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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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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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