Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

June 14, 2013

Massachusetts District Court Limits Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Broad Holding From Ibanez By Limiting Challenges to Assignments

By Ebube Okoli

In Aliberti v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC, 779 F.Supp.2d 242 (D.Mass.2011), the plaintiff homeowner relied on the seemingly broad-reaching holding handed down by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in U.S. Bank National Ass’n v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637, 941 N.E.2d 40 (2011). On facts similar to Ibanez the plaintiff challenged the assignment from MERS to GMAC, thus challenging GMAC’s ability to foreclose.

The Supreme Court in Ibanez stated “any effort to foreclose by a party lacking jurisdiction and authority to carry out a foreclosure under Massachusetts law is void.“ Then adopted case law stating that attempts to foreclose on a mortgage by a party that “had not yet assigned the mortgage results in a structural defect that goes to the very heart of the defendant’s ability to foreclose and renders foreclosure sale void.”

This holding left the question still open as to whether mortgagors have a legally protected interest in assignments to which they are not a party. The district court read the holding from Ibanez as not providing an independent basis for mortgagors to collaterally contest previously executed mortgage assignments to which they are not a party. Further, the holding granted neither an interest nor rights to the third party.

The court noted that in Ibanez, the land court was specifically tasked with evaluating the sufficiency of the assignment process, and the banks, as foreclosing parties and actual parties to the mortgage assignment, had standing to seek court review of the validity of the assignment process.

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