Articles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

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Attorney Valeriano Diviacchi represented Camilla Warrender in an action brought against Warrender by her mortgagee, Sovereign Bank, which sought to collect on a loan secured by certain real property. Shortly after Diviacchi entered his appearance, Warrender, without Diviacchi’s assistance, agreed to a settlement pursuant to a stipulation that Warrender’s property be sold to a third party. Diviacchi filed a notice of attorney’s lien pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 221, 50 (section 50). The property was subsequently sold to a third-party, and Sovereign Bank dismissed its claims against Warrender. The district court denied the motion to enforce the attorney’s lien, concluding that the lien was not enforceable under section 50 because Diviacchi “failed to make a showing that he incurred reasonable fees and expenses….” The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Diviacchi’s lien was not legally enforceable against the sale proceeds. View "Sovereign Bank v. Diviacchi" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that he was the victim of a fraudulent scheme in which he allowed an attorney to take title to his home and strip it of its equity by granting a new mortgage. Plaintiff filed suit against the mortgagee in an effort to avoid foreclosure. A federal district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim that the mortgage was void. The district court denied Plaintiff’s subsequent motion to amend his complaint. The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint and the denial of his motion for leave to amend, holding (1) Plaintiff’s complaint provided no legal basis for making the bank liable for the attorney’s wrongdoing; and (2) Plaintiff failed adequately to plead facts supporting his proposed amendments to his complaint, and therefore, his new claims were also futile. View "Giuffre v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant entered into a mortgage contract with Pawtucket Credit Union (PCU) for the purchase of real property in Rhode Island. The mortgage agreement included a private contractual remedy, authorized by R. I. Gen. Laws 34-11-22, that allowed PCU, in the event Appellant defaulted on her loan payments, to accelerate its loan and invoke its statutory power of sale. PCU later declared Appellant in default, invoked its statutory power of sale, and began the foreclosure process. Appellant filed suit against PCU in federal district court, alleging that foreclosure pursuant to section 34-11-22 violated her federal and state due process rights. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that none of the statutory bases cited in Appellant’s complaint conferred federal jurisdiction. View "Grapentine v. Pawtucket Credit Union" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Plaintiff refinanced her home in Massachusetts. The mortgage contract identified MortgageIT as the lender and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) as the mortgagee. MortgageIT sold Plaintiff’s note, which changed hands several times before being deposited into a Trust, of which U.S. Bank was trustee. MERS assigned the mortgage to OneWest Bank. Following the 2011 foreclosure on her home, Plaintiff filed suit against U.S. Bank, OneWest, and MERS, contending that OneWest was never assigned valid legal title, rendering the foreclosure void. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s suit for failure to state a claim, finding that the First Circuit’s decision in Culhane v. Aurora Loan Services of Nebraska was fatal to Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff appealed, challenging the district court’s reliance on Culhane. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Culhane was on point, as Plaintiff’s argument was a variation of the same challenge raised in Culhane. View "Mills v. U.S. Bank N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff purchased property with a mortgage from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. In October 2006, Plaintiff took out a loan from Countrywide to cure his breach of a divorce agreement. In December 2006, Plaintiff took out a home equity loan from Countrywide. Because Plaintiff was not able to make payments on his October 2006 loan, Countrywide foreclosed on his property. In May 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging claims of unjust enrichment, rescission/equitable relief, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and negligence. Countrywide removed the case to federal court. The district court resolved certain claims as a matter of law and, after a bench trial on the remaining claims, entered judgment in favor of Countrywide. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that no grounds exited for reversing any of the district court’s decisions. View "Frappier v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff obtained a loan secured with a promissory note and mortgage on his Massachusetts home. The mortgage document listed Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) as mortgagee and nominee for the lender’s successors and assigns. MERS subsequently assigned Butler’s mortgage to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (Deutsche Bank). Deutsche Bank foreclosed on Plaintiff’s home. Plaintiff filed suit against Deutsche Bank for wrongful foreclosure, slander of title, and unfair and deceptive business practices under Massachusetts law, alleging that Deutsche Bank lacked legal possession over both his mortgage and accompanying note, making it an improper party to foreclose. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that the foreclosure sales were in accordance with the relevant statutory law. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint, holding (1) Deutsche Bank need not have possessed Plaintiff’s note, and (2) Plaintiff failed to state any other colorable claim on which relief might be granted. View "Butler v. Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Ams." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff refinanced his residential home mortgage, taking out a loan secured by his home. The mortgage listed Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as the mortgagee of record. MERS subsequently transferred the mortgage. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. as Trustee for RMAC Pass-Through Trust, eventually obtained the mortgage. After Wells Fargo sold Serra’s property at foreclosure, Serra brought suit in Massachusetts state court asserting, among other claims, claims for wrongful foreclosure and unfair or deceptive business practices based on his theory that MERS lacked the authority to transfer his mortgage. Serra’s suit was removed on the basis of diversity, and summary judgment as to all claims was entered against Serra. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) under Massachusetts law, MERS may validly possess and transfer a legal interest in a mortgage; (2) subsequent mortgage assignees cannot incur liability for the allegedly predatory practices of their predecessor-in-interest; and (3) Plaintiff’s argument that his right to rescission was improperly cut short by the sale of his property was without merit. View "Serra v. Quantum Servicing Corp." on Justia Law

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The IRS held a tax lien against Patrick Hannon’s property, including a parcel of land Hannon owned in Newton, Massachusetts. The IRS discharged that specific parcel from its tax lien under 26 U.S.C. 6325(b)(2)(A) to allow the City of Newton could take the property by eminent domain, and the IRS authorized the discharge upon its receipt of a portion of the amount paid by Newton. Following the taking, Hannon sued Newton in Massachusetts state court and was awarded damages for undercompensation. Both the government and Rita Manning, a lower-priority creditor who had obtained a judgment against Hannon, intervened and asserted priority to receive the damages award. A federal district court entered summary judgment in favor of Manning on the issue of whose lien had priority, concluding that the IRS’s decision to discharge the property from federal tax liens in exchange for payment from the taking meant the government had relinquished any tax lien on the later damages award. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the IRS certificate issued under section 6325(b)(2)(A) did not release any claims the IRS had on the post-taking proceeds awarded to Hannon; and (2) the IRS tax lien on those post-taking proceeds was valid and thus senior to Manning’s judgment lien. View "Hannon v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs granted a mortgage on their property in Massachusetts to Ameriquest Mortgage Company, which assigned its interest in the mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. (MERS). MERS later purported to assign Plaintiffs’ interest to HSBC Mortgage Services, Inc. (HSBC). HSBC subsequently began foreclosure proceedings on Plaintiffs’ property. Plaintiffs filed an eight-count complaint against HSBC, claiming the assignment was void, and therefore, HSBC never acquired the mortgage to their property and had no right to initiate foreclosure proceedings. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that Plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the assignment because they were not a party to the assignment, nor were they third-party beneficiaries of the assignment. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) under Massachusetts law, homeowners in Plaintiffs’ position have standing to challenge a prior assignment of their mortgage on the grounds that the assignment was void, but because Plaintiffs did not set forth a colorable claim that the mortgage assignment in question was void, Plaintiffs lacked standing to raise certain claims; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for promissory estoppel with respect to a loan modification. View "Wilson v. HSBC Mortgage Servs., Inc." on Justia Law

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HSBC Realty Credit Corporation loaned Brandywine Partners, LLC $15.9 million pursuant to a property-loan agreement for the purchase and development of industrial property in Delaware. J. Brian O’Neill, a principal of Brandywine, signed an absolute personal guaranty for the loan. O’Neill’s liability was capped at $8.1 million. After Brandywine defaulted on its repayment obligations, HSB filed suit on the guaranty agreement. O’Neill filed several defenses and counterclaims essentially asserting that HSBC must first recover any amount owed by Brandywine by proceeding against the Delaware property before turning to O’Neill’s personal guaranty. The district judge struck O’Neill’s defenses and counterclaims, granted HSBC judgment on the pleadings, and denied O’Neill’s request to replead. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court judge did not commit reversible error in granting HSBC judgment on the pleadings or in denying O’Neill leave to replead, as O’Neill did not provide any additional facts which, if repled, would permit him to make out a plausible claim for relief when matched up against the guaranty’s express language. View "HSBC Realty Credit Corp. v. O'Neill" on Justia Law