Dallas County DA amends MERS suit into class action
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said his county is transforming its complaint against Merscorp and its Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, into a class-action lawsuit so neighboring Texas counties can sign on as plaintiffs. Watkins filed suit against MERS in September, alleging the electronic mortgage registry allowed financial firms to avoid county filing fees on certain mortgage assignments as loans were passed through the securitization process. Watkins claims the e-registry owes Dallas County $50 million to $100 million. He did not specify which counties are joining his case, but said the complaint will be expanded to include "other Texas counties which have been affected by the conduct set out in the lawsuit." Hidalgo County in South Texas and San Antonio's Bexar County recently confirmed they also are exploring lawsuits against the mortgage database firm. "We have also been advised that other counties throughout the country are considering similar actions," Watkins said Monday. "And late last week the Delaware Attorney General commenced an action against MERS and MERSCORP for alleged misconduct related to foreclosures and deed records filings in Delaware." A spokesperson for the mortgage database said it cannot comment on cases yet to be filed, and has continually defended its role in the mortgage assignment process. "MERS complies with state and county recording statutes and mortgage regulations," a spokesperson told HousingWire. "All MERS mortgages are recorded in county land records to perfect the lien interest — as required — and the fees for recording are paid." She added, "The MERS system doesn't replace or circumvent the county recording system. These cases are without merit. You don't pay a toll when you don't drive over the bridge, yet a handful of county recorders are claiming that they are owed fees for services they didn't provide, and that were not required." Write to Kerri Panchuk.