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MERS legal authority to foreclose gains traction in Rhode Island

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A woman challenging a foreclosure in Rhode Island lost her case after the Rhode Island Supreme Court reaffirmed the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems’ authority to assign foreclosing rights.

Citing a previous Rhode Island Supreme Court decision, Bucci v. Lehman Bros. Bank, a Rhode Island Superior Court judge held inAkalarian v. RBMG that MERS and the parties it assigns mortgage rights to possess the statutory power to both sell and foreclose on a home.

The Bucci decision from the state’s supreme court established the legal framework for this decision.

The court held in Bucci opinion that "the holder of the legal title to the mortgage—MERS—always has acted as an agent of the owner of the equitable title. In our opinion, this transactional structure is consistent with the law of this state."

In the latest opinion, the Rhode Island Superior Court writes: "While the Bucci decision did not address the specific issue of MERS’ authority to assign a mortgage, it follows from the reasoning in Bucci that MERS—as the lawful and contractually designated mortgagee and nominee for the lender/noteholder—may also lawfully assign its interest in a mortgage. Plaintiff‟s claims to the contrary merit no further discussion."

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