Enrique Nieves III of Ice Legal, P.A., Royal Palm Beach, for Appellants.
J. Joseph Givner, Esther S. Meisels, and Randon Loeb of Higer Lichter & Givner, LLP, Aventura, for Appellee.
Joyce and Lankford Taylor appeal a final judgment of foreclosure entered after the trial court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC. Because genuine issues of material fact remain regarding the Taylors' affirmative defense of lack of notice, we reverse the final judgment and remand for further proceedings.
On January 4, 2006, the Taylors signed a mortgage securing an indebtedness in the principal amount of $194,350, evidenced by a note Joyce Taylor signed on the same date. The mortgage names the lender as USMoney Source, Inc., d/b/a Soluna First (USMoney) and the mortgagee as Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), acting as a nominee for USMoney. Attached to the note is an allonge signed by the president of USMoney and dated January 4, 2006, that endorses the note without recourse to Bayview.
On August 1, 2007, Bayview filed an unsworn two-count complaint against the Taylors. Count one sought to establish and enforce the note, and count two sought to foreclose the mortgage. Bayview alleged that it " owns and holds said note by virtue of the endorsement/allonge and said mortgage by virtue of the assignment of mortgage, copies of both of which are attached hereto." No copy of the assignment of mortgage was attached to the complaint. Although Bayview alleged that it holds the note, Bayview further alleged that the original note was lost or destroyed after Bayview acquired it and that the exact time and manner of the loss or destruction was unknown to Bayview. Copies of the note, allonge, and mortgage were attached to the complaint. The complaint also contained the general allegation that " [a]ll conditions precedent to the filing of this action have been performed or have occurred."
The Taylors filed an answer and affirmative defenses. Among their affirmative defenses the Taylors asserted that Bayview " is not the proper holder of the mortgage and therefore lacks standing to bring a foreclosure action." The Taylors also asserted that Bayview " failed to give proper notice of the default in the payments on the note and mortgage" and thus was " estopped from accelerating said debt."
On November 21, 2007, Bayview filed its motion for summary judgment and affidavit of indebtedness. Later, amended affidavits of indebtedness were filed. None of the affidavits mentioned an assignment of mortgage, and no documents were attached to the affidavits.
Bayview did not file its reply to the Taylors' affirmative defenses until June 17, 2008. In its reply, Bayview alleged that it met the notice requirements. Bayview also alleged that it was entitled to maintain the foreclosure action without a written assignment of mortgage because the transfer of the note was sufficient. Bayview subsequently filed the original note, allonge, and mortgage.
The trial court held a hearing on the motion for summary judgment on February 22, 2010. The record contains a notice of filing copy of assignment of mortgage dated February 10, 2010, but the notice was not filed until February 23, 2010. The assignment of mortgage reflects that it was executed on August 7, 2007, after the complaint was filed. The trial court granted summary judgment and rendered the final judgment of foreclosure.
The standard of review on a summary judgment is de novo. Estate of Githens ex rel. Seaman v. Bon Secours-Maria Manor Nursing Care Ctr., 928 So.2d 1272, 1274 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006). " A movant is entitled to summary judgment ‘ if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, affidavits, and other materials as would be admissible in evidence on file show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.’ " Id. (quoting Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.510(c)). The movant has the burden to prove the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and " this court must view ‘ every possible inference in favor of the party against whom summary judgment has been entered.’ " Id. (quoting Maynard v. Household Fin. Corp. III, 861 So.2d 1204, 1206 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)). And, " if the record raises even the slightest doubt that an issue might exist, that doubt must be resolved against the moving party and summary judgment must be denied." Nard, Inc. v. DeVito Contracting & Supply, Inc., 769 So.2d 1138, 1140 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Furthermore, to be entitled to summary judgment, the movant must not only establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact regarding the parties' claims, but also the movant " must either factually refute the affirmative defenses or establish that they are legally insufficient." Konsulian v. Busey Bank, N.A., 61 So.3d 1283, 1285 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011).
We reject the Taylors' argument that Bayview lacked standing to foreclose the mortgage. The Taylors' affirmative defense asserted, and they argue on appeal, that the assignment of mortgage did not occur until after the complaint was filed. See Country Place Cmty. Ass'n v. J.P. Morgan Mortg. Acquisition Corp.,51 So.3d 1176, 1179 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) (stating that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the foreclosure action when it did not own or possess the note and mortgage when it filed the lawsuit); Jeff-Ray Corp. v. Jacobson,566 So.2d 885, 886 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990) (determining that a complaint to foreclose a ...