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Case Wa Usdc Bain v Onewest, Deutsche, Mers, Etal 2012-02-14 Amicus Brief by Wa Atty Gen (02!14!2012) (28 Pgs)

Case Wa Usdc Bain v Onewest, Deutsche, Mers, Etal 2012-02-14 Amicus Brief by Wa Atty Gen (02!14!2012) (28 Pgs)

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NO.

1 0-5523-JCC
SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
KRISTIN BAIN,
Petitioner,
v.
METRO PO LIT AN MORTGAGE GROUP INC. et al.,
Respondents.
BRIEF OF AMICUS CURIAE
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF STATE OF WASHINGTON IN
SUPPORT OF PETITIONER
ROBERT M. MCKENNA
Attorney General
JAMES T. SUGARMAN
Assistant Attorney General
WSBA#39107
800 Fifth A venue, Suite 2000
Seattle, W A 9 81 04
(206) 389-2514
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTEREST OF AMICUS ................................................................. 1
II. ISSUES ADDRESSED BY AMICUS .............................................. 1
A. Question 1: MERS is Not a Lawful Beneficiary Under
the Deed of Trust Act ................................................................. 2
1. Severing the Note from the Deed of Trust Creates
Havoc in the Marketplace ................................................... 6
B. Question 3. By Acting As an Unlawful Beneficiary,
Certain Acts and Practices by MERS Violate the
Consumer Protection Act ......................................................... 13
1. MERS Acts Are Unfair or Deceptive .............................. .l3
2. MERS Acts in Trade or Commerce .................................. 17
3. MERS Acts Impact the Public Interest.. .......................... .18
4. MERS Acts Injure Consumers ......................................... 18
5. MERS' Business Practices Cause Consumer Injury ....... .19
III. CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 20
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES
Beckman v. Ward,
174 Wash. 326, 24 P.2d 1091 (1933) ..................................................... 6
Bowers v. Transamerica Title Ins. Co.,
100 Wn.2d 581,675 P.2d 193 (1983) ................................................... 16
Bradford v. HSBC Mortg. Corp.,
799 F. Supp. 2d 625 (E.D. Va. 2011) ................................................... 10
Brown v. Household Realty Corp.,
146 Wn. App. 157, 189 P.3d 233 (2008) .............................................. 12
Christenson v. Raggio,
47 Wash. 468, 92 P. 348 (1907) ............................................................. 6
Commonwealth by Packet v. Tolleson,
14 Pa.Cmwlth. 72, 321 A.2d 664 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1974) .......................... 16
Cox v. Helenius,
103 Wn.2d 383, 693 P.2d 683 (1985) ................................................... 12
Dunnv. Neu,
179 Wash. 351,37 P.2d. 883 (1934) ...................................................... 7
Dwyer v. J.l Kislak 1\1ortgage,
103 Wn. App. 542, 13 P .3d 240 (2000) ................................................ 16
Erickson v. Kendall,
112 Wash. 26, 191 P. 842 (1920) ........................................................... 7
Escalante v Sentry Inc. Co.,
49 Wn. App. 375, 743 P.2d 832 (1987) ................................................ 17
Evergreen Collectors v. Holt,
60 Wn. App. 151, 803 P.2d 10 (1991) .................................................. 16
ii
Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. v. HendrixLicensing.com, LTD,
766 F. Supp. 2d 1122 (W.D. Wash. 2011) ............................................ 16
Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md. v. TIC OR Title Insur. Co.,
88 Wn. App 64, 943 P.2d 710 (1997) ............................................... 7, 10
Floersheim v. Federal Trade Comm 'n,
411 F.2d 874 (9th Cir. 1969) ............................................................... 16
Godfrey v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co.,
142 Wn.2d 885, 16 P.3d 617 (2001) ................................................... 5, 6
Hangman Ridge Training Stables v. Safeco,
105 Wn.2d 778,719 P.2d 531 (1986) ............................................. 13, 18
Harris v. OS! Financial Services, Inc.,
595 F. Supp. 2d 885 (N.D.Ill. 2009) ..................................................... 11
HSBC Bank v. Antrobus,
872 N.Y.S.2d 691 (N.Y. Sup. 2008) ..................................................... 10
Impac v. Credit Suisse Boston LLC,
No.: 06-56024, 2008 Westlaw 731050 (9th Cir. 2008) .......................... 7
In re Columbia Pac. Mortgage, Inc.,
22 Bania·. 753 (W.D. Wash. 1982) ......................................................... 7
In re Foreclosure Cases,
521 F. Supp. 2d 650 (N.D. Ohio 2007) ................................................. 10
In re Kemp,
440 B.R. 624 (Bankr. D. NJ. 2010) ........................................................ 8
Ivan's Tire Service v. Goodyear Tire,
10 Wn. App. 110, 517 P. 2d 229 (1973) ............................................... 13
Jackson v. MERS,
770 N.W.2d 487 (Minn. 2009) ......................................................... 4, 10
Kennebec, Inc. v. Bank of the West,
88 Wn.2d 718, 565 P.2d 812 (1977) ....................................................... 6
iii
Kinkopf v. Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority,
1 Misc.3d 417, 764 N.Y.S.2d 549 (N.Y.City Civ.Ct. 2003) ................. 16
Lomayaktewa v. Hathaway,
520 F.2d 1324 (9th Cir. 1975) .............................................................. 11
Mason v. Mortgage America, Inc.,
114 Wn.2d 842, 792 P.2d 142 (1990) ................................................... 19
Miguel v. Country Funding Corp.,
309 F.3d 1161 (9th Cir. 2002) .............................................................. 11
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Nebraska Dept. of
Banking and Finance,
704 N.W.2d 784 (Neb. 2005) ........................................... 3, 4, 10, 14, 15
Nordstrom, Inc. v. Tampourlos,
107 Wn.2d 735, 733 P.2d 208 (1987) ............................................. 13, 18
Panag v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington,
66 Wn.2d 27, 204 P .3d 885 (2009) ....................................................... 19
Pennsylvania. Dep 't of Banking v. NCAS of Delaware, LLC,
995 A.2d 422 (Pa. Comm. Ct. 2010) .................................................... 13
Plein v. Lackey,
149 Wn.2d 214, 67 P.3d 1061 (2003) ................................................... 12
Price v. Northern Bond & Mortgage Co.,
161 Wash. 690, 297 P. 786 (1931) ..................................................... 4, 7
Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi v. Merrill Lynch
& Co., Inc.,
277 F.R.D. 97 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) .............................................................. 8
Rodgers v. Seattle-First Nat'! Bank,
40 Wn. App. 127, 697 P.2d 1009 (1985) ......................................... 7, 11
Ruscalleda v. · HSBC Bank USA,
43 So.3d 947 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010) ............................................... 10
iv
Salois v. Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co.,
90Wn.2d355, 581 P.2d 1351 (1978) ................................................... 17
Scott v. Cingular Wireless,
160 Wn.2d 843, 161 P.3d 1000 (2007) ................................................... 6
Sign-0-Lite Signs, Inc. v. DeLaurenti Florests, Inc.,
64 Wn. App. 553, 825 P.2d 714 (1992) ................................................ 19
Sorrel v. Eagle Healthcare, Inc.,
110 Wn. App. 290, 38 P. 3d 1024 (2002) ............................................. 19
State v. Kaiser,
161 Wn. App. 705, 254 P.3d 850 (2011) .............................................. 14
State v. Morley,
134 Wn.2d 588, 952 P.2d 167 (1998) ..................................................... 5
Stephens v. Omni Ins. Co.,
138 Wn. App. 151, 159 P.3d 10 (2007) .................................... 13, 16, 18
Testa v. Russ Dunmire Oldsmobile, Inc.,
16 Wn. App. 39, 554 P.2d 349 (1976) .................................................. 16
Texas v. American Blastfax, Inc.,
164 F. Supp. 2d 892 (W.D. Tex. 2001) ................................................ 16
Thepvongsa v. Regional Trustee Service Corp.,
No. 10-cv-1045, 2011 WL 307364, (W.D. Wash. Jan. 26, 2011) .... 9, 10
Washington Dept. of Rev. v. Security Pac. Bank of Wash., NA.,
109 Wn. App 795, 38 P.3d 354 (2002) ................................................... 8
Wells Fargo Bank v. Farmer,
867 N.Y.S.2d 21 (N.Y. Sup. 2008) ....................................................... 10
Young Americans for Freedom v. Gorton,
91 Wn.2d 204, 588 P.2d 195 (1978) ....................................................... 1
Zolfaghari v. Sheikholeslami,
943 F.2d 451 (4th Cir. 1991) .................................................................. 7
v
Statutes
15 U.S.C. § 1635(£) ................................................................................... 11
RCW 7.04 ................................................................................................... 5
RCW 19.86.010(2) .............................................................................. 17, 18
RCW 19.86.080 .......................................................................................... 1
RCW 19.86.093 ........................................................................................ 18
RCW 31.04.015(7) .................................................................................... 15
RCW 31.04.015(26) .................................................................................. 15
RCW 31.04.035 ........................................................................................ 15
RCW 61.24.005(2) .................................................................................. 1, 2
RCW 61.24.030(7) ...................................................................................... 4
RCW 61.24.030(8)(1) .................................................................................. 4
RCW 61.24.130 ........................................................................................ 12
RCW 61.24.130(2) .................................................................................... 12
RCW 61.24.135 ........................................................................................ 13
RCW 61.24.172(2) ...................................................................................... 1
RCW 62A.3-302 ....................................................................................... 11
RCW 62A.3-302(a)(2) .............................................................................. 12
RCW 62A.3-305 ....................................................................................... 11
RCW 62A.3-602( a)(ii) ................................................................................ 7
vi
Other Authorities
Adam Ashcraft & Til Schuermann, Understanding the Securitization
ofSubprime Mortgage Credit, Federal Reserve Bank ofNew
York, (March 2008),
http://www. newyorlifed. org/research/staff_ reportslsr 318.pdf ............... 8
Dale Whitman, How Negotiability Has Fouled Up the Secondary
Mortgage Market, and What To Do About It, 37 Pepp. L. Rev. 738
(2010) ...................................................................................................... 8
Diane E. Thompson, Foreclosing Modifications: How Servicer
Incentives Discourage Loan Modifications, 86 Wash. L. Rev. 755
(2011) .................................................................................................... 17
Fraud Scheme Characteristic, Fannie Mae,
https://www.efanniemae.com/utility/legal/pdf/fraudschchar.pdf
(last visited Feb. 14, 2012) ...................................................................... 6
Kurt Eggert, Held Up in Due Course: Predatory Lending,
Securitization, and the Holder in Due Course Doctrine, 35
Creighton L. Rev. 503 (2002) ................................................................. 8
Mortgage-Backed Securities, U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission, http :llwww. sec. gov/ answer s/mortgagesecurities. htm
(last visited Feb. 14, 2012); .................................................................... 8
Wash. Practice, Real Estate § 18.18 (2d ed.) ............................................ 11
Regulations
16 C.P.R.§ 321.3(o) (2011) ........................... , .......................................... 16
vii
I. INTEREST OF AMICUS
Amicus Curiae is the Attorney General of Washington. The
Attorney General's constitutional and statutory powers include the
submission of amicus curiae briefs on matters affecting the public
interest.
1
This matter requires an interpretation of the Washington Deed of
Trust Act ("DTA"), RCW 61.24.005(2). The Attorney General is charged
with enforcing the Deed of Trust Act,
2
and is currently involved in
litigation and enforcement actions regarding mortgage lending and
foreclosures in the State of Washington.
3
In addition, this matter concerns
whether the actions of Respondent Mortgage Electonic Registration
Systems, Inc. (MERS) falls within the Consumer Protection Act. The
Attorney General enforces the Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86 on
behalf of the public.
4
II. ISSUES ADDRESSED BY AMICUS
The Attorney General files this brief with respect to Certified
Questions 1 and 3. We do not address Question 2 because we believe it is
too broad to be answered generically.
1
See Young Americans for Freedom v. Gorton, 91 Wn.2d 204, 212, 588 P.2d
195 (1978).
2
RCW 61.24.172(2).
3
See, e.g., State of Washington v. ReconTrust, W.D.Wash. No.: 2:11-cv-1460-
JLR.
4
RCW 19.86.080.
(1) MERS is not a lawful "beneficiary" within the terms of
Washington's Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.24.005(2), if it never held the
promissory note secured by the deed of trust.
(3) Homeowners may possess a cause of action under
Washington's Consumer Protection Act against MERS when MERS acts
as an unlawful beneficiary under the terms of Washington's Deed of Trust
Act.
A. Question 1:
The federal court asks: (1) Is MERS a lawful "beneficiary"
within the terms of Washington's Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.24.005(2),
if it never held the promissory note secured by the deed of trust?
This question is immediately answered by the plain language of the
Deed of Trust Act - a "beneficiary" is defined as the "holder" of the
promissory note. RCW 61.24.005(2). Thus, if MERS never "held the
promissory note" then it is not a lawful beneficiary. The DTA
unambiguously defines "beneficiary" as: "Beneficiary means the holder of
the instrument or document evidencing the obligations secured by the deed
of trust." Id. The "instrument" obviously means the promissory note
because the only other document in the transaction is the deed of trust and
2
it would be absurd to read this definition as saying that '"beneficiary
means the holder of the deed of trust secured by the deed of trust. "'
5
The State agrees with Plaintiffs Bain and Selkowitz that MERS
violated the statutory language of the Deed of Trust Act, the law of
Negotiable Instruments, and the common law principles of real property,
which all provide that the legal status of the note is determinative of the
power to enforce the note. MERS maintains that there is no statutory or
public policy reason for preventing it from expanding the definition of
beneficiary to a party that holds only the deed of trust. MERS Selkowitz
Response Br. at 12. The State files this Amicus Petition to provide the
Court with both statutory and public policy reasons why the MERS system
conceals the true owner of the promissory note and why this is damaging
to a free, fair and transparent mortgage marketplace.
In Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Nebraska
Dept. of Banking and Finance, 704 N.W.2d 784, 787 (Neb. 2005), MERS
and the Court describe its role in the marketplace:
MERS argues that ... it only holds legal title to members'
mortgages in a nominee capacity and is contractually
prohibited from exercising any rights with respect to the
mortgages (i.e., foreclosure) without the authorization of
the members. Further, MERS argues that it does not own
the promissory notes secured by the mortgages and has no
right to payments made on the notes. MERS explains that it
5
Respondent MERS advocates for this absurd interpretation in pages 13 - 15 of
its Response in Selkowitz.
3
merely "immobilizes the mortgage lien while transfers of
the promissory notes and servicing rights continue to
occur."
I d. (emphasis added). Therefore, the very purpose of MERS is to hold
onto the security interest while ownership of the loan passes from party to
party.
6
This role is contrary to Washington's fundamental principle of real
property finance law that "the note is considered the obligation, and the
mortgage but an incident of the note which passes with it." Price v.
Northern Bond & Jvlortgage Co., 161 Wash. 690, 695, 297 P. 786 (1931).
It is not just decades of case law that rely on the note and the
security instrument transferring together. The Deed of Trust Act (DTA)
assumes it throughout its provisions. The DTA states that "the trustee
shall have proof that the beneficiary is the owner of any promissory note"
prior to foreclosing. RCW 61.24.030(7). The DTA also requires the
trustee to disclose in the Notice of Default the name and address of the
owner of the promissory note. RCW 61.24.030(8)(1).
MERS maintains that because the definition section of the DTA
contains the phrase "[t]he definitions in this section apply throughout this
chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise," MERS may expand
the definition of "beneficiary" to cover parties that do not hold the note
but instead hold the deed of trust. MERS Selkowitz Resp. at 12. The
6
See also, Jackson v. MERS, 770 N.W.id 487 (Minn. 2009) ("By acting as the
nominal mortgagee of record for its members, MERS has essentially separated the
promissory note and the security instrument, allowing the debt to be transferred without
an assignment of the security instrument." Jd at 494:)
4
definition of beneficiary is not ambiguous, and the phrase "unless the
context clearly requires otherwise" only means that a definition will not be
applied to yield an absurd result. The phrase is not intended to provide an
opportunity to disregard the plain language of the DT A.
7
MERS contends that it may circumvent the DTA requirements by
creating a deed of trust that uses a third party "nominee" as the
beneficiary.
8
However, in plenary statutes such as the DTA, where the
legislature has expressed Washington's public policy on how foreclosures
shall occur, parties may not vary the terms by contract.
An analogous situation arose regarding Washington's former
Arbitration Act.
9
In Godfrey v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., 142 Wn.2d 885, 16
P.3d 617 (2001), the Court examined the Act and determined that the
defendants would not be allowed to contractually alter its terms. The
Court held that because the Act was an expression of public policy by the
Legislature it must be applied as a whole and without "common law"
alternatives to its provisions.
10
Not only would this violate the
legislature's stated public policy, but also because the parties would be
invoking the powers of the state to enforce the arbitration decision, they
7
State v. Morley, 134 Wn.2d 588, 598, 952 P.2d 167 (1998) (this phrase means
the definition section "should not be blindly applied.")
8
The term nominee is not found in the DTA, negotiable instruments law or
Washington real property law generally.
9
RCW 7.04.
10
Godfrey, 142 Wn.2d at 896.
5
must provide the rights and responsibilities contained m the statutory
procedure to arrive at that decision.
11
The DTA is also a comprehensive expression of public policy.
12
Like arbitration decisions, a nonjudicial foreclosure is likely to require
state powers to enforce the result through an eviction action. The
Legislature has set forth in enormous detail how nonjudicial foreclosures
may proceed and parties should not be allowed to vary these procedures
by contract.
1. Severing the Note from the Deed of Trust Creates
Havoc in the Marketplace.
The practice of severing the note from the security interest has a
history of causing havoc in Washington's mortgage marketplace. An
early example of the problem was a scam that has come to be known as
"double selling."
13
A lender makes a loan secured by a home and sells the
loan to an investor. The lender then sells the same loan again to a
different investor, or more loans secured by the same mortgage.
14
II Id at 897, ("[T]hey brought into play the jurisdiction and power of the courts
as set forth in the [Arbitration Act]. By so doing, they have activated the entire chapter
and the policy embodied therein, not just the parts that are useful to them.") See also
Scott v. Cingular Wireless, 160 Wn.2d 843, 851, 161 P.3d 1000 (2007) (A contractual
agreement "that violates public policy may be void and unenforceable.")
I
2
Kennebec, Inc. v. Bank of the West, 88 Wn.2d 718, 725, 565 P.2d 812 (1977)
("In 1965 the legislature, in enacting what is codified as RCW 61.24, again changed the
public policy of this state." !d.) (citation omitted).
13
See, Fraud Scheme Characteristic, Fannie Mae,
https:/ /www.efanniemae.com/utility/legal/pdf!fraudschchar.pdf (last visited Feb. 14,
2012).
I
4
Christenson v. Raggio, 47 Wash. 468, 92 P. 348 (1907); Beckman v. Ward,
174 Wash. 326, 24 P.2d 1091 (1933); Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md. v. TICOR Title
6
Alternatively, a lender will only sell the note to an investor once, but
conceal the transfer and direct the borrower to keep paying him. The
lender wrongfully keeps the money, leaving an investor who believes she
has a defaulted loan on which she can foreclose, and a borrower who
believes he has a satisfied loan on which the security interest should be
released.
15
These schemes result in two or more innocent parties that have
fulfilled their contractual duties but are denied their contractual benefits.
The Court is left to pick a winner among the parties and must resort to
using procedural failures that would otherwise be non-actionable. As an
example, the Court has said that borrowers who pay off their loans without
knowing the owner of the loan should take the risk of loss if another
asserts the same debt.
16
The Court has also said that a party that has
recorded a mortgage but not received a note has priority over an earlier
assignee of the note who did not record the mortgage.
17
lnsur. Co., 88 Wn. App 64, 943 P.2d 710 (1997); see also Zolfaghari v. Sheikholeslami,
943 F.2d 451 (4th Cir. 1991) (discussing national lender that sold the same mortgages
more than once to several different investors); Impac v. Credit Suisse Boston LLC, No.:
06-56024,2008 Westlaw.731050 (9th Cir. 2008) (same).
15
Erickson v. Kendall, 112 Wash. 26, 191 P. 842 (1920); Dunn v. Neu, 179
Wash. 351, 37 P.2d. 883 (1934); Rodgers v. Seattle-First Nat'! Bank, 40 Wn. App. 127,
697 P.2d 1009 (1985); Price v. Northern Bond & Mortgage Co., 161 Wash. 690, 297 P.
786 (1931).
16
Rodgers, 40 Wn. App. at 132, (It is "long-settled law that one paying a note,
either negotiable or nonnegotiable, should demand production of it upon payment or risk
having to pay again to the assignee.") (citing In re Columbia Pac. Mortgage, Inc., 22
Banlcr. 753 (W.D. Wash. 1982); RCW 62A.3-602(a)(ii) (a loan is only considered paid to
the extent that the payment is "to a person entitled to enforce the instrument.")
17
Price, 161 Wash. 690.
7
Under MERS and the securitization process, what was once a
sporadic problem has become a systemic and unmanageable one. In the
present mortgage market, the note, or at least ownership of the loan,
18
is
transferred from the originating lender to an entity called a sponsor that
buys hundreds of loans to form a securitization trust. The sponsor then
transfers the loan to a depositor who then transfers the loan to a
securitization trust where it sits as an asset for investment products.
19
Investors can purchase certificates in the trust that entitle them to a stream
of payments based on the borrowers' payments on their loans?
0
Sometimes even this is not the end of the loan's journey. If a borrower
defaults in the first few months, the trust can often make the sponsor buy it
back, and sometimes the sponsor can make the originator buy it back. The
trust can also force a buyback of loans later if the sponsor or originator
18
There is evidence that some lenders never transferred promissory notes at all.
E.g. In re Kemp, 440 B.R. 624, 628 (Bankr. D. NJ. 2010) (bank officer testifies that it
was customary for originating bank to maintain possession of the original note when the
loan was sold.); Dale Whitman, How Negotiability Has Fouled Up the Secondmy
Mortgage Market, and What To Do About It, 37 Pepp. L. Rev. 738, 757-758 (2010).
19
See Kurt Eggert, Held Up in Due Course: Predatory Lending, Securitization,
and the Holder in Due Course Doctrine, 35 Creighton L. Rev. 503, 538 (2002);
Mortgage-Backed Securities, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,
http://www.sec.gov/answerslmortgagesecurities.htm (last visited Feb. 14, 2012);
Washington Dept. of Rev. v. Security Pac. Bank of Wash., N.A., 109 Wn. App 795, 38
P.3d 354 (2002).
20
See Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi v. Merrill Lynch &
Co., Inc., 277 F.R.D. 97, 102, n. 3-7 (S.D.N.Y. 2011); Adam Ashcraft & Til Schuermann,
Understanding the Securitization of Sub prime Mortgage Credit, Federal Reserve Bank of
New York, 5 (March 2008), http://www.newyorkfed. orglresearchlstafj reports/sr318.pd[
8
misrepresented the quality of the loan.
21
These "putback" cases now
involve disputed ownership of loans worth billions of dollars.
22
Some
loans are purchased from lenders that have liquidated, further
complicating the status of the holder.
23
With this system in place some parties cannot even locate the note
or trace the path of its ownership. For example, in Thepvongsa v.
Regional Trustee Service Corp., No. 10-cv-1045, 2011 WL 307364, (W.D.
Wash. Jan. 26, 2011) (Unpublished Opinion) a prose plaintiff attempted
to umavel what happened to his two loans after they were originated.
Although the Court had the MERS deed of trust before it and a subsequent
assignment of the deed of trust, similar to Bain, the Court could not
determine whether the defendants had the authority to foreclose, stating:
In the absence of a complete record of all relevant
documents, including the promissory notes, and all
purported transfers of the notes . . . the Court cannot
21
See, Bank of New York Mellon v. Walnut Place LLC, -- F.Supp. 2d --, 2011
WL 4953907, 1 (S.D.N.Y. 2011); Syncora Guarantee Inc. v. Countrywide Home Loans,
Inc. 935 N.Y.S. 2d 858, 860 (N.Y. Sup. 2012).
22
E.g. Bank of New York Mellon v. Walnut Place, LLC, S.D.N.Y No.: 11-cv-
5988, which involves 530 different securitization trusts. See, Alison Frankel, Banks
beware: Time is ripe for MBS breach-ofcontract suits, Reuters Edition U.S. Blog, (Sept.
19, 2011 ), http:/ /blogs.reuters.com/alison-frankel/20 11/09/19/banks-beware-time-is-ripe-
for-mbs-breach-of-contract-suits/. (identifying suits regarding trusts with face values of
over $100 billion in loans); Former Colonial Bank Mortgage Lending Supervisor Pleads
Guilty to Fraud Scheme, U.S. Department of Justice, (Mar. 16, 2011),
http:/ /www.justice.gov/opa!pr/20 11/March/11-crm-339 .html (describing how mortgage
lender double sold loans and sold non-existent loans to investors.)
23
Jackson v. MERS, 770 N.W.2d 487, 492 (Minn. 2009); Paul Kiel, Internal
Doc Reveals GMAC Filed False Document in Bid to Foreclose, Pro Publica, (July 27,
2011 ), http:/ /www.propublica.org/article/gmac-mortgage-whistleblower-
foreclosure/single
9
determine who held the promissory note and under what
authority the default and sale was to occur. Additionally,
pursuant to the DT A, the beneficiary or trustee was
required to provide . . . the name and address of the owner
of any promissory notes or other obligations secured by the
deed of trust. RCW 61.24.030(8)(1).
I d.
24
Because they are stripped of the deed of trust and any public records,
lost promissory notes may be commonplace. This is alarming because the
overwhelming majority of foreclosures never face judicial scrutiny to sort
through ownership of the note. The party demanding foreclosure sale may
or may not be the owner, and the foreclosure proceeds may or may not be
sent to satisfy the debt.
25
The homeowner has no way to be sure other
than filing suit and engaging in discovery, which for many foreclosed-
upon homeowners would be financially impossible. Given MERS'
practice of "immobilizing the mortgage lien while transfers of the
promissory notes ... continue to occur",
26
it is practically impossible for a
24
See also, Bradfordv. HSBC lv!ortg. Cmp., 799 F. Supp. 2d 625, 628 (E.D. Va.
2011) (homeowner faced with three defendants each claiming the other is the holder of
the promissory note and MERS will Iiot identify noteholder); Jackson v. lv!ERS, 770
N. W .2d 487 (Minn. 2009) ("A side effect of the MERS system is that a transfer of [the]
loan between two MERS members is unknown to those outside the MERS system ....
[E]ach named plaintiff in this case has been unable to obtain information about the
cutTent owner of his or her indebtedness .... several of the original lenders for the named
plaintiffs have gone out of business." !d. at 491); In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F. Supp.
2d 650, 654 (N.D. Ohio 2007). HSBC Bank v. Antrobus, 872 N.Y.S.2d 691 (N.Y. Sup.
2008); Wells Fargo Bank v. Farmer, 867 N.Y.S.2d 21 (N.Y. Sup. 2008).
25
See, Fidelity & Deposit Co. of lv!d. v. TIC OR Title Insur. Co., 88 Wn. App 64;
Ruscalleda v. HSBC Bank USA, 43 So.3d 947, 949 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010) (two banks
foreclosing on the same note).
26
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Nebraska Dept. of Banking
and Finance, 704 N.W.2d 784, 787 (Neb. 2005).
10
borrower to comply with the "long-settled law" that a borrower must be
certain he is paying the note holder or risk having to pay it twice.
27
MERS' concealment of loan transfers also deprives homeowners
of other rights. The federal Truth in Lending Act allows homeowners to
rescind their loan transaction for certain violations of that Act.
28
But the
homeowner can not rescind against an agent of a loan holder.
29
Further,
most other suits seeking to rescind require the presence of the actual
owner of the debt.
30
BoiTowers must also know what happened to their promissory note
to determine whether the owner is a holder in due course.
31
Those who
have contract claims or recoupment claims stemming from the original
loan transaction cannot assert those claims against a holder in due
course.
32
However, depending on how and when the note was transferred,
the current assignee may not have this status. For example, if the loan is
27
Rodgers, 40 Wn. App. 127.
28
15 u.s.c. § 1635(f).
29
Miguel v. Count1y Funding Corp., 309 F.3d 1161, 1162-65 (9th Cir. 2002)
("While the Bank's servicing agent ... received notice of cancellation within the relevant
three-year period, no authority supports the proposition that notice to [the loan servicer]
should suffice for notice to the Bank.") Id. at 1165; Harris v. OSI Financial Services,
Inc., 595 F. Supp. 2d 885, 897 (N.D.Ill. 2009) (Rescission is void because, while the
original note owner received the rescission notice, the assignee did not.)
30
See Lomayaktewa v. Hathaway, 520 F.2d 1324, 1325 (9th Cir. 1975) ("No
procedural principle is more deeply imbedded in the common law than that, in an action
to set aside a . . . contract, all parties who may be affected by the determination of the
action are indispensable.")
31
RCW 62A.3-302. Washington mortgage loans may use a negotiable
instrument or a non-negotiable instrument as the writing evidencing the debt. See Wash.
Practice, Real Estate § 18.18 (2d ed.)
32
RCW 62A.3-305.
11
transferred after the borrower has defaulted, the current transferee would
not be a holder in due course.
33
MERS' practice is to not transfer the loan
until the foreclosure process is started so note holder status will always be
a potential issue.
Once a defaulted borrower determines who the real note holder is
the borrower must use the DTA's injunctive process to assert his or her
claims.
34
The DTA contains the only legal process borrowers may use to
stop a foreclosure, and if their claims are riot asserted before sale their
claims are forever waived, and title to the property will not be restored.
35
Under this process homeowners only have from five days to six months to
learn the holder of their note and assert their claims?
6
Stated succinctly, the use of MERS as a placeholder beneficiary
while the loan flies from owner to owner has brought chaos to the
mortgage marketplace and stopped the efficient processing of
foreclosures. This Court would bring certainty to the marketplace by
interpreting the DT A in a manner that insures that the path of transfer of
promissory notes is transparent, and that notes are enforced by their
holder, not the assignee of a nonholder.
33
RCW 62A.3-302(a)(2).
34
RCW 61.24.130.
35
Brown v. Household Realty Corp., 146 Wn. App. 157, 163, 189 P.3d
233 (2008) (stating that the DTA is the only means to stop a foreclosure), (citing, Cox v.
Helenius, 103 Wn.2d 383, 388, 693 P.2d 683 (1985); Plein v. Lackey, 149 Wn.2d 214, 67
P.3d 1061 (2003).
36
RCW 61.24.130(2).
12
B. Question 3. By Acting As an Unlawful Beneficiary, Certain
Acts and Practices by MERS Violate the Consumer Protection
Act.
The Deed of Trust Act (DTA) creates two statutory per se
violations of the CPA: collusion among bidders at a foreclosure sale and
bad faith mediation practices.
37
However, the existence of statutory per se
violations does not grant immunity to the parties from the broader CPA
prohibitions against other unfair or deceptive practices. These are
analyzed like any other business practice, under the five elements of
Hangman Ridge Training Stables v. Safeco, 105 Wn.2d 778, 719 P.2d 531
(1986).
38
1. MERS Acts Are Unfair or Deceptive
The CPA does not define "unfair" or "deceptive." Instead, courts
have developed standards on a case-by-case basis.
39
To prove that an act or practice is deceptive, neither intent
nor actual deception is required. The question is whether
the conduct has the capacity to deceive a substantial
pmiion of the public. Even accurate information may be
deceptive if there is a representation, omission or practice
37
RCW 61.24.135.
38
Nordstrom, Inc. v. Tampourlos, 107 Wn.2d 735, 742-43, 733 P.2d 208 (1987)
("While we have eschewed the use of judicially created per se violations . . . we
nevertheless recognize that cettain acts, by their very nature, must fulfill certain prongs of
the Hangman Ridge test."); Stephens v. Omni Ins. Co., 138 Wn. App. 151, 177, 159 P.3d
10 (2007) ("This is not a case where the public interest element is satisfied per se by a ...
specific legislative declaration of public interest impact. Whether the public has an
interest is therefore an issue to be determined by the trier of fact."); see Pennsylvania.
Dep 't of Banking v. NCAS of Delaware, LLC, 995 A.2d 422, 442 (Pa. Comm. Ct. 2010)
.(acts not specifically incorporated by per se language can still be a CPA violation).
39
Ivan's Tire Service v. Goodyear Tire, 10 Wn. App. 110, 517 P. 2d 229 (1973).
13
that is likely to mislead. Misrepresentation of the material
terms of a transaction or the failure to disclose material
terms violates the CPA. Whether particular actions are
deceptive is a question of law that we review de novo.
State v. Kaiser, 161 Wn. App. 705, 719, 254 P.3d 850 (2011)
(citations omitted).
In its deeds of trust, MERS states that it is "the beneficiary under
this Security Instrument" (Bain Dkt. 147, 3), when it knows or should
know that under Washington law it must hold the note to be the
beneficiary. MERS states in its Assignment of Deed of Trust that:
FOR VALUE RECEIVED, the undersigned, Mortgage
Electonic Registration Systems, Inc. [MERS] as Nominee
For Its Successors And Assigns, by these presents, grants,
bargains, sells, assigns, transfers and sets over unto
IndyMac Federal Banlc, FSB all beneficial interest under
that certain Deed of Trust dated 3/9/2007.
(Dkt. 1 Ex. A to Huelsman Decl.) What MERS is claiming in this
document is that MERS is the nominee of its own successors and assigns,
not that it is the nominee of the lender or the nominee of successors to the
lender. MERS is claiming that it has its own authority to assign the deed
of trust, without reference to a principal. This is contrary to MERS'
asse1iion that it is an agent acting for the actual holder of the loan.
40
It
also conceals the identity of whichever loan holder MERS purports to be
acting for when assigning the deed of trust. This provides MERS with
40
MERS Response in Selkowitz at 29; Nebraska Dept. of Banking and
Finance, 704 N.W.2d at 787 (MERS is prohibited from exercising mortgage powers
without the authorization of a principal).
14
considerable flexibility to find a party to foreclose but is a
misrepresentation of its status and authority. This odd language is not an
isolated error on MERS' part. It uses the same language in its
Appointment of Successor Trustee where it states that: "[MERS] as
Nominee For Its Successors And Assigns is the beneficiary under that
certain deed of trust dated 3/9/2007." (Dkt. 1 Ex. B to Huelsman Decl.)
Once again, MERS attempts to characterize itself not just as a nominee of
the lender but as the beneficiary with its own authority to appoint new
beneficiaries, without the demand of a principal, and then act as that new
beneficiary's nominee.
The Assignment of Deed of Trust contains another
misrepresentation. MERS states that it is also assigning "the Note or
Notes ... [and] the money due.'.' (Dkt. 1 Ex. A to Huelsman Decl.) This
contradicts MERS steadfast position that it never holds or owns the note,
never collects money due, and has no interest in the debt.
41
Thus, MERS is
misrepresenting its authority to transfer the note as well as the deed of
trust.
It is a classic CPA violation for a business to make statements that
confuse the public as to their identity, affiliation, authority or status. In
41
MERS must take this position to avoid being licensed and regulated as a
mortgage lender or servicer, RCW 31.04.015(7), (26) and 31.04.035; see also, Nebraska
Dept. of Banking and Finance, 704 N.W.2d at 787 (MERS has no right to the Note or its
payments).
15
particular, it is deceptive to claim some authority to take a legal act when
one does not have that authority.
42
It is also deceptive to conceal the true
party to a transaction,
43
and, it is deceptive to conceal material information
that a business is bound to· disclose.
44
The DTA clearly requires that
MERS disclose the actual note holder in the Notice of Default,
RCW 61.24.030(8)(1). MERS contends that it does not conceal the
identity of the true note holder. MERS Selkowitz Response, at n. 118.
However, its explanation is not convincing. MERS does not state
straightforwardly that it discloses the identity of the note holder in the
forms required by the Deed of Trust Act. Instead, it says it runs an
Internet website that identifies "100% of loan servicers", and that "97% of
the ... MERS System members disclose their investor identity." MERS
does not claim, and cannot claim, that a servicer is the same as a note
42
Stephens, 138 Wn. App. at 177 (deceptive to mischaracterize the legal status
of a debt); Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. v. HendrixLicensing.com, LTD, 766 F. Supp. 2d
1122, 1147 (W.D. Wash. 2011) (deceptive to falsely claim licensing authority); Dwyer v.
J.I. Kislak Mortgage, 103 Wn. App. 542, 547, 13 PJd 240 (2000) (deceptive to
mischaracterize a fee as legally required); Bowers v. Transamerica Title Ins. Co., 100
Wn.2d 581, 592, 675 P.2d 193 (1983) (deceptive to falsely claim authority to practice
law); Evergreen Collectors v. Holt, 60 Wn. App. 151, 803 P.2d 10 (1991) (deceptive to
falsely claim authority to collect attorney fees); see also, Texas v. American Blastfax,
Inc., 164 F. Supp. 2d 892, 894 (W.D. Tex. 2001) (deceptive for business to claim it could
lawfully fax ads when it could not).
43
16 C.F.R. § 321.3(o) (2011) (FTC Rule makes it deceptive to falsely claim to
be current mortgage lender); Floersheim v. Federal Trade Comm 'n, 411 F.2d 874, 876-
77 (9th Cir. 1969) (deceptive to conceal that act is by debt collector not government or
third party); Kinkopfv. Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority, I Misc.3d 417,432,764
N.Y.S.2d 549, 560 (N.Y.City Civ.Ct. 2003) (deceptive to conceal true party to contract);
Commonwealth by Packel v. Tolleson, 14 Pa.Cmwlth. 72, 125, 321 A.2d 664, 694
(Pa.Cmwlth. 1974) (deceptive to falsely state that one is the owner of a company).
44
Testa v. Russ Dunmire Oldsmobile, Inc., 16 Wn. App. 39, 51, 554 P.2d 349
(1976).
16
holder. Loan servicers are rarely the note holder.
45
It is unclear what
MERS means when it says that 97% of its members disclose their investor
identity or whether this is the same as saying 97% of its loans disclose the
current owner of the note. Whatever is meant by these statements, it is not
equivalent to having a public record of who owns the loan and how they
received that interest, as was available before the advent of MERS.
MERS' failure to accurately reveal the note holders and the chain of
transfers remains one its most important legal failings and is the subject of
several state Attorney General actions.
46
2. MERS Acts in Trade or Commerce.
The CPA broadly defines "trade" and "commerce" to include "the
sale of assets or services, and any commerce directly or indirectly
affecting the people of the State of Washington." RCW 19.86.010(2).
Trade or commerce includes acts after the sale of a good or service and
does not require a consumer relationship between the parties.
47
MERS
claims to hold interests in Washington real property, it takes acts in
furtherance of collecting on mortgage debts including filing in
45
See Diane E. Thompson, Foreclosing Modifications: How Servicer Incentives
Discourage Loan Modifications, 86 Wash. L. Rev. 755 (2011).
46
State of Delaware v. MERS, Del. Chancery Ct. No.: 6987-CS (alleging that
MERS unlawfully obscures true owner of note); State of New York v. MERS, et al.,
Supreme Ct of NY (alleging the MERS system is riddled with inaccuracies and prevents
homeowners and the public from tracking ownership); Commonwealth of Mass v. Bank of
America, MERSCORP, Inc. et al. Super. Ct. Suffolk Cty No.: 11-4363 (alleging MERS
fails to identify the holder of the mortgage when foreclosing).
47
Salois v. Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co., 90 Wn.2d 355, 359-60, 581 P.2d 1351
(1978); Escalante v Sent1y Inc. Co., 49 Wn. App. 375, 387, 743 P.2d 832 (1987).
17
county land title records, and it charges for its services. Therefore, it is
engaging in trade of commerce within the meaning ofRCW 19.86.010(2).
3. MERS Acts Impact the Public Interest.
A recent amendment to the CPA allows a claimant to establish the
public interest element if the act injured other persons; had the capacity to
injure other persons, or has the capacity to injure other persons
RCW 19.86.093.
48
In this matter, the certified questions assume that
MERS is acting uniformly in acting as beneficiary without holding the
note and that this is MERS' generalized business practice. It immobilizes
the deed of trust to allow successive transfers of the promissory note. It
appears as the beneficiary on deeds of trust without holding the note, and
it uses form assignments in its Assignments of Deeds of Trust and
Appointments of Successor Trustees. These practices are uniform and
repeated and thus have the capacity to injure others.
49
4. MERS Acts Injure Consumers.
The test under Hangman Ridge is not whether homeowners or
others have been damaged, it is whether they have been injured.
50
Injury
under tht:! CPA does not have to involve direct loss of money. I d. It is
48
Also, Hangman Ridge, 105 Wn.2d at 789-90.
49
Stephens, 138 Wn. App. at 178.
50
Tampourlos, 107 Wn.2d at 740, ("RCW 19.86.090 ... uses the term "injured"
rather than suffering "damages." This distinction makes it clear that no monetary
damages need be proven, and that nonquantifiable injuries, such as loss of goodwill
would suffice for this element of the Hangman Ridge test. This is bolstered by the fact
that the act allows for injunctive relief, clearly implying that injury without monetary
damages will suffice.")
18
enough that the act has deprived a person of some property. 5
1
Temporary
loss of title to real property can be sufficient.
52
Injury may be presumed
when the consumer has to take time or expend money to remediate his or
her status due to a CPA violation.
53
5. MERS' Business Practices Cause Consumer Injury.
There are many scenarios where MERS causes consumer injury
through its misrepresentations regarding its authority to foreclose and its
concealment of the true holder of the note. If homeowners have to make
calls, visit offices, send letters, or consult with an attorney to determine
who owns their notes because MERS does not disclose this critical
information, then MERS has caused that injury.
54
If homeowners miss the
deadline to file for a DTA injunction because they can not locate the note
holder and therefore lose their claims, they have been injured. If
consumers pay their loan to the mortgagee identified by MERS through its
assignment, but the debt is actually held by another, they can be injured if
the note goes unsatisfied. The use of MERS causes consumer injury
where it makes it impossible to find the note or where MERS has allowed
51
Sorrel v. Eagle Healthcare, Inc., 110 Wn. App. 290, 38 P. 3d 1024 (2002)
("Sufficient injury to satisfy the fourth and fifth elements of a Consumer Protection Act
claim is established when a plaintiff is deprived of the use ofhis property as a result of an
unfair or deceptive act or practice.")
(2009).
52
Mason v. Mortgage America, Inc., 114 Wn.2d 842, 854, 792 P.2d 142 (1990).
53
Panag v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington, 166 Wn.2d 27, 204 P.3d 885
54
Sign-0-Lite Signs, Inc. v. DeLaurenti Florests, Inc., 64 Wn. App. 553, 825
P.2d 714 (1992); Panag, 166 Wn.2d 27.
19
the note to be lost or destroyed because consumers will not know the pmiy
entitled to enforce it and how it obtained its enforcement power. Because
the Note is the essential document to the transaction, any deprivation of its
use can be injurious, not just to homeowners but to subsequent title
holders and loan investors, and MERS causes these injuries through its
actions.
III. CONCLUSION
This Comi should answer certified questions 1 and 3 affirmatively.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED this 14th day ofFebruary, 2012.
ROBERT M. MCKENNA
Attorney General
Assistant Attorney General
WSBA#39107
Attorneys for Amicus Curiae
Attorney General of Washington
20

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. II.

INTEREST OF AMICUS ................................................................. 1 ISSUES ADDRESSED BY AMICUS .............................................. 1
A.

Question 1: MERS is Not a Lawful Beneficiary Under the Deed of Trust Act ................................................................. 2 1. Severing the Note from the Deed of Trust Creates Havoc in the Marketplace ................................................... 6

B.

Question 3. By Acting As an Unlawful Beneficiary, Certain Acts and Practices by MERS Violate the Consumer Protection Act ......................................................... 13
1.

MERS Acts Are Unfair or Deceptive .............................. .l3 MERS Acts in Trade or Commerce .................................. 17 MERS Acts Impact the Public Interest.. .......................... .18 MERS Acts Injure Consumers ......................................... 18 MERS' Business Practices Cause Consumer Injury ....... .19

2. 3. 4. 5. III.

CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 20

........... 16 Erickson v......2d 683 (1985) ...675 P.... Corp..... 468..D. 6 Commonwealth by Packet v.......... Raggio.... 72. 375....3d 233 (2008) ......... 13 P . 103 Wn................. 799 F.............. 16 Bradford v.37 P............... 60 Wn................................ Household Realty Corp............. 6 Bowers v.. Supp............ 174 Wash....... 146 Wn......... 2011) ..... 17 Evergreen Collectors v........... 103 Wn. Kendall.....2d 664 (Pa.. 191 P.... 7 Dwyer v............. Helenius........... 326.......... 351.. Tolleson......... 542...... Ward. App.. J..........2d 832 (1987) .2d 10 (1991) ..... 112 Wash..TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Beckman v.. 157........... HSBC Mortg......... Transamerica Title Ins......... 100 Wn. 16 ii ... 12 Dunnv...................2d...... Va.................... 803 P..... Co.. 743 P... App.................... 26........... Neu......3d 240 (2000) .................. 12 Christenson v... 842 (1920) ................2d 193 (1983) ..... 14 Pa... 883 (1934) .. 7 Escalante v Sentry Inc...... 151..... 189 P.... 179 Wash...... 24 P. 348 (1907) ..Cmwlth............... Co....................l Kislak 1\1ortgage........................ 10 Brown v.....2d 1091 (1933) .. 16 Cox v....... 1974) ........ 92 P. 321 A.....Cmwlth..... 49 Wn................. 693 P....... App...................2d 383........ 47 Wash. App....................... 2d 625 (E....... Holt......2d 581...............

.............2d 874 (9th Cir.D. MERS................... 753 (W............. Wash............ 521 F.. 1969) .......... 7.....3d 617 (2001) ....... 142 Wn. 624 (Bankr.. 18 Harris v............... Sup......... 4... 770 N............2d 778... Bank of the West......... 2d 885 (N. 2d 1122 (W............................. Inc...... 7 In re Foreclosure Cases. 110.com.. 1982) ......S..... Supp.... v......... App 64..... 10 Kennebec........ Goodyear Tire. 10 In re Kemp......L...... D........... Federal Trade Comm 'n....... App... v.......... Ohio 2007) .... Credit Suisse Boston LLC............... Antrobus..... 88 Wn.. 411 F......... Hartford Cas...Ill... 2d 650 (N....... No.... 22 Bania·.Y.........2d 885.... 13..2d 718. Co......... Ins. Supp............ 16 P.......... 7 In re Columbia Pac. 16 Godfrey v..2d 531 (1986) .............. 766 F............ TIC OR Title Insur.C.. v....: 06-56024......D..... L. 105 Wn.......R................... 10 Floersheim v.................2d 710 (1997) ........... 2010) ..... 11 HSBC Bank v............719 P.... 88 Wn....... Inc..D.... OS! Financial Services................. 595 F....... HendrixLicensing. 517 P...... 2011) ...... 2009) . Inc........ 943 P................ 8 Ivan's Tire Service v.......... 10 Impac v..... NJ.....Y.... 2d 229 (1973) . 16 Fidelity & Deposit Co...........W... 13 Jackson v........ LTD...........................................2d 812 (1977) .... Supp. 2008 Westlaw 731050 (9th Cir...2d 691 (N.. 2009) ......... 2008) ................ 2008) ........ 5............. Co........ 872 N.............. 10 Wn..... 6 Hangman Ridge Training Stables v... 565 P..Experience Hendrix...... Mortgage....................................... Wash.............. 6 iii ...D.2d 487 (Minn... 440 B. Safeco. of Md...

..........Y........ 15 Nordstrom................. 277 F.......Y..... Seattle-First Nat'! Bank..... Inc....... 792 P................. Ct. 733 P................. Comm. 10.. 2011) .....City Civ.......... Hathaway......... Dist... 2010) ..2d 142 (1990) .......... 66 Wn............ 764 N..........3d 1161 (9th Cir..2d 208 (1987) .............. Lackey..... 7 Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi v.. 18 Panag v. 297 P..... Northern Bond & Mortgage Co. 4....D. 11 Ruscalleda v..........2d 549 (N..........2d 27.............. 8 Rodgers v...... 114 Wn. 309 F.... Merrill Lynch & Co..........S........ 11 Mason v................ Co.. 995 A. Ct.... App.. of Banking and Finance.D..... v...... 14.. v... 2002) . 10 iv .................Y............ Country Funding Corp..Ct..... Dep 't of Banking v. 149 Wn....... 3...... Inc....R................... 13 Plein v.............3d 1061 (2003) ........2d 784 (Neb................... 97 (S... 786 (1931) .2d 735.... of Washington............. 690.. 16 Lomayaktewa v. Farmers Ins...... 11 Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.....N........ 7............ Tampourlos......... LLC...3d 417.... 204 P .... 19 Pennsylvania.... 67 P....... 2003) .............. 13.............3d 947 (Fla........ 697 P................ 161 Wash.. 520 F.............2d 1009 (1985) ...... 1 Misc.....Kinkopf v......2d 214...... Nebraska Dept.. ·HSBC Bank USA.. Inc......2d 842........... NCAS ofDelaware............. Mortgage America........W. 2005) ... 19 Miguel v.............. App.......... 127... 40 Wn. 704 N... Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority.2d 422 (Pa.............. 4............ 107 Wn........... 2010) ............ 12 Price v.2d 1324 (9th Cir.......... Inc...3d 885 (2009) ..... 1975) ... 43 So......

... 151. Morley...... App.... Regional Trustee Service Corp.... 5 Stephens v. Inc.... 16 Thepvongsa v............. 705. 9.......... 588 P.... 138 Wn........ 38 P. 2d 892 (W. 91 Wn...3d 1000 (2007) ..... 160 Wn........Y..........2d 588......2d 714 (1992) ........ 10 Washington Dept................ 581 P............ 18 Testa v.... 161 P......... 2001) ...... Sup.................. 38 P... Co.... Inc.... 16 Wn........ 134 Wn.. 867 N....... 8 Wells Fargo Bank v..................3d 10 (2007) ...... Security Pac............ 26...... American Blastfax. 164 F. 254 P........3d 354 (2002) ..... Kaiser. v....................... 2008) ....... 16...... 13.. Cingular Wireless......2d 349 (1976) ............. No.. Tex... 161 Wn............................ 90Wn.. Farmer...2d 204.............................. Supp. 6 Sign-0-Lite Signs... 2011) .... 2011 WL 307364.. 7 v ....................... Inc. 159 P.......... Wash. 110 Wn.. Eagle Healthcare. Mutual of Omaha Ins.. 290.... Inc............. 952 P... 943 F.... 1 Zolfaghari v...........Salois v....... App........ 109 Wn....... 10-cv-1045. 19 State v... 1991) ..... 14 State v.... 16 Texas v........... 19 Sorrel v......... App.2d 1351 (1978) ... App......2d 167 (1998) ....2d 195 (1978) ..........D.. 553..2d 843.2d 21 (N.....D.. DeLaurenti Florests....Y......2d355................ (W. App 795... Gorton...... App.. ofRev...2d 451 (4th Cir.. 10 Young Americans for Freedom v.... Inc........... Bank of Wash.................. Omni Ins.................... v............... NA.......... Co.....................3d 850 (2011) ..... 39.. Sheikholeslami.................... 3d 1024 (2002) ..... Jan..... 64 Wn................. 825 P. 17 Scott v......S. Russ Dunmire Oldsmobile.. 554 P.........

.................................. 17........................................24.....130 ........ 15 RCW 31.......................................... 15 RCW 31......................24..........24...... 2 RCW 61........................................................................093 ....................................................................04.. 4 RCW 61................................... 12 RCW 61... 12 RCW 62A..............................04 ...................................035 .135 ...................................................030(8)(1) ...........................3-305 ..015(7) ....................................................................................................86.....................................................................3-602( a)(ii) ............................................................................... 1 RCW 19...24................... 11 RCW 62A...............010(2) .....030(7) ........................... § 1635(£) ................ 1 RCW 62A.................................................................................... 4 RCW 61.................................... 12 RCW 61.. 11 RCW 62A...015(26) ..........Statutes 15 U..........................................3-302 ............................................................................................................................................................S................ 18 RCW 19.............................................. 15 RCW 61........................................... 1.............................24........24.....04.....005(2) .............04............. 5 RCW 19......86................................24.........................................172(2) .............................................................86....................................... 11 RCW 7...............080 ...........130(2) ................... 13 RCW 61.............................. 7 vi ...............C..............................................3-302(a)(2) .... 18 RCW 31.

..... 8 Dale Whitman............. 11 Regulations 16 C...... 8 Wash.........pdf (last visited Feb.... ... 6 Kurt Eggert............................... Rev.......... 2012) ........................ 17 Fraud Scheme Characteristic.............. Real Estate § 18... Federal Reserve Bank ofNew York.................... Understanding the Securitization ofSubprime Mortgage Credit..................................................... L. 86 Wash. http://www...........pdf ...................efanniemae.. 8 Mortgage-Backed Securities.................... Thompson.....18 (2d ed..... 14........ (March 2008).............. https://www......................... . Rev... 14...... U................com/utility/legal/pdf/fraudschchar. and What To Do About It... htm (last visited Feb..... Rev..... Foreclosing Modifications: How Servicer Incentives Discourage Loan Modifications...... sec. 2012).....3(o) (2011) .. 37 Pepp.. and the Holder in Due Course Doctrine.. Held Up in Due Course: Predatory Lending..... Fannie Mae.............. 8 Diane E...................................) ......................Other Authorities Adam Ashcraft & Til Schuermann......................... 35 Creighton L..... L.. 503 (2002) .. gov/answers/mortgagesecurities...... 738 (2010) . org/research/staff_ reportslsr 318....... 16 vii ............ http :llwww......S...... Securities and Exchange Commission.....P. newyorlifed.........R........ Securitization....... 755 (2011) ....§ 321.. Practice.......... How Negotiability Has Fouled Up the Secondary Mortgage Market...........................

91 Wn. The Attorney General is charged with enforcing the Deed of Trust Act. Gorton.080.2d 195 (1978).86 on behalf of the public. 212. ISSUES ADDRESSED BY AMICUS The Attorney General files this brief with respect to Certified Questions 1 and 3. See Young Americans for Freedom v.I. 2 and is currently involved in litigation and enforcement actions regarding mortgage lending and foreclosures in the State of Washington. (MERS) falls within the Consumer Protection Act. 588 P. INTEREST OF AMICUS Amicus Curiae is the Attorney General of Washington. this matter concerns whether the actions of Respondent Mortgage Electonic Registration Systems.: 2:11-cv-1460JLR. The Attorney General enforces the Consumer Protection Act.24.172(2). 1 This matter requires an interpretation of the Washington Deed of Trust Act ("DTA"). No.g. RCW 19. e. 4 II. 4 RCW 19. 3 See. W.Wash. 1 . State of Washington v.24.86. The Attorney General's constitutional and statutory powers include the submission of amicus curiae briefs on matters affecting the public interest. RCW 61. 3 In addition. ReconTrust.2d 204.005(2). 2 RCW 61. Inc.D. We do not address Question 2 because we believe it is too broad to be answered generically..

" Id. RCW 61.24. if MERS never "held the The DTA promissory note" then it is not a lawful beneficiary. if it never held the promissory note secured by the deed of trust? This question is immediately answered by the plain language of the Deed of Trust Act . RCW 61. A.24. RCW 61. Thus.005(2).005(2).24. (3) Homeowners may possess a cause of action under Washington's Consumer Protection Act against MERS when MERS acts as an unlawful beneficiary under the terms of Washington's Deed of Trust Act. if it never held the promissory note secured by the deed of trust. Question 1: The federal court asks: (1) Is MERS a lawful "beneficiary" within the terms of Washington's Deed of Trust Act.a "beneficiary" is defined as the "holder" of the promissory note.005(2). The "instrument" obviously means the promissory note because the only other document in the transaction is the deed of trust and 2 . unambiguously defines "beneficiary" as: "Beneficiary means the holder of the instrument or document evidencing the obligations secured by the deed of trust.(1) MERS is not a lawful "beneficiary" within the terms of Washington's Deed of Trust Act.

MERS explains that it Respondent MERS advocates for this absurd interpretation in pages 13 . "' 5 The State agrees with Plaintiffs Bain and Selkowitz that MERS violated the statutory language of the Deed of Trust Act. at 12..15 of its Response in Selkowitz. 704 N.it would be absurd to read this definition as saying that '"beneficiary means the holder of the deed of trust secured by the deed of trust.W. MERS and the Court describe its role in the marketplace: MERS argues that .2d 784. the law of Negotiable Instruments.. Further. The State files this Amicus Petition to provide the Court with both statutory and public policy reasons why the MERS system conceals the true owner of the promissory note and why this is damaging to a free. MERS maintains that there is no statutory or public policy reason for preventing it from expanding the definition of beneficiary to a party that holds only the deed of trust. 5 3 .. MERS Selkowitz Response Br.e. it only holds legal title to members' mortgages in a nominee capacity and is contractually prohibited from exercising any rights with respect to the mortgages (i. of Banking and Finance. Nebraska Dept. Inc. 787 (Neb. v. which all provide that the legal status of the note is determinative of the power to enforce the note. MERS argues that it does not own the promissory notes secured by the mortgages and has no right to payments made on the notes. and the common law principles of real property. 2005). fair and transparent mortgage marketplace. In Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. foreclosure) without the authorization of the members.

Northern Bond & Jvlortgage Co.W." Jd at 494:) 6 4 . the very purpose of MERS is to hold onto the security interest while ownership of the loan passes from party to party.24. Therefore. at 12. The DTA states that "the trustee shall have proof that the beneficiary is the owner of any promissory note" prior to foreclosing.24. Jackson v. 690. It is not just decades of case law that rely on the note and the security instrument transferring together. 786 (1931). 6 This role is contrary to Washington's fundamental principle of real property finance law that "the note is considered the obligation. (emphasis added). allowing the debt to be transferred without an assignment of the security instrument.." MERS may expand the definition of "beneficiary" to cover parties that do not hold the note but instead hold the deed of trust. 297 P.030(8)(1). 770 N. RCW 61. and the mortgage but an incident of the note which passes with it. The Deed of Trust Act (DTA) assumes it throughout its provisions. The See also. MERS Selkowitz Resp." Price v. MERS. MERS has essentially separated the promissory note and the security instrument. RCW 61. 2009) ("By acting as the nominal mortgagee of record for its members. 161 Wash." I d. MERS maintains that because the definition section of the DTA contains the phrase "[t]he definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise. The DTA also requires the trustee to disclose in the Notice of Default the name and address of the owner of the promissory note.030(7).merely "immobilizes the mortgage lien while transfers of the promissory notes and servicing rights continue to occur.id 487 (Minn. 695.

in plenary statutes such as the DTA. and the phrase "unless the context clearly requires otherwise" only means that a definition will not be applied to yield an absurd result.04. An analogous situation arose regarding Washington's former Arbitration Act. Hartford Cas. 10 Not only would this violate the legislature's stated public policy. 8 However. 10 Godfrey. 9 RCW 7.definition of beneficiary is not ambiguous. 7 5 .2d 167 (1998) (this phrase means the definition section "should not be blindly applied. 952 P. 598. the Court examined the Act and determined that the defendants would not be allowed to contractually alter its terms.2d 588. The phrase is not intended to provide an opportunity to disregard the plain language of the DTA.3d 617 (2001). 142 Wn. Co. Ins.2d at 896. where the legislature has expressed Washington's public policy on how foreclosures shall occur. Morley. but also because the parties would be invoking the powers of the state to enforce the arbitration decision. The Court held that because the Act was an expression of public policy by the Legislature it must be applied as a whole and without "common law" alternatives to its provisions. parties may not vary the terms by contract. 142 Wn.. 7 MERS contends that it may circumvent the DTA requirements by creating a deed of trust that uses a third party "nominee" as the beneficiary. 9 In Godfrey v. 134 Wn. they State v.2d 885. 16 P. negotiable instruments law or Washington real property law generally.") 8 The term nominee is not found in the DTA.

88 Wn. 348 (1907). Inc. 1. 565 P.) (citation omitted). An early example of the problem was a scam that has come to be known as "double selling. 14. 14 II Id at 897.2d 812 (1977) ("In 1965 the legislature. 47 Wash. Ward. The lender then sells the same loan again to a different investor. 174 Wash.3d 1000 (2007) (A contractual agreement "that violates public policy may be void and unenforceable. 725. 11 The DTA is also a comprehensive expression of public policy. v. Severing the Note from the Deed of Trust Creates Havoc in the Marketplace. 851. Fidelity & Deposit Co. not just the parts that are useful to them.2d 843.") 2 I Kennebec. in enacting what is codified as RCW 61. ("[T]hey brought into play the jurisdiction and power of the courts as set forth in the [Arbitration Act]. By so doing. 161 P. Cingular Wireless. Fraud Scheme Characteristic. of Md.com/utility/legal/pdf!fraudschchar. Bank of the West. TICOR Title 6 . 2012). they have activated the entire chapter and the policy embodied therein. The Legislature has set forth in enormous detail how nonjudicial foreclosures may proceed and parties should not be allowed to vary these procedures by contract. Beckman v. https://www. Fannie Mae.2d 718. a nonjudicial foreclosure is likely to require state powers to enforce the result through an eviction action." !d. again changed the public policy of this state. 12 Like arbitration decisions. 13 See. v. 468. 24 P.") See also Scott v. The practice of severing the note from the security interest has a history of causing havoc in Washington's mortgage marketplace.2d 1091 (1933)." 13 A lender makes a loan secured by a home and sells the loan to an investor.must provide the rights and responsibilities contained m the statutory procedure to arrive at that decision.24. Raggio. 92 P. 326.efanniemae. 4 I Christenson v.pdf (last visited Feb. or more loans secured by the same mortgage. 160 Wn.

127.") (citing In re Columbia Pac.2d 1009 (1985). 697 P. 37 P. 351. 112 Wash. 690. 40 Wn. 7 . RCW 62A. 191 P. Neu. 15 These schemes result in two or more innocent parties that have fulfilled their contractual duties but are denied their contractual benefits.: 06-56024. Wash. 842 (1920).731050 (9th Cir. 786 (1931).2d 710 (1997). Kendall.2008 Westlaw. Price v. and a borrower who believes he has a satisfied loan on which the security interest should be released. 883 (1934)..") 17 Price. 16 Rodgers. Sheikholeslami. 17 lnsur. Mortgage. 943 P. 15 Erickson v.D. 2008) (same). but conceal the transfer and direct the borrower to keep paying him. Northern Bond & Mortgage Co. Dunn v. see also Zolfaghari v.2d. 16 The Court has also said that a party that has recorded a mortgage but not received a note has priority over an earlier assignee of the note who did not record the mortgage. As an example. Seattle-First Nat'! Bank.3-602(a)(ii) (a loan is only considered paid to the extent that the payment is "to a person entitled to enforce the instrument. 26. Co. a lender will only sell the note to an investor once. (It is "long-settled law that one paying a note.. leaving an investor who believes she has a defaulted loan on which she can foreclose. either negotiable or nonnegotiable. 1991) (discussing national lender that sold the same mortgages more than once to several different investors).2d 451 (4th Cir. App. should demand production of it upon payment or risk having to pay again to the assignee. 40 Wn. App. The lender wrongfully keeps the money. Rodgers v. App 64.Alternatively. Credit Suisse Boston LLC. 161 Wash. Inc. at 132. No. 161 Wash. 88 Wn. 22 Banlcr. 690. 297 P.. 943 F. 753 (W. the Court has said that borrowers who pay off their loans without knowing the owner of the loan should take the risk of loss if another asserts the same debt. 1982). The Court is left to pick a winner among the parties and must resort to using procedural failures that would otherwise be non-actionable. Impac v. 179 Wash.

N. 2010) (bank officer testifies that it was customary for originating bank to maintain possession of the original note when the loan was sold. http://www. The sponsor then transfers the loan to a depositor who then transfers the loan to a securitization trust where it sits as an asset for investment products. and What To Do About It. NJ. Security Pac. 503.newyorkfed.S. D.R. 5 (March 2008). Bank of Wash. 35 Creighton L. 18 is transferred from the originating lender to an entity called a sponsor that buys hundreds of loans to form a securitization trust. orglresearchlstafj reports/sr318. http://www. Held Up in Due Course: Predatory Lending.sec. If a borrower defaults in the first few months.. Dale Whitman. 624. and the Holder in Due Course Doctrine. what was once a sporadic problem has become a systemic and unmanageable one. n.3d 354 (2002). Understanding the Securitization of Subprime Mortgage Credit. the trust can often make the sponsor buy it back. v. 37 Pepp.g.R. Mortgage-Backed Securities. N. Inc. Merrill Lynch & Co. the note. In re Kemp. 757-758 (2010). In the present mortgage market. 2012). 738. 2011). Securitization. 19 See Kurt Eggert. How Negotiability Has Fouled Up the Secondmy Mortgage Market. 628 (Bankr. 102. 97. 14.D.Under MERS and the securitization process.Y.). or at least ownership of the loan. 38 P. and sometimes the sponsor can make the originator buy it back. 440 B.htm (last visited Feb. of Rev. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 109 Wn.. Securities and Exchange Commission.. L. The trust can also force a buyback of loans later if the sponsor or originator There is evidence that some lenders never transferred promissory notes at all. U. E. 19 Investors can purchase certificates in the trust that entitle them to a stream of payments based on the borrowers' payments on their loans? 0 Sometimes even this is not the end of the loan's journey. 538 (2002). App 795. Adam Ashcraft & Til Schuermann. 20 See Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi v. 3-7 (S.D..pd[ 18 8 .A. Washington Dept. 277 F.gov/answerslmortgagesecurities. Rev. Rev.

See. Former Colonial Bank Mortgage Lending Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme.W.reuters. Walnut Place LLC. the Court could not determine whether the defendants had the authority to foreclose. Paul Kiel. 22 E. 2011 WL 307364. -.propublica. (W. 23 With this system in place some parties cannot even locate the note or trace the path of its ownership. Sup.N. S. Syncora Guarantee Inc. 26. 2d --. 21 These "putback" cases now involve disputed ownership of loans worth billions of dollars.g. Inc. 10-cv-1045. 22 Some loans are purchased from lenders that have liquidated. 2009).N. (Sept. Blog.: 11-cv5988. 2d 858. which involves 530 different securitization trusts. 2011).2d 487. further complicating the status of the holder. http://www. For example.S. Internal Doc Reveals GMAC Filed False Document in Bid to Foreclose. Countrywide Home Loans. No.com/alison-frankel/20 11/09/19/banks-beware-time-is-ripefor-mbs-breach-of-contract-suits/. similar to Bain. . 860 (N. 2012). (Mar.D. v. and all purported transfers of the notes .D.html (describing how mortgage lender double sold loans and sold non-existent loans to investors. 1 (S. Wash. MERS. U.Supp. 770 N. Reuters Edition U. (July 27. 2011 WL 4953907. http://www. http://blogs.Y.F. foreclosure/single 21 9 . Pro Publica.justice. the Court cannot See. 2011 ). Although the Court had the MERS deed of trust before it and a subsequent assignment of the deed of trust.D. LLC. in Thepvongsa v.Y. Alison Frankel. stating: In the absence of a complete record of all relevant documents.Y No. Regional Trustee Service Corp.org/article/gmac-mortgage-whistleblower2011 ). 16. Banks beware: Time is ripe for MBS breach-ofcontract suits. (identifying suits regarding trusts with face values of over $100 billion in loans).) 23 Jackson v. including the promissory notes.misrepresented the quality of the loan. 935 N. Department of Justice.. 19.Y.S.gov/opa!pr/20 11/March/11-crm-339 .S. 2011) (Unpublished Opinion) a prose plaintiff attempted to umavel what happened to his two loans after they were originated. Walnut Place. . Bank of New York Mellon v. Jan. Bank of New York Mellon v. 2011). 492 (Minn.

Given MERS' practice of "immobilizing the mortgage lien while transfers of the promissory notes . Inc. HSBC lv!ortg. Ohio 2007). 628 (E.2d 691 (N. Sup. Va. oflv!d. 24 Because they are stripped of the deed of trust and any public records. 872 N..Y. 799 F. This is alarming because the overwhelming majority of foreclosures never face judicial scrutiny to sort through ownership of the note. Ct. Supp. Cmp. continue to occur".D. RCW 61.S. 654 (N.D.3d 947. Antrobus. Co. 2d 650. 2008). Additionally. 2008).. TIC OR Title Insur..." !d. Nebraska Dept. 26 it is practically impossible for a See also. the beneficiary or trustee was required to provide .Y. 26 Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. lost promissory notes may be commonplace.. v.. Jackson v. 88 Wn. and the foreclosure proceeds may or may not be sent to satisfy the debt..2d 21 (N. 949 (Fla. 43 So. v. Dist. the name and address of the owner of any promissory notes or other obligations secured by the deed of trust.S. lv!ERS. 521 F. of Banking and Finance.determine who held the promissory note and under what authority the default and sale was to occur. In re Foreclosure Cases. [E]ach named plaintiff in this case has been unable to obtain information about the cutTent owner of his or her indebtedness . at 491). HSBC Bank USA. .2d 784. Farmer. Sup. 787 (Neb. Ruscalleda v. Wells Fargo Bank v.030(8)(1). Supp. 25 See. App 64. 704 N.W.Y. 2010) (two banks foreclosing on the same note). several of the original lenders for the named plaintiffs have gone out of business.24. 24 10 . The party demanding foreclosure sale may or may not be the owner. App. Fidelity & Deposit Co. HSBC Bank v.Y. W .. Bradfordv.. . 770 N. 2011) (homeowner faced with three defendants each claiming the other is the holder of the promissory note and MERS will Iiot identify noteholder). I d.2d 487 (Minn. 867 N. 2005). which for many foreclosedupon homeowners would be financially impossible.. 2009) ("A side effect of the MERS system is that a transfer of [the] loan between two MERS members is unknown to those outside the MERS system . 25 The homeowner has no way to be sure other than filing suit and engaging in discovery. 2d 625. pursuant to the DTA.

29 Miguel v. 127. contract. Count1y Funding Corp.) 32 RCW 62A. 1162-65 (9th Cir. in an action to set aside a . 40 Wn. 2002) ("While the Bank's servicing agent . if the loan is Rodgers.D. most other suits seeking to rescind require the presence of the actual owner of the debt. 2009) (Rescission is void because.c. 30 BoiTowers must also know what happened to their promissory note to determine whether the owner is a holder in due course. 2d 885. the current assignee may not have this status. For example. at 1165. 27 MERS' concealment of loan transfers also deprives homeowners of other rights.. Harris v.3-305.Ill.) 30 See Lomayaktewa v.2d 1324. 1975) ("No procedural principle is more deeply imbedded in the common law than that. .3d 1161. Washington mortgage loans may use a negotiable instrument or a non-negotiable instrument as the writing evidencing the debt. App.. Hathaway. 28 27 11 . 897 (N. Real Estate § 18. 31 Those who have contract claims or recoupment claims stemming from the original loan transaction cannot assert those claims against a holder in due course. See Wash. The federal Truth in Lending Act allows homeowners to rescind their loan transaction for certain violations of that Act. 29 Further.18 (2d ed. OSI Financial Services. all parties who may be affected by the determination of the action are indispensable. . the assignee did not.. 28 But the homeowner can not rescind against an agent of a loan holder. 520 F. 595 F. while the original note owner received the rescission notice. Inc.borrower to comply with the "long-settled law" that a borrower must be certain he is paying the note holder or risk having to pay it twice.s.. Supp. 32 However.") 31 RCW 62A. Practice. received notice of cancellation within the relevant three-year period. no authority supports the proposition that notice to [the loan servicer] should suffice for notice to the Bank. 15 u. § 1635(f). 1325 (9th Cir.") Id. 309 F.3-302. depending on how and when the note was transferred.

3-302(a)(2). and title to the property will not be restored.2d 383.24. Once a defaulted borrower determines who the real note holder is the borrower must use the DTA's injunctive process to assert his or her claims. 34 33 12 . Lackey. This Court would bring certainty to the marketplace by interpreting the DTA in a manner that insures that the path of transfer of promissory notes is transparent. 35 Brown v. 157. Cox v. 36 RCW 61. Helenius. 149 Wn. 693 P..2d 214. Plein v. 146 Wn. not the assignee of a nonholder. the use of MERS as a placeholder beneficiary while the loan flies from owner to owner has brought chaos to the mortgage marketplace and stopped the efficient processing of foreclosures. (citing.3d 233 (2008) (stating that the DTA is the only means to stop a foreclosure). the current transferee would not be a holder in due course. 163.24. 33 MERS' practice is to not transfer the loan until the foreclosure process is started so note holder status will always be a potential issue. 34 The DTA contains the only legal process borrowers may use to stop a foreclosure. 103 Wn. 35 Under this process homeowners only have from five days to six months to learn the holder of their note and assert their claims? 6 Stated succinctly.130(2). 189 P. Household Realty Corp. and if their claims are riot asserted before sale their claims are forever waived. and that notes are enforced by their holder. 388. 67 P.3d 1061 (2003). RCW 61.transferred after the borrower has defaulted. App. RCW 62A.2d 683 (1985).130.

see Pennsylvania. Goodyear Tire. Question 3. Tampourlos." Instead. 177. App.2d 778. Nordstrom. 37 However. Omni Ins. Whether the public has an interest is therefore an issue to be determined by the trier of fact. 2010) . 517 P."). 442 (Pa.24. The question is whether the conduct has the capacity to deceive a substantial pmiion of the public. 38 37 13 . Ct. LLC."). 138 Wn. under the five elements of Hangman Ridge Training Stables v.2d 531 (1986). 39 Ivan's Tire Service v. Stephens v. 38 1. by their very nature. NCAS of Delaware. . omission or practice RCW 61. . Safeco.(acts not specifically incorporated by per se language can still be a CPA violation). v. Certain Acts and Practices by MERS Violate the Consumer Protection Act. By Acting As an Unlawful Beneficiary.3d 10 (2007) ("This is not a case where the public interest element is satisfied per se by a . must fulfill certain prongs of the Hangman Ridge test. Even accurate information may be deceptive if there is a representation. The Deed of Trust Act (DTA) creates two statutory per se violations of the CPA: collusion among bidders at a foreclosure sale and bad faith mediation practices.2d 735. 2d 229 (1973). specific legislative declaration of public interest impact. App. 107 Wn. we nevertheless recognize that cettain acts. 105 Wn.2d 208 (1987) ("While we have eschewed the use of judicially created per se violations .135. neither intent nor actual deception is required. Dep 't of Banking v. 159 P.B. 110. 742-43. 719 P. the existence of statutory per se violations does not grant immunity to the parties from the broader CPA prohibitions against other unfair or deceptive practices. MERS Acts Are Unfair or Deceptive The CPA does not define "unfair" or "deceptive. 10 Wn. courts have developed standards on a case-by-case basis. 995 A. 39 To prove that an act or practice is deceptive. 151. Comm.2d 422... 733 P. These are analyzed like any other business practice. Inc. Co..

254 P. not that it is the nominee of the lender or the nominee of successors to the lender.) What MERS is claiming in this document is that MERS is the nominee of its own successors and assigns. 147. MERS is claiming that it has its own authority to assign the deed of trust. by these presents. 3). without reference to a principal.that is likely to mislead. bargains. 161 Wn. State v. sells. MERS states in its Assignment of Deed of Trust that: FOR VALUE RECEIVED. This provides MERS with MERS Response in Selkowitz at 29. 719. when it knows or should know that under Washington law it must hold the note to be the beneficiary. 40 14 . Whether particular actions are deceptive is a question of law that we review de novo.3d 850 (2011) (citations omitted). assigns. In its deeds of trust. [MERS] as Nominee For Its Successors And Assigns. transfers and sets over unto IndyMac Federal Banlc. Misrepresentation of the material terms of a transaction or the failure to disclose material terms violates the CPA. Nebraska Dept. the undersigned. Mortgage Electonic Registration Systems.W. 40 It also conceals the identity of whichever loan holder MERS purports to be acting for when assigning the deed of trust. (Dkt. Inc. MERS states that it is "the beneficiary under this Security Instrument" (Bain Dkt.2d at 787 (MERS is prohibited from exercising mortgage powers without the authorization of a principal). Kaiser. This is contrary to MERS' asse1iion that it is an agent acting for the actual holder of the loan. 705. 704 N. A to Huelsman Decl. App. 1 Ex. FSB all beneficial interest under that certain Deed of Trust dated 3/9/2007. grants. of Banking and Finance.

W. The Assignment of Deed of Trust contains another misrepresentation. without the demand of a principal. RCW 31. affiliation.considerable flexibility to find a party to foreclose but is a misrepresentation of its status and authority..' (Dkt. It is a classic CPA violation for a business to make statements that confuse the public as to their identity. of Banking and Finance. This odd language is not an isolated error on MERS' part. 41 Thus.04.015(7).04. (26) and 31.2d at 787 (MERS has no right to the Note or its payments). B to Huelsman Decl. MERS states that it is also assigning "the Note or Notes .) This contradicts MERS steadfast position that it never holds or owns the note. 1 Ex. 41 15 .. It uses the same language in its Appointment of Successor Trustee where it states that: "[MERS] as Nominee For Its Successors And Assigns is the beneficiary under that certain deed of trust dated 3/9/2007. In MERS must take this position to avoid being licensed and regulated as a mortgage lender or servicer. and then act as that new beneficiary's nominee. 1 Ex.'. A to Huelsman Decl. MERS attempts to characterize itself not just as a nominee of the lender but as the beneficiary with its own authority to appoint new beneficiaries.035.) Once again." (Dkt. never collects money due. 704 N. [and] the money due. authority or status. see also. Nebraska Dept. and has no interest in the debt. MERS is misrepresenting its authority to transfer the note as well as the deed of trust.

MERS Selkowitz Response. 44 The DTA clearly requires that MERS disclose the actual note holder in the Notice of Default. 72.2d 874. 13 PJd 240 (2000) (deceptive to mischaracterize a fee as legally required).R. 554 P. v. 100 Wn. 51. its explanation is not convincing. 2011) (deceptive to falsely claim licensing authority).030(8)(1). L.F. that a servicer is the same as a note Stephens.C. and cannot claim. Evergreen Collectors v. J. see also. 164 F.Y. HendrixLicensing. Commonwealth by Packel v. Kinkopfv. 321 A. Supp. 43 and..2d 193 (1983) (deceptive to falsely claim authority to practice law). Tolleson. Dwyer v. 39. Co. 16 Wn.2d 10 (1991) (deceptive to falsely claim authority to collect attorney fees). Experience Hendrix. 894 (W. it is deceptive to conceal material information that a business is bound to· disclose. it says it runs an Internet website that identifies "100% of loan servicers". Supp. However. Federal Trade Comm 'n. 547. 675 P. it is deceptive to claim some authority to take a legal act when one does not have that authority. App. Inc. 542. Bowers v.3d 417. App.2d 549. 14 Pa. 60 Wn. MERS System members disclose their investor identity. Russ Dunmire Oldsmobile. Transamerica Title Ins." MERS does not claim. 411 F. American Blastfax.particular. 766 F. 2d 892. App. App. 1974) (deceptive to falsely state that one is the owner of a company).D.Cmwlth.Y.2d 349 (1976).2d 664.432. 151.2d 581.24. Texas v. 43 16 C. 803 P.S. LTD. at n. Kislak Mortgage. Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority.. Floersheim v. Holt. MERS does not state straightforwardly that it discloses the identity of the note holder in the forms required by the Deed of Trust Act.com. 125. I Misc. 103 Wn. 1969) (deceptive to conceal that act is by debt collector not government or third party). and that "97% of the . at 177 (deceptive to mischaracterize the legal status of a debt). 1147 (W. Inc. Instead.Ct.3(o) (2011) (FTC Rule makes it deceptive to falsely claim to be current mortgage lender). 2001) (deceptive for business to claim it could lawfully fax ads when it could not).I. MERS contends that it does not conceal the identity of the true note holder. RCW 61. 560 (N.764 N.L. 138 Wn. 42 It is also deceptive to conceal the true party to a transaction.Cmwlth. 2003) (deceptive to conceal true party to contract). 592. 2d 1122. Tex. 118. 44 Testa v. § 321..D. 42 16 .City Civ.. 694 (Pa.. Wash. 87677 (9th Cir.

49 Wn. State of New York v. 86 Wash. App. 47 Salois v. L. 581 P.. Co. Chancery Ct. 17 ." RCW 19. Commonwealth of Mass v. it takes acts in furtherance of collecting on mortgage debts including filing 45 document~ in See Diane E. Suffolk Cty No.: 6987-CS (alleging that MERS unlawfully obscures true owner of note). Loan servicers are rarely the note holder. MERS.. 90 Wn. et al. Super. MERS' failure to accurately reveal the note holders and the chain of transfers remains one its most important legal failings and is the subject of several state Attorney General actions. 359-60. Supreme Ct of NY (alleging the MERS system is riddled with inaccuracies and prevents homeowners and the public from tracking ownership). 45 It is unclear what MERS means when it says that 97% of its members disclose their investor identity or whether this is the same as saying 97% of its loans disclose the current owner of the note.2d 1351 (1978). Del. 743 P. MERS. Mutual of Omaha Ins. The CPA broadly defines "trade" and "commerce" to include "the sale of assets or services. et al. 755 (2011). and any commerce directly or indirectly affecting the people of the State of Washington.2d 832 (1987). Co.010(2).86. No. MERS Acts in Trade or Commerce.2d 355. 387. Foreclosing Modifications: How Servicer Incentives Discourage Loan Modifications. 46 State of Delaware v.holder.. Bank of America. 375. it is not equivalent to having a public record of who owns the loan and how they received that interest. Thompson. 47 MERS claims to hold interests in Washington real property. as was available before the advent of MERS. MERSCORP. Trade or commerce includes acts after the sale of a good or service and does not require a consumer relationship between the parties. Inc.: 11-4363 (alleging MERS fails to identify the holder of the mortgage when foreclosing). 46 2. Whatever is meant by these statements. Ct. Escalante v Sent1y Inc. Rev.

3. or has the capacity to injure other persons RCW 19." This distinction makes it clear that no monetary damages need be proven. Hangman Ridge. the certified questions assume that MERS is acting uniformly in acting as beneficiary without holding the note and that this is MERS' generalized business practice. It immobilizes the deed of trust to allow successive transfers of the promissory note.090 . ("RCW 19.county land title records.010(2). These practices are uniform and repeated and thus have the capacity to injure others. The test under Hangman Ridge is not whether homeowners or others have been damaged. and that nonquantifiable injuries. Therefore. uses the term "injured" rather than suffering "damages. at 178. clearly implying that injury without monetary damages will suffice.86. 107 Wn. such as loss of goodwill would suffice for this element of the Hangman Ridge test. 138 Wn. and it uses form assignments in its Assignments of Deeds of Trust and Appointments of Successor Trustees.86.. had the capacity to injure other persons.093. 50 Tampourlos. and it charges for its services.86. 49 4. This is bolstered by the fact that the act allows for injunctive relief.2d at 789-90. it is engaging in trade of commerce within the meaning ofRCW 19. 50 Injury under tht:! CPA does not have to involve direct loss of money. 48 In this matter. Stephens.2d at 740. A recent amendment to the CPA allows a claimant to establish the public interest element if the act injured other persons. It is Also. it is whether they have been injured. App. MERS Acts Injure Consumers. I d. MERS Acts Impact the Public Interest.") 49 48 18 . It appears as the beneficiary on deeds of trust without holding the note. 105 Wn..

52 Injury may be presumed when the consumer has to take time or expend money to remediate his or her status due to a CPA violation. then MERS has caused that injury. they can be injured if the note goes unsatisfied. Panag.2d 27. 53 5. or consult with an attorney to determine who owns their notes because MERS does not disclose this critical information. 166 Wn.3d 885 (2009). 5 1 Temporary loss of title to real property can be sufficient. but the debt is actually held by another. If consumers pay their loan to the mortgagee identified by MERS through its assignment. 114 Wn. 553. App. App. The use of MERS causes consumer injury where it makes it impossible to find the note or where MERS has allowed Sorrel v. 51 19 ..enough that the act has deprived a person of some property. Co. 54 If homeowners miss the deadline to file for a DTA injunction because they can not locate the note holder and therefore lose their claims. 54 Sign-0-Lite Signs. 204 P. 110 Wn.2d 714 (1992). they have been injured. of Washington. 854. Eagle Healthcare. visit offices.2d 842.2d 142 (1990). Inc. 792 P. 290. send letters. If homeowners have to make calls. Inc. DeLaurenti Florests. 3d 1024 (2002) ("Sufficient injury to satisfy the fourth and fifth elements of a Consumer Protection Act claim is established when a plaintiff is deprived of the use ofhis property as a result of an unfair or deceptive act or practice. Mortgage America. Inc. 38 P. 825 P. 64 Wn. Inc.2d 27.. Farmers Ins.. MERS' Business Practices Cause Consumer Injury. 53 Panag v.") 52 Mason v. There are many scenarios where MERS causes consumer injury through its misrepresentations regarding its authority to foreclose and its concealment of the true holder of the note. 166 Wn. v.

ROBERT M. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED this 14th day ofFebruary. III. CONCLUSION This Comi should answer certified questions 1 and 3 affirmatively. Because the Note is the essential document to the transaction. MCKENNA Attorney General Assistant Attorney General WSBA#39107 Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Attorney General of Washington 20 . any deprivation of its use can be injurious.the note to be lost or destroyed because consumers will not know the pmiy entitled to enforce it and how it obtained its enforcement power. and MERS causes these injuries through its actions. 2012. not just to homeowners but to subsequent title holders and loan investors.

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