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HMC Assets, LLC v. Conley

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 30, 2017

HMC ASSETS, LLC, SOLELY IN ITS CAPACITY AS SEPARATE TRUSTEE OF CAM MORTGAGE TRUST 2013-1, Plaintiff,
v.
MARION R. CONLEY, Defendant.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          MARIANNE B. BOWLER United States Magistrate Judge

         On January 23, 2017, this court conducted a bench trial on the remaining claims in this mortgage foreclosure action. Defendant Marion R. Conley (“defendant”) was the only witness testifying at the one-day trial. At the close of the evidence, plaintiff HMC Assets, LLC, solely in its capacity as separate trustee of CAM Mortgage Trust 2013-1, (“HMC as Trustee”) filed a renewed motion for judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c) (Docket Entry # 104), which this court took under advisement. On January 30, 2017, defendant filed a request for rulings. (Docket Entry # 109).

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         HMC as Trustee filed this action on February 13, 2014. In August 2016, this court issued a Memorandum and Order resolving a majority of the counts in an amended complaint (Docket Entry # 11) and in a counterclaim (Docket Entry # 27). (Docket Entry # 84). As a result of these rulings, a voluntary dismissal of Count III in the amended complaint (Docket Entry # 44) and a stipulation with respect to Count V in the amended complaint (Docket Entry # 95), the following claims remain: (1) Count Six in the amended complaint for a writ of assistance from the court; (2) Count One in the counterclaim for a determination by the court of the rights of the parties with respect to the property pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws chapter 185 (“chapter 185”), section 114 (“section 114”); and (3) Count Six of the counterclaim which seeks an accounting of the fees and costs assessed to defendant's account at any time she was in default.

         With respect to Count Six in the amended complaint, defendant contends that HMC as Trustee can only seek possession of the property in state court under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 239, section one. (Docket Entry # 105).[1] As to Count One in the counterclaim, defendant “concedes that” the count “may have been decided by the Court if her accounting counterclaim fails.” (Docket Entry # 92). As a result, the accounting claim formed the primary basis for the nonjury trial.

         The accounting claim pled in the counterclaim asserts that defendant “is entitled to a complete accounting, together with proof of invoicing and proof of payment(s) for all fees, costs, charges and/or expenses that were assessed to her account at any time she was purportedly in default.” (Docket Entry # 27, ¶ 102). It does not cite any legal or equitable authority for the cause of action. The claim alleges that defendant asked HMC as Trustee or its agents or loan servicers about amounts due on a mortgage before and after a March 2014 foreclosure but was left “to wonder what was legitimately owed and when.” (Docket Entry # 27, ¶ 102). HMC as Trustee did not address the claim in seeking summary judgment on the counterclaim. (Docket Entry # 84, p. 73).

         In the proposed jury instructions in the pretrial memorandum, defendant elucidates the legal basis for the claim by identifying two statutes under which she seeks relief. Specifically, the proposed instructions assert entitlement to “an accurate accounting of the amounts” plaintiff owed on the basis of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 183, section 27 (“section 27”), and Massachusetts General Laws chapter 244, section 20 (“section 20”). With respect to section 27, the proposed instructions cite a case interpreting section 27, Duclersaint v. Federal National Mortgage Association, 696 N.E.2d 536 (Mass. 1998) (“Duclersaint”). The proposed instructions also cite an unpublished Massachusetts Appeals Court case, Riverview Apartments, LLC v. City National Bank, 34 N.E.3d 780 (Mass.App.Ct. 2015) (unpublished Rule 1:28 decision) (“Riverview”), which discusses section 20 and, to a lesser extent, section 27. (Docket Entry # 92). Neither case sets out a new legal theory to obtain an accounting.

         At the final pretrial conference, defendant's counsel represented and confirmed that sections 20 and 27 provide the basis for Count Six. At the outset of trial, this court asked defendant's counsel if the two statues, sections 20 and 27, constituted the two statutes under which defendant sought an accounting. Defendant's counsel again confirmed that sections 20 and 27 were the only statutes under which defendant sought relief with the exception of 12 C.F.R. § 1026.41.[2] In response to a question by this court, defendant's counsel agreed there was no other legal authority for the accounting counterclaim besides the aforementioned regulation and sections 27 and 20. Trial was therefore conducted based on these statutory claims for an accounting.[3]

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         On August 15, 2006, defendant executed a note and refinanced a mortgage in the face amount of $800, 000 on 23 Golf View Drive in Nantucket, Massachusetts (“the property”). Defendant, as mortgagor, gave the mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for American Home Mortgage. (Ex. 1). At the time, defendant received documentation from the loan servicer but could not understand the reason for charges in the documentation. Unable to obtain information about the charges from the loan servicer, she retained an attorney.

         Defendant testified that she “had the house since 1987.” Since 2010, she has lived at the property on a full-time basis. In fact, she remained in possession of the property up to the time of the trial.

         Through a series of assignments, HMC as Trustee became the holder of the mortgage. Meanwhile, defendant fell behind in principal and interest payments. In February 2014, BSI Financial Services, Inc. (“BSI”), as attorney-in-fact for HMC as Trustee, scheduled and noticed a foreclosure sale for March 7, 2014. A foreclosure and sale of the property took place on March 7, 2014. BSI, again as the attorney-in-fact of HMC as Trustee, conducted the non-judicial foreclosure. HMC as Trustee purchased the property for $675, 000.

         A March 18, 2014 mortgage statement sent to defendant sets out “FC Costs, ” i.e., foreclosure costs, of $655 as of February 26, 2014. The statement also disclosed “total fees” of $1, 777.50, outstanding principal of $850, 916.54, and a total amount due of $206, 935. Defendant testified that there was no itemization or documentation for these figures and she did not know the basis for any of the figures.

         By letter dated July 8, 2014, an attorney for HMC as Trustee sent defendant a letter containing an “itemized accounting of the proceeds arising from the foreclosure sale.” (Ex. K). The letter itemizes the following: a sale price of $675, 000; principal, interest, late charges, and escrow in the amount of $964, 173.51; and foreclosure fees and costs in the amount of $12, 183.62.[4] (Ex. K). The letter also stated that there was no auctioneer commission or surplus. (Ex. K). Defendant testified that as of July 8, 2014, she did not know the amount of the principal, the interest, the late charges, the escrow, the costs, and the attorney's fees.

         Defendant was then shown a March 25, 2013 notice of default addressed to her which listed various figures. Again, she testified that she did not know what the numbers meant or the justification for “other fees” in the amount of $4, 735.91. After being shown a June 13, 2013 request for payment, she stated that she had no idea what the numbers set out in the document meant, including a payment designated as a “corporate advance.” She stated that no one explained the “corporate advance” figure to her.

         Defendant, who acknowledged she no longer owns the property, remains in possession of the property. Notwithstanding the purchase of the property at the foreclosure, this court draws the reasonable inference that HMC as Trustee has not had possession of the property at any point in time.

         CONCLUSIONS ...


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