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U.S. District Court in Texas blocks MERS lawsuit

Individual homeowners do not have standing to sue Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems over county recording fees, according to a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The decision was passed down in the Huml v. MERS case—another piece of litigation that will define how seriously individual courts take claims that MERS robbed local jurisdictions out of revenue by recording mortgage assignments electronically without paying county recording fees.

The court threw out multiple claims made by Bea Huml and other homeowners in a lawsuit against MERS, Bank of America Home Loans Servicing (BAC), and The Bank of New York Mellon.

The parties originally sued MERS in an El Paso district court for fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent undertaking, unjust enrichment and conspiracy.

The federal district court dismissed the recording fee case, saying homeowners lacked standing to sue on a county's behalf. "Such allegations of personal injury is too remote and simply piggy-backs on the direct injury, if any, to the counties," the court wrote in its decision.

In other words, homeowners making claims on behalf of local counties against MERS is not legally acceptable since the cases involve the counties and not the homeowners per se.

But Richard Roman, the attorney for Huml, disagrees with the court's decision and says the homeowners should have been granted a chance to pursue their claims against MERS in front of a jury. Roman says he has evidence showing the foreclosure was processed with robo-signed documents. The West Texas attorney alleges he was about to present the robo-signing evidence in state court when the case was moved to federal court.

On the issue of homeowners not having standing in recording fee cases, he says, "our response to that is if an individual is harmed by that (an action), then the standing issue is not too remote at all."

The court also dismissed allegations that MERS as beneficiary of the deed of trust has no real interest in a property. Roman said he is considering filing an appeal with the fifth court.

U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama noted that MERS' and other defendants cited multiple Texas court decisions that held MERS is a mortagee and maintains rights as a beneficiary for the original lender.

The court overall found the plaintiffs failed to state a claim, prompting the judge to approve MERS motion to dismiss.

The case incorporates several common legal allegations against MERS. In the past, the Dallas County D.A's, office, along with other local counties, sued MERS suggesting that the registry and financial firms used electronic assignments to avoid paying county fees on mortgage assignments. A U.S. District Court Judge in Arkansas and a U.S. District Court in Iowa recently threw out county recording fee cases filed against MERS.

The Huml case also incorporates the common legal theory that MERS has no legal interest in the property.

MERS responded to the dismissal suggesting the complaints were "generalized and unsupported" and seemingly designed as a foreclosure delay tactic.

Roman said he categorically denies the assertion that his clients are looking for a free home. He claims they were trying to catch up on their payments and work with the lender when the home was foreclosed on.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

 

 

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