Ohio county sues MERS over mortgage recording fees
Geauga County in Ohio filed suit against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Thursday, claiming the electronic mortgage registry bypassed the recording of mortgage assignments in local registry offices, thereby depriving numerous Ohio counties on revenue from filing fees. The lawsuit arrives weeks after the Dallas County District Attorney sued MERS and its parent company, Merscorp. Inc., alleging the system acts as a shadow recording system that allows lenders to avoid local mortgage registration fees. The suit was filed by David Joyce, prosecuting attorney for Geauga County. Geauga is situated on the eastern border with Cuyahoga County, both act as part of the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area. "The MERS business model and practices comply with the recording statutes and regulations of Ohio," a MERS statement of response reads. "This position has been upheld in numerous cases in Ohio courts and countless cases across the country on the state and Federal level. We are confident that MERS’ business practices will be upheld in court as complying with Ohio law." The complaint names various financial institutions as defendants – including Bank of America (BAC), Chase Home Mortgage, Citi (C), HSBC Bank and numerous others. The suit is another byproduct of claims stemming from MERS role in the securitization process, the plaintiffs claim. In the suit, Geauga County claims "the defendants systematically broke chains of land title throughout Ohio counties' public land records by creating gaps due to missing mortgage assignments they failed to record, or by recording patently false or misleading mortgage assignments." The county claims MERS failure to pay filing fees is a violation of Ohio state laws. Write to Kerri Panchuk.