Sanctions Pummel Neil Garfield Legal Theories

Neil Garfield’s frivolous filings and bogus legal theories have already cost at least one client, Zdislaw Maslanka, a wad of attorney fees in an utterly frivolous action to get his house free even though he remained current in his mortgage payments.  As the below docket entries show, the Florida 4th District appellate panel affirmed the 17th Circuit trial court’s dismissal of the case and ordered Maslanka to pay the attorney fees of the two mortgage creditors that he sued.

  • 4D14-3015-Zdzislaw E. Maslanka v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Embrace Home Loans
05/12/2016 Affirmed ­ Per Curiam Affirmed  
05/12/2016 Order Granting Attorney Fees­Unconditionally ORDERED that the appellee Embrace Home Loans Inc.’s September 2, 2015 motion for attorney’s fees is granted. On remand, the trial court shall set the amount of the attorney’s fees to be awarded for this appellate case. If a motion for rehearing is filed in this court, then services rendered in connection with the filing of the motion, including, but not limited to, preparation of a responsive pleading, shall be taken into account in computing the amount of the fee
05/12/2016 Order Granting Attorney Fees­Unconditionally ORDERED that the appellee Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s September 3, 2015 motion for attorneys’ fees is granted. On remand, the trial court shall set the amount of the attorneys’ fees to be awarded for this appellate case. If a motion for rehearing is filed in this court, then services rendered in connection with the filing of the motion, including, but not limited to, preparation of a responsive pleading, shall be taken into account in computing the amount of the fee.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 11 (See Below) allows the court to award attorney fees to the party against whom a litigant files frivolous (unsupported or nonsensical) motions.

34 States have embraced FRCivPro Rule 11 in their own rules of civil procedure, but Florida embraced it in Florida Statute 57.105 (See Below).  It requires the attorney propounding the unsupported motion to pay one half of the sanction cost and the attorney’s client to pay the other half.  That has raised the hackles of a lot of attorneys who claim it chills their willingness to mount an aggressive advocacy on behalf of the client.  Obviously, lawmakers see overaggressiveness as vexatious, and they decided, finally, to punish the lawyer for it.

Mortgage loan creditors have begun to get sick and tired of dealing with mindless litigation by idiotic practititoners like Neil Garfield.

Johnson v. BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, Dist. Court, WD Washington 2016

I write now to show a case in point (full text of opinion below).  Lajuana Locklin Johnson, a TILA rescission mortgagor,  provoked the ire of a USDC judge in Washington State by filing a notice of rescission 10 (TEN!) years after consummation of the loan (obviously following Neil Garfield’s ridiculous strategy) when the TILA statute of repose window closes after 3 years.  She knew she had no case, but filed it anyway in a silly and misguided effort to get a free house.  So, the judge spanked her.

Oh, and she claimed she relied on the clear meaning of the SCOTUS Jesinoski opinion to do it. She claimed SCOTUS meant one can send notice of rescission after 3 years, but the high court actually meant the borrower with a valid TILA rescission claim may sue after 3 years.  Incidentally, the Minnesota USDC ruled in July 2016 that Jesinoski had no TILA rescission case because he and his wife had written an acknowledged receipt of the proper TILA disclosures. Jesinoski claimed he had invested over $800,000 in the case, much of which came from attorney fees.

Well, first Judge James L. Robart ordered Lajuana and her attorney Smith to show cause why he shouldn’t sanction them under Rule 11 for bringing an utterly hopeless TILA rescission action she knew would fail.  And in that order he berated attorney Jill J. Smith of Natural Resource Law Group, PLLC, for filing the action in spite of having filed and been sanctioned for one or more prior frivolous actions like Lajuana’s.  Smith idiotically claimed the table-funding meant the loan had never been consummated and so the statute of repose could not have tolled.  But she did not explain how Lajuana could rescind a non-consummated loan.

The judge said this about the essential argument Smith (taken directly from Garfield) propounded:

Excerpt from opinion

Ms. Smith indicates that on October 6, 2005, Ms. Johnson “entered into what she thought was a mortgage loan to purchase” property. (OSC Resp. at 1.) At oral argument, Ms. Smith argued that if the loan was never funded then the loan was never consummated.[3] However, Ms. Smith conceded at oral argument that the relevant parties signed the loan paperwork, money was transferred to the sellers of the house, and Ms. Johnson took possession of the property. These facts unarguably give rise to a contract under Washington Law. See Keystone, 94 P.3d at 949; see also Grimes, 340 F.3d at 1009-10. Ms. Smith nonetheless argued that the loan was unconsummated at that juncture based on the manner in which it was funded and the subsequent history of the loan.

Ms. Smith’s protestations in her response and at oral argument that the loan was table-funded[4] (id. at 4-5) and her account of the history of the loan subsequent to its consummation (OSC at 2-4) are both irrelevant to her allegation that “the loan was never consummated” (Compl. ¶ 13). Despite being afforded numerous opportunities to do so, Ms. Smith has failed to provide any legal authority—or even a cogent argument— supporting the proposition that the type of funding or subsequent transfers of a loan impact whether the loan was consummated.[5] (See, e.g., OSC Resp. at 5 (“One of the questions at issue is that if a party is merely an originator and NOT a lender or creditor, is there some theory where a loan contract could be considered consummated? If Plaintiff’s loan was a table-funded loan, the answer must be `no.'”).) Nor has Ms. Smith pointed to any further evidence providing “information and belief” that “the subject loan was never consummated.” (Compl. ¶ 13.)

The foregoing analysis leads the court to conclude that Ms. Smith’s factual allegation that “the loan was never consummated” and the legal theories underpinning that allegation violate Rules 11(b)(2) and 11(b)(3).[6] See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2) (requiring that “the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law”); Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3) (requiring that “factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery”). The court analyzes the appropriate sanctions below.

Then, Judge Robart ordered these sanctions:

(1) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must jointly pay sanctions of $10,000.00 to the court;

(2) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must fully reimburse Ms. Johnson for any attorneys’ fees or costs paid by Ms. Johnson in conjunction with this case and file certification with the court that they have done so; and

(3) The court dismisses the complaint with prejudice.

I would raise yet another point about this case.  The above excerpt provided that “Ms. Smith indicates that on October 6, 2005, Ms. Johnson “entered into what she thought was a mortgage loan to purchase” property…  Ms. Smith conceded at oral argument that the relevant parties signed the loan paperwork, money was transferred to the sellers of the house, and Ms. Johnson took possession of the property.”

I fail to see how TILA rescission can apply at all to a purchase money loan.

12 CFR Part 1026.23(f) “Exempt transactions.  The right to rescind does not apply to the following:  1. A residential mortgage transaction.” (“Residential mortgage transaction means a transaction in which a mortgage, deed of trust, purchase money security interestarising under an installment sales contract, or equivalent consensual security interestis created or retained in the consumer‘s principal dwelling to finance the acquisition or initial construction of that dwelling.”)

See the whole opinion below.

And let this be a lesson to Neil Garfield Klingons (those who cling to his every utterance:

Heed Neil Garfield at your peril!

 

FRCivPro Rule 11. Signing Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Representations to the Court; Sanctions

(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s name—or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer’s address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney’s or party’s attention.

(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper—whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;

(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.

(c) Sanctions.

(1) In General. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm must be held jointly responsible for a violation committed by its partner, associate, or employee.

(2) Motion for Sanctions. A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion must be served under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets. If warranted, the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred for the motion.

(3) On the Court’s Initiative. On its own, the court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b).

(4) Nature of a Sanction. A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. The sanction may include nonmonetary directives; an order to pay a penalty into court; or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of part or all of the reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation.

(5) Limitations on Monetary Sanctions. The court must not impose a monetary sanction:

(A) against a represented party for violating Rule 11(b)(2); or

(B) on its own, unless it issued the show-cause order under Rule 11(c)(3)before voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party that is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.

(6) Requirements for an Order. An order imposing a sanction must describe the sanctioned conduct and explain the basis for the sanction.

(d) Inapplicability to Discovery. This rule does not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and motions under Rules 26 through37.

 

Florida Statute
57.105 Attorney’s fee; sanctions for raising unsupported claims or defenses; exceptions; service of motions; damages for delay of litigation.

(1) Upon the court’s initiative or motion of any party, the court shall award a reasonable attorney’s fee, including prejudgment interest, to be paid to the prevailing party in equal amounts by the losing party and the losing party’s attorney on any claim or defense at any time during a civil proceeding or action in which the court finds that the losing party or the losing party’s attorney knew or should have known that a claim or defense when initially presented to the court or at any time before trial:

(a) Was not supported by the material facts necessary to establish the claim or defense; or
(b) Would not be supported by the application of then-existing law to those material facts.
(2) At any time in any civil proceeding or action in which the moving party proves by a preponderance of the evidence that any action taken by the opposing party, including, but not limited to, the filing of any pleading or part thereof, the assertion of or response to any discovery demand, the assertion of any claim or defense, or the response to any request by any other party, was taken primarily for the purpose of unreasonable delay, the court shall award damages to the moving party for its reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, which may include attorney’s fees, and other loss resulting from the improper delay.

(3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), monetary sanctions may not be awarded:

(a) Under paragraph (1)(b) if the court determines that the claim or defense was initially presented to the court as a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law, as it applied to the material facts, with a reasonable expectation of success.
(b) Under paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(b) against the losing party’s attorney if he or she has acted in good faith, based on the representations of his or her client as to the existence of those material facts.
(c) Under paragraph (1)(b) against a represented party.
(d) On the court’s initiative under subsections (1) and (2) unless sanctions are awarded before a voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party that is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.
(4) A motion by a party seeking sanctions under this section must be served but may not be filed with or presented to the court unless, within 21 days after service of the motion, the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, allegation, or denial is not withdrawn or appropriately corrected.
(5) In administrative proceedings under chapter 120, an administrative law judge shall award a reasonable attorney’s fee and damages to be paid to the prevailing party in equal amounts by the losing party and a losing party’s attorney or qualified representative in the same manner and upon the same basis as provided in subsections (1)-(4). Such award shall be a final order subject to judicial review pursuant to s. 120.68. If the losing party is an agency as defined in s. 120.52(1), the award to the prevailing party shall be against and paid by the agency. A voluntary dismissal by a nonprevailing party does not divest the administrative law judge of jurisdiction to make the award described in this subsection.
(6) The provisions of this section are supplemental to other sanctions or remedies available under law or under court rules.
(7) If a contract contains a provision allowing attorney’s fees to a party when he or she is required to take any action to enforce the contract, the court may also allow reasonable attorney’s fees to the other party when that party prevails in any action, whether as plaintiff or defendant, with respect to the contract. This subsection applies to any contract entered into on or after October 1, 1988.
History.s. 1, ch. 78-275; s. 61, ch. 86-160; ss. 1, 2, ch. 88-160; s. 1, ch. 90-300; s. 316, ch. 95-147; s. 4, ch. 99-225; s. 1, ch. 2002-77; s. 9, ch. 2003-94; s. 1, ch. 2010-129.

57.115 Execution on judgments; attorney’s fees and costs.

(1) The court may award against a judgment debtor reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred thereafter by a judgment creditor in connection with execution on a judgment.

(2) In determining the amount of costs, including attorney’s fees, if any, to be awarded under this section, the court shall consider:

(a) Whether the judgment debtor had attempted to avoid or evade the payment of the judgment; and
(b) Other factors as may be appropriate in determining the value of the services provided or the necessity for incurring costs in connection with the execution.
History.s. 13, ch. 87-145.

 

LAJUANA LOCKLIN JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, et al., Defendants.

Case No. C16-0833JLR.United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle.

August 10, 2016.Lajuana Locklin Johnson, Plaintiff, represented by Jill J. Smith, NATURAL RESOURCE LAW GROUP PLLC.

ORDER ISSUING SANCTIONS AND DISMISSING CASE

JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court sua sponte. Previously, the court ordered Jill J. Smith of the Natural Resource Law Group, PLLC, counsel for Plaintiff Lajuana Locklin Johnson, to show cause why the court should not sanction her pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (OSC (Dkt. # 3); see alsoCompl. (Dkt. # 1).) The court then ordered Ms. Smith to appear, and she presented argument on July 28, 2016, on why the court should not issue sanctions. Having considered the written and oral arguments of counsel, the appropriate portions of the record, and the relevant law, and considering itself fully advised, the court DISMISSES this case WITH PREJUDICE and SANCTIONS Ms. Smith as described more fully herein.

II. BACKGROUND

On June 6, 2016, Ms. Smith filed a complaint on behalf of Ms. Johnson seeking to enforce and obtain damages pertaining to her purportedly rescinded loans. (Compl.) The rescission notices that Ms. Johnson attached to her complaint make clear that she sent those notices more than a decade after executing the loans. (See Rescission Notices (Dkt. # 1-1).) The Truth in Lending Act (hereinafter, “TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1635 et seq., permits rescission of certain loans but includes a three-year statute of repose. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 790, 792-93 (2015)(“The Truth in Lending Act gives borrowers the right to rescind certain loans for up to three years after the transaction is consummated.”).

Having presided over several of Ms. Smith’s TILA rescission cases that feature substantially similar complaints to the one in this case, the court researched Ms. Smith’s other filings in this district. (See OSC at 5-6 (collecting cases).) Ms. Smith has filed a troubling series of such cases.[1] The Honorable Thomas S. Zilly sanctioned Ms. Smith $5,000.00 plus over $10,000.00 in attorneys’ fees after ordering Ms. Smith to show cause regarding how binding Supreme Court caselaw does not foreclose her claim and receiving no response.Johnson v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, et al., No. C15-1754TSZ, Dkt. ## 35, 41. The claim in Johnson v. Nationstar strongly resembles Ms. Johnson’s untimely effort to rescind pursuant to TILA in this case.

In light of this backdrop, the court stayed this case and ordered Ms. Smith to show cause no later than July 7, 2016, why the court should not issue sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (OSC at 8-10.) The court indicated that it was specifically considering sanctioning Ms. Smith and Ms. Johnson by “dismissing this case, issuing monetary sanctions against Ms. Smith, and requiring Ms. Smith to file a copy of this order each time she files a new case in federal court.” (Id. at 9.) Ms. Smith failed to file a timely response to the court’s order to show cause. (See Dkt.) The court therefore ordered Ms. Smith to appear on July 28, 2016, for an in-court sanctions hearing. (7/18/16 Min. Ord. (Dkt. # 4) at 1-2.)

On July 27, 2016, almost three weeks after her response was due and the day before the sanctions hearing, Ms. Smith filed a response to the order to show cause. That response states the facts of the case as Ms. Smith sees them but without reference to any affidavit or other verified source. (OSC Resp. (Dkt. # 5) at 1-4.) In addition, Ms. Smith attempts to address some of the specific considerations the court ordered her to respond to in its prior order. (Id. at 5-6.) However, she makes no reference to any of the prior cases she has filed in this court or “the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court cases cited” in the order to show cause. (See OSC at 9 (“Ms. Smith’s response to this order must address how Ms. Johnson’s claims, as stated in the complaint, comply with Rule 11(b)(2) in light of Nieuwejaar, Green Tree, the other cases in this District identified above, and the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court cases cited therein. Finally, Ms. Smith must address what “information and belief” she has that Ms. Johnson’s loan in this case “was never consummated.”); see generally OSC Resp.)

Ms. Smith appeared in court on July 28, 2016, and defended the factual allegations and legal theory underpinning Ms. Johnson’s claim. (7/28/16 Min. Entry (Dkt. # 6).) In general terms, Ms. Smith argued that circumstances surrounding the loan, such as the manner in which it was funded, make it questionable whether the loan was ever consummated. If the loan was never consummated, she reasons, the three-year statute of repose never began and therefore never expired.

The matter of Rule 11 sanctions is now before the court.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 governs sanctions of the type issued herein. Rule 11(b) provides in full:

By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper— whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation; (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law; (3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and (4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b). In its June 22, 2016, order, the court placed Ms. Smith on notice and allowed her to respond regarding potential violations of Rules 11(b)(2) and 11(b)(3).

B. Violations of Rule 11

Ms. Johnson alleges that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated.” (Compl. ¶ 13.) This conclusory allegation appears intended to circumvent TILA’s three-year statute of repose, which begins upon consummation of the loan.[2] See 15 U.S.C. § 1635(f) (“An obligor’s right of rescission shall expire three years after the date of consummation of the transaction or upon the sale of the property, whichever occurs first. . . .”);Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 792-93. At the hearing, Ms. Smith argued that if the loan was never consummated, the three-year statute of repose has not begun, has not expired, and therefore the rescission is timely.

In the numerous opportunities the court has afforded Ms. Smith to provide a factual basis for this allegation, she has provided none. Ms. Smith has also provided no evidence of any legal or factual “inquiry” that she performed, and accordingly the court can only determine whether the inquiry was “reasonable under the circumstances” based on the allegations and arguments that Ms. Smith has advanced in opposition to the frivolity of Ms. Johnson’s claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b).

Under TILA, “[c]onsummation means the time that a consumer becomes contractually obligated on a credit transaction.” 12 C.F.R. § 226.2(a)(13); see also Grimes v. New Century Mortg. Corp., 340 F.3d 1007, 1009 (9th Cir. 2003). “Under the Official Staff interpretation, state law determines when a borrower is contractually obliged.” Grimes, 340 F.3d at 1009 (citing 12 C.F.R. § 226, Supp. 1 (Official Staff Interpretations), cmt. 2(a)(13)); see also id. at 1010 (applying California law to determine whether a California loan was consummated for purposes of TILA). In Washington, “for a contract to form, the parties must objectively manifest their mutual assent” to “sufficiently definite” contractual terms. Keystone Land & Dev. Co. v. Xerox Corp., 94 P.3d 945, 949 (Wash. 2004). In addition, “the contract must be supported by consideration to be enforceable.” Id. (citing King v. Riveland, 886 P.2d 160, 164 (Wash. 1994)).

Ms. Smith indicates that on October 6, 2005, Ms. Johnson “entered into what she thought was a mortgage loan to purchase” property. (OSC Resp. at 1.) At oral argument, Ms. Smith argued that if the loan was never funded then the loan was never consummated.[3] However, Ms. Smith conceded at oral argument that the relevant parties signed the loan paperwork, money was transferred to the sellers of the house, and Ms. Johnson took possession of the property. These facts unarguably give rise to a contract under Washington Law. See Keystone, 94 P.3d at 949; see also Grimes, 340 F.3d at 1009-10. Ms. Smith nonetheless argued that the loan was unconsummated at that juncture based on the manner in which it was funded and the subsequent history of the loan.

Ms. Smith’s protestations in her response and at oral argument that the loan was table-funded[4] (id. at 4-5) and her account of the history of the loan subsequent to its consummation (OSC at 2-4) are both irrelevant to her allegation that “the loan was never consummated” (Compl. ¶ 13). Despite being afforded numerous opportunities to do so, Ms. Smith has failed to provide any legal authority—or even a cogent argument— supporting the proposition that the type of funding or subsequent transfers of a loan impact whether the loan was consummated.[5] (See, e.g., OSC Resp. at 5 (“One of the questions at issue is that if a party is merely an originator and NOT a lender or creditor, is there some theory where a loan contract could be considered consummated? If Plaintiff’s loan was a table-funded loan, the answer must be `no.'”).) Nor has Ms. Smith pointed to any further evidence providing “information and belief” that “the subject loan was never consummated.” (Compl. ¶ 13.)

The foregoing analysis leads the court to conclude that Ms. Smith’s factual allegation that “the loan was never consummated” and the legal theories underpinning that allegation violate Rules 11(b)(2) and 11(b)(3).[6] See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(2) (requiring that “the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law”); Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3) (requiring that “factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery”). The court analyzes the appropriate sanctions below.

C. Appropriate Sanctions

Rule 11(d) limits sanctions to “what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(d). Ms. Smith’s actions in this case demonstrate that the previous sanctions she incurred—dismissal with prejudice, $11,972.50 in attorneys’ fees payable by her client, and a $5,000.00 sanction payable to the court—constituted insufficient specific deterrence. See Johnson v. Nationstar, No. C15-1754TSZ, Dkt. ## 35, 41-43. The court finds it appropriate to impose greater monetary sanctions payable by Ms. Smith and her law firm and dismiss the case with prejudice.[7] The court accordingly issues the following sanctions:

(1) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must jointly pay sanctions of $10,000.00 to the court;

(2) No more than 30 days after the date of this order, Ms. Smith and the Natural Resource Law Group must fully reimburse Ms. Johnson for any attorneys’ fees or costs paid by Ms. Johnson in conjunction with this case and file certification with the court that they have done so; and

(3) The court dismisses the complaint with prejudice.

IV. CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing analysis, the court DISMISSES the case WITH PREJUDICE and SANCTIONS Ms. Smith as described above.

[1] See Pelzel v. GMAC Mortg. Grp., LLC, No. C16-5643RBL, Dkt. # 1 (filing a complaint on July 20, 2016, which alleges that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated” and appears to suffer the same legal and factual deficiencies as this case); Elder v. Pinnacle Capital Mortg. Corp., et al., No. C16-5355RBL, Dkt. ## 1, 1-1 (filing a complaint on May 13, 2016, which is nearly identical to the complaint in this case and seeks to rescind a loan pursuant to TILA without providing a date for that loan); Velasco, et al. v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., et al., No. C16-5022RBL, Dkt. # 30 (dismissing a claim for enforcement of TILA rescission filed more than six years after the date of the rescission notice on res judicata grounds); Maxfield v. Indymac Mortg. Servs., et al., No. C16-0564RSM, Dkt. # 3 (filing a complaint on April 19, 2016, which is nearly identical to the complaint in this case and seeks to rescind a loan pursuant to TILA without providing a date for that loan); Jenkins, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 16-0452TSZ, Dkt. # 1 (filing a complaint on March 31, 2016, which is nearly identical to the complaint in this case and seeks to rescind a loan pursuant to TILA without providing a date for that loan); Burton, et al. v. Bank of Am., et al., No. C15-5769RBL, Dkt. # 20 at 5 (citing Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 792) (“The Supreme Court’s Jesinoskidecision— quoted by the Burtons—reiterates that while the three year limitation period may not apply to the commencement of an action, it absolutely applies to the time frame for sending a rescission notice. . . . The Burtons’ loan was consummated in 2005. Their conditional right to rescind expired in 2008—seven years before they sent the notice upon which this action relies. . . .”);Johnson v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, et al., No. C15-1685JLR, Dkt. # 22 at 8-9 (dismissing the case and rejecting the arguments that TILA “rescission is effective upon mailing, regardless of when mailing occurs” and that “the court cannot presume consummation until after discovery is conducted on the matter”); Stennes-Cox v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC, et al., No. C15-1682TSZ, Dkt. # 15 at 3-5 (rejecting the plaintiff’s arguments based on Jesinoski and Paatalo and dismissing with prejudice her claim seeking to rescind a loan eight years after consummation); Nieuwejaar, et al. v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, et al., No. C15-1663JLR, Dkt. ## 22 at 6-7 (“Plaintiffs also attempt to address the timeliness issue by raising the possibility that the loan was never consummated. . . . Plaintiffs’ complaint contains no allegations regarding the failure to establish a contractual obligation. . . . Thus, Plaintiffs have not pleaded facts that allow the court to reasonably infer that Plaintiffs’ notice of rescission was effective. . . .” (internal citations omitted)), 28 at 7 (“Moreover, despite the court’s guidance that Plaintiffs must allege facts about the loan transaction before the court can infer a problem with consummation . . ., Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint does not contain a single factual allegation to suggest the subject loan was never consummated. . . . Thus, Plaintiffs again fail to allege facts from which the court can infer that their May 2015 notice of rescission was timely.” (internal citations omitted)).

[2] In Nieuwejaar, the plaintiffs—also represented by Ms. Smith—”attempt[ed] to address the timeliness issue by raising the possibility that the loan was never consummated.” Nieuwejaar, Dkt. # 22 at 6. However, the plaintiffs’ original complaint “contain[ed] no allegations regarding the failure to establish a contractual obligation,” and the court accordingly dismissed that complaint with leave to amend. Id. at 7-8. The plaintiffs’ amended complaint added the same conclusory allegation that Ms. Johnson alleges in this case—that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated.” Id., Dkt. # 24 ¶ 12. In dismissing the amended complaint with prejudice, the court unequivocally indicated to the plaintiffs that this allegation is insufficient:

[L]ike their original complaint, Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint makes no factual allegations about consummation of the subject loan. . . . Plaintiffs’ only allegation about consummation is that “[u]pon information and belief, the subject loan was never consummated.” . . . That statement is a legal conclusion, which is not entitled to a presumption of truth. . . . At this stage, the court considers the factual allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs. . . . However, as the court explained in its previous order of dismissal, Plaintiffs must actually allege facts that, if true, would support their claims. . . . The court still cannot infer a problem with consummation because Plaintiffs still have not pleaded any facts to support such an inference.

Id., Dkt. # 28 at 7 (internal citations omitted).

These events occurred before Ms. Smith filed the instant case on behalf of Ms. Johnson. (SeeCompl.) Ms. Smith’s troubling inability or unwillingness to heed the court’s prior ruling further demonstrates that Ms. Smith is engaged in progressively more frivolous efforts at pleading around TILA’s period of repose despite lacking a factual basis for her allegations.

[3] This court has previously rejected this argument by Ms. Smith. See Johnson v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, No. C15-1685JLR, 2016 WL 1408115, at *4 n.9 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 6, 2006) (“Ms. Johnson’s only challenge to consummation suggests that `if the loan was never actually funded, but was part of a hedge fund investing scheme . . . then the loan was never consummated, for example.’ This hypothetical fails to support a plausible inference that the subject loan was not consummated because Ms. Johnson does not connect her hypothetical situation with specific allegations about the subject loan.” (alteration in original) (internal citations omitted)).

[4] “In a table-funded loan, the originator closes the loan in its own name, but is acting as an intermediary for the true lender, which assumes the financial risk of the transaction.” Easter v. Am. W. Fin., 381 F.3d 948, 955 (9th Cir. 2004).

[5] Ms. Smith’s argument regarding consummation is also inconsistent with her theory of the case. If the subject loan was never consummated, Ms. Johnson need not bring “an enforcement action of the rescission notice.” (OSC Resp. at 1.)

[6] In previous cases before the court, Ms. Smith has advanced a different—but equally frivolous—legal theory in support of her clients’ untimely TILA rescission actions. In Nieuwejaar, Dkt. # 14 at 4-6, for instance, Ms. Smith argued that Jesinoski vitiates the three-year statute of repose imposed by TILA. According to this theory, irrespective of the timeliness or legal effect of an obligor’s notice of rescission, sending such notice triggers a 20-day period in which the lender must respond; otherwise the loan is deemed rescinded. Id. Ms. Smith supported that argument by taking out of context the Supreme Court’s statement that the right to rescind under TILA is effective upon providing notice to the creditor. Id. at 4 (“Justice Scalia made a point of repeating that the rescission was effective by operation of law on the date that it was mailed and pointed out that the statute makes no distinction between disputed and undisputed rescissions — they are all effective when mailed.”). However, as Judge Zilly made clear in sanctioning Ms. Smith, “because plaintiff’s attempt at rescission was void ab initio, there was no obligation for defendants to file a suit challenging the attempted rescission.” Johnson v. Nationstar Mortg., Dkt. # 35 at 4; see also Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 791 (“The Truth in Lending Act gives borrowers the right to rescind certain loans for up to three years after the transaction is consummated. The question presented is whether a borrower exercises this right by providing written notice to his lender, or whether he must also file a lawsuit before the 3-year period elapses.”).

When confronted with Jesinoski at the hearing, Ms. Smith fell back on the factually unsupported and legally frivolous consummation argument described above. The consummation argument represents only the most recent permutation of Ms. Smith’s futile efforts to maintain frivolous, untimely TILA rescission claims in federal court.

[7] The court liberally considers granting amendment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). However, after affording Ms. Smith numerous opportunities to persuade the court otherwise, the court concludes that Ms. Johnson’s case is based on frivolous legal theories. Accordingly, the court finds that amendment would be futile. See Greenspan v. Admin. Office of the U.S. Courts, No. 14cv2396 JTM, 2014 WL 6847460, at *11 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 4, 2014) (citing Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir. 1991)) (“While leave to amend is to be freely given under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 15(a), the court denies the motion [to amend] because . . . amendment is futile under the legal theories asserted in the proposed [amended complaint].”).

In addition, the court considered requiring Ms. Smith to file a copy of this order with each new TILA-based complaint she files in this District. (See OSC at 9.) However, because that sanction could prejudice Ms. Smith’s present and future clients, the court declines to impose that sanction at this time.

 

Garfield Wrong – Jesinoski Loses

Neil Garfield Wrong – Jesinoski Loses, Big Time

Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1935 – Supreme Court 2014

JESINOSKI v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Dist. Court, Minnesota 2016

Neil Garfield and his minions and fellow incompetent “Lawyers who get it” across America have ballyhooed the January 2015 SCOTUS decision that Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski did not have to sue for TILA rescission within the 3 year period of repose after loan consummation for violation of the Truth In Lending Act by failing to give the necessary disclosures of the right to rescind. Well, the case went back to the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and thence back to the Minnesota District Court for trial of the question of rescission for the Jesinoskis.

A few days ago Judge Donovan Frank issued the below Order dashing Jesinoskis’ ill-founded hopes. The order granted summary judgment to the creditor because Jesinoskis had signed an acknowledgment of receipt of the disclosures, and because they did not have the money to tender as required by TILA for a rescission. It also denied statutory damages because no TILA violations occurred, even thought Jesinoskis claimed they spent $800,000, mostly in lawyer fees, prosecuting their case all the way up to the US Supreme Court and back.

It looks to me like they stupidly heeded some nonsense Garfield or one of his foreclosure pretense defense attorney buddies “who get it” had written. Ever since the 2015 SCOTUS Jesinoski opinon, Garfield has insisted that every mortgage loan borrower should send a notice of TILA rescission to the creditor. He has insisted that the creditor must terminate the lien immediately upon receipt of notice of rescission, AND tender return of what the borrower paid. The Jesinoski opinion shows with crystal clarity why Garfield was dead wrong – many borrowers have no just reason to rescind, and creditors would be idiots to go through the rescission trouble without just cause.

 

WARNING to Home Loan Borrowers:

Listen to foreclosure pretense defense lawyers at your peril.  Most will not diligently look for injuries you have suffered in your loan (TILA violations is one kind, but many other kinds are typical), and most litigate ONLY to delay the ultimate loss of your home.  Both delay and non-diligence violate bar rules, so you should file a bar complaint against your attorney if he did that.  And you should get a competent professional to examine your loan transaction comprehensively to dig out the valid causes of action you have against the appraiser, mortgage broker, loan officer, title company, lender, servicer, creditor, or other scalawag involved in your loan process.  The mortgage exam will give you the evidence of your injuries to show the judge, AND it will give you the basis for suing your incompetent, negligent, scamming attorney for legal malpractice.

Note to Borrowers Hoping for a Favorable Yvanova Decision

 

Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corp., 365 P. 3d 845 – Cal: Supreme Court 2016

Forget about it.  The California Supreme Court ruled in the Yvanova case that the borrower has the right to challenge the right of a creditor to foreclose a loan that the borrower breached. Yvanova had lost her house to foreclosure, and sued for wrongful foreclosure because New Century, instead of its bankruptcy liquidation trustee, sold Yvanova’s loan to a securitization trust sponsor.  Yvanova claimed New Century did not have the right to do that.  Now her case heads back to trial court like Jesinoskis’ did.  She will get a similar result.  After she has blown all that money of her husband’s on pointless litigation, probably at Garfield’s urging, she will now learn the hard way that the foreclosure was legitimate because she has no right to challenge the validity of New Century’s sale of her loan because she was not a party to it, did not get injured by it, and had no beneficial interest in it.  She has told me that I don’t understand her case.  Oh, yes I do.  And she will lose it.

TRENDING:  Creditors make Foreclosed Borrowers Pay Legal Fees

I have seen several cases recently where the foreclosing creditor has asked the court to award legal fees, which the borrower must pay, for litigation related to the foreclosure.  Most borrowers do not put up a fight.  But look at the Jesinoski and Yvanova cases.  They have dragged on for years, stupidly.  Creditors have grown sick and tired of the frivolous efforts by borrowers to challenge righteous foreclosures.  Jesinoski said he spent nearly $800,000 on his legal fees.  I imagine he padded the bill, but I imagine the creditor padded theirs even more.  Maybe they will ask the court to award legal fees and costs.  In my opinion, they should.

I shudder to contemplate the damage Neil Garfield has done to borrowers across America by encouraging them to fight pointless battles (hiring him as a consultant or attorney, of course) to defeat foreclosure.  You cannot win with his ridiculous methods.

If you want to win, and I mean win MONEY or its equivalent, get your mortgage examined (call me for a recommendation), and go on the attack.
Get more info at http://mortgageattack.com.

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JESINOSKI v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Dist. Court, Minnesota 2016

Larry D. Jesinoski and Cheryle Jesinoski, individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., d/b/a America’s Wholesale Lender, subsidiary of Bank of America N.A.; BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America, N.A., a Texas Limited Partnership f/k/a Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP; Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., a Delaware Corporation; and John and Jane Does 1-10, Defendants.

Civil No. 11-474 (DWF/FLN).United States District Court, D. Minnesota.

July 21, 2016.Larry D. Jesinoski, Plaintiff, represented by Bryan R. Battina, Trepanier MacGillis Battina, P.A. & Daniel P. H. Reiff, Reiff Law Office, PLLC.

Cheryle Jesinoski, Plaintiff, represented by Bryan R. Battina, Trepanier MacGillis Battina, P.A. & Daniel P. H. Reiff, Reiff Law Office, PLLC.

Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Defendant, represented by Andre T. Hanson, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Joseph Mrkonich, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Ronn B. Kreps, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP & Sparrowleaf Dilts McGregor, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, Defendant, represented by Andre T. Hanson, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Joseph Mrkonich, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Ronn B. Kreps, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP & Sparrowleaf Dilts McGregor, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., Defendant, represented by Andre T. Hanson, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Joseph Mrkonich, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Ronn B. Kreps, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP & Sparrowleaf Dilts McGregor, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment brought by Defendants Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (“Countrywide”), Bank of America, N.A. (“BANA”) and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) (together, “Defendants”) (Doc. No. 51).[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants’ motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

This “Factual Background” section reiterates, in large part, the “Background” section included in the Court’s April 19, 2012 Memorandum Opinion and Order. (Doc. No. 23.)

On February 23, 2007, Plaintiffs Larry Jesinoski and Cheryle Jesinoski (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) refinanced their home in Eagan, Minnesota, by borrowing $611,000 from Countrywide, a predecessor-in-interest of BANA. (Doc. No. 7 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 7, 15, 16, 17; Doc. No. 55 (“Hanson Decl.”) ¶ 5, Ex. D (“L. Jesinoski Dep.”) at 125.) MERS also gained a mortgage interest in the property. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiffs used the loan to pay off existing loan obligations on the property and other consumer debts. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 114-15; Hanson Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. E (“C. Jesinoski Dep.”) at 49-50; Am. Compl. ¶ 22.)[2] The refinancing included an interest-only, adjustable-rate note. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 137.) Plaintiffs wanted these terms because they intended to sell the property. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 125-26, 137; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 38, 46-7.)

At the closing on February 23, 2007, Plaintiffs received and executed a Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) Disclosure Statement and the Notice of Right to Cancel. (Doc. No. 56 (Jenkins Decl.) ¶¶ 5, 6, Exs. C & D; L. Jesinoski Dep. at 61, 67, 159; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 30-33; Hanson Decl. ¶¶ 2-3, Exs. A & B.) By signing the Notice of Right to Cancel, each Plaintiff acknowledged the “receipt of two copies of NOTICE of RIGHT TO CANCEL and one copy of the Federal Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement.” (Jenkins Decl. ¶¶ 5, 6, Exs. C & D.) Per the Notice of Right to Cancel, Plaintiffs had until midnight on February 27, 2007, to rescind. (Id.) Plaintiffs did not exercise their right to cancel, and the loan funded.

In February 2010, Plaintiffs paid $3,000 to a company named Modify My Loan USA to help them modify the loan. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 79-81; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 94-95.) The company turned out to be a scam, and Plaintiffs lost $3,000. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 79-81.) Plaintiffs then sought modification assistance from Mark Heinzman of Financial Integrity, who originally referred Plaintiffs to Modify My Loan USA. (Id. at 86.) Plaintiffs contend that Heinzman reviewed their loan file and told them that certain disclosure statements were missing from the closing documents, which entitled Plaintiffs to rescind the loan. (Id. at 88-91.)[3] Since then, and in connection with this litigation, Heinzman submitted a declaration stating that he has no documents relating to Plaintiffs and does not recall Plaintiffs’ file. (Hanson Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. C (“Heinzman Decl.”) ¶ 4.)[4]

On February 23, 2010, Plaintiffs purported to rescind the loan by mailing a letter to “all known parties in interest.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 30; L. Jesinoski Dep., Ex. 8.) On March 16, 2010, BANA denied Plaintiffs’ request to rescind because Plaintiffs had been provided the required disclosures, as evidenced by the acknowledgments Plaintiffs signed. (Am. Compl. ¶ 32; L. Jesinoski Dep., Ex. 9.)

II. Procedural Background

On February 24, 2011, Plaintiffs filed the present action. (Doc. No. 1.) By agreement of the parties, Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint, in which Plaintiffs assert four causes of action: Count 1—Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601, et seq.; Count 2—Rescission of Security Interest; Count 3—Servicing a Mortgage Loan in Violation of Standards of Conduct, Minn. Stat. § 58.13; and Count 4—Plaintiffs’ Cause of Action under Minn. Stat. § 8.31. At the heart of all of Plaintiffs’ claims is their request that the Court declare the mortgage transaction rescinded and order statutory damages related to Defendants’ purported failure to rescind.

Plaintiffs do not dispute that they had an opportunity to review the loan documents before closing. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 152-58; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 56.) Although Plaintiffs each admit to signing the acknowledgement of receipt of two copies of the Notice of Right to Cancel, they now contend that they did not each receive the correct number of copies as required by TILA’s implementing regulation, Regulation Z. (Am. Compl. ¶ 47 (citing C.F.R. §§ 226.17(b) & (d), 226.23(b)).)

Earlier in this litigation, Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings based on TILA’s three-year statute of repose. In April 2012, the Court issued an order granting Defendants’ motion, finding that TILA required a plaintiff to file a lawsuit within the 3-year repose period, and that Plaintiffs had filed this lawsuit outside of that period. (Doc. No. 23 at 6.) The Eighth Circuit affirmed. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 729 F.3d 1092 (8th Cir. 2013). The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that a borrower exercising a right to TILA rescission need only provide his lender written notice, rather than file suit, within the 3-year period.Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 790, 792 (2015). The Eighth Circuit then reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. (Doc. No. 38.) After engaging in discovery, Defendants now move for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Courts must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Weitz Co. v. Lloyd’s of London, 574 F.3d 885, 892 (8th Cir. 2009). However, “[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed `to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 1).

The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank of Mo., 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); see also Krenik v. Cty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995).

II. TILA

Defendants move for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiffs’ claims, all of which stem from Defendants’ alleged violation of TILA—namely, failing to give Plaintiffs the required number of disclosures and rescission notices at the closing.

The purpose of TILA is “to assure a meaningful disclosure of credit terms so that the consumer will be able to compare more readily the various credit terms available to him and avoid the uninformed use of credit . . .” 15 U.S.C. § 1601(a). In transactions, like the one here, secured by a principal dwelling, TILA gives borrowers an unconditional three-day right to rescind. 15 U.S.C. § 1635(a); see also id. § 1641(c) (extending rescission to assignees). The three-day rescission period begins upon the consummation of the transaction or the delivery of the required rescission notices and disclosures, whichever occurs later. Id. § 1635(a). Required disclosures must be made to “each consumer whose ownership interest is or will be subject to the security interest” and must include two copies of a notice of the right to rescind. 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(a)-(b)(1). If the creditor fails to make the required disclosures or rescission notices, the borrower’s “right of rescission shall expire three years after the date of consummation of the transaction.” 15 U.S.C. § 1635(f); see 12 C.F.R. § 226.23(a)(3).

If a consumer acknowledges in writing that he or she received a required disclosure or notice, a rebuttable presumption of delivery is created:

Notwithstanding any rule of evidence, written acknowledgment of receipt of any disclosures required under this subchapter by a person to whom information, forms, and a statement is required to be given pursuant to this section does no more than create a rebuttable presumption of delivery thereof.

15 U.S.C. §1635(c).

A. Number of Disclosure Statements

Plaintiffs claim that Defendants violated TILA by failing to provide them with a sufficient number of copies of the right to rescind and the disclosure statement at the closing of the loan. (Am. Compl. ¶ 47.) Defendants assert that Plaintiffs’ claims (both TILA and derivative state-law claims) fail as a matter of law because Plaintiffs signed an express acknowledgement that they received all required disclosures at closing, and they cannot rebut the legally controlling presumption of proper delivery of those disclosures.

It is undisputed that at the closing, each Plaintiff signed an acknowledgement that each received two copies of the Notice of Right to Cancel. Plaintiffs argue, however, that no presumption of proper delivery is created here because Plaintiffs acknowledged the receipt of two copies total, not the required four (two for each of the Plaintiffs). In particular, both Larry Jesinoski and Cheryle Jesinoski assert that they “read the acknowledgment . . . to mean that both” Larry and Cheryle “acknowledge receiving two notices total, not four.” (Doc. No. 60 (“L. Jesinoski Decl.”) ¶ 3; Doc. No. 61 (“C. Jesinoski Decl.”) ¶ 3.) Thus, Plaintiffs argue that they read the word “each” to mean “together,” and therefore that they collectively acknowledged the receipt of only two copies.

The Court finds this argument unavailing. The language in the Notice is unambiguous and clearly states that “[t]he undersigned each acknowledge receipt of two copies of NOTICE of RIGHT TO CANCEL and one copy of the Federal Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement.” (Jenkins Decl. ¶¶ 5, 6, Exs. C & D (italics added).) Plaintiffs’ asserted interpretation is inconsistent with the language of the acknowledgment. The Court instead finds that this acknowledgement gives rise to a rebuttable presumption of proper delivery of two copies of the notice to each Plaintiff. See, e.g., Kieran v. Home Cap., Inc., Civ. No. 10-4418, 2015 WL 5123258, at *1, 3 (D. Minn. Sept. 1, 2015) (finding the creation of a rebuttable presumption of proper delivery where each borrower signed an acknowledgment stating that they each received a copy of the disclosure statement—”each of [t]he undersigned acknowledge receipt of a complete copy of this disclosure”).[5]

The only evidence provided by Plaintiffs to rebut the presumption of receipt is their testimony that they did not receive the correct number of documents. As noted inKieran, this Court has consistently held that statements merely contradicting a prior signature are insufficient to overcome the presumption. Kieran, 2015 WL 5123258, at *3-4 (citing Gomez v. Market Home Mortg., LLC, Civ. No. 12-153, 2012 WL 1517260, at *3 (D. Minn. April 30, 2012) (agreeing with “the majority of courts that mere testimony to the contrary is insufficient to rebut the statutory presumption of proper delivery”)); see also Lee, 692 F.3d at 451 (explaining that a notice signed by both borrowers stating “[t]he undersigned each acknowledge receipt of two copies of [notice]” creates “a presumption of delivery that cannot be overcome without specific evidence demonstrating that the borrower did not receive the appropriate number of copies”); Golden v. Town & Country Credit, Civ. No. 02-3627, 2004 WL 229078, at *2 (D. Minn. Feb. 3, 2004) (finding deposition testimony insufficient to overcome presumption); Gaona v. Town & Country Credit, Civ. No. 01-44, 2001 WL 1640100, at *3 (D. Minn. Nov. 20, 2001)) (“[A]n allegation that the notices are now not contained in the closing folder is insufficient to rebut the presumption.”), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 324 F.3d 1050 (8th Cir. 2003).

Plaintiffs, however, contend that their testimony is sufficient to rebut the presumption and create a factual issue for trial. Plaintiffs rely primarily on the Eighth Circuit’s decision in Bank of North America v. Peterson, 746 F.3d 357, 361 (8th Cir. 2014),cert. granted, judgment vacated, 135 S. Ct. 1153 (2015), and opinion vacated in part, reinstated in part, 782 F.3d 1049 (8th Cir. 2015). In Peterson, the plaintiffs acknowledged that they signed the TILA disclosure and rescission notice at their loan closing, but later submitted affidavit testimony that they had not received their TILA disclosure statements at closing. Peterson, 764 F.3d at 361. The Eighth Circuit determined that this testimony was sufficient to overcome the presumption of proper delivery. Id. The facts of this case, however, are distinguishable from those inPeterson. In particular, the plaintiffs in Peterson testified that at the closing, the agent took the documents after they had signed them and did not give them any copies. Id.Here, it is undisputed that Plaintiffs left with copies of their closing documents. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 94-95.) In addition, Plaintiffs did not testify unequivocally that they did not each receive two copies of the rescission notice. Instead, they have testified that they do not know what they received. (See, e.g., id. at 161.) Moreover, Cheryle Jesinoski testified that she did not look through the closing documents at the time of closing, and therefore cannot attest to whether the required notices were included. (C. Jesinoski Dep. at 85.)[6]

Based on the evidence in the record, the Court determines that the facts of this case are more line with cases that have found that self-serving assertions of non-delivery do not defeat the presumption. Indeed, the Court agrees with the reasoning in Kieran,which granted summary judgment in favor of defendants under similar facts, and which was decided after the Eighth Circuit issued its decision in Peterson.Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not overcome the rebuttable presumption of proper delivery of TILA notices, and Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted as to the Plaintiffs’ TILA claims.

B. Ability to Tender

Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs’ claims fails as a matter of law on a second independent basis—Plaintiffs’ admission that they do not have the present ability to tender the amount of the loan proceeds. Rescission under TILA is conditioned on repayment of the amounts advanced by the lender. See Yamamoto v. Bank of N.Y.,329 F.3d 1167, 1170 (9th Cir. 2003). This Court has concluded that it is appropriate to dismiss rescission claims under TILA at the pleading stage based on a plaintiff’s failure to allege an ability to tender loan proceeds. See, e.g., Franz v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, Civ. No. 10-2025, 2011 WL 846835, at *3 (D. Minn. Mar. 8, 2011); Hintz v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, Civ. No. 10-119, 2010 WL 4220486, at *4 (D. Minn. Oct. 20, 2010). In addition, courts have granted summary judgment in favor of defendants where the evidence shows that a TILA plaintiff cannot demonstrate an ability to tender the amount borrowed. See, e.g., Am. Mortg. Network, Inc. v. Shelton,486 F.3d 815, 822 (4th Cir. 2007) (affirming grant of summary judgment for defendants on TILA rescission claim “given the appellants’ inability to tender payment of the loan amount”); Taylor v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., Civ. No. 10-149, 2010 WL 4103305, at *5 (E.D. Va. Oct. 18, 2010) (granting summary judgment on TILA rescission claim where plaintiff could not show ability to tender funds aside from selling the house “as a last resort”).

Plaintiffs argue that the Supreme Court in Jesinoski eliminated tender as a requirement for rescission under TILA. The Court disagrees. In Jesinoski, the Supreme Court reached the narrow issue of whether Plaintiffs had to file a lawsuit to enforce a rescission under 15 U.S.C. § 1635, or merely deliver a rescission notice, within three years of the loan transaction. Jesinoski, 135 S. Ct. at 792-93. The Supreme Court determined that a borrower need only provide written notice to a lender in order to exercise a right to rescind. Id. The Court discerns nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion that would override TILA’s tender requirement. Specifically, under 15 U.S.C. § 1635(b), a borrower must at some point tender the loan proceeds to the lender.[7] Plaintiffs testified that they do not presently have the ability to tender back the loan proceeds. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 54, 202; C. Jesinoski Dep. at 118-119.) Because Plaintiffs have failed to point to evidence creating a genuine issue of fact that they could tender the unpaid balance of the loan in the event the Court granted them rescission, their TILA rescission claim fails as a matter of law on this additional ground.[8]

Plaintiffs argue that if the Court conditions rescission on Plaintiffs’ tender, the amount of tender would be exceeded, and therefore eliminated, by Plaintiffs’ damages. In particular, Plaintiffs claim over $800,000 in damages (namely, attorney fees), and contend that this amount would negate any amount tendered. Plaintiffs, however, have not cited to any legal authority that would allow Plaintiffs to rely on the potential recovery of fees to satisfy their tender obligation. Moreover, Plaintiffs’ argument presumes that they will prevail on their TILA claims, a presumption that this Order forecloses.

C. Damages

Next, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs are not entitled to TILA statutory damages allegedly flowing from Defendants’ decision not to rescind because there was no TILA violation in the first instance. Plaintiffs argue that their damages claim is separate and distinct from their TILA rescission claim.

For the reasons discussed above, Plaintiffs’ TILA claim fails as a matter of law. Without a TILA violation, Plaintiffs cannot recover statutory damages based Defendants refusal to rescind the loan.

D. State-law Claims

Plaintiffs’ state-law claims under Minn. Stat. § 58.13 and Minnesota’s Private Attorney General statute, Minn. Stat. § 8.31, are derivative of Plaintiffs’ TILA rescission claim. Thus, because Plaintiffs’ TILA claim fails as a matter law, so do their state-law claims.

ORDER

Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. [51]) is GRANTED.

2. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint (Doc. No. [7]) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

[1] According to Defendants, Countrywide was acquired by BANA in 2008, and became BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP (“BACHLS”), and in July 2011, BACHLS merged with BANA. (Doc. No. 15 at 1 n.1.) Thus, the only two defendants in this case are BANA and MERS.

[2] Larry Jesinoski testified that he had been involved in about a half a dozen mortgage loan closings, at least three of which were refinancing loans, and that he is familiar with the loan closing process. (L. Jesinoski Dep. at 150-51.)

[3] Plaintiffs claim that upon leaving the loan closing they were given a copy of the closing documents, and then brought the documents straight home and placed them in L. Jesinoski’s unlocked file drawer, where they remained until they brought the documents to Heinzman.

[4] At oral argument, counsel for Plaintiffs requested leave to depose Heinzman in the event that the Court views his testimony as determinative. The Court denies the request for two reasons. First, it appears that Plaintiffs had ample opportunity to notice Heinzman’s deposition during the discovery period, but did not do so. Second, Heinzman’s testimony will not affect the outcome of the pending motion, and therefore, the request is moot.

[5] See also, e.g., Lee v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 692 F.3d 442, 451 (6th Cir. 2012) (rebuttable presumption arose where each party signed an acknowledgement of receipt of two copies);Hendricksen v. Countrywide Home Loans, Civ. No. 09-82, 2010 WL 2553589, at *4 (W.D. Va. June 24, 2010) (rebuttable presumption of delivery of two copies of TILA disclosure arose where plaintiffs each signed disclosure stating “[t]he undersigned further acknowledge receipt of a copy of this Disclosure for keeping prior to consummation”).

[6] This case is also distinguishable from Stutzka v. McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 762 (8th Cir. 2005), a case in which a borrower’s assertion of non-delivery was sufficient to overcome the statutory presumption. In Stutzka, the plaintiffs signed acknowledgements that they received required disclosures but left the closing without any documents. Stutzka, 420 F.3d at 776.

[7] TILA follows a statutorily prescribed sequence of events for rescission that specifically discusses the lender performing before the borrower. See § 1635(b). However, TILA also states that “[t]he procedures prescribed by this subsection shall apply except when otherwise ordered by a court.” Id.Considering the facts of this case, it is entirely appropriate to require Plaintiffs to tender the loan proceeds to Defendants before requiring Defendants to surrender their security interest in the loan.

[8] The Court acknowledges that there is disagreement in the District over whether a borrower asserting a rescission claim must tender, or allege an ability to tender, before seeking rescission. See, e.g. Tacheny v. M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank, Civ. No. 10-2067, 2011 WL 1657877, at *4 (D. Minn. Apr. 29, 2011) (respectfully disagreeing with courts that have held that, in order to state a claim for rescission under TILA, a borrower must allege a present ability to tender). However, there is no dispute that to effect rescission under § 1635(b), a borrower must tender the loan proceeds. Here, the record demonstrates that Plaintiffs are unable to tender. Therefore, their rescission claim fails on summary judgment.

Fla Court Destroys Garfield Arguments in Maslanka

Zdzislaw Maslanka wrote paid in full on a mortgage payment check, and then sued for quiet title in 2011. He kept his loan payments current, though. He named as defendants his home loan creditor, Wells Fargo, and the loan originator Embrace, who had sold WF the loan soon after closing.  Maslanka didn’t fare well in the litigation, so he hired Neil Garfield to soup up and manage the case, and to show those bumpkins how a real pro handles things.

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Garfield hosed his client as you will read in the case documents, specifically, the court’s dismissal order to the 3rd amended complaint, the 5th amended complaint, the motions to dismiss it, the order to dismiss it, and the appellate docket. The complaints read like jibberish-filled lunacy.

In short, the creditors’ attorneys rightly called the effort an abuse of the judicial process.  The trial judge dismissed the complaints for failure to state a claim for which the court could grant relief.  In a 12 May 2016 decision, the appellate panel affirmed without comment, and it awarded unconditional attorney fees to the creditors.  Maslanka worries that he will have to pay it.  Maybe he should sue Garfield for it.

See the main case documents zipped here for easy download.  If you prefer more torture, access the rest of the trial docs here.

BozoIn fairness, maybe I’m too harsh on Neil Garfield.  Maybe he did his best for Maslanka, or maybe Maslanka forced him to lodge those inane arguments that I have complained against for years. And maybe Garfield has reformed since he wrote that 5th amended complaint.

But if Garfield did that on his own, he deserves severe discipline by the Florida Bar, in my humble opinion, for he just made Maslanka look like a fool. And that makes Garfield a Bozo in my book.

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam

RANDY KELTON GETS SPANKED BY COURT FOR MAKING RIDICULOUS ARGUMENTS

Randy Kelton a known scammer and legal illiterate of Rule of Law Radio infamy, who rips off homeowners by teaching them how to lose their homes, got spanked by the court for using his foolish arguments:  Kelton v. DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, Dist. Court, ND Texas 2014 Kelton v. WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, Dist. Court, ND Texas 2016

Neil Garfield Recommends Mortgage Exam for Troubled Borrowers

In his LivingLies Blog entry of 2016-04-27, Foreclosure Pretender Defender and Kool-Aid Drinker Neil Garfield wrote this, correct for a change:

“… you need a thorough analysis of everything that happened with your alleged loan and a careful examination of the pleadings if you are already in court. We readily understand the reluctance to spend more money on what has been a frustrating experience, but the ONLY way you can select a strategy that will or might get traction is by having an experienced eye do a thorough review and report.”

Garfield FAILS to tell his readers that he and his crew don’t have a clue about doing mortgage examinations.  They only do securitization and forensic loan audits, not full-bore examinations.  And because Garfield has spouted bogus legal theories for years,  THOUSANDS of people have lost their homes to foreclosure by relying upon his advice.

So DON’T rely upon it.  Instead, rely upon the court opinions that I have cited in the Articles section of this site.  They prove nearly everything Garfield promotes is a band-aid, at best.

The ONLY reliable place to get a comprehensive mortgage examination that finds all the ways a borrower got injured in the loan is at Mortgage Attack.

Go to the Contact page in the MortgageAttack.com site menu and explain your situation.  Then submit the form.  The Mortgage Attack Maven will show you exactly how to get a comprehensive mortgage examination AND how to use it for best results.

If you feel time pressure, call 727 669 5511 RIGHT NOW.

Court Opinions Destroy Neil Garfield Bogus Legal Theories

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Courts Destroy Garfield’s Bozo Theories

For nearly a year and a half, Neil Garfield has expounded on the meaning of the US Supreme Court’s January 2015 Jesinoski opinion regarding TILA rescission.  By and large, he is dead wrong.  He has encouraged readers of his LivingLies blog to buy his apparently worthless TILA Rescission Package.  He has told readers to submit TILA rescission letters regarding purchase money loans (not qualified for TILA rescission),  He has told them to submit letters years after the expiration of the TILA statute of repose.  And his minions on his blog spread his nonsensical opinions in their comments.  And worst of all, he deletes dissenter postings from his blog and terminates their posting privilege because they post case law showing what an idiot or charlatan Garfield is.

Readers can now read court opinions, collected in one place, that utterly destroy Garfield’s ridiculous and nonsensical TILA rescission theories.

Take some of your valuable time and review the opinions so you will know first hand that Garfield is full of beans, and you won’t fall prey to his bogus legal theories.

Sick and tired of your nonsense, Garfield,

Mort Gezzam photo
Mort Gezzam