Thursday, September 5, 2013

Danielle Kelley, Esq. Swings Back at Separation of Note and Mortgage

Danielle Kelley, Esq. whom I admired before she became my law partner has again broke some old/new ground in compelling fashion. This is not legal advice and nobody should use it without consulting an attorney who is properly licensed in good standing in the jurisdiction in which the property is located and who is competent on the subject of bills and notes.
The bottom line: if the note and mortgage were intended by the law to be considered one instrument, they would be one instrument. But they are not because all the conditions in the mortgage would render the note non-negotiable under the UCC and that would be true even if the loan was actually sold, for real, with payment and an assignment. The conditions expressed in the mortgage or deed of trust render the mortgage non-negotiable. Hence an alleged transfer of the note separates the note from the mortgage because the mortgage is by definition non-negotiable. If the banks lose the application of the UCC, which they should, they are dead in the water because they have no way to prove the transactions upon which they rely in collection and foreclosure.
All of this leads us back to the “sale” of the loan because the presumption arising out of being a holder or holder in due course does not exist where the paper is non-negotiable. The Banks must allege and prove the origination and sale the old fashioned way — by alleging that on the ___ day of ___, in the year ___ XYZ loaned the homeowner $____________. Pursuant to that transaction the defendant executed a note and mortgage (or deed of trust), attached hereto and incorporated by reference. On the ___ day of ________ in the year ________, Plaintiff acquired said loan by payment of valuable consideration and received an assignment that was recorded in the public records at page ___, Book ____ of the public records of ____ County. Defendant failed or refused to make payment commencing the ___ day of ____ in the year ____. Plaintiff gave notice of the delinquency and default, provided the Defendant with an opportunity to reinstate as required by the mortgage and applicable law (copy of said notices attached). Defendant will suffer financial loss without collection of the debt for which it owns the account receivable. Pursuant to the terms of the mortgage which is attached hereto, Defendant agreed that the subject property was pledged as collateral for the faithful performance of the duties under the note, to wit: payment.
Of course the Banks refuse to do that because it opens the door to discovery to exactly what money was paid, to whom and why. AND it would show that there were no actual transactions — just shuffling of paper.
Affirmative defense
Non-negotiability of Subject Note Prohibits Plaintiff from Enforcing it Pursuant to Fla. Stat. §673, et seq and Failure to Attach Documents Pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.130
With regard to all counts of the Complaint, the Plaintiff’s claims are barred in whole or in part because the subject note that the Plaintiff may produce is not a negotiable instrument and therefore the Plaintiff cannot claim enforcement of the note pursuant to Fla. Stat. §673, et seq.  In order for an instrument to be negotiable it must not, amongst other things, “state any other undertaking or instruction by the person promising or ordering payment to do any act in addition to the payment of money.”  §673.1041(1)(c).  While there is no appellate case law in Florida (and precious little in the entire country) which has ever interpreted this portion of the statute to mortgage promissory notes, the Second District has interpreted this section with respect to retail installment sales contracts in GMAC v. Honest Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc., et al., 933 So. 2d 34 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006).  There, the Second District held that clauses in the RISC such as the requirement for late fees and NSF charges rendered the contract non-negotiable.  This Court should be mindful that the GMAC case was recently applied to a mortgage foreclosure in the Sixth Judicial Circuit.  See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Christopher J. Chesney, Case No. 51-2009-CA-6509-WS/G (6th Judicial Circuit/Hon. Stanley R. Mills February 22, 2010).
The note attached to Plaintiff’s Complaint contains the following obligations other than the payment of money
1.      The obligation that the borrower pay a late charge if the lender has not received payment by the end of a certain period of days after the payment is due.  Defendants assert this defense although Section 7(a) of the Note attached states “See Attached Rider”.  The only riders attached to the Complaint are a “Prepayment Rider to Note” and an “Adjustable Rate Rider”, the latter of which deals with the interest change, not late fees.  Therefore there are documents potentially missing from the Complaint which runs afoul of Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.130 that such documents be attached as they are a document upon which a defense can be made.  Defendants are asserting the defense without the applicable rider; however, if Plaintiff is in possession of the original note, as they should be in order to foreclose, Plaintiff would have had said document to file.   
2.      The obligation that the borrower to tell the lender, in writing, if borrower opts to may prepay in clause 5 of the Note and the Prepayment Rider to the Note. 
3.      The obligation that the lender send any notices that must be given to the borrower pursuant to the terms of the subject note by either delivering it or mailing it by first class mail in clause 8; and
4.       The obligation of the borrower to waive the right of presentment and notice of dishonor in clause 9.
Because the subject note contains undertakings or instructions other than the payment of money, the subject note is not negotiable and therefore the Plaintiff cannot claim that it is entitled to enforce same pursuant to Fla. Stat. §673, et seq.
In addition to, or in alternative of, the following argument, even if the subject note is deemed negotiable, Fla. Stat. §673, et seq. (and therefore negotiation) cannot be utilized to transfer the non-negotiable mortgage, which is a separate transaction.  See in Sims v. New Falls Corporation, 37 So. 3d 358, 360 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010) (providing that a note and mortgage were two separate transactions).  The terms of the mortgage are expressly not incorporated into the terms of the note; rather, they are merely referenced by the note.  See clause 11 of the note.  Indeed, nowhere in the subject note is the right to foreclose the mortgage a remedy for default under the note.  It is clause 22 of the mortgage, on the other hand, which allows this.  Clause 22 of the mortgage, however, cannot be transferred to Plaintiff by negotiation as the mortgage is not negotiable.  

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