Judges find mortgage company not culpably negligent

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In a dispute over which mortgage has priority in a foreclosure action, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the senior mortgage holder. The judges found the doctrine of equitable subrogation applies.

Ronnie and Debora Brand obtained a mortgage for more than $107,000 with Meridian Group Mortgage Corp. and a second mortgage for a $25,000 home equity line of credit with Finance Center Federal Credit Union in 2002. The Brands later refinanced with First Republic Mortgage Corp., which paid off both Meridian Group and Finance Center. The First Republic mortgage was later assigned to GMAC Mortgage.

Finance Center never released the mortgage because the Brands did not send notice requesting release of the lien. The line of credit was left open and the company later advanced more money to the Brands. When GMAC attempted to foreclose on the real estate, Finance Center argued that its mortgage should be first in priority.

Both companies filed for summary judgment, and the trial court granted partial summary judgment to GMAC, finding it should have priority and Finance Center would be the junior lienholder.

Finance Center argued that GMAC isn’t entitled to first lien pursuant to the doctrine of equitable subrogation because GMAC was culpably negligent by not obtaining a release of the Finance Center mortgage. The appellate court cited JPMorgan Chase Bank v. Howell, 883 N.E.2d 106 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007), a case involving a similar dispute in which the judges found no culpable negligence in the refinancing lender’s failure to ensure that it had properly paid off the junior line of credit.

Any negligence in GMAC’s failure didn’t prejudice Finance Center because the Finance Center mortgage was always junior to the senior Meridian Group mortgage, which was fully satisfied with the loan proceeds from the GMAC refinancing, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik in Finance Center Federal Credit Union v. Ronnie D. Brand, Debora J. Brand and GMAC Mortgage, LLC, No. 49A02-1111-MF-1089. Allowing GMAC to step into the shoes of the Meridian Group mortgage will leave Finance Center in the same junior position.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

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  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

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