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US Bank National Association v. Tranumn

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

January 2, 2018

US Bank National Association, as Trustee for CSFB Heat 2006-7, Petitioner,
v.
Jason Tranumn and D'Honour Tranumn, Respondents.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

         Petition for Writ of Certiorari-Original Jurisdiction.

          Michael K. Winston and Dean A. Morande of Carlton, Fields, Jorden, Burt, P.A., West Palm Beach, for Petitioner.

          Brian J. Lee of Schuler & Lee, P.A., Jacksonville, for Respondents.

          WINOKUR, J.

         The Petitioner, U.S. Bank National Association (US Bank), challenges the circuit court's "Final Judgment in the Amount of $80, 587.17" (Final Judgment). This Court found that the Final Judgment is not an appealable non-final order due to pending counterclaims. Therefore, U.S. Bank filed a petition for writ of certiorari requesting that the Final Judgment be quashed because the trial court: 1) severed the Respondents' counterclaims, even though they were inextricably intertwined with their affirmative defenses; 2) granted relief that was not pled; 3) engrafted a "face-to-face" meeting requirement into the Note and Mortgage as a condition precedent to foreclosure; 4) issued a money judgment that purports to be immediately executable, even though the proceedings below are not final because of a pending counterclaim; and 5) issued a judgment granting attorneys' fees directly in favor of the Respondents' counsel and refused to permit U.S. Bank to offset that judgment against its money judgment. We grant U.S. Bank's petition, and write to address the trial court's severance of the Respondents' counterclaims.

         I.

         On March 31, 2006, Respondents, D'Honour Tranumn and Jason S. Tranumn (the Tranumns), executed a promissory note and mortgage for property located in Duval County. U.S. Bank has the right to enforce the mortgage. In June 2010, the Tranumns were notified that their mortgage was in default due to non-payment of their November 2009 installment, as well as subsequent monthly installments and late fees. The Tranumns paid an $11, 835.32 reinstatement fee and the mortgage was taken out of foreclosure. The reinstatement fee made the mortgage current, and the next payment was due in July 2010. However, the Tranumns missed their July payment and subsequently defaulted again on their mortgage. The Tranumns received a letter dated August 15, 2010, indicating that they would have to pay $4, 615.10 by September 14, 2010, in order to prevent immediate acceleration, as well as foreclosure. The Tranumns made no further payments.

         Consequently, U.S. Bank filed a complaint against the Tranumns to foreclose on the mortgaged property. U.S. Bank alleged that the Tranumns owed a principal balance of $176, 402.03, plus interest. The Tranumns filed Amended Answers, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaims.

         At a bench trial, U.S. Bank elicited testimony that the principal balance owed by the Tranumns was $176, 402.03, and the total amount owed including interest, fees, and taxes was $237, 509.68. After U.S. Bank and the Tranumns rested, the trial court inquired as to any pending counterclaims. Tranumns' counsel stated that a prior judge had dismissed a jury trial demand for the counterclaims with prejudice. Counsel for U.S. Bank then began to speak on the issue, but was cut off by the trial court:

[US BANK]: If I may, they're inextricably intertwined with the affirmative defenses raised-
THE COURT: Well, that's the reason-we don't handle-when a counterclaim is filed in a foreclosure action, we bifurcate the cases. We keep the foreclosures. The counterclaim goes to the civil division judges that this case is assigned to.
We go forward on the foreclosure unless he enters the stay order staying the foreclosure proceeding because it's integrated into the counterclaim. But I'm just ...

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