Finally, some in this country are actually paying attention to the law. Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp just lost their Foreclosuregate case in Massachusetts. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts just ruled against them. The case boils down to if the bank cannot locate the paperwork, too bad, they cannot foreclose, even when they bundle these things up in derivatives and trade them like baseball cards.
Financial Times has the background on the case itself and gives one of the court rulings on securitization of mortgages with respect to foreclosures:
The Land Court then proceeded to find that (1) neither Appellant had a valid assignment of mortgage at the time of publication of the notices or at the time of the foreclosure sale, (21 the foreclosure notices failed to identify the “holder” of the mortgage, and ( 3 ) the notices were deficient under Mass. Gen. L. ch. 244, 5 14. [A592-93]. Put another way, the Land Court held that Appellants lacked authority as assignees to conduct the subject: foreclosures.
Naked Capitalism on what this ruling means:
This is the key sentence from the decision, that the use of a securitization does not alter or reduce the requirements that apply to transfers and ownership of the loans and the related property.
Bloomberg has the overview:
U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. lost a foreclosure case in Massachusetts’s highest court that will guide lower courts in that state and may influence others in the clash between bank practices and state real-estate law. The ruling drove down bank stocks.
The state Supreme Judicial Court today upheld a judge’s decision saying two foreclosures were invalid because the banks didn’t prove they owned the mortgages, which he said were transferred into two mortgage-backed trusts without the recipients’ being named.
Joshua Rosner, an analyst at the New York-based research firm Graham Fisher & Co., called the decision “a landmark ruling” showing that at least in Massachusetts a mortgage “must name the assignee to be valid.”
“This is likely to open the floodgates to more suits in Massachusetts and strengthens cases in other states,” Rosner said.
“We agree with the judge that the plaintiffs, who were not the original mortgagees, failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure,” Justice Ralph D. Gants wrote for a unanimous court.
For more bankground, here is an earlier post, Foreclosures Running Amok.