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Court can’t modify mortgage without both parties’ consent

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A trial court doesn’t have the authority to modify a mortgage agreement without the consent of both parties participating in a settlement conference if they don’t agree to the terms of a foreclosure prevention agreement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In Nationstar Mortgage, LLC v. Jeffrey A. Curatolo, et al., 45A03-1211-MF-469, Nationstar Mortgage LLC appealed the trial court order modifying its mortgage agreement with Jeffrey Curatolo. Curatolo executed the $245,000 mortgage in 2006, which was assigned to Nationstar in 2010. It filed its complaint to foreclosure in September 2011.

The parties entered into a foreclosure settlement conference, as allowed under I.C. 32-30-10.5, in which Curatolo successfully completed a three-month plan set up by Nationstar. But the mortgage company wanted new financial documents because of a discrepancy in Curatolo’s stated income and then sought to have Curatolo pay an additional $300 for a three-month period.

The trial court deemed these actions as a bad faith maneuver and modified the mortgage agreement.

“[N]owhere does the statute give a trial court the authority to enter a final order modifying the mortgage agreement,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote. “The fact that the legislature itself could not have impaired the contractual obligations of the parties lends further support to our conclusion it did not intend to give the courts that authority. Because the mortgage agreement was based upon the parties’ mutual assent, they must both agree to any permanent modification. Nor is this a case where the court was merely interpreting or enforcing a previously entered into agreement.”

Curatolo argued that the modification was a proper sanction for Nationstar’s misconduct.

“And while the trial court found that Nationstar’s behavior evidenced bad faith, we cannot agree that requesting additional documentation in response to a change of income or requesting an additional $300 per month from Curatolo was bad faith. Curatolo was not entitled to a final foreclosure prevention agreement with terms to his liking,” Robb wrote.

The COA ordered more proceedings on the matter consistent with this opinion. Robb noted that this decision should not be read to limit the ability of the parties to enter into a mutually agreed upon foreclosure prevention agreement. In that case, the trial court may dismiss or stay the foreclosure as provided by I.C. 32-30-10.5-10(e).  

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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