Two Michigan counties filed suit against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems alleging the electronic registry avoided paying county recording fees when transferring property deeds in the past decade. The suit was filed in the 30th Circuit Court by Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. and Branch County Register of Deeds Nancy Hutchins. The counties are in central Michigan and include the Lansing area. MERS said it just received the complaint, and the organization is reviewing the claims. The lawsuit seeks class-action status, and Hertel and Hutchins say other Michigan counties have the option to join the complaint. “It’s time for this nonsense to stop,” Hutchins said. “These organizations need to step up to the plate, pay the transfer tax that is due and stop claiming exemptions that by law they are not entitled to.” “MERS has transformed the entire mortgage industry into a giant shell game,” according to Hertel. The Michigan counties follow several Texas counties — Dallas, Hidalgo, Bexar and Harris — that have either filed a lawsuit against MERS over county recording fee or are in the process of investigating as much. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins recently said his county is transforming its complaint against Merscorp Inc. into a class-action lawsuit so neighboring Texas counties can sign on as plaintiffs. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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