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Bombshell Ruling on MERS. It’s illegal, absurd and may make every one of its own mortgages unenforceable!

Uncategorized February 22, 2012

A recent ruling by Judge Robert E. Grossman in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York in the chapter 7 case, In Re: Ferrel L. Agard sets forth a ruling based on very common sense, simple logic that the MERS business model is illegal, absurd and may have made every MERS mortgage unenforceable!

Here are some of the key quotes from the ruling:

“Aside from the inappropriate reliance upon the statutory definition of “mortgagee,” MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best. Adding to this absurdity, it is notable in this case that the Assignment of Mortgage was by MERS, as nominee for First Franklin, the original lender. By the Movant’s and MERS’s own admission, at the time the assignment was effectuated, First Franklin no longer held any

interest in the Note. Both the Movant and MERS have represented to the Court that subsequent to the origination of the loan, the Note was assigned, through the MERS tracking system, from First Franklin to Aurora, and then from Aurora to U.S. Bank. Accordingly, at the time that MERS, as nominee of First Franklin, assigned the interest in the Mortgage to U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank allegedly already held the Note and it was at U.S. Bank’s direction, not First Franklin’s, that the Mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank. Said another way, when MERS assigned the Mortgage to U.S. Bank on First Franklin’s behalf, it took its direction from U.S. Bank, not First Franklin, to provide documentation of an assignment from an entity that no longer had any rights to the Note or the Mortgage. The documentation provided to the Court in this case (and the Court has no reason to believe that any further documentation exists), is stunningly inconsistent with what the parties define as the facts of this case.

However, even if MERS had assigned the Mortgage acting on behalf of the entity which held the Note at the time of the assignment, this Court finds that MERS did not have authority, as “nominee” or agent, to assign the Mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal. This Court finds that MERS’s theory that it can act as a “common agent” for undisclosed principals is not support by the law. The relationship between MERS and its lenders and its distortion of its alleged “nominee” status was appropriately described by the Supreme Court of Kansas as follows: “The parties appear to have defined the word [nominee] in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant – their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time.” Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2010).”

“MERS would have this Court cobble together the documents and draw inferences from the words contained in those documents. For example, MERS argues that its agent status can be found in the Mortgage which states that MERS is a “nominee” and a “mortgagee of record.” However, the fact that MERS is named “nominee” in the Mortgage is not dispositive of the existence of an agency relationship and does not, in and of itself, give MERS any “authority to act.” See Steinbeck v. Steinbeck Heritage Foundation, No. 09-18360cv, 2010 WL 3995982, at *2 (2d Cir. Oct. 13, 2010) (finding that use of the words “attorney in fact” in documents can constitute evidence of agency but finding that such labels are not dispositive); MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (designation as the ‘mortgagee of record’ does not qualify MERS as a “mortgagee”). MERS also relies on its rules of membership as evidence

of the agency relationship. However, the rules lack any specific mention of an agency relationship, and do not bestow upon MERS any authority to act. Rather, the rules are ambiguous as to MERS’s authority to take affirmative actions with respect to mortgages registered on its system.”

“MERS argues that notes and mortgages processed through the MERS System are never “separated” because beneficial ownership of the notes and mortgages are always held by the same entity. The Court will not address that issue in this Decision, but leaves open the issue as to whether mortgages processed through the MERS system are properly perfected and valid liens. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. at 274 (finding that an assignment of the mortgage without the note is a nullity); Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2009) (“[I]n the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable”).”

This last quote was a footnote in the ruling which leaves open for discussion whether the very use of MERS in any mortgage makes that mortgage unenforceable. The mortgage is supposed to be collateral for the note holder only and MERS is undisputedly not the note holder. For this reason, a note cannot be separated from a mortgage but it seems clear that MERS is doing just that in every one of its mortgages. As per long standing Supreme Court law, “[t]he note and mortgage are inseparable; the former as essential, the latter as an incident. An assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it, while an assignment of the latter alone is a nullity.” Carpenter v. Longan 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 271 (1872).  Read the full ruling here:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/48827432/In-Re-Agard-48750818-US-Bankruptcy-Court-New-York-Memorandum-Decision

Evan M. Rosen

Rosen & Rosen, P.A.
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