Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

February 5, 2013

Massachusetts Supreme Court Holds that Bank Lacks Standing to Bring SCRA Claim Against Homeowner

By Michael Liptrot

In HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Matt, 464 Mass. 193 (2013), the Supreme Court of Massachusetts found that HSBC Bank USA, N.A. (HSBC) lacked standing to proceed with its claim against the homeowner in a servicemember proceeding. HSBC initially filed a complaint in the Land Court under the Massachusetts Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (Massachusetts Act) “to determine if [homeowner] was entitled to foreclosure protections under the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (Federal SCRA or SCRA).” The homeowner did not contest the fact that she was not entitled to protection under the SCRA. Instead, she disputed HSBC’s standing to bring a foreclosure action generally, arguing, “[HSBC] was not the clear holder of either her note or her mortgage.” Despite the fact that the homeowner “was not entitled to appear or be heard at the servicemember proceeding,” the court considered the standing question sua sponte.

The court held that in determining standing in servicemember proceedings, a bank must present evidence to prove their status as mortgagees, or else as agents of mortgagees. The court reversed the Land Courts decision holding that HSBC had standing because of a purported right to purchase the homeowner’s mortgage. However, the court noted that determinations of standing in servicemember proceedings do not establish (and thus do not eliminate) standing in foreclosure proceedings.

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