U.S. BANK TRUST, N.A., as Trustee for LSF9 MASTER PARTICIPATION TRUST, Plaintiff
HOMEOWNERS ASSISTANCE CORPORATION, Defendant, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC, as nominee for HOMEOWNERS ASSISTANCE CORPORATION; ADAM DUPILE; and BELINDA DUPILE. Parties-In-Interest
W. Clifford Active Retired Justice.
U.S. Bank Trust, N.A., as Trustee for LSF9 Master
Participation Trust, moves for declaratory default judgment,
judgment on the pleadings, and to quiet title regarding the
mortgaged premises at 273 East Buckfield Road in
Buckfield. Plaintiff brings this action against
Defendant Homeowners Assistance Corporation (HAC) as well as
parties-in-interest Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems,
Inc. (MERS), as nominee for HAC, Adam Dupile, and Belinda
Dupile. HAC and MERS have not appeared in the present action.
Adam and Belinda Dupile are the mortgagors. The Dupiles filed
an unsuccessful motion to dismiss, but have not opposed the
present motion. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs
motion is denied.
January 18, 2008, the Dupiles appear to have executed and
delivered to HAC a Note in the amount of $168, 700. To secure
the Note, the Dupiles executed a Mortgage Deed in favor of
MERS, as nominee for HAC, securing the property located at
273 East Buckfield Road in Buckfield.
MERS purported to assign the Mortgage Deed to Chase Home
Finance LLC, by virtue of an Assignment of Mortgage dated
April 15, 2010. Chase Home Finance LLC then assigned that
Mortgage Deed to the Secretary of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD" by a Maine Assignment of Mortgage
dated July 10, 2014. Finally, the Secretary of HUD purported
to assign the Mortgage Deed to Plaintiff by virtue of an
Assignment of Mortgage/Deed of Trust dated March 6, 2015.
filed the present action on January 26, 2016, seeking a
"confirmatory Nunc Pro Time order and an
effective reaffirmation" of the assignments. Plaintiff
further seeks a declaration that it is and was the owner of
both the Note and the Mortgage effective March 6, 2015, the
date the Secretary of HUD purported to assign the Mortgage
Deed to Plaintiff.
contends that where the note and the mortgage for a property
are held by separate entities as the onset of the
transaction, an equitable trust is implied by law under which
the mortgage is held in trust for the noteholder. See
Jordon v. Cheney, 74 ME 359, 361 (Me. 1883). Due to this
equitable trust, the limited scope of the Law Court's
decision in Bank of America, N.A. v. Greenleaf, 2014
ME 89, 96 A.3d 700, and the Legislature's enactment of 33
M.R.S. § 508, Plaintiff argues it is entitled to a
judgment "confirming that all of the interests contained
in the subject mortgage have been transferred to
Declaratory Judgments Act empowers the court to "declare
rights, status and other legal relations" when doing so
will "terminate the controversy or remove an
uncertainty." 14 M.R.S.A. §§ 5953, 5957
(2015). "Although the Declaratory Judgments Act expands
the range of available relief, it does not relax the elements
of justiciability necessary to present the Court with a
justiciable controversy." Berry v. Daigle, 322
A.2d 320, 325 (Me. 1974). "When declaratory relief is
sought, all persons shall be made parties who have or claim
any interest which would be affected by the declaration and
no declaration shall prejudice the rights of persons not
parties to the proceeding." 14 M.R.S. § 5963
(2015). "The court may refuse to render or enter a
declaratory judgment or decree where such judgment or decree,
if rendered or entered, would not terminate the uncertainty
or controversy giving rise to the proceeding." 14 M.R.S.
§ 5958 (2015).
judgment in favor of the Plaintiff is inappropriate for a
number of reasons. First, Plaintiff filed a return of service
stating that the complaint and summons were served on HAC,
Charter #19890498F through the Maine Secretary of State
Bureau of Corporations. That foreign corporation, however,
ceased doing business in Maine in 2001, seven years before
the Dupiles entered into the Note and Mortgage.
Accordingly, it seems very unlikely that Plaintiff served the
even if Plaintiff had served the proper Defendant, a
declaratory judgment would not be appropriate because the
court cannot sufficiently ascertain whether there is a
controversy between the litigants. Berry, 322 A.2d
at 325. This is because Plaintiffs motion contends that the
parties named in the Complaint "claim or may
claim some right, title or interest in the premises adverse
to Plaintiffs estate . . . ." This problem is
exacerbated by the fact that Plaintiffs motion is unopposed
and certain entities, that may have previously held rights to
the Mortgage Deed, were not joined in the present action.
a reaffirmation of the assignments at issue in the present
case would also be a declaration of the rights of MERS, Chase
Home Finance LLC, and the Secretary of HUD to assign the
mortgage at issue. Chase Home Finance LLC and the Secretary
of HUD, however, are not parties to this action, thereby
rendering a declaratory judgment improper. See 14
M.R.S. § 5963; Bank of Am., N.A. v. Metro Mortg.
Co., 2015 Me. Super. LEXIS 14, at *3 (Jan. 29, 2015)
(denying plaintiffs request for default judgment in
declaratory judgment action in part because plaintiff had
failed to join necessary parties); Horton & McGehee,
Maine Civil Remedies § 3-3(d)(2) at 50 (4th ed.
2004) ("a declaration of rights may properly be refused
when persons whose interests would be affected are not
addition, a declaratory judgment-even against the proper
Defendant- as to whether Plaintiff owns the mortgage would
not necessarily remove any uncertainty as to ownership of the
mortgage. If the court were to declare that Plaintiff does
not own the Mortgage, Chase Home Finance LLC and the
Secretary of HUD would remain free to litigate whether they
instead owned the mortgage. 14 M.R.S. § 5958;
Bourgeois v. Sprague, 358 A.2d 521, 522 (Me. 1976)
(M.R. Civ. P. 19 applied to declaratory judgment actions); 2
Harvey Maine Civil Practice § 19:1 at 558 (3d
ed. 2011) (M.R. Civ. P. 19 protects parties by ensuring
issues will not be relitigated).
procedural rules must be followed, especially in matters
involving mortgage foreclosure. See JPMorgan Chase Bank
v. Harp,2011 ME 5, ¶ 15, 10 A.3d 718. M.R. Civ. P.
55(b)(2), addressing default judgments, authorizes the court
to conduct a hearing the court deems necessary and proper
"to establish the truth of any averment by
evidence." Here, even if the foregoing deficiencies were
not present, the court would have required a hearing to
establish the truth of Plaintiffs averments. For instance,
while the Complaint and Motion purport to attach true and
correct copies of the Note, Mortgage Deed, and ...