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Homeward Residential, Inc. v. Gregor

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

August 11, 2015

HOMEWARD RESIDENTIAL, INC. [1]
v.
MARIANNE A. GREGOR

Argued June 17, 2015.

As Corrected December 10, 2015.

On the briefs: Thomas A. Cox, Esq., Portland, for appellant Marianne A. Gregor.

David W. Merritt, Esq., Houser & Allison, APC, Boston, Massachusetts, for appellee Homeward Residential, Inc.

L. Scott Gould, Esq., Cape Elizabeth, for amici curiae Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and National Consumer Law Center.

At oral argument: Thomas A. Cox, Esq., for appellant Marianne A. Gregor.

William Fogel, Esq., Portland, for appellee Homeward Residential, Inc.

Panel: ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

OPINION

Page 948

ALEXANDER, J.

[¶1] Marianne A. Gregor appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court (Belfast, R. Murray, J. ) denying Homeward Residential, Inc.'s foreclosure claim.

Page 949

Gregor contends that the court erred by (1) stating in its judgment that " [t]he parties may relitigate issues discussed herein in a future action," (2) admitting in evidence a witness's description of a computer printout to support a finding of the amount due on the loan, and (3) finding that Homeward Residential was in possession of the promissory note. We vacate the judgment and remand for an entry of a dismissal without prejudice.

I. CASE HISTORY

[¶2] Viewing the findings and evidence in the light most favorable to the court's judgment, the case history is derived from the judgment and trial record. See Botka v. S.C. Noyes & Co., Inc., 2003 ME 128, ¶ 15, 834 A.2d 947. The history of the transaction is confusing because of the many assignments and transfers of interest and differing uses of terminology, not always well documented, that the various financial services providers elected to engage in subsequent to the original, and apparently standard, promissory note and mortgage transaction.

[¶3] In this opinion, we use the term " promissory note" to refer to the document by which the homeowner promises to pay the debt owed, although some sources call this document the " mortgage note." We use the term " mortgage" to refer to the document memorializing the agreement that certain real property will secure the debt referenced in the promissory note, although some sources call this document the " mortgage agreement" or " mortgage deed."

A. The Original Transaction and Subsequent Assignments

[¶4] On May 31, 2002, Marianne A. Gregor and George J. Wulff[2] executed a promissory note in the amount of $80,000 to SUN MORTGAGE -- New England, Inc.[3] On the same day, Gregor signed a mortgage on property in Knox securing the debt. The mortgage listed Sun Mortgage as the " Lender," and by it Gregor " mortgage[d], grant[ed] and convey[ed] the [Knox property] to Lender." [4] The mortgage was recorded in the Waldo County Registry of Deeds.

[¶5] The record reflects that the mortgage was assigned or transferred at least eight times subsequent to its creation. Only five assignments or transfers of the mortgage were recorded in the Registry of Deeds. The eight assignments or ...


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