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Court rules on post-merger bank foreclosure rights

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a federal statute provides the authority for a bank that survives after a merger to enforce the promissory note and mortgage established by a predecessor bank.

In CFS, LLC and Charles Blackwelder v. Bank of America, Successor in Interest to LaSalle Bank Midwest National Association, No. 29A02-1105-MF-436, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling by Hamilton Circuit Judge Paul Felix that granted summary judgment in favor of Bank of America.

The case involves a promissory note and construction mortgage that CFS obtained in June 2007 in exchange for a $982,500 loan from LaSalle Bank Midwest National Association. Christopher Blackwelder executed a personal guaranty of the debt, but in August 2004 Bank of America – which had merged with and was a successor-in-interest to LaSalle – filed a mortgage foreclosure complaint alleging the loan was in default. CFS admitted to the debt but asserted it didn’t have any knowledge of the merger or Bank of America’s role as successor and right to collect the balance.

Bank of America moved for summary judgment on grounds that it had merged and had the authority to collect the debt or foreclose, and after a December 2010 hearing the trial judge took the matter under advisement. He initially declined summary judgment after the bank couldn’t provide any caselaw authority proving a successor-in-interest is sufficient to prove ownership, but he later granted summary judgment when Bank of America filed a motion to correct error that cited a federal statute providing that authority.

The bank cited 12 U.S.C. § 215a(e) that outlines the corporate existence of each merging bank and how all rights, franchises and interests of the individual merging banks are transferred to the successor merged bank without any deed or other transfer being needed.

Although the bank referenced a copy of the merger certificate and no factual dispute existed that a merger had occurred, Bank of America didn’t include a copy of that merger certificate. The trial court granted its judgment of foreclosure and decree of sale in the bank’s favor in April 2011. Appealing, CFS alleged the trial court granted summary judgment only after improperly considering “new evidence” about that federal statute.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Bank of America didn’t have to attach a copy of the merger when there was no factual dispute it had happened, and that the federal statute wasn’t “new evidence” presented to the trial court. The appellate panel found that no genuine issue of material fact existed about the merger and that summary judgment was properly granted to Bank of America.

 

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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.

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