Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

March 11, 2014

This Note and Mortgage Are Unenforceable

By David Reiss

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit issued a thoughtful opinion in In re: Dorsey, File No. 14b0002n.06 (March 7, 2014) but it leaves me dissatisfied. As Elizabeth Renuart and Dale Whitman have each demonstrated, courts have had a hard time parsing how UCC Article 3 relates to the enforceability of mortgage notes. That is not the problem with this opinion — the Court carefully applies UCC Article 3, but still concludes that the possessor of the note could not establish that it was a Person Entitled To Enforce it. As a result, the Court concludes that the possessor of the note cannot enforce the note and as a result, the mortgage is “no longer enforceable under Kentucky law.” (12)

Because of the complexity of the analysis, I refer interested readers directly to the opinion itself, which is as clear as can be expected for such a technical subject. But I will note that the Court’s result means that a party that holds the note itself and has much circumstantial evidence that the note was transferred to it by the original lender under the note can forfeit the entire value of the note and mortgage. I generally believe that lenders should be held to strict standards when seeking to enforce the terms of a mortgage loan. But in this bankruptcy proceeding, the possessor of the note is left with nothing and the borrower is granted a windfall — the entire mortgage debt has been extinguished. This does not seem to be consistent with the principles of equity.

I am curious to know what others think, particularly bankruptcy experts. Perhaps I am missing something.


[HT April Charney]

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