Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the order of the superior court authorizing a permanent receiver to distribute the proceeds from the sale of 25 Burnside Avenue in Narragansett in accordance with the receiver's recommendations, holding that the order is vacated to the extent that it deducted the entire balance of an outstanding mortgage from Kevin Hunt's share of the proceeds. The property in this case was owned by Kevin and Alice Hunt as tenants by the entirety. After the family court dissolved the Hunts' marriage, Bank scheduled a sale of the property to foreclose upon the mortgage. Alice filed a petition for receivership to protect her equity interests in the property, and the property was placed into temporary judicial receivership. The receiver eventually sold the property and filed a final report and a recommendation on allowance of claims. The superior court entered an order adopting the receiver's recommendations. The Supreme Court held that the superior court justice (1) did not err when he concluded that the net proceeds were to be distributed equally between Kevin and Alice; (2) erred when he attributed the mortgage wholly to Kevin; and (3) did not err by ordering Kevin to pay rent retroactively. View "In re 25 Burnside Avenue, Narragansett, R.I." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting the motions to dismiss filed by Defendants, Bank of America, N.A. (BOA) and EverBank Mortgage (EverBank), on Plaintiff’s complaint seeking monetary damages for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, as well as a preliminary injunction to stop a foreclosure. Plaintiff executed a mortgage on his property in favor of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS). The mortgage was later assigned to BOA. After the BOA informed Plaintiff that his mortgage was in foreclosure he filed a complaint alleging, inter alia, that the assignment of the mortgage was void and that Defendants had no standing to foreclose on his property. A federal court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Thereafter, Plaintiff brought this complaint. Defendants filed motions to dismiss. The superior court found that res judicata warranted the granting of Defendants’ motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that res judicata applied. View "Goodrow v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Santander Bank, N.A. in this complaint challenging Santander’s foreclosure of Plaintiff’s property. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Santander had failed to comply with the statutory notice requirements before it conducted the foreclosure sale. A justice of the superior court granted Santander’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was appropriate because there was no genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether Santander complied with the notice requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws 34-27-4(a) and 34-27-4)b. View "Adams v. Santander Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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After Wells Fargo foreclosed upon Plaintiff’s home, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Wells Fargo, asserting six causes of action. The superior court granted Wells Fargo’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on all six counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim that Wells Fargo breached federal guidelines regarding loan modification review and improperly foreclosed on her home while her loan modification request was pending was not properly preserved for appeal; (2) Wells Fargo did not breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) the superior court justice did not err in finding that Plaintiff failed to meet the burden of proof on her claim that her reliance on the federal regulations should not have estopped Wells Fargo from foreclosing on the property. View "Miller v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff purchased certain property at a tax sale and then filed a petition to foreclose tax lien seeking to foreclose Bank’s right of redemption with respect to the property. Bank did not timely file an answer after its receipt of the petition. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for entry of default and final decree and a motion for decree pro confesso. Thereafter, Bank filed a motion to file a late answer and its response to the petition, which contained an offer to redeem. The trial justice granted Bank’s motion to file a late answer and Bank’s request for redemption. The court then entered judgment allowing Bank and redeem the property and setting forth the amount of redemption. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding (1) Bank’s motion to file a late answer should have been denied because there was no good cause shown for Bank’s failure to comply with the deadline set out in the petition; and (2) accordingly, Bank was in default and should not have been permitted to redeem the property. View "Conley v. Fontaine" on Justia Law

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The dispute in this receivership action centered on the receiver’s sale of commercial property owned by P.T.A. Realty, LLC to NMLM Realty, LLC. NMLM’s agent, Liberty Title & Escrow Company, failed to list all the municipal taxes owed on the property, resulting in an overpayment of funds to Bank of America, N.A. NMLM filed a petition for restitution against the Bank, which Liberty incorporated in its own petition for restitution against the Bank. The Bank argued that it was insulated from a restitution claim as a third-party creditor that received the payment in good faith and without notice of Liberty’s error. A hearing justice ruled in favor of the Bank. NMLM and Liberty filed a joint notice of appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no evidence that, at the time the proceeds from the sale were disbursed, the Bank knew that it was receiving an overpayment of funds; and (2) therefore, the Bank received the excess funds in good faith, and NMLM and Liberty could not seek the return of their erroneous payment predicated on the theory of unjust enrichment. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. P.T.A. Realty, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2011, Plaintiff purchased a condominium unit at a condominium association lien foreclosure sale. In 2013, Plaintiff filed suit seeking to quiet title to the unit in his name. Plaintiff also sought declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent a foreclosure by Defendant, the prior owner’s first mortgage holder. The superior court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that Plaintiff took title to the property subject to Defendant’s mortgage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a condominium foreclosure sale conducted pursuant to the Rhode Island Condominium Act extinguishes a prior-recorded first mortgage on the unit following the mortgagee’s failure to exercise the right of redemption provided for in R.I. Gen. Laws 34-36.1-3.21(c). Remanded. View "Twenty Eleven, LLC v. Botelho" on Justia Law

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RICS executed a note secured by a mortgage on real estate. Meanwhile, TLA entered into a contract with RICS to provide architectural and engineering services for the project and recorded two documents related to its work on the project. Subsequently, TLA filed a petition to enforce its mechanics' lien. No claimant timely entered an appearance in TLA's mechanics' lien litigation to preserve the priority of their claims. Months later, Petra purchased the note and mortgage, which had not been recorded by the previous owner. Meanwhile, the superior court entered a consent order signed by RICS and TLS in the mechanics' lien litigation. RICS subsequently conveyed the property, and the court placed the property into receivership. Petra later filed a motion to file an answer and statement of claim out of time in the mechanics' lien proceedings. The court granted the motion, thereby restoring the mortgage's priority over TLA's mechanics' lien. The property was sold to Petra through a receivership action. The Supreme Court reversed the superior court's grant of Petra's motion, thereby restoring the priority of TLA's mechanics' lien, holding that the motion justice erred in determining that Petra's failure to file a timely statement of claim was the result of "excusable neglect." View "R.I. Constr. Servs., Inc. v. Harris Mill, LLC" on Justia Law

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Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, as nominee for two lenders (collectively, Plaintiffs), held mortgages on Lot 456. For the property owner's failure to pay his water bill, the Pawtucket Water Supply Board (PWSB) auctioned the lot. PWSB issued a deed conveying the title in the property to Amy Realty. Amy Realty subsequently discovered that the property PWSB had intended to auction had been mistakenly listed as Lot 486 on the tax sale notices and deed. Amy Realty then obtained a corrective deed from the PWSB conveying title to Lot 456. Amy Realty subsequently filed a petition to foreclose on Plaintiffs' rights of redemption in Lot 456. Plaintiffs filed this action seeking to vacate the final decree of disclosure, alleging that the corrective deed changing the lot number from 486 to 456 was invalid and this infirmity rendered the foreclosure decree void. The superior court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the corrective deed obtained in this case was null and void because it was not recorded within sixty days of the tax sale; and (2) the final foreclosure decree may be vacated because the tax sale was invalid. View "Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. v. DePina" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff borrowed $249,900 from Lehman Brothers Bank to finance the purchase of a home, and he signed an adjustable rate note that evidenced the debt. Plaintiff and his wife (Plaintiffs) then executed a mortgage on the property that secured the loan. Even though the note was made payable to the lender, the mortgage was granted to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as nominee for the lender and the lender's subject and assigns. Plaintiffs subsequently defaulted on the note, and MERS initiated foreclosure proceedings. Plaintiffs subsequently commenced an action seeking to prevent MERS from exercising the power of sale contained in the mortgage, arguing that only a mortgagee was permitted to exercise the power of sale and that MERS was merely a nominee-mortgagee without the authority to foreclose. The superior court denied Plaintiffs' request and entered judgment on behalf of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that MERS had both contractual and statutory authority to foreclose and exercise the power of sale. View "Bucci v. Lehman Bros. Bank, FSB" on Justia Law