Why They Sue as Holder and Not as Holder in Due Course

Parties claiming a right to foreclose allege they are the “Holder” and do not allege they are the holder in due course (HDC) because they are ducking the issue of consideration required by both Article 3 and Article 9 of the UCC. So far their strategy of confusion is working. They are directly or impliedly claiming they are the holder of the NOTE. They cannot claim they are the holder of the MORTGAGE, because no such status exists — they either own the mortgage encumbrance because they paid for it or they didn’t. If they didn’t pay for it, they cannot enforce it even if they still can enforce the note.

The framers of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) had a plan they executed in Article 3 and Article 9 of the UCC, as adopted by 49 states (Louisiana, excepted). They had four (4) problems to solve.

Consider two possible fact patterns, to wit: first the payee (“lender”) did in fact fund the loan putting cash in the hands of the borrower or paying debts on the borrower’s behalf; second, the payee (“originator”) gets the borrower to sign the note but fails or refuses or never intended to fund the loan of money to the borrower. In the first instance the note is evidence of a real debt whereas in the second instance the note is not evidence of a real debt.

This issue has been obscured by the fact that SOMEONE (“investors”) did fund a loan. The questions posed here is whether the investors received the protection of a note and mortgage and if they didn’t, what is the effect of advancing funds for a loan without getting the required evidence of the loan (Promissory Note) and without getting the collateral (Mortgage) that would ordinarily apply.

The Four Goals

First, the UCC framers wanted to encourage the free flow of commerce by making certain instruments the equivalent of cash. The Payee should be able to use such instruments in trading for goods, services, or credit. This is the promissory note — a written instrument containing an unconditional promise to pay a certain amount. The timing of the payments, the amount, the terms, the method of payment must all be obvious from the face of the note without reference to any outside evidence (parol evidence) that could reduce or eliminate the value of the note. If there are questions or conditions apparent from the face of the instrument, it fails the test of a negotiable instrument or cash equivalent. That means that Article 3, UCC doesn’t apply.

Second they wanted to protect the issuer of the note (the payor) from the effects of fraud, improper lending practices and other deprive lending policies and practices from any false claims for payment on the note. If the Payor (homeowner, borrower) received no benefit from the Payee but was somehow induced to sign the note in anticipation of receiving the benefit, then the Payee should not be able to collect from the Payor. This goal conflicts with the first goal only when the note is sold to an innocent third party for value who had no notice of the defective nature of the origins of the note (Holder in Due Course -HDC).

Thus third, in order to maintain the status of cash equivalent paper, they had to provide a mechanism in which an innocent third party was protected when they advanced money for the purchase of the note without having any notice of the borrower’s defenses. This would allow the buyer to sue the payor (borrower, debtor) and collect free of any potential defenses. The burden of the borrower’s claims would then fall on the borrower to collect damages against the original payee for wrongful acts. (Article 3, UCC, Holder in Due Course -HDC).

And in order to allow all such notes to be enforceable regardless of the circumstances of their origin, any party holding the note (“Holder”) can enforce the note if they have physical possession of the note, even if they paid nothing for it, as long as it is endorsed to them. But if they are a HOLDER and not a HOLDER IN DUE COURSE then they sue subject to all of the borrower’s defenses. The central issue is whether the Holder has paid for the note, in which case they would be in HDC status or if they did not pay for the note, in which case they enforce subject to all borrower’s defenses — including the allegation that the original payee never made the loan.

Fourth was the issue of forfeiture of collateral. This is considered the most extreme remedy under commercial law, analogous to the death penalty in criminal cases. (Article 9, UCC — secured transactions). It is one thing to preserve liquidity in the marketplace by protecting the investment of innocent third parties who purchase negotiable instruments from defenses — and quite another to cause forfeiture of home or property. Here again, the language of Article 3 is used for an HDC — i.e., an assignment of the mortgage is enforceable ONLY if the Assignor paid for it and had no notice of borrower’s defenses.

So they devised a structure in which a bona fide purchaser of the paper without notice of the borrower’s defenses would be called a holder in due course. They could sue the borrower despite wrongful behavior by the original payee on the unconditional promise to pay (the note). In the event of fraud in the sale of the note, the new owner of the note could sue both the seller (Assignor, endorser or indorser).

Then they considered the possibility of wrongful behavior: the issuance of such commercial paper would be a claim, but not negotiable paper — but if it was sold anyway it would be subject to the borrower’s defenses. This allows outside evidence (parol evidence) — which is to say that in this fact pattern, the promise to pay was conditional on the value and effect of the borrower’s defenses. The HOLDER of this instrument need not pay for the sale of the note and need not be ignorant of the borrower’s defenses. This holder could sue both the payor (borrower, debtor) and the party who transferred the note — depending upon the agreement that accompanied the transfer of the note by delivery and indorsement.

The party who accepts indorsement without paying for the note or even knowing of potential borrower defenses can still enforce the note, but unlike the the HOLDER IN DUE COURSE, the Payor (Borrower) could raise all defenses to the original transaction. The UCC Article 3 calls this a holder. A holder need not purchase the note and may have actual knowledge of the borrower’s defenses but can still sue the payor (borrower) for the principal amount due on the unconditional promise to pay.

I have noticed that most judicial foreclosures are either in rem (foreclosures only) or the claim on the note is that the Plaintiff is a “holder.” If they have possession and it is indorsed, they are probably a holder entitled to enforce the note. But the Defendant can raise all available defenses just as he or she would do if the fight was with the originator of the note execution. And nothing is a better defense than the distinction between being the originator of the note execution and the originator of the loan. The confusion over the term “originator” has allowed millions of foreclosures to be completed despite the fact that the “holder” neither paid for the note nor could they claim they were ignorant of the borrower’s defenses.

This confusion has led most courts to look at Article 3, UCC, instead of Article 9, UCC. Neither allow the claimant to sue on either the note or the mortgage without having paid for the assignment of the mortgage or delivery of the note, if the holder has actual notice of borrower’s defenses. In most cases the claimant either has the knowledge of the fraud and predatory practices at closing or is a made to order controlled company of a real party who has such knowledge.

In conclusion, borrowers should prevail in foreclosure litigation in situations where the claimant is unable to prove the identity of the actual lender who advanced funds, or where the claimant has failed to purchase the mortgage.

Based upon vast quantities of information in the public domain including investor lawsuits, insurer lawsuits and government agency lawsuits (all alleging FRAUD and mismanagement of funds) against broker dealers who sold mortgage bonds, it seems highly likely that in the 96% of all loans between 2001-2009 that are subject to claims of securitization three things are true:

(1) the securitization plan was never followed in most cases thus making the investors direct lenders without benefit of a note or mortgage and

(2) none of the parties “holding” paper possess any of the qualities of a party who could have standing to foreclose and

(3) claims still exist on the notes, even though they were not supported by consideration but those claims are unsecured and subject to all defenses that could have been raised against the originator.

Neil F Garfield, Esq.

For further information call 520-405-1688, or 954-495-9867. Do not use the above information without consulting an attorney licensed in the jurisdiction in which your property is located and who knows all the facts of your case. The above article is a general description and may not apply to your case.

“Settlement” Checks Are Bouncing

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Editor’s Note: Adding insult to injury the checks being sent out for the so-called settlement that replaces the foreclosure review required by the federal reserve and the OCC are bouncing causing homeowners to be charged for the bounced check. The banks of course say it is all a big mistake that they forgot to transfer funds. That is probably true.

But it is equally true that these paltry settlement checks are in no way equal to the damage that was caused by the illegal foreclosures which were surfacing during the time that the review process was taking place. The OCC says that we are not allowed to look at that review process or the results because of privacy issues. I say that under the freedom of information act we are entitled to see everything and I’m betting on Elizabeth Warren to get that material and make it public.

It appears that the general context and status of these illegal foreclosures is that they are left standing as though they were legal and that the perpetrators are being let off the hook for a mere payment of $1000 on an average mortgage of $200,000.

It is important to remember that the settlement does not preclude homeowners from filing whatever claims they have even if they have accepted the check. It is also quite clear that the OCC is walking in lockstep with the banking lobby in an effort to protect the megabanks from extinction.

Several practitioners have asked me how to get past the judge who thinks the case is quite simple, to wit: the borrower accepted a loan  and failed to pay it back in the manner specified by the promissory note and therefore borrower’s  contractual  consent to the sale of the home should be enforced. My answer is that there is an issue that needs to be introduced early, repeatedly and emphatically. The issue boils down to whether or not the court is going to decide the case on the actual facts or on faulty presumptions.

The faulty presumption is that the possessor of the note is deemed to be the holder of the note and therefore the holder in due course. That is not what the Uniform Commercial Code says. If it said that than any Courier carrying promissory notes endorsed in blank could collect on those notes to the detriment of both the borrower and the lender. The difference between a possessor of the note and a holder of the note is that the holder of the note acquired the note by virtue of a monetary transaction in which the new entity in the chain paid a sum of money to the last holder of the note. The Uniform Commercial Code specifically requires that in order for an instrument to be construed as a negotiable instrument the transaction requires consideration and consideration consists of payment. Payment means that money actually changed hands. Thus you have a party in possession of the note with proof that they paid for ownership of the note.

The Uniform Commercial Code is quite clear that the transaction must take place in the context of value received by the assignor from the assignee.

The other question  that I have heard from both judges and attorneys relates to the so-called open endorsements. First, there is no transfer of ownership without consideration as I have detailed above. Second, open endorsements are specifically prohibited in the body of the pooling and servicing agreement upon which the forecloser  relies for authority to proceed with the notice of default and the notice of sale or the filing of a judicial action seeking foreclosure.

I have heard a judge say that it doesn’t make any difference to him what details were involved in the transaction as long as the original note shows that it was endorsed in blank or otherwise constituted an open endorsement. Those judges are ignoring the requirements for consideration or value in order to treat the note as a negotiable instrument and thus apply the presumptions set forth in the Uniform Commercial Code.

They are also ignoring the fact that the pooling and servicing agreement specifically prohibits the open endorsement, which is no surprise since an open endorsement would not protect the investors whose money was used to fund the alleged mortgage loan. In fact it could fairly be said that the open endorsement or endorsement in blank produces a unique result, to wit: the only party who could not accept the note and claim ownership of the loan is the party that is doing exactly that. They can’t say that their authority comes from the pooling and servicing agreement but that the prohibition against open endorsements does not apply. Either the pooling and servicing agreement means something or it doesn’t.

But the key issue is actually the money and the money trail. Neither the trust nor any other party is entitled to a presumption of the status of a holder without alleging and proving that they paid for the note and attaching the relevant documents showing the sale of the note from the former holder of the note (if in fact they were actually a former holder of the note), giving the date, identifying the parties and showing the amount paid.  Alleging that they are the holder of the note is a legal conclusion and not a short and plain statement of ultimate facts upon which relief could be granted. The short and plain statement of ultimate facts should be that on a certain date they paid a certain amount of money to a certain party who all owned the loan and that therefore they are a holder entitled to enforce the note and mortgage.

A failure to state that they were in fact damaged or to allege facts from which the trier of fact could conclude that they were damaged is a fatal defect in pleading and is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised at any time including on appeal —  unless of course in the trial court the borrower admitted that the party seeking foreclosure was in fact the holder of the note.

If you follow these simple steps,  the attorneys for the bank will fight tooth and nail for presumptions rather than facts.  The reason is simple. They have no evidence of payment for the origination or transfer of the loan and therefore the presumption they wish to raise as a holder of the note is rebutted.
So you might want to ask the judge a question that goes something like this: “Judge, do you want to decide this case on the actual facts or do you want to decide this case on the basis of faulty presumptions that are contrary to the facts.

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