lexology.com | February 24, 2014
By Hinshaw & Culbertson Justin M. Fabella
Wilson v. HSBC Mortg. Services, Inc., --- F.3d ----, 2014 WL 563457 (1st Cir. Feb. 14 2014)
Mortgagors argued that they had standing to challenge the assignment of mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc. (MERS) to HSBC Mortgage Services, Inc. (HSBC) because they alleged in their complaint that the assignment was, inter alia, fraudulent and thus, void, because it was "robo-signed."
Under Massachusetts law, a mortgagor has standing only "to challenge a mortgage assignment as invalid, ineffective or void (if, say, the assignor had nothing to assign or had no authority to make an assignment to a particular assignee)." Culhane v. Aurora Loan Servs. of Neb., 708 F.3d 282, 291 (1st Cir. 2013). Likewise, "a [Massachusetts] mortgagor does not have standing to challenge shortcomings in an assignment that render it merely voidable at the election of one party but otherwise effective to pass legal title." Id. The Court's own research confirmed that there is neither a definition of the term "robo-signing" nor any authority showing that the term has any legal significance under Massachusetts law or in the First Circuit. Although the mortgagors alleged, at most, that the assignment of mortgage was potentially voidable under Massachusetts law, the Court held that "the bare allegation of 'robo-signing' does nothing to undermine the validity" of the assignment of mortgage.
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