Articles Posted in Michigan Supreme Court

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Plaintiff Bank of America brought an action against First American Title Insurance Company, Westminster Abstract Company, and others, alleging breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation in connection with mortgages that plaintiff had partially financed on four properties whose value had been fraudulently inflated and whose purchasers were straw buyers who had been paid for their participation. Shortly after closing, all four borrowers defaulted. After discovering the underlying fraud in the four loans during the foreclosure proceedings, plaintiff sued, among others, First American, which had issued closing protection letters that promised to reimburse plaintiff for actual losses incurred in connection with the closings if the losses arose from fraud or dishonesty, and Westminster, alleging that it had violated the terms of the closing instructions. The other defendants either defaulted or were dismissed. The Court of Appeals held that plaintiff’s claim against First American relating to the properties on which it had made full credit bids was barred by "New Freedom Mtg Corp v Globe Mtg Corp," (281 Mich App 63 (2008)). With respect to First American’s liability on the other two closings, the Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court properly granted summary disposition to First American and Westminster because plaintiff had failed to produce evidence that created a question of fact regarding whether Westminster knew of or participated in the underlying fraud in those closings. Finally, the Court of Appeals concluded that plaintiff had not established a link between Westminster’s alleged violations of the closing instructions and the claimed damages and, even if a link had been established, there were no damages because of plaintiff’s full credit bid at the foreclosure sale. The Supreme Court reversed, finding the Court of Appeals erred by concluding that plaintiff’s full credit bids barred its contract claims against the nonborrower third-party defendants. To the extent that New Freedom held that the full credit bid rule barred contract claims brought by a mortgagee against nonborrower third parties, it was overruled. Further, the closing instructions agreed to by plaintiff and Westminster constituted a contract upon which a breach of contract claim could be brought. Finally, the lower courts erred by relying on New Freedom to interpret the credit protection letters given that the terms of the letters in New Freedom differed materially from the ones at issue here. View "Bank of America, NA v. First American Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was the manner in which defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase), the successor in interest to Washington Mutual Bank (WaMu), acquired plaintiffs' mortgage. Plaintiffs' mortgage was among the assets held by WaMu when it collapsed in 2008. Specifically, the issue was whether defendant acquired plaintiffs' mortgage by "operation of law" and, if so, whether MCL 600.3204(3), applied to the acquisition of a mortgage by operation of law. Upon review of briefs submitted by the parties and the applicable statutory authority, the Supreme Court held that defendant did not acquire plaintiffs' mortgage by operation of law. Rather, defendant acquired that mortgage through a voluntary purchase agreement. Accordingly, defendant was required to comply with the provisions of MCL 600.3204. Furthermore, the Court held that the foreclosure sale in this case was voidable rather than void ab initio. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Kim v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law