Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

June 26, 2013

Massachusetts Trial Court Grants Defendant Bank’s Motion For Summary Judgment in Service Member Civil Relief Act Case

By Ebube Okoli

The Plaintiff in Randle v. GMAC, No. 09 MISC 408202 GHP filed a complaint seeking, among other things, a declaration that defendant GMAC Mortgage did not hold any claim secured by a mortgage recorded with the County Registry, and lacked standing to bring an action against the plaintiff pursuant to the Service Members Civil Relief Act.

Summary judgment was sought by the defendant and granted. It was undisputed that GMAC was the current holder of the mortgage, and therefore there were only two issues and one sub-issue left in contention.

The first issue was whether the plaintiff’s claimed right to challenge the standing of GMAC to have filed the Service Members Case required a judgment in the previous case, declaring the foreclosure invalid; and whether the plaintiff was entitled to the ninety-day right to cure set out in state law.

In deciding the judgment from the Service Member case, the court considered the plaintiff’s argument that due to the chronology of the assignments of the mortgage, and the recording with the registry, relative to the filing and prosecution of the Service Member’s case by GMAC, and also due to evident discrepancy in the date the judgment in the Service Member case was entered on the docket, the foreclosure sale by GMAC cannot be valid and cannot be effective to pass a title.

The court rejected this line of argument and found that such an argument ignored the long established limited scope of Service Members proceedings in Massachusetts. The court noted that a foreclosure is not invalid because title passed on a date prior to the issuance of the judgment in a Service Members case, which has a limited scope and purpose does not permit litigation of broader issues involving the relationship between the borrower and the lender.

Next, the court considered the standing of the mortgagee. The plaintiff claimed a right to challenge the standing of GMAC to have filed the Service Members case. GMAC argued that the standing of a mortgagee to commence a Service Member action was not a live issue in determining the validity of a foreclosure when the mortgage was the record holder of the subject mortgage at the time of the foreclosure. The court agreed with GMAC’s argument.

Lastly, the plaintiff argued that GMAC was unable to foreclose because it did not provide the plaintiff with a 90-day the notice and opportunity to cure a default, as mandated by state law. However, upon review of the designated state law, the court found that the plaintiff was not entitled to such notice, because the specified state law did not apply “to such mortgages whose statutory condition had been voided prior to May 1, 2008.”

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