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COA reverses in foreclosure dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a couple’s motion for relief from judgment and request for attorney fees in a foreclosure dispute, finding the couple established the party seeking to foreclose on their property acted in bad faith.

Through a business transaction, John Nowak gave Brett Gibson a promissory note in the amount of $350,000 for stock. To secure payment of the note, Nowak granted Gibson a second mortgage against his home in Indianapolis and against his vacation property in Michigan. Irwin Mortgage Corp. held a prior mortgage on the Indiana real estate. Nowak sold the Indiana property six months later to Thomas and Elizabeth Neu. A title search did not reveal Gibson’s mortgage on the property.

Nowak defaulted on the promissory note to Gibson, so Gibson sought to foreclose on the Indiana and Michigan properties. Gibson obtained a judgment foreclosure in the Michigan case and purchased the property at a public auction. When Gibson filed a motion in 2007 requesting the Indiana trial court grant him a foreclosure judgment against the Neus’ property, he mentioned the Michigan property but did not say that a sheriff’s sale had taken place and he was the winning bidder.

The Indiana trial court eventually entered a judgment of foreclosure against the Indiana property in favor of Gibson for more than $380,000 plus interest, attorney fees and costs. The trial court also denied the Neus’ request for a sheriff’s sale. The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed. The Neus then filed a motion for relief from judgment and for attorney fees, asking the court to deem Gibson’s foreclosure decree fully satisfied because Gibson had reduced his promissory note to judgment in Michigan and bid the full amount of that judgment to acquire his Michigan collateral at a sheriff’s sale.

After deducting the amount of Gibson’s bid to purchase the Michigan real estate, the trial court ordered the balance due on his judgment was $74,716.

In Thomas A. Neu and Elizabeth A. Neu, and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Brett Gibson, No. 49A02-1109-MF-842, the appellate court found that the proceedings dealing with the Indiana property became fully satisfied when Gibson got the foreclosure judgment on the Michigan property and submitted a full credit bid based on the same promissory note that was the basis of the Indiana foreclosure proceedings. The judges also found the Neus established bad faith when Gibson failed to disclose the Michigan foreclosure judgment and sheriff’s sale. They ordered the trial court determine reasonable attorney fees in favor of the Neus starting from Aug. 8, 2007, the date of the Michigan sheriff’s sale.


 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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