Pleadings Are Not Evidence: Plaintiff Never Proved Who Had Possession at Inception
Had another trial win recently – thankfully, we have been on a roll, winning multiple trials back to back to back! In this particular case, the original lender and the Plaintiff are Flagstar. Attached to the Complaint is an unendorsed note, payable to Flagstar. As is common in foreclosure cases, the Plaintiff substitutes in Green Tree a few months back and shows up at trial with note, endorsed, in blank. I object to note as being outside the scope of the pleadings, citing to Holub v. Holub – parties are bound by their pleadings, and 1.130 – attachments to pleadings are considered a part of the pleading for all purposes. Judge listens and goes back and forth but lets the note into evidence, with a smile to me. I think she’s hinting she knows this might later be a problem if the Plaintiff doesn’t move to amend their complaint and, more importantly, it could be a standing at inception issue.
After direct examination of the bank’s witness, Christopher Ly, a rigorous cross examination ensues resulting from him trying to be cute and not answer my questions. I keep hammering him and the Judge never stops me. Eventually, he capitulates and gives in, just in time for my cross on no evidence to show possession at inception, condition of note at inception and when the endorsements were placed on the note. He wasn’t there when the note was endorsed, he didn’t see the endorsement placed on the note, he didn’t place the indorsement on the note, he didn’t possess the note at anytime, etc., and more…. that was fun.
After much argument, the Judge agrees the Plaintiff has not met their burden. She agrees pleadings are not evidence, period, and will not make a “leap of faith,” as per Deutsche Bank v. Huber. (“However, this court does not make “logical and equitable” leaps of faith, as it cannot (and should not) make any such determination unsupported by the record before it.“) Beautiful! The Plaintiff never proved who had possession at inception. The only thing we know is there is now a note endorsed in blank and no one knows where the note was at any time prior to today.
Based on these facts and the lack of evidence, judgement was entered in our client’s favor!