NY Monroe Case: Default entered against homeowner — CASE DISMISSED on Standing — US Bank Never refiled.
multiple choice robo-pleading
NO PLEADING: HOMEOWNER WON ANYWAY
I have held off on discussing this case until some time passed. As far as I now know US Bank, like several cases I won, has not refiled for foreclosure. There is a good reason for that. US Bank is not the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff is named as a REMIC Trust, for which the attorneys claim that US Bank is the Trustee.
As such the Plaintiff does not own nor have any interest in the loan either as owner or servicer. Hence the named trustee (U.S. Bank) is named but it has nothing to do since the trust is nonexistent and in all events no attempt has ever been made to entrust the subject mortgage into the fiduciary hands of U.S Bank.
And THAT is because the only party with an equitable interest in the debt is a group of investors whose money was used to fund the origination or acquisition of the loan. The investors meanwhile think that their money was placed in trust and then used to purchase, not originate, loans.
Every once in a while a wily judge catches on from the face of the documentation. This judge ruled against US Bank as Trustee for a named REMIC Trust because he didn’t believe US Bank or the Trust was actually related to the subject loan. He gave them a chance to correct their pleading, but apparently out of fear of perjury, the lawyers for the nonexistent trust backed off, apparently permanently.
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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
Quoting from the complaint field by lawyers for their supposed client, a nonexistent trust with a completely denuded trustee, the court includes their own allegation in its ruling:
2 (“Plaintiff is the owner and holder of the subject Note and Mortgage or has been delegated authority to institute this Mortgage foreclosure action by the owner and holder of the subject Note and Mortgage.”);
What does that even mean? This is a perfect example of multiple choice robo-pleading. Either the Plaintiff is the owner and holder of the subject note or mortgage or they are not. If they own the debt, they don’t say as much and certainly didn’t offer any proof at their uncontested hearing on damages. It’s pretty hard to lose an uncontested hearing but US Bank has done it multiple times, as reported in this case.
If they have been delegated authority by the owner and holder of the subject note and mortgage, they fail to say who delegated that authority and how the delegation occurred. Since the express purpose of the trust was to own the debt, note and mortgage and make payments to investors based upon the trust’s ownership of the debt, note and mortgage, Demoting the trust to the status of a conduit or agent would be completely adverse to the express wording and authority granted in the trust.
Actually that kind of wording is exactly what enables the players to claim interest in notes and mortgages adverse to the interests of the parties whose money was directly used to fund the origination and acquisition of loans.
Here are some revealing quotes from the District Judge:
The Complaint does not contain any details concerning U.S. Bank’s role as trustee or the powers it has over the trust property (including the mortgage here). (e.s.)
The party asserting subject matter jurisdiction carries the burden of proving its existence by a preponderance of the evidence. E.g., Makarova, 201 F.3d at 113; Augienello v. FDIC, 310 F. Supp. 2d 582, 587–88 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). This is true even on a motion for default judgment, since the principle that a default deems the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint to be admitted is inapplicable when a court doubts the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. Transatlantic Marine, 109 F.3d at 108.
2 While some of these issues were discussed elsewhere by U.S. Bank’s counsel, e.g., Dkt. No. 7, they were not included in the affidavit filed in support of default judgment.
“When a default is entered, the defendant is deemed to have admitted all of the well- pleaded factual allegations in the complaint pertaining to liability.” Bravado Int’l Grp. Merch. Servs., Inc. v. Ninna, Inc., 655 F. Supp. 2d 177, 188 (E.D.N.Y. 2009) (citing Greyhound Exhibitgroup, Inc. v. E.L.U.L. Realty Corp., 973 F.2d 155, 158 (2d Cir. 1992)). “While a default judgment constitutes an admission of liability, the quantum of damages remains to be established by proof unless the amount is liquidated or susceptible of mathematical computation.” Flaks v. Koegel, 504 F.2d 702, 707 (2d Cir. 1974); accord, e.g., Bravado Int’l, 655 F. Supp. 2d at 190. “[E]ven upon default, a court may not rubber-stamp the non-defaulting party’s damages calculation, but rather must ensure that there is a basis for the damages that are sought.” United States v. Hill, No. 12-CV-1413, 2013 WL 474535, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 7, 2013)
In the past year, U.S. Bank’s attorneys—Gross Polowy—have repeatedly failed to secure default judgments in similar foreclosure cases before this Court. E.g., U.S. Bank Tr., N.A. v. Dupre, No. 15-CV-558, 2016 WL 5107123 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 20, 2016) (Kahn, J.); Nationstar Mortg. LLC v. Moody, No. 16-CV-279, 2016 WL 4203514 (N.D.N.Y. Aug. 9, 2016) (Kahn, J.); Nationstar Mortg. LLC v. Pignataro, No. 15-CV-1041, 2016 WL 3647876 (N.D.N.Y. July 1, 2016) (Kahn, J.); cf. Ditech Fin. LLC v. Sterly, No. 15-CV-1455, 2016 WL 7429439, at *4 (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 23, 2016) (denying a motion for default judgment due to a defective notice of pendency); OneWest Bank, N.A. v. Conklin, No. 14-CV-1249, 2015 WL 3646231, at *4 (N.D.N.Y. June 10, 2015) (same). In each case, Gross Polowy’s motion was denied for one of two reasons: either the complaint failed to sufficiently allege subject matter jurisdiction, e.g., Dupre, 2016 WL 5107123, at *2–5, or the motion for default judgment failed to meet the requirements of the Court’s Local Rules, e.g., Moody, 2016 WL 4203514, at *2. Here, both of these failures are present.
The Complaint also includes no allegations concerning U.S. Bank’s ability to proceed under its own citizenship, despite bringing this case on behalf of the “LSF9 Master Participation Trust.” Compl.
While U.S. Bank is the nominal plaintiff in this case, it is longstanding federal law that “court[s] must disregard nominal or formal parties and rest jurisdiction only upon the citizenship of real parties to the controversy.” Navarro Sav. Ass’n v. Lee, 446 U.S. 458, 461 (1980). “Where an agent acts on behalf of a principal, the principal, rather than the agent, has been held to be the real and substantial party to the controversy. As a result, it is the citizenship of the principal—not that of the agent—that controls for diversity purposes.” Hilton Hotels Corp. v. Damornay Antiques, Inc., No. 99-CV-4883, 1999 WL 959371, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 20, 1999) (citing Airlines Reporting Corp. v. S&N Travel, Inc., 58 F.3d 857, 862 (2d Cir. 1995)). At issue here is the application of this rule in lawsuits brought by a trustee on behalf of a trust. —3 Gross Polowy should be aware of this rule because they were “foreclosure counsel” for the plaintiff-appellee in Melina, 827 F.3d at 216–17, though in fairness it seems they were replaced by Hogan Lovells for both the subject matter jurisdiction issue and the subsequent appeal, id. at 216; OneWest Bank, N.A. v. Melina, No. 14-CV-5290, 2015 WL 5098635 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 31, 2015), aff’d, 827 F.3d 214.
In Navarro, the Court held that trustees can be the real parties in controversy—regardless of the type of trust—provided that they “are active trustees whose control over the assets held in their names is real and substantial.” 446 U.S. at 465; see also Carden v. Arkoma Assocs., 494 U.S. 185, 191 (1990) (noting that, if the trustees are “active trustees whose control over the assets held in their names is real and substantial,” they are brought “under the rule, ‘more than 150 years’ old, which permits such trustees ‘to sue in their own right, without regard to the citizenship of the trust beneficiaries’” (quoting Navarro, 446 U.S. at 465–66)). The continued validity of this rule was endorsed by the Court in Americold. 136 S. Ct. at 1016.
If U.S. Bank wishes to proceed in federal court, it must, within thirty (30) days, move to amend its Complaint to address the deficiencies identified in this order. This motion to amend must be prepared in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(a)(4), which establishes the form for such a motion and lists the required papers. With that motion, to resolve the Court’s doubts concerning subject matter jurisdiction, U.S. Bank must also provide its articles of association (along with any other documentation required to establish the location of its main office), the trust instrument for the LSF9 Master Participation Trust,4 and any other documentation required to show that U.S. Bank’s control over the trust assets is real and substantial. Failure to comply with this Memorandum-Decision and Order when moving to amend the Complaint may result in the denial of the motion or sanctions. L.R. 1.1(d).
4 In the Dupre case discussed above, U.S. Bank also was instructed to file the trust instrument for the LSF8 Master Participation Trust (presumably another securitization vehicle for mortgage debt) in order to establish subject matter jurisdiction. 2016 WL 5107123, at *2. When it did file the trust instrument, “the text . . . was almost entirely redacted,” and the only visible portion seemed to oppose the notion that U.S. Bank was an active trustee with real and substantial control over the trust assets. Id. at *2, *4. This failure should not be repeated here, and filing documents under seal or with redactions requires advance permission of the Court. L.R. 83.13; see also Lugosh v. Pyramid Co. of Onondaga, 435 F.3d 110, 119–20 (2d Cir. 2006) (describing the standard for restricting public access to judicial documents).
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