WISCONSIN APPEALS CT: AURORA IS NOT OWNER OF NOTE — TRIAL COURT REVERSED

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary SEE LIVINGLIES LITIGATION SUPPORT AT LUMINAQ.COM

EDITOR’S NOTE: WISCONSIN COURT GETS IT: HEARSAY, PROOF, HOLDER NOT THE SAME AS CREDITOR, ETC. AFFIDAVIT THROWN OUT FOR LACK OF PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE. In short everything we have been saying here was followed by the Court. Expect more decisions like this coming from other states.

In other words, false papers and representations by counsel are no substitute for good old-fashioned proof. And proof is what the pretenders don’t have which is why they are pretenders — and losers. The parties initiating foreclosures, declaring the defaults, denying modifications, and buying the home at auction with a “credit bid” are and always have been tricksters who have now screwed up at least 10 million real estate transactions and probably closer to 100 million real estate transactions. These are the people who received the bailout, while the buyers of empty bogus mortgage bonds and the owners of homes with undocumented loans looked on in disbelief.

The great securitization scam, the appraisal fraud, the predatory lending and the TILA violations are coming to light in a wave that possibly not even the trillion dollar banking oligarchy can stop. This case is one of dozens of examples.

STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD

WIS. APPEALS COURT REVERSED “FAILED MERS ASSIGNMENT, FAILED AFFIDAVIT, FAILED STANDING, FAILED CASE” AURORA v. CARLSEN

WIS. APPEALS COURT REVERSED “FAILED MERS ASSIGNMENT, FAILED AFFIDAVIT, FAILED STANDING, FAILED CASE” AURORA v. CARLSEN

AURORA LOAN SERVICES LLC,

PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,

V.

DAVID J. CARLSEN AND NANCY L. CARLSEN,

DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

APPEAL from a judgment of the circuit court for Rock County:

JAMES WELKER, Judge. Reversed.

Before Vergeront, P.J., Lundsten and Blanchard, JJ.

¶1 LUNDSTEN, J. This appeal involves a foreclosure action initiated by Aurora Loan Services against David and Nancy Carlsen. Following a court trial, the circuit court granted judgment of foreclosure in favor of Aurora, finding that Aurora is the holder of the note and owner of the mortgage and that the Carlsens were in default. We conclude that the circuit court’s finding that Aurora was the holder of the note, a finding essential to the judgment, is not supported by admissible evidence. We therefore reverse the judgment.

Background

¶2 Aurora Loan Services brought a foreclosure suit against David and
Nancy Carlsen, alleging that Aurora was the holder of a note and owner of a
mortgage signed by the Carlsens encumbering the Carlsens’ property. The
Carlsens denied several allegations in the complaint and, especially pertinent here,
denied that Aurora was the holder of the note. Aurora moved for summary
judgment, but that motion was denied.

¶3 A trial to the court was held on June 9, 2010. Aurora called one of
its employees, Kelly Conner, as its only witness. Aurora attempted to elicit
testimony from Conner establishing a foundation for the admission of several
documents purportedly showing that Aurora was the holder of a note that
obligated the Carlsens to make payments and that the Carlsens were in default. It
is sufficient here to say that the Carlsens’ attorney repeatedly objected to questions
and answers based on a lack of personal knowledge and lack of foundation, and
that the circuit court, for the most part, sustained the objections. Aurora’s counsel
did not move for admission of any of the documents into evidence. After the
evidentiary portion of the trial, and after hearing argument, the circuit court made
findings of fact and entered a foreclosure judgment in favor of Aurora. The
Carlsens appeal. Additional facts will be presented below as necessary.

Discussion

¶4 It is undisputed that, at the foreclosure trial, Aurora had the burden
of proving, among other things, that Aurora was the current “holder” of a note
obligating the Carlsens to make payments to Aurora. Because Aurora was not the
original note holder, Aurora needed to prove that it was the current holder, which
meant proving that it had been assigned the note. There appear to be other failures
of proof, but in this opinion we focus our attention solely on whether Aurora
presented evidence supporting the circuit court’s findings that “the business
records of Aurora Loan Services show … a chain of assignment of that … note”
and that “Aurora is the holder of the note.”

¶5 As to assignment of the note, the Carlsens’ argument is simple: the
circuit court’s findings are clearly erroneous because there was no admissible
evidence supporting a finding that Aurora had been assigned the note. The
Carlsens contend that, during the evidentiary portion of the trial, the circuit court
properly sustained objections to Aurora’s assignment evidence, but the court then
appears to have relied on mere argument of Aurora’s counsel to make factual
findings on that topic. We agree.

¶6 We focus our attention on a document purporting to be an
assignment of the note and mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems to Aurora. At trial, this document was marked as Exhibit D. Although
Aurora’s counsel seemed to suggest at one point that certain documents, perhaps
including Exhibit D, were certified, the circuit court determined that the
documents were not certified. Under WIS. STAT. § 889.17,1 certified copies of
certain documents are admissible in evidence based on the certification alone.
Aurora does not contend that Exhibit D is admissible on this basis.

¶7 Aurora argues that Conner’s testimony is sufficient to support the
circuit court’s finding that Aurora had been assigned the note. Our review of her
testimony, however, reveals that Conner lacked the personal knowledge needed to
authenticate Exhibit D. See WIS. STAT. § 909.01 (documents must be
authenticated to be admissible, and this requirement is satisfied “by evidence
sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent
claims”). Relevant here, Conner made general assertions covering several
documents. Conner either affirmatively testified or agreed to leading questions
with respect to the following:

  • · She works for Aurora.
  • · She “handle[s] legal files” and she “attend[s] trials.”
  • · “Aurora provided those documents that are in [her] possession.”
  • · She “reviewed the subject file” in preparing for the hearing.
  • · She declined to agree that she is the “custodian of records for
  • Aurora.”

  • · She “look[s] at documentation … [does] not physically handle
  • original notes and documents, but [she does] acquire
    documentation.”

  • · “Aurora [is] the custodian of records for this loan.”
  • · She is “familiar with records that are prepared in the ordinary course
    of business.”
  • · She has “authority from Aurora to testify as to the documents, of
    [Aurora’s] records.”

As it specifically pertains to Exhibit D, the document purporting to evidence the
assignment of the note and mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems to Aurora, Conner testified:

  • · Aurora has “possession of Exhibit D.”
  • · Exhibit D is “an assignment of mortgage.”

With respect to possession of Exhibit D, Conner did not assert that Exhibit D was
an original or that Aurora had possession of the original document. For that
matter, Conner did not provide a basis for a finding that any original document she
might have previously viewed was what it purported to be.2

¶8 Thus, Conner did no more than identify herself as an Aurora
employee who was familiar with some unspecified Aurora documents, who had
reviewed some Aurora documents, and who had brought some documents,
including Exhibit D, to court. Although Conner was able to say that Exhibit D, on
its face, was an assignment, she had no apparent personal knowledge giving her a
basis to authenticate that document. See WIS. STAT. § 909.01.

¶9 Aurora points to various provisions in WIS. STAT. chs. 401 and 403,
such as those relating to the definition of a “holder” (WIS. STAT.
§ 401.201(2)(km)), to a person entitled to enforce negotiable instruments (WIS.
STAT. § 403.301), and to the assignment of negotiable instruments (WIS. STAT.
§§ 403.203, 403.204, and 403.205). This part of Aurora’s argument addresses the
underlying substantive law regarding persons entitled to enforce negotiable
instruments, such as the type of note at issue here, but it says nothing about
Aurora’s proof problems. That is, Aurora’s discussion of the underlying law does
not demonstrate why Exhibit D was admissible to prove that Aurora had been
assigned the note and was, under the substantive law Aurora discusses, a party
entitled to enforce the note.

¶10 Similarly, Aurora discusses the relationship between a note and a
mortgage and, in particular, the equitable assignment doctrine. But here again
Aurora’s discussion fails to come to grips with Aurora’s failure to authenticate
Exhibit D, the document purporting to be an assignment of the note to Aurora.
Aurora points to testimony in which Conner asserted that Aurora acquired and
possessed Exhibit D, but possession of Exhibit D is meaningless without
authentication of the exhibit.

¶11 Aurora argues that we may look at the “record as a whole,”
including summary judgment materials, to sustain the circuit court’s factual
findings. Thus, for example, Aurora asks us to consider an affidavit filed with its
summary judgment motion. In that affidavit, an Aurora senior vice-president
avers that the note was assigned to Aurora, that the assignment was recorded with
the Rock County Register of Deeds, and that Aurora is the holder of the note. This
argument is meritless. Aurora was obliged to present its evidence at trial. It could
not rely on the “record as a whole” and, in particular, it could not rely on summary
judgment materials that were not introduced at trial. See Holzinger v. Prudential
Ins. Co., 222 Wis. 456, 461, 269 N.W. 306 (1936). For that matter, even if Aurora
had, at trial, proffered the affidavit of its senior vice-president, the affidavit would
have been inadmissible hearsay. See WIS. STAT. § 908.01(3) (“‘Hearsay’ is a
statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or
hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”).

¶12 In sum, Aurora failed to authenticate Exhibit D, the document
purporting to be an assignment of the note. Thus, regardless of other alleged proof
problems relating to that note and the Carlsens’ alleged default, the circuit court’s
finding that Aurora was the holder of the note is clearly erroneous—no admissible
evidence supports that finding. Aurora failed to prove its case, and it was not
entitled to a judgment of foreclosure.

By the Court.—Judgment reversed.

_______________________________________

1 All references to the Wisconsin Statutes are to the 2009-10 version unless otherwise noted.

2 Our summary of Conner’s testimony omits several assertions Conner made that were
stricken by the circuit court. Similarly, we have not included examples of the circuit court
repeatedly sustaining hearsay and foundation objections. For example, the court repeatedly
sustained objections to Aurora’s attempts to have Conner testify that Aurora “owns” the note.
Aurora does not and could not reasonably argue that the Carlsens have not preserved their
authentication objections. The Carlsens’ attorney repeatedly and vigorously objected on hearsay,
foundation, and authentication grounds. The record clearly reflects that the Carlsens were
objecting to the admission of all of Aurora’s proffered documents on the ground that Conner
lacked sufficient knowledge to lay a foundation for admission.

MERS, POOLING AND SERVICING AGREEMENT, ACCOUNTING….GREAT , NOW WHAT?

SUBMITTED BY M SOLIMAN

EDITOR’S NOTE: Soliman brings out some interesting and important issues in his dialogue with Raja.

  • The gist of what he is saying about sales accounting runs to the core of how you disprove the allegations of your opposition. In a nutshell and somewhat oversimplified: If they were the lender then their balance sheet should show it. If they are not the lender then it shows up on their income statement. Now of course companies don’t report individual loans on their financial statements, so you need to force discovery and ask for the ledger entries that were made at the time of the origination of the loan.
  • If you put it another way the accounting and bookkeeping amounts to an admission of the real facts of the case. If they refuse to give you the ledger entries, then you are entitled to a presumption that they would have shown that they were not acting as a lender, holder, or holder in due course. If they show it to you, then it will either show the admission or you should inquire about who prepared the response to your discovery request and go after them on examination at deposition.
  • Once you show that they were not a lender, holder or holder in due course because their own accounting shows they simply booked the transaction as a fee for acting as a conduit, broker or finder, you have accomplished several things: one is that they have no standing, two is that they are not a real party in interest, three is that they lied at closing and all the way up the securitization chain, and four is that you focus the court’s attention on who actually advanced the money for the loan and who stands to suffer a loss, if there is one.
  • But it doesn’t end there. Your discovery net should be thrown out over the investment banking firm that underwrote the mortgage backed security, and anyone else who might have received third party insurance payments or any other payments (credit default swaps, bailout etc.) on account of the failure of the pool in which your loan is claimed to be an “asset.”
  • Remember that it is my opinion that many of these pools don’t actually have the loans that are advertised to be in there. They never completed or perfected the transfer of the obligation and the reason they didn’t was precisely because they wanted to snatch the third party payments away from the investors.
  • But those people were agents of the investors and any payment they received on account of loss through default or write-down should be credited and paid to the investor.
  • Why should you care what the investor received? Because those are payments that should have been booked by the investors as repayment of their investment. In turn, the percentage part of the pool that your loan represents should be credited proportionately by the credit and payment to the investor.
  • Those payments, according to your note should be allocated first to payments due and outstanding (which probably eliminates any default), second to fees outstanding attributable to the borrower (not the investor) and third to the borrower which normally would be done as a credit against principal, which would reduce the amount of principal outstanding and thus reduce the number of people who think they are under water and are not.

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MERS, POOLING AND SERVICING AGREEMENT, ACCOUNTING….GREAT , NOW WHAT?

I am really loving this upon closer inspection Raja! The issues of simple accounting rules violations appear narrow, yet the example you cite here could mean A DIFFERENCE AND SWAY IN ADVANTAGE.

Many more cases can potentially address broader issues of pleading sufficiency with repsect to securities and accounting rules violations prohibiting foreclosures.

Sale accounting is the alternative to debt or financing arrangements which is what the lender seeks to avoid in this economic downturn. Both approaches to accounting are clearly described and determinable by GAAP. In sales accounting there is no foreclsure. In debt for GAAP accounting your entitled to foreclose.

Its when you mix the two you r going to have problems. Big problems.

Pleading sufficiency is (by this layperson) the need for addressing a subject matter in light of the incurable defects in proper jurisdiction. The subject can be convoluted and difficult, I realize that.

Where the matter is heard should allow ample time to amend as a plaintiff. This is given to the fact the lender can move quicklly and seek dismissal.

The question is how far must a consumer plaintiff reach to allege that serverity of the claims, based on adverse event information, as in foreclosure.

This is significant in order to establish that the lender or a lender defendants’ alleged failure to disclose information. Therein will the court find the claim to be sufficently material.

In possession hearings the civil courts have granted the plaintiffs summary judgment and in actions brought against the consumer. The courts are often times granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that these complaints fail to adequately suffice or address the judicial fundamental element of materiality.

I can tell you the accounting rules omissions from the commencement of the loan origination through a foreclosure is one continual material breach. Counsel is lost to go to court without pleading this fact.

The next question is will the pleading adequately allege the significance of the vast number of consumer homeowner complaints. One would think yes considering the lower court level is so backlogged and a t a time when budget cuts require one less day of operations.

These lower courts however are hearing post foreclosure matters of possession. there is the further possibility that the higher Court in deciding matters while failing to see any scienter. Its what my law cohorts often refer to as accountability for their actions. That is what the “Fill in the Dots” letter tells me at first glance.

I believe it’s only in a rare case or two that a securities matter is heard in the Ninth Circuit. Recently however, there the conclusion was in fact that scienter allegations raised by the opposition were sufficient based on plaintiff’s allegations that the “high level executives …would know the company was being sued in a product liability action,” and in line with the many, customer complaints (I assume that were communicated to the company’s directors…)

The FASB is where the counterproductive rule changes always seem to take place and where lobbyist and other pro life and pro bank enthusiasts seem to spend their days. No need to fret however as gain on sale accounting is specific and requires the lender to have SOLD your loan in order to securitize it as part of a larger bulk pool.

The document I am reading, submitted by Raja tells me something is very concerning to the “lender parties” that they believe is downstream and headed their way. I’ll try and analyze each line item for you as to what it says and what they really are trying to do. I think for now though its value is for determining the letter as an admission of “we screwed up!”

M.Soliman

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