FL Court Reverses Decision in Foreclosure Case
The District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida, Fourth District, has reversed the final judgment of foreclosure in favor of the defendant Christiana Trust in the case of Robert T. Frost v. Christiana Trust et al. The appellant, Robert T. Frost, successfully argued that Christiana Trust failed to prove that it had legal standing to foreclose upon his home.
In 2009, Chase filed a foreclosure complaint, claiming that they were the rightful owner of the mortgage and entitled to take possession of the property. The original lender on the promissory note was Washington Mutual and the note was not endorsed. Frost filed an answer to the complaint and raised a number of defenses, among them lack of standing. Christiana Trust was substituted as the plaintiff in the case before the matter went to trial and was initially successful.
The main issues on appeal were whether Chase had standing prior to the commencement of the action and whether Christiana Trust had standing at the time of the trial. The court determined that Christiana Trust failed to prove that Chase held the note when it filed the complaint, which means that they did not have a legal right to foreclose upon the property. The original payee on the note was Washington Mutual and, in the absence of any endorsements, Christiana Trust had the burden of proving that Chase was a nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder in order to successfully establish standing.
The court notes that whether Chase ever owned the note on the date of filing the suit relies on a convoluted purchase agreement between Chase, FDIC, and Washington Mutual, and that adding to the confusion was the fact that the notice of default was sent by Washington Mutual and not Chase. There is no explanation for why WAMU would continue to act on a loan that it no longer owned, suggesting that ownership of the loan had not yet been transferred.
In light of this absence of sufficient evidence and other inconsistencies, the court reversed the final judgment and remanded for entry of an order of involuntary dismissal of the foreclosure action against Mr. Frost.
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