November 24, 2013

Supreme Court of New York Grants Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss and Denied Defendant’s Cross-Motion

By Ebube Okoli

The court in deciding Bank of N.Y. Mellon v Arthur, 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4875, 2013 NY Slip Op 32625(U) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 23, 2013) granted the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss and denied the defendant’s [Arthur] cross-motion.

The Plaintiff commenced a foreclosure of a mortgage. Plaintiff moved for an order: (i) pursuant to CPLR § 3212 granting summary judgment on its foreclosure claim; (ii) pursuant to CPLR § 3211(b) and § 3212, dismissing with prejudice each of the affirmative defenses and counterclaims raised by the defendant in his answer.

The court noted that in a mortgage foreclosure case, “a plaintiff may establish a prima facie right to foreclosure by producing the mortgage documents underlying the transaction and undisputed evidence of nonpayment.” Thus, once the plaintiff established its right to foreclosure, the burden is on the defendant “to raise a triable issue regarding his affirmative defenses and counterclaims in opposition to foreclosure.”

Here, the plaintiff made out its prima facie by producing undisputed affidavits. The court found that Arthur’s response failed to produce competent evidence of any defense to raise an issue of fact. Thus, the court eventually granted the plaintiff’s motion and denied Arthur’s cross-motion.

November 24, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

November 22, 2013

Reiss on Urban Planning Legacy of the Bloomberg Administration

By David Reiss

The BLS Real Estate Society is sponsoring The Zoning and Urban Planning Legacy of the Bloomberg Administration on Monday, November 25th from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Student Lounge on the first floor of Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon Street. The press release reads:

Come hear two real estate experts discuss and debate zoning and urban planning issues and the legacy of the outgoing Bloomberg Administration.


Mitchell Korbey ’03, Chair of Zoning and Land Use Group, Herrick Feinstein

David Reiss, BLS Real Estate Professor (previously Paul Weiss, and Morrison & Foerster)

No RSVP is required for this event. Contact Rafe Serouya at for more information.

Mitch’s bio reads in part,

Prior to joining Herrick, Mitch served for six years as commissioner of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and as director of the New York City Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn office, where he guided Brooklyn’s first mixed use zoning districts through the public review process and spearheaded plans for the rezoning and revitalization of a number of neighborhoods, including Williamsburg and Greenpoint.  Prior to running the Brooklyn office, Mitch was deputy director of the Staten Island office and served in the City Planning Department’s Housing and Economic Development Division.

*   *   *

Mitch is an Adjunct Professor in Hunter College Graduate School’s Urban Affairs and Planning Department where he teaches Land Use Law and leads a seminar entitled “Lawyers and Planners in the Development Process.”  His insights on real estate development and the intricacies of local zoning laws have appeared in major real estate and business publications, including Crain’s, The New York Times and The Real Deal.

He is also a co-author of Herrick’s land use and zoning blog, ZONE, which keeps readers up-to-date on the latest issues in land use and environmental law.

November 22, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

Indiana Court of Appeals Holds HSBC Assignment Valid Despite Blank and Undated Allonge

By Devon Avallone

In Buchanan v. HSBC Mortg. Servs., 993 N.E.2d 275, 2013 Ind. App. LEXIS 404, 2013 WL 4507932 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), the Indiana Court of Appeals held that HSBC had the right to foreclose on the homeowners’ mortgage, dismissing homeowners’ allegations that the HSBC assignment was unauthorized. The Buchanans procured a loan from Accredited Mortgage Lenders in 2006, which named MERS as mortgagee and nominee. Later that year, MERS sold the loan to HSBC, who began foreclosure proceedings in 2008 after the homeowners defaulted. HSBC’s motion for summary judgment was granted in 2012, which homeowners appeal from here. The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the trial court, finding that the homeowners presented no evidence that MERS lacked authority to assign the note and mortgage. The Buchanans alleged that the assignment was rendered invalid because an endorsement was not attached to the note in the complaint, and because the allonge was blank and not dated. However, the court held the assignment was valid and endorsed to HSBC in blank under Indiana Code Section 26-1-3.1-109(a)(2) which states “A promise or order is payable to bearer if it: . . . (2) does not state a payee,” showing that HSBC was the holder of the “bearer instrument” pursuant to Indiana Code Section 26-1-3.1-301(1). The court further found no evidence that the allonge was not affixed to the note, and states that HSBC is permitted to amend its complaint to attach the allonge to the note. Homeowners also failed to produce evidence that the signatory of the HSBC assignment lacked authority to sign on behalf of Accredited. Ultimately the court found that no issue of genuine or material fact existed.

November 22, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

United States District Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Intentional Misrepresentation and Negligent Misrepresentation Claims

By Ebube Okoli

The court in Hoffman v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155092, 2013 WL 5797623 (D. Nev. Oct. 28, 2013) dismissed both of the plaintiff’s intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation claims.

Plaintiffs asserted two claims in their complaint: intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. In regards to the first claim, the court found that the plaintiffs’ claim for the misrepresentation failed because it was not pled with specificity as required by Rule 9(b). Nowhere in the complaint did plaintiffs allege who made the fraudulent statements, when the statements were made, or where they were made.

Plaintiffs failed to allege the specific content of the fraudulent statements—their allegations include only broad generalizations. Plaintiffs also failed to identify precisely what reliance they placed on the “misrepresentations” such that plaintiffs are entitled to damages or equitable relief.

Lastly, the court found that the plaintiffs also nakedly assert a claim for “negligent misrepresentation,” and that the claim suffered from the same deficiencies as the first claim.

November 22, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

United States District Court Grants Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s TILA, RESPA, and GLBA Claims

By Ebube Okoli

The court in deciding Hopkins v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155547, 2013 WL 5888086 (D. Md. Oct. 30, 2013) granted defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s TILA, RESPA, and GLBA claims.

Plaintiff referenced three statutes in their complaint: TILA, RESPA, and GLBA. Plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated TILA by “withholding certain disclosures and documentation.” Plaintiff also claimed that defendant violated RESPA by making “loan servicing errors.” Plaintiff, however, did not state which provisions of these statutes defendant violated. With regard to the GLBA, Plaintiff alleged neither how defendant violated the statute, nor which provision defendant violated.

Accordingly, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to meet the pleading requirements set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, and the complaint did not include any of the basic information necessary to be properly considered a complaint. Defendant also claimed that plaintiff’s complaint contained none of the information required by Rule 8(a). Specifically, with regard to Rule 8(a)(2)‘s requirement of “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”

The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s complaint was nothing more than an unadorned collection of vague and conclusory statements, in which the plaintiff failed to plead any specific facts supporting the claim that Green Tree somehow violated the law. Additionally, defendant argued that plaintiff failed to identify a single provision of RESPA and TILA that Green Tree allegedly violated. The court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

November 22, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

November 21, 2013

United States District Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Wrongful Foreclosure, Wrongful Ejectment, and Quiet Title Claims

By Ebube Okoli

The court in deciding Billete v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155544, 2013 WL 5840105 (D. Haw. Oct. 30, 2013) dismissed with prejudice the portions of plaintiff’s actions, including: Count I (wrongful foreclosure, wrongful ejectment, and quiet title), Count III (fraud), and Count V (unfair and deceptive acts and practices) based upon the closure of Deutsche Bank’s trust, to which MERS purportedly assigned plaintiffs’ loan, and any other alleged violations of the Trust’s Pooling and Servicing Agreement (“PSA”).

The court granted in part and denied in part Deutsche Bank’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, the defendant’s motion was denied as to the portions of Amended Counts I, III, and V based on the assertion that the assignment was invalid because HCL was dissolved prior to the assignment.

Further, the defendant’s motion regarding the portions of the plaintiffs’ claims that alleged that the foreclosure was invalid because Deutsche Bank failed to comply with Haw. Rev. Stat. § 667-5 were denied without prejudice.

November 21, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments

And How About the Just?

By David Reiss

Some believe that there are 36 righteous people whose existence justifies the whole of humanity.  Each bears the world’s pain and the world would come to an end without these Just ones. Oddly enough, I was thinking about this story when reading about the the JPMorgan Chase settlement with the Department of Justice.

I was glad to see that the company was being held accountable for its behavior (the Statement of Facts outlines the basis for the settlement).  I was also glad to see that Justice is not giving a free pass to the individuals who may be individually guilty of wrongdoing. The settlement does not bar future prosecutions and Justice seems energized to hold individuals accountable for their intentional and wrongful acts that contributed to the financial crisis. These actions by Justice will hopefully deter some potential wrongdoers going forward.

But what is missing from all of this allocating of responsibility is an acknowledgment that some people in these financial institutions tried to do the right thing. They tried to underwrite mortgages properly; they tried to rate securities properly; they tried to follow established due diligence procedures. These people were overrun by their superiors who were chasing short term profits for their employers and bigger annual bonuses for themselves. Some of these Financial Industry Just were fired, some retired, some moved on.

How might the FI Just view their actions so many years later? Their supervisors likely received large bonuses and promotions and very few of them will be held responsible for their bad acts. The FI Just, on other other hand, got harsh words, poor treatment and relatively poor compensation for their troubles.

Just as we want to disincentivize bad behavior, we should also seek to incentivize good behavior. This does not necessarily require financial compensation. For many people, an acknowledgement of their good judgment might be enough. Is there a role for government in such an initiative? Can their be a medal for financial rectitude; an honor roll for underwriting: a listing of the Just by Justice?


November 21, 2013 | Permalink | No Comments