JAMES M. HEYWARD, Appellant,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Sarasota County; Nancy K.
Donnellan, Senior Judge and Rochelle T. Curley, Judge.
Michael P. Fuino of Weidner Law, P.A., St. Petersburg, for
Kimberly S. Mello and Robert Schneider of Greenberg Traurig,
P.A., Tampa, and Michele L. Stocker of Greenberg Traurig,
P.A., Ft. Lauderdale, for Appellee.
Heyward appeals the final judgment of foreclosure entered in
favor of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Heyward raises a variety of
issues in this appeal, none of which provide a basis to
reverse the final judgment. We write only to address his
contention that Wells Fargo's evidence was insufficient
to prove it had standing.
August 2007 Heyward executed and delivered a note and
mortgage to World Savings Bank, F.S.B. The note was payable
to "World Savings Bank, FSB, a Federal Savings Bank, its
successors and/or assignees, or anyone to whom this note is
transferred." In December 2007, World Savings amended
its charter and bylaws to change its name to Wachovia
Mortgage, F.S.B. Heyward later defaulted on the note, so in
early 2009 Wachovia sued to foreclose. Later that year,
Wachovia was converted into a national bank with the name
Wells Fargo Bank Southwest, National Association, which then
merged simultaneously into Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Because of
the merger, Wachovia had Wells Fargo substituted as Plaintiff
in the foreclosure action. In the operative complaint, Wells
Fargo alleges it "holds [the] Note and Mortgage by
virtue of a merger or chain of mergers with and/or name
change of the original lender."
Fargo's evidence at trial consisted of a copy of the
original note and mortgage, the originals of which had been
filed with the court, the testimony of a Wells Fargo loan
verification analyst, and certifications from the Office of
the Comptroller of the Currency certifying that World Bank
had changed its name to Wachovia in 2007 and that Wachovia
had merged into Wells Fargo in 2009. The note bore no
endorsements nor were any assignments attached to the note.
first contends Wells Fargo did not prove Wachovia had
standing when it filed to foreclose "because there was
no evidence that Wachovia acquired the Homeowner's note
and mortgage via merger or that it possessed the original
note on the day the lawsuit was filed." This argument is
nonsensical because it rests on the fallacy that World Bank
and Wachovia merged and therefore, the note must have changed
hands. It ignores the actual evidence introduced at trial.
The evidence showed that after Heyward executed and delivered
the note to World Savings Bank, World Savings Bank changed
its name to Wachovia. The note along with the certificate
showing World Bank changed its name to Wachovia proved that
Wachovia was the originating lender and, thus, the owner and
holder of the note and mortgage when it filed to foreclose in
2009. See Wachovia Mortg., F.S.B. v. Goodwill, 199
So.3d 346, 347 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016); see also Lewis v.
J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, 138 So.3d 1212, 1213 (Fla. 4th
in the same vein, Heyward argues Wells Fargo did not prove
standing at the time of trial. His argument, however, is that
Wells Fargo was required to prove its entitlement to enforce
the note under section 673.3091, Florida Statutes (2014),
which provides for the enforcement of lost, destroyed, or
stolen instruments. The inapplicability of this statute is
obvious. No evidence suggests the note was lost, destroyed,
or stolen. Rather, it shows that Wachovia merged into Wells
Fargo. As a result of this merger, Wells Fargo became
Wachovia's successor and the owner and holder of the note
by operation of law. See 12 U.S.C. § 215a(e)
(2012) (providing that when a national bank merges with
another banking entity, the "receiving association shall
be deemed to be the same corporation as each bank or banking
association participating in the merger" and that
"[a]ll rights, franchises, and interests of the
individual merging banks or banking associations in and to
every type of property (real, personal, and mixed) and choses
in action shall be transferred to and vested in the receiving
association by virtue of such merger without any deed or
other transfer"); Goodwill, 199 So.3d at 348.
The testimony of Wells Fargo's loan analyst confirmed
that Wells Fargo, Wachovia, and World Bank were the same
conclusion, Heyward's standing arguments fail because,
among other things, he bases them entirely on the notion that
his note changed hands in some fashion after he delivered it
to World Savings Bank in 2007. On the contrary, the evidence
establishes that the note was never endorsed, assigned, or
transferred and that from the time Heyward executed it in
2007 until the time of trial, the note continued to be held
by the original lender despite the name change and the
merger. Accordingly, we affirm.
SILBERMAN and ...