), and EMC Mortgage Corporation.
The parties dispute what is required by section 2.01 of the PSA. Section 2.01 states:
(a) [Structured Asset] concurrently with the execution and delivery of this Agreement, sells, transfers and assigns to the Trust without recourse all its right, title and interest in and to (i) the Mortgage Loans identified in the applicable Mortgage Loan Schedule . . .; (vii) the rights with respect to the GreenPoint Servicing Agreement as assigned to [JPMorgan Chase] on behalf of the Certificateholders by the Assignment Agreement . . . .
(b) In connection with the above transfer and assignment, [Structured Asset] hereby deposits with [JPMorgan Chase], as its agent, with ...