Unilateral Mistake: Equitable Defenses Explained — How homeowners can get the upper hand and defend against enforcement of contract that is different from the one they knew or intended

Homeowners are missing out on a huge opportunity for economic gain that balances the power between Wall Street and consumers. 

Courts of equity are courts of conscience, which should not be shackled by rigid rules of procedure,[51] and inherent in a court’s equitable powers is the authority to prevent injustice engendered by fraud, accident, or mistake.[52] Florida Bar Journal Novembert/December 2021 “Two, Three or Four Prongs? The Contractual Defense of Unilateral mistake in Florida”

Second, there is a distinction between the equitable remedies of rescission and reformation that may further blur the lines. The Florida Supreme Court and a few others have ruled that reformation is not appropriate except for mutual mistake,[53] but other Florida courts have extended it in the case of unilateral mistake where there is some form of inequitable conduct or inducement by the party seeking to avoid the defense.[54

Rescission should return the parties to status quo ante; reformation calls for a court, looking at the parties’ intent, to “rewrite” the agreement. The latter is more extreme and against the longstanding principle of court hesitancy to rewrite contracts. The Florida courts have long endeavored to refrain from the rewriting of terms in contracts.[55] Apparently, some bad act by the party seeking to enforce an agreement could under more extenuating circumstances, however, convince a court to rewrite a portion of an agreement.[56]

the courts must take their arguments as presented. Our system is adversarial,[58] and even in equity (with perhaps a bit more flexibility), courts are constrained to consider what parties present. It is not the courts’ role to re-craft a party’s arguments. Whether by choice of the parties or steerage by the courts, assertion of fraud in contracts cases is not undertaken lightly; other arguments devoid of accusations of fraud are more palatable. Additionally, to avoid having to address the fraud question, courts may entertain contractual defense arguments based on mutual mistake, unconscionability and possibly even undue influence (which has an inducement feature balanced with the level of susceptibility, but it is not outright “fraud”). Why find a party guilty of fraud, in a civil case, when a court could reach the same result based on a defense other than fraud? [e.s.]


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Matthew Marin and Paul Carrier wrote an important article featured in the recent Florida Bar Journal that provides a coherent explanation of contractual defenses that can be applied to contracts claimed to be loans and defenses against enforcement of the note or mortgage. In so doing they remind us of basic principles of what a court can and cannot do — including, I emphasize, the fact that a judge COULD think to himself or herself that an argument or claim or defense could be presented better does not establish the authority to do so. Judges are charged with considering the arguments presented — not the ones that could be presented. And the omission of the ones that could have been presented waives any later attempt to assert them.

This is not up for discussion or debate. It is a basic fact in litigation — one which homeowners have learned (or not) the hard way. Blaming a judge for not doing it is like blaming a dog for failure to fly. Homeowners in my opinion SHOULD be attacking most claims of authority to administer, collect or enforce scheduled payments, and there are plenty of grounds for doing so. In fact, there are good grounds for asking for money in addition to avoiding liability for issuing a promissory note without consideration — and If more homeowners did it the landscape would look totally different. The bottom line is hard for most to accept: the deal was not what it appeared to be.

The grounds for the attack should be largely equitable, but also include legal defenses —- they should be directed at authority (even if the contract was not rescinded, reformed, or set aside in whole or in part) and also on equitable grounds like a unilateral mistake, no meeting of the minds, etc. And as the article points out, validating what I have been saying, alleging fraud makes it far more difficult to plead or prove your point.

So here is the hardest part for homeowners and lawyers for homeowners to understand or even admit.

Nearly all notes and mortgages are issued because of unilateral mistake(s) on the part of the homeowner, induced by investment banks who continue to hide facts that are statutorily required to be disclosed, including but not limited to:

  • They do not know that they are doing business with an undisclosed investment bank doing business through a string of intermediaries.
  • They do not know that the supposed loan transaction is being underwritten for the purpose of justifying sale of unregulated securities and not for purposes of justifying a loan.
  • They do not know that the appraisal is being forced high to justify the contract price and the amount of the “loan”
  •  They do not know that there is an absence of any real party in interest that has a risk of loss — the essential balancing element of all contracts
  • They do not know that the undisclosed revenue for the sale of securities vastly exceeds the amount of their transaction. At the moment they sign, homeowners have triggered revenue that erases all possible risk of loss and eliminates the need to establish a loan account receivable on the books of anyone.
  • They do not know that it is their signature on purported loan documents that creates the illusion of a loan transaction thus triggering the undisclosed sale of securities (without which the “loan” would never have offered, much less occurred.
    • This one fact triggers a series of claims on behalf of homeowners that does not require alleging fraud and keeps the burden of proof manageable (generally preponderance, rather than clear and convincing).
    • Homeowners were not borrowers. They were investors and participants in the sale of unregulated securities. They were entitled to know that and bargain for a fair share of the proceeds. The issuance of the note by the homeowner was based upon a universal error or mistake by all homeowners that they were purchasing a loan product which was not true.
    • In addition, if the transaction was deemed by a court of competent jurisdiction to be a true loan with a “true lender” as set forth in the regulations, then the undisclosed amount of revenue generated from the sale of securities arising from the closing of the transaction with the homeowner is owed back to the homeowner (in full) under the Federal Truth in Lending Act.
      • This element of foreclosure litigation has not been adequately pursued. In judicial states it is an affirmative defense that is not barred by the statute of limitations. In nonjudicial states, the application of the statute of limitations to such claims must be unconstitutional because of unequal treatment based upon choice of procedure. Homeowners should not be barred from using meritorious defenses that are available under the same state’s judicial foreclosure procedure.
  • They do not know that no loan account receivable is created or maintained — thus making modification or workouts rare or impossible
  • They do not know that there is nobody who is legally authorized to administer, collect or enforce the promise they made to make scheduled payments, to wit: the presumed authority to enforce arising from the alleged possession of the alleged original note leads to a false conclusion of fact. Such authority ultimate must come from the party who owns the underlying obligation as contained on their records as a loan account receivable. There is no such loan account receivable.
  • They do not know that the transaction is going to be subject to false claims of servicing
  • They do not know that the “servicing” is not performed by the named “servicer”

The bottom line is that homeowners did not get what they applied for and the investment banks did not pay money to the homeowner or on their behalf because they wanted to loan money. They wanted to sell securities and they needed homeowners to do it. The fact that a homeowner received money and used it to either buy a home or settle a previous financial transaction does NOT make it a loan. A loan is a label for a certain type of contract. There must be a meeting of the minds. In cases where there was no meeting of the minds, there is no contract. And if there was no meeting of the minds because one party to the alleged contract was hiding and did not disclose the real terms as required by laws, rules, and regulations concerning loan contracts make it is imperative that established existing remedies be allowed to homeowners.

PRACTICE NOTE: It seems that a lot of people don’t understand the judicial notice and the insignificance of documents uploaded to the sec.gov site. By filing a registration statement followed by a notice that no further filings are necessary, anyone can upload anything to sec.gov. In effect, it is nothing more than box.com, dropbox, etc.

Lawyers and others involved in false foreclosure claims often upload documents under that cloud and then download those documents from the sec.gov site such that the download shows the sec.gov header.

They then file a motion for judicial notice of the document of a government document even though it was never reviewed accepted, approved nor even a part of a required registration since the sale of “certificates” is not regulated as securities. It is not subject to judicial notice because the document was not an official record of any governmental agency and was never officially registered or recorded.

It does not establish the existence of a trust or the powers of a trustee. Therefore, it cannot serve as the foundation for the claims of the company claiming to be a servicer for that “trust.” It is worthless as to its existence (probably because it is incomplete in the text or exhibits) and it contains only statements of future intent — not a recital of anything that has occurred.



Nobody paid me to write this. I am self-funded, supported only by donations. My mission is to stop foreclosures and other collection efforts against homeowners and consumers without proof of loss. If you want to support this effort please click on this link and donate as much as you feel you can afford.
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Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 74, is a Florida licensed trial and appellate attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business, accounting and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.

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