Attorney Fee Award: Heads the Bank Wins, Tails the Homeowner Loses

Appellate courts stepping on a rake: This thread of decisions makes it extremely important for attorneys representing homeowners to establish the earliest possible safe harbor period so they can recover fees when they win.

These decisions are essentially punishing homeowners on the grounds that they won on an issue that revealed the underhanded, fictitious narratives that are cooked up by central repositories of fabricated data and documents in order to obtain a foreclosure judgment to which the banks and servicers are not entitled.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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see Attorney Fees 57-105 DOC030317

The bottom line is that Judge Jennifer Bailey was right and the appellate court was wrong. Another case of the rules being used to twist the court system against itself. There are consequences arising from the Courts making policy (a legislative function). One of them may well be that even the highest court in a state could be subject to obvious reprimand from courts in the Federal system.

Since 2001, foreclosure litigation has been a strange world combining Opposite Day with twisted legal opinions based upon the single premise that the Banks must win and the homeowners must lose. Nowhere is that more obvious than in Florida, where a homeowner can win the case, with Final judgment entered in the Homeowner’s favor, but still lose the case on the issue of recovery of reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Under the logic of the Alexander case and now this third district opinion, the Bank can assert rights under what is an existing contract and, if it wins, recover attorney fees and costs. But the homeowner cannot recover fees if the homeowner wins. Despite the provisions of F.S. §57.105(7) that expressly states that if one party is entitled to recovery of fees in a contract then the provision becomes reciprocal — i.e., if the party using the contract for suit loses the prevailing party gets fees upon winning the case.

As in other decisions the court is hell bent on making it more difficult for homeowners to defend their homes by denying them recovery for their attorney fees. The obvious impact is to increase the risk of challenging the core defect in all foreclosures — standing. The DEBT is simply not owned by any of the parties who have been acting as “servicers”, “collectors” or “lenders” or “investors.”

The logic of the courts is defective and twisted. If US Bank, for example, is defeated in a foreclosure action because it was never a party to any loan contract, written, implied or otherwise, then it nevertheless does not need to pay for attorney fees for the opposition homeowner BECAUSE the homeowner won on standing.

Thus a party like US Bank et al who invokes a presumably valid contract, stands to lose nothing if it loses. The simplicity of the decisions is misleading. The appellate courts are making a finding of fact contrary to that of the trial judge. In this case the trial judge found that the Plaintiff was not a party to the contract and never became one. Hence the court entered judgment for the homeowner and then ruled that the homeowner was entitled to attorney fees and costs and awarded over $40,000 to the defendant as recovery of fees and costs.

But the appellate courts invented a concept that simply does not exist. They are finding that the contract does not exist rather than the trial court’s finding that the Plaintiff never became a party to the contract despite its allegations to the contrary. Either the contract exists or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t exist then nobody gets to enforce it and the the homeowner is now free to quiet title and get the mythological “free house.”

The correct decision under these cases should be that the Plaintiff, having invoked the contract including an award of attorney fees, was admitting that the reciprocity provisions of F.S. §57.105(7) apply and is now bound by the contractual provisions regardless of the outcome of litigation. Having failed to prove their rights under the contract, they are subject to the consequences set forth in the contract that formed the entire basis of their lawsuit in foreclosure.

This issue should be taken up with the Florida Supreme Court. These decisions are essentially punishing homeowners on the grounds that they won on an issue that revealed the underhanded, fictitious narratives that are cooked up by central repositories of fabricated data and documents in order to obtain a foreclosure judgment to which the banks and servicers are not entitled.

But the interesting thing about this reasoning, is that the issue of whether the contract exists or not might lead to a quiet title action for the homeowner.

Having established that the Plaintiff had no right to bring the action, the trial court must then vault such a decision into a rule, per se, that therefore there is no contract. This can only be prevented in the event that the next step in this thread is to suggest that the contract DOES exist but not as to the Homeowner in connection with this Plaintiff. But that will muddy title even more, inasmuch as all the evidence adduced to date was that the loan was somehow under the control of the Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s agents. How does another creditor/predator come along and say “OK, it was really us all along?”

A plain reading of the doctrine of estoppel in a court of equity would clearly allow the award of fees to the homeowner who wins on the issue of standing.

None of this discounts my prime directive that there is no contract at all to enforce becasue the debt was never merged into the note and the mortgage only serves as collateral for the alleged obligations under the note. In the absence of merging the debt (owed to an undisclosed, unidentified third party) into the note, the note represents only a contingent liability — if the note ends up in the hands of a holder in due course who purchased the note in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses.

I might add that in the case of the so-called purchase or transfer of loan documents in which the homeowner is already declared in default, the rights of any holder or any possessor of the note are dubious at best, since the note is no longer a negotiable instrument under the UCC.

About Those 1099 and Other Tax Filings from Servicers and Banks …

The problem for everyone involved is that in reality the investors made nothing and merely received a portion of their own money as though it had come from the trust. But it didn’t come from the trust because the trust didn’t even have a bank account. If the banks had disclosed the truth of the matter the investors would have known this is a Ponzi scheme. Imagine what would happen if someone claimed sub S treatment when the corporation they had formed did no business, had no bank account and never had any business activity, never had any assets or liabilities and never had any income or expenses.

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER. HIRE AN ACCOUNTANT OR OTHER QUALIFIED TAX ANALYST

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Few people can say they understand the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), and far fewer understand the statute that gave birth to the idea of a REMIC pass through entity (REAL ESTATE MORTGAGE INVESTMENT CONDUIT). The banks lobbied heavily for this section because it left open doors that could be exploited for the benefit of banks selling the “investment products” to the huge detriment of (1) the investors who advanced money into what turned out to be a nonexistent trust, (2) borrowers who were coaxed into signing “closing” documents as though the party named on the documents was lending them money, and (3) the US Government and the taxpayers who ultimately picked up the tab for a “bailout” of banks who had lost nothing from the actual “loans” nor the “mortgage bonds” because the banks were selling them not buying them. The bailouts from the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve in reality only added to the pornographic profits made by the banks by rewarding them with payments on losses incurred by others.

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Follow the money. Because of tacit agreements with Bush and Obama administrations the IRS has been granting repeated safe harbor extensions to the banks and servicers who have filed documents that  say that a REMIC was formed. Such filings were mostly false.  The problem is that the money and the acquisitions of “loans” MUST be through the trusts in order to get pass-through treatment. Without pass-through treatment, (like a sub S corporation) the cash received by investors is taxable income — even the portion, if any, that is attributable to principal. But the banks have been telling investors that they are getting the interest payment that they signed up for — according to the Prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement. What they are actually getting is their own money back from the investment they  thought they made.

[NOTE: The part attributable to principal would be taxable because the notes themselves, even if they were valid, are not the source of income to investors as far as the investors know. The source is supposedly the REMIC Trust — an entity that was created on paper but never used. In reality the source was a pool of dark money consisting entirely of investor money. But the banks and servicers are reporting to the investors that the money they are receiving is “income”from interest due from the REMIC Trust that never operated. The banks and services are obviously not reporting the cash as part of a Ponzi scheme. So the investors are paying taxes on the return of their own money. Hence the part of the payment from the “borrower” that has been designated as “principal” is reported as “interest” in reports to the investors. In reality the money from “borrowers” merely dumped into a dark pool along with all the other money received from investors.  The entire “loan closing” and subsequent foreclosures are a charade adding the judgment from a court of law that is treated as giving a stamp of approval for everything that preceded the judgment.]

The problem for everyone involved is that in reality the investors made nothing and merely received a portion of their own money as though it had come from the trust. But it didn’t come from the trust because the trust didn’t even have a bank account. If the banks had disclosed the truth of the matter the investors would have known this is a Ponzi scheme. Imagine what would happen if someone claimed sub S treatment when the corporation they had formed did no business, had no bank account and never had any business activity, never had any assets or liabilities and never had any income or expenses.

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The forms filed with the IRS are fraudulent. The 1099 issued to borrowers who avoided deficiency judgments are fraudulent because they come from entities that had no loss and never had the authority to collect or enforce. In reality if the true facts were followed there would be no taxable event for getting their own money back from their “investment.” But the way it is reported, the investors are getting “income” on which they owe taxes. The real taxes on real income should come from the banks that stole a large part of the money advanced by investors. It’s like Al Capone — in the end it was income tax that brought him down.

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Instead the investors are being taxed for interest received and are exposed to more taxes when they get money reported as “principal.” Neither the investors nor the borrowers should be paying taxes on any money or “benefit” they reportedly received (because there was no benefit). So the end result is that the banks made all the money, paid no taxes, and are taking a deduction for payments made to investors and for waivers of deficiency on loans they never owned.

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I have been telling borrowers for years to send the IRS a latter or notice in which they flatly state that the  form filed with the IRS was wrong, fraudulent and inoperative. The borrower received no benefit from the bank or servicer that filed it. Hence no tax is due. Thus far I have seen no evidence that the IRS is attempting to enforce the payment of income taxes from people who have challenged the the authenticity of the report. The IRS apparently does NOT want to be in the shoes of the banks trying to prove that the bank who filed the form owned the loan when they already know that the transaction was not actually a loan and that the “loan closing” transaction was the the result of the unauthorized and fraudulent use of investor money.

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Eventually the truth comes out. The problem for the banks is that they stole money and didn’t pay tax on their ill-gotten gains. Every time a “servicer” “recovers” “servicer advances” they are taking more money from investors because every “advance” was taken from a pool of money that consisted solely of investor cash. When they “recover” it they book it as return of capital rather than pure income which is what it really is, even if it is illegally obtained.

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If they admitted what it was then the banks would be required to pay huge sums in taxes. But they would also be facing angry investors who, upon realizing that every cent they received was their own money and not return on capital “invested” into a trust, would press claims and in many cases DID press claims and settled with the bank that defrauded them. So the banks and servicers are attempting to avoid both jail and huge sums in back taxes that would put a significant dent in the “deficit” of the U.S. government caused by the illegal and fraudulent activity of the banks.

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