Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

November 20, 2012

Federal District Court in Texas Rules That Third-Party Lacks Standing in Recording-Fee Case

By Karl Dowden

It appears that although courts may be receptive to claims about lost recording fees because of MERS, they won’t hear cases brought by third parties (at least, not in federal court). The citizens of a Texas county brought the claim seeking lost recording fees from MERS as a defense while they were in foreclosure. In Huml v. Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Judge David Guaderrama of the U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas, rejected the plaintiffs’ theory of MERS gaining unjust enrichment. The plaintiffs alleged that the county lost recording fees that would have been acquired had MERS not taken “undue advantage of real property recording systems.”

The Judge found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claim. Since the plaintiffs alleged that counties were harmed by MERS, Judge Guaderrama found the argument of standing “piggy-backs on the direct injury, if any, to the counties.” Since the plaintiffs couldn’t assert direct injury from lost recording fees, and because plaintiffs cannot sue to enforce a third party’s rights in federal court (unless the suit falls under a particular exception, which didn’t happen in this case), the Judge dismissed the claim.

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