Articles Posted in New Jersey Supreme Court

by
Defendants Maryse and Emilio Guillaume failed to make their mortgage payment in April 2008, and made no payments since. In May 2008, the mortgage servicer "ASC" delivered a Notice of Intention to Foreclose informing them that the lender intended to file a foreclosure action and that they should seek the advice of an attorney. The notice of intention identified ASC, with a telephone number, as the entity to contact if they wished to dispute the calculation of the payment due or that a default had occurred. The name and address of the lender, Plaintiff U.S. Bank, did not appear anywhere on the notice. One month later, the Bank filed a foreclosure action. The complaint warned that judgment could be entered if Defendants failed to file an answer to the complaint within thirty-five days and that exercising their rights to dispute the debt did not excuse them from this requirement. For several months thereafter, the Guillaumes corresponded with ASC about the possibility of a loan modification to reduce their payment and to restore the loan to active status. However, the Guillaumes did not file an answer in the foreclosure action. The court entered a final judgment of foreclosure. The Guillaumes attempted to vacate the default judgment against them, arguing that the failure to provide the lender's name on the May 2008 notice of intent to foreclose was in violation of the Fair Foreclosure Act. The trial court denied the motion to vacate. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that because the trial court ordered the Bank to reissue a notice of intention and because the Guillaumes' other arguments did not warrant relief, the Court affirmed the denial of their motion to vacate the default judgment. View "US Bank National Association v. Guillaume" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Blanca Gonzalez, and Monserate Diaz purchased a home as tenants in common. Diaz borrowed the downpayment from Cityscape Mortgage Corporation (Cityscape) and executed a note. Plaintiff did not sign the note. Plaintiff and Diaz secured that loan by mortgaging their home to Cityscape. Over time, Plaintiff fell behind on the payments and U.S. Bank obtained a foreclosure judgment. The trial court ordered that the home be sold to satisfy the judgment. Before the sheriff’s sale, Plaintiff entered into a written agreement with Defendant Wilshire Credit Corporation (Wilshire), U.S. Bank’s servicing agent. Plaintiff was represented by a Legal Services attorney who helped negotiate the agreement. Plaintiff missed four payments to Wilshire. A scheduled sheriff’s sale was cancelled when the parties entered into a second agreement. Plaintiff was contacted and dealt with directly; neither Wilshire nor U.S. Bank notified the Legal Services attorney. Although Plaintiff had not missed a single payment required by the second agreement, instead of dismissing the foreclosure action as promised, Wilshire sent a letter to Plaintiff noting that the second agreement was about to expire and that a new agreement needed to be negotiated to avoid foreclosure. Plaintiff contacted the Legal Services attorney. When the attorney questioned Wilshire, it could not explain how it had come to the arrears amount set in the second agreement, or why Plaintiff was not deemed current on the loan. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Wilshire and U.S. Bank engaged in deceptive and unconscionable practices in violation of the CFA. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Wilshire and U.S. Bank, finding that the CFA did not apply to post-judgment settlement agreements entered into to stave off a foreclosure sale. The Appellate Division reversed and reinstated plaintiff’s CFA claim. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the post-foreclosure-judgment agreements in this case constituted stand-alone extensions of credit. In fashioning and collecting on such a loan, a lender or its servicing agent cannot use unconscionable practices in violation of the CFA.