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Bank of America v. Rosa

Bank of America v. Rosa

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Published by Richard Vetstein
Bank of America v. Rosa, post foreclosure evictions
Bank of America v. Rosa, post foreclosure evictions

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Richard Vetstein on Dec 18, 2013
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12/08/2014

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NOTICE: The slip opinions and orders posted on this Web site are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports. This preliminary material will be removed from the Web site once the advance sheets of the Official Reports are published. If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.
vs.
 Ceferino S. ROSA (and three consolidated cases [FN1]). SJC-11330. Essex. Sept. 9, 2013. - Dec. 18, 2013.
Mortgage,
 Foreclosure.
Summary Process. Housing Court,
 Jurisdiction.
Practice, Civil,
 Summary process, Affirmative defense, Counterclaim and cross-claim.
 Jurisdiction,
 Summary process, Housing Court, Equitable.
Uniform Summary Process Rules. Rules of Civil Procedure. Statute,
 Construction. SUMMARY PROCESS. Complaints filed in the Northeast Division of the Housing Court Department, two on February 6, 2012, and one each on January 20, 2012, and April 2, 2012, respectively. Motions to strike and to dismiss affirmative defenses and counterclaims were heard by
David D. Kerman,
 J. Proceedings for interlocutory review were heard in the Appeals Court by
Mary T. Sullivan,
 J., and the cases were consolidated and reported by her to the Appeals Court. The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.
Phoebe N. Coddington,
 of North Carolina (
 Jennifer E. Greaney & Stephen C. Reilly 
 with her) for Bank of America, N.A., & another.
Thomas J. Santolucito
 (
Rachel B. Meisterman
 with him) for Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
Richard M.W. Bauer 
 (
Eloise P. Lawrence
 with him) for Ceferino S. Rosa & others.
Marylyn E. Flores
 (
David S. Flores
 with her) for Gerard J. Cioffi.
Benjamin O.
 
 Adeyinka,
 for The Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts, Inc., & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.
 Arielle Cohen & Charles Delbaum,
 for National Consumer Law Center, amicus curiae, submitted a brief. Present: Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ. SPINA, J. In each of these consolidated appeals the plaintiff bank brought a summary process action against the former homeowner-mortgagor in the Housing Court after foreclosure. Each former homeowner raised various defenses and counterclaims in his or her answer to the complaint that challenged the bank's right to both possession and title as derived through foreclosure sale, as well as other defenses and counterclaims. In each case the bank filed a motion to strike the affirmative defenses and to dismiss the counterclaims on grounds that the only defenses and counterclaims available in summary process are (1) those allowed by G.L. c. 239, § 8A, which does not apply here because there was no landlord-tenant relationship between the parties, and (2) a challenge to title (and thereby possession) based only on a failure to comply strictly with the power of sale provided in the mortgage. See
Wayne Inv. Corp.
 v.
 Abbott,
 350 Mass. 775, 775 (1966);
New England Mut. Life Ins. Co.
 v.
Wing,
 191 Mass. 192, 195 (1906). A judge in the Housing Court acted on these motions after our decision in
Bank of N.Y.
 v.
Bailey,
 460 Mass. 327, 334 (2011), where we said that the Housing Court had  jurisdiction to consider an affirmative defense or a counterclaim raising the question of strict compliance with the power of sale in a mortgage as it relates to the title of a postforeclosure summary process plaintiff. On August 31, 2012, after deciding a similar motion in a case [FN2] that he intended would serve as a guide for about two dozen cases, the judge granted the motions of each bank as to landlord-tenant-related defenses and counterclaims. He denied the motions as to the other defenses and counterclaims, concluding that the former homeowners were not limited to challenging title solely on the basis of strict compliance with the power of sale in the mortgage. The banks sought interlocutory review by a single  justice of the Appeals Court. The single justice denied relief, but authorized an interlocutory appeal to a panel of the Appeals Court. See
CUNA Mut. Ins. Soc'y v. Attorney Gen.,
 380 Mass. 539, 540 (1980). We granted the former homeowners' application for direct appellate review. We affirm the decision of the Housing Court judge, and now hold that the Housing Court has  jurisdiction to hear defenses and counterclaims that challenge the title of a plaintiff in a postforeclosure summary process action, which previously only could have been the subject of an independent equity action in the Superior
 
Court, and that the Housing Court has authority to award damages in conjunction with such counterclaims. [FN3] 1.
Background.
 The defendant former homeowners' mortgages were foreclosed by exercise of the power of sale in their respective mortgages. Each plaintiff bank acquired title to a defendant's home by foreclosure deed following a public foreclosure sale of the mortgaged premises. The banks then commenced these summary process actions in the Housing Court. Each complaint alleged that the former homeowner was holding over and occupying the "premises following a public foreclosure auction and beyond the time provided in the [n]otice to [q]uit." No party alleges the existence of, or bases any claim, defense, or counterclaim on the existence of, a landlord-tenant relationship. The former homeowners filed answers to the complaints in which they raised various defenses and counterclaims. [FN4] Matters raised only by way of affirmative defense include (1) allegations that the bank did not acquire title strictly according to the power of sale provided in the mortgage, see
Wayne Inv. Corp.
 v.
 Abbott, supra; New England Mut. Life Ins. Co.
 v.
Wing, supra;
 and (2) allegations of discrimination based on a failure to make the requested accommodation of a handicap. [FN5] Matters raised only by way of counterclaim include (1) allegations of improper foreclosure and violations of G.L. c. 93A for which reinstatement of the mortgage is sought; and (2) allegations of improper foreclosure and violations of G.L. c. 93A for which damages for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress are sought. Matters raised by way of both affirmative defense and counterclaim include (1) allegations that a bank improperly failed to modify the mortgage loan pursuant to the Federal Home Affordable Modification Program, 12 U.S.C. §§ 5219 & 5219a (2012), and that such failure constitutes a violation of G.L. c. 93A for which damages and reinstatement of the mortgage are sought; (2) allegations of discrimination based on national origin; [FN6] (3) allegations that a bank violated G.L. c. 93A by offering to lease the house to the former homeowner but then never responded to the former homeowner's attempts to pursue the bank's offer; and (4) allegations of violations of the implied warranty of habitability, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The judge dismissed in general language the defendants' affirmative defenses and counterclaims that were based on violations of the implied warranty of habitability, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, theories of rent withholding, and other landlord tenant laws. He did not specify precisely which other defenses and counterclaims were included. He reasoned that those defenses and counterclaims did not apply in these cases because the former homeowners never claimed they had rented or leased

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