appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov | July 14, 2016
CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
COURT OF APPEAL, FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Plaintiff and Appellant,
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., as Trustee, etc.,
Defendant and Respondent
D066636 (Super. Ct. No. 37-2014-00084605- CU-OR-CTL)
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Joel R. Wohlfeil, Judge. Affirmed.
Law Offices of Richard L. Antognini and Richard L. Antognini, for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Bryan Cave, Glenn J. Plattner and Richard P. Steelman, Jr., for Defendant and Respondent.
Laura Saterbak appeals a judgment dismissing her first amended complaint (FAC) after the sustaining of a demurrer without leave to amend. Saterbak claims the assignment of the deed of trust (DOT) to her home by Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) to Structured Asset Mortgage Investment II Trust 2007-AR7 Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates 2007-AR7 (2007-AR7 trust or Defendant) was invalid. Arguing the assignment occurred after the closing date for the 2007-AR7 trust, and that the signature on the instrument was forged or robo-signed, she seeks to cancel the assignment and obtain declaratory relief. We conclude Saterbak lacks standing and affirm the judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In April 2007, Saterbak purchased real property on Mount Helix Drive, La Mesa, California through a grant deed. She executed a promissory note (Note) in May 2007, in the amount of $1 million, secured by the DOT. The DOT named MERS as the beneficiary, "solely as nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns." It acknowledged MERS had the right "to exercise any or all of those interests, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property."
On December 27, 2011, MERS executed an assignment of the DOT to "Citibank, N.A. as Trustee for [2007-AR7 trust]." The assignment was recorded nearly a year later, on December 17, 2012. It is this assignment that Saterbak challenges. The 2007-AR7 trust is a real estate mortgage investment conduit (REMIC) trust; its terms are set forth in a pooling and servicing agreement (PSA) for the trust, which is governed under New York law. Pursuant to the PSA, all loans had to be transferred to the 2007-AR7 trust on or before its September 18, 2007, closing date.
Saterbak fell behind on her payments. On December 17, 2012, Citibank N.A. substituted and appointed National Default Servicing Corporation (NDS) as trustee under the DOT. The substitution of trustee form was executed by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (hereafter Chase) as attorney-in-fact for Citibank N.A., trustee for the 2007-AR7 trust. NDS recorded a notice of default on December 17, 2012. By that point, Saterbak had fallen $346,113.99 behind in payments. On March 19, 2013, NDS recorded a notice of trustee's sale, scheduling a foreclosure sale for April 10, 2013. By that point, Saterbak owed an estimated $1,600,219.13.
Saterbak filed suit in January 2014. She alleged the DOT was transferred to the 2007-AR7 trust four years after the closing date for the security, rendering the assignment invalid. She further alleged the signature on the assignment document was robo-signed or a forgery. She sought to cancel the assignment as a "cloud" on her title pursuant to Civil Code section 3412. She also sought declaratory relief that the same defects rendered the assignment void.
In May 2014, the trial court sustained Chase's demurrer. It held Saterbak lacked standing to sue based on alleged noncompliance with the PSA for 2007-AR7 trust because she did not allege she was a party to that agreement. The court granted Saterbak leave to amend to plead a different theory for cancellation of the DOT.
Saterbak filed the FAC in May 2014. The FAC asserted the same causes of action for cancellation of the assignment and declaratory relief premised on the same theories of untimely securitization of the DOT and robo-signing. The FAC claimed it did not "seek to challenge . . . any Foreclosure Proceedings and or Trustee's Sale."
Chase demurred and requested judicial notice of the following instruments: the DOT, the corporate assignment DOT, substitution of trustee, notice of default, and notice of trustee sale. The trial court granted Chase's request for judicial notice and sustained its demurrer. The court held, "Despite the arguments made by Plaintiff, the FAC does, in fact, allege that the assignment is void because the loan was not moved into the securitized trust in a timely manner." As it had previously, the court held Saterbak lacked standing to sue based on alleged noncompliance with the PSA, as she was not a party to that agreement. The court also rejected Saterbak's robo-signing theory for lack of standing, stating she had not alleged that she "relied" on the assignment or sustained injury from it. The court denied leave to amend, noting the FAC was Saterbak's second attempt and concluding there was no possibility she could remedy her standing deficiencies through amendment.
The court entered judgment for Chase in August 2014, and Saterbak timely appealed.
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Nancy Duffy McCarron, CBN 164780
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