A Howard Superior Court erred in denying a bank’s motion for relief from the court’s quiet title decree finding the bank no longer held any interest in certain real property owned by a divorcing couple, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
In Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., as Trustee under the pooling and servicing agreement dated as of Nov. 1, 2002, Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I Inc. Trust 2002-HE3 v. Patricia Harris and Shawn Harris, 34A02-1206-MF-467, Deutsche Bank filed a complaint on note and to foreclose on real estate owned by Patricia and Shawn Harris, alleging they were in default. Both Shawn and Patricia Harris filed counterclaims fighting the foreclosure. The case languished for nearly a year without any activity, leading to a Trial Rule 41(E) motion by the court for purposes of dismissing the complaint. The bank’s counsel did not appear at the hearing and the judge dismissed the complaint with prejudice. Shawn Harris’ attorney proposed an order for quiet title on the property, which the court later issued.
The bank sought relief from judgment, which was denied, noting in part the bank didn’t file its motion for relief until nearly a year had passed.
“While the Property and the Bank’s security interest in the Property pursuant to the Mortgage, as well as the parties’ obligations pursuant to the Note, were important to the division of the marital estate in the Borrowers’ divorce proceedings, we decline to find that the reinstatement of the Bank’s claim or the reversal of the Quiet Title Decree would prejudice the Borrowers to an extent that such a reinstatement or reversal would be unreasonable or unjust under the circumstances,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote.
“As previously mentioned, even if the court dismissed the Bank’s current action with prejudice under Trial Rule 41(E), the Bank would not be precluded from later filing a claim under the Note and Mortgage in connection with separate alleged defaults by the Borrowers. We therefore conclude that the court did not have the authority to enter the Quiet Title Decree to the extent that it ruled or ordered that the Bank no longer held any interest in the Property under the Mortgage or that the Note was cancelled, and the court erred or abused its discretion in denying the Bank’s motion for relief from judgment on that basis,” she continued.
The case is remanded for further proceedings.