Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

April 15, 2013

6th Circuit Upholds Foreclosure by Lender Under Michigan Law

By David Reiss

The 6th Circuit upheld a foreclosure under Michigan law in Conlin v. MERS et al., (Case No. 12-2021, April 10, 2013).  Plaintiff Conlin sought to have the foreclosure sale of his property “set aside based on alleged defects in the assignment of the mortgage on the property from Defendant Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems to Defendant U.S. Bank.” (2) The Court noted that “Michigan courts have held that once the statutory redemption period lapses [as had occurred in this case], they can only entertain the setting aside of a foreclosure sale where the mortgagor has made ‘a clear showing of fraud, or irregularity.'” (5, citation omitted) Furthermore, the fraud “‘must relate to the foreclosure procedure itself.'” (6, citation omitted)

Conlin claimed that the assignment from MERS to U.S. Bank “was forged or ‘robo-signed.'” (7)  He also claimed that “MERS had no capacity to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank.” (7) The Court noted that third parties typically do not have standing to challenge an assignment unless the challenge would render “the assignment absolutely invalid or ineffective, or void.'” (7, citation omitted) The Court determined that the Michigan Supreme Court held that ‘”defects or irregularities in a foreclosure proceeding result in a foreclosure that is voidable, not void ab initio‘” and that borrowers must be prejudiced by lender’s failure to comply with the foreclosure statute’s requirements. (8, citation omitted)

The court concluded:

Even were the assignment from MERS to U.S. Bank invalid, thereby creating a defect in the foreclosure process under § 600.3204(1)(d), Plaintiff has not shown that he was prejudiced. He has not shown that he will be subject to liability from anyone other than U.S. Bank; he has not shown that he would have been in any better position to keep the property absent the defect; and he has not shown that he has been prejudiced in any other way. Additionally, he has also failed to make the clear showing of fraud in the foreclosure process required to challenge the foreclosure after the expiration of the six-month redemption period. (9)

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