Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

June 6, 2013

Massachusetts’s District Court Finds That Non-Party Mortgagors Lack Standing to Challenge Assignment Between Third Parties

By Ebube Okoli

In Aliberti v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC, 779 F.Supp.2d 242 (D.Mass.2011), the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff sought to stay GMAC’s foreclosure proceeding by challenging the assignment of the mortgage from MERS to GMAC. Plaintiff filed a three-count compliant that alleged, fraud, violations of Massachusetts’s foreclosure procedural law, and challenged the validity of the assignment.

Plaintiff alleged that the GMAC’s signatory who authorized the assignment was a “well known robo signer” and therefore the plaintiff had reason to believe that the signature on the assignment of the Mortgage was not genuine. The court rejected this argument, noting that an assignment is presumptively valid and the plaintiff failed to plead facts sufficient to challenge its presumptive validity. Further since the assignment satisfied the requirements of Massachusetts law they are deemed valid.

Next the plaintiff alleged that the assignment was invalid because MERS was never actually the mortgagee. Although, the mortgage stated that MERS was the mortgagee it also stated that “MERS is a separate corporation acting solely as a nominee for the lender and lender’s successors and assigns,” plaintiff alleged that MERS could not be both the agent as the nominee and the principal as the mortgagee to the same property right. Plaintiffs further claim GMAC could not demonstrate valid assignment of the promissory note, and that, because it could not establish valid assignment of both the mortgage and the promissory note, it had no right to foreclose on the property.

In addressing whether the assignment was valid, the court sided with the GMAC’s argument that the plaintiffs, as mortgagors, had no standing to challenge the validity of a mortgage assignment between the mortgagee and a third party. The court relied on the holding in Livonia Property Holdings, LLC. V. 12840-12978 Farmington Road Holdings, LLC., 717 F.Supp 2d 727, 735 (E.D. Mich. 2010). On similar facts, the court in Livonia, held that a borrower, as a non-party to the assignment documents it was challenging, lacked standing to challenge them.

Lastly, plaintiffs contented that GMAC’s refusal to negotiate loan modification was in violation of Massachusetts’s law. The court also rejected the contention that GMAC’s failure to negotiate constituted a violation. Under Massachusetts’s case law, absent an explicit provision in the mortgage contract, there is no duty to negotiate for loan modification once a mortgagor defaults.

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