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Mendoza v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.

Superior Court of Rhode Island

August 1, 2016

GILBERT J. MENDOZA, and LISA M. MENDOZA
v.
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL MORTGAGE CORPORATION, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.

         Providence County Superior Court (Transferred to Kent County Superior Court)

          For Plaintiff: George E. Babcock, Esq.

          For Defendant: John J. Cronan, III, Esq.

          DECISION

          RUBINE, JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment in a dispute centered on a transaction involving Defendants Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase) (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiffs Gilbert J. Mendoza and Lisa M. Mendoza (Plaintiffs or the Mendozas) filed this action seeking to invalidate a foreclosure upon their home. MERS and Chase have moved for summary judgment on all counts in the Complaint. Plaintiffs also named Defendant New England Regional Mortgage Corp. (New England Regional Mortgage), which has not, however, joined the instant motion.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         The origin of this litigation lies in the events of January 24, 2005, and those facts are undisputed. On that day, Plaintiffs mortgaged their home, located at 6 Albemarle Avenue in the Town of Johnston, Rhode Island, to secure a $154, 050 loan extended by New England Regional Mortgage. This mortgage was recorded on the same day in the Land Evidence Records of the Town of Johnston at Book 1517, Page 1. MERS was listed as the nominee of New England Regional Mortgage on the note and mortgage.

         New England Regional Mortgage, on an uncertain date, endorsed the promissory note over to Washington Mutual Bank, FA (WaMu). On September 25, 2008, WaMu was placed in Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) receivership, pursuant to a determination made by the United States Office of Thrift Supervision. The same day, FDIC sold the assets of WaMu to Chase; the written Purchase and Sale Agreement included all assets of WaMu, which included the Mendozas' promissory note. Following this sale, MERS assigned the accompanying mortgage to Chase on December 3, 2010, and recorded the assignment in the Land Evidence Records of the Town of Johnston at Book 2114, Page 243.

         The note and mortgage are thirty-year agreements requiring monthly payments beginning in March 2005 and terminating in February 2035. Plaintiffs failed to make their May 2010 payment. Chase notified Plaintiffs of their default on August 4, 2010; Plaintiffs failed to cure their default within forty-five days of this notice. Foreclosure proceedings were initiated on February 25, 2011 by notice of the time and place of the foreclosure sale; Chase also published notice of the foreclosure sale in the Providence Journal for three consecutive weeks (March 28-April 11, 2011). Chase conducted the foreclosure sale on April 18, 2011; the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) purchased the property, with the foreclosure deed executed on September 29, 2011. Plaintiffs filed suit on May 3, 2011, shortly after the foreclosure.

         II

         Standard of Review

         It is well settled that when deciding a motion for summary judgment, '"the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party."' Mruk v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 82 A.3d 527, 532 (R.I. 2013) (quoting Beauregard v. Gouin, 66 A.3d 489, 493 (R.I. 2013)). "'Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact is evident from the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, and the motion justice finds that the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.'" Id. (quoting Swain v. Estate of Tyre ex rel. Reilly, 57 A.3d 283, 288 (R.I. 2012)). "'[T]he nonmoving party bears the burden of proving by competent evidence the existence of a disputed issue of ...


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