Articles Posted in Alaska Supreme Court

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In 2004 and 2005, while allegedly bedridden and taking prescription pain medication, Plaintiff Gregory Erkins took out two successive loans on his house. The proceeds of the second, larger loan were used in part to pay off the first. In early 2007, Plaintiff ceased making regular payments and this loan fell into default. His house was listed for foreclosure sale. Also, at some point between February 2005 and November 2007, the loan was assigned from Ameriquest Mortgage Company to Appellee Bank of New York Trust Company, N.A. Acting pro se, Plaintiff filed suit in the superior court against Alaska Trustee, LLC, Bank of New York (the current holder of the loan), and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JP Morgan) (a party apparently unconnected to the proceedings except in that Bank of New York was listed as its successor). Plaintiff disputed the terms of the second loan, and argued fraud as well as lack of contractual capacity at the time of its origination. Several months after Plaintiff filed his complaint, as a trial date was about to be set, counsel for the defendants presented Plaintiff with a forbearance agreement. This agreement contemplated postponing the foreclosure sale in exchange for $2,000 monthly payments. Plaintiff executed this agreement. Allegedly unbeknownst to Plaintiff, the agreement also contained a waiver of claims broad enough to cover his claims against the defendants. Nine months later, the defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that this waiver of claims functioned as a settlement and released all of Plaintiff's claims in this suit. The superior court granted summary judgment to the defendants, finding no genuine issue of material fact barring judgment that they were not liable for any tort of Ameriquest, and that Plaintiff had released his claims in the forbearance agreement. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed that portion of the superior court’s decision finding that defendants could not be held liable for the alleged torts of Ameriquest. But the Court reversed that portion of the superior court’s order concluding that Plaintiff released his claims against the defendants by entering into a forbearance agreement because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the inclusion of the waiver of claims provision in the forbearance agreement constituted constructive fraud.