MERS prevails in Massachusetts, Hawaii
In the ongoing debate over the validity of mortgage proceedings by Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, two state district courts recently ruled in the firm's favor. Judge Dennis Saylor of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts held that MERS has the power to act as agent of any valid noteholder under the terms of the mortgage. In Kiah v. Aurora Loan Services and MERS, Saylor established that MERS has the power to assign the mortgage to the lender, and therefore the lender has standing to foreclose on the property. "Plaintiff’s theory that the note and the mortgage somehow became disconnected from one another, and that the mortgage should disappear as a result, is therefore not tenable as a matter of law," the court opinion states. The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii said in a Feb. 25 decision for Sakugawa v. MERS that there was no basis for allegations that MERS committed any fraudulent, unfair or deceptive practice acts regarding loan origination. Judge Seabright of Hawaii concluded in his opinion that MERS had no involvement in the decisionmaking process of loan origination because it is not the lender, but rather a nominee of the lender. MERS has claimed victory in New Hampshire, California and Kansas, while it has lost in New York. Virginia legislators are pushing to phase out the company and its role in tracking Ginnie Mae guaranteed mortgages. The Courts of Justice Civil Laws subcommittee in the Virginia House of Representatives also reviewed a bill that would force banks to maintain up-to-date records tracking the ownership of mortgage loans. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.