DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, as trustee for the registered holders of Morgan Stanley ABE Capital I Inc., trust 2007-NC# mortgage pass-through certificates, series § 2007-NC3, assignee of Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, f/k/a Bankers Trust Company, as trustee and custodian for Morgan Stanley MSAC 2007- NC3, assignee of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for New Century Mortgage Corporation, Plaintiff-Below, Appellant,
EUGENE MOSS, Defendant-Below, Appellee
Submitted June 11, 2014
Case Closed July 10, 2014.
This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.
Case Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. C.A. No. N11L-03-097-ALR.
Before STRINE, Chief Justice, BERGER and RIDGELY, Justices.
Leo E. Strine, Jr. Chief Justice
This 24th day of June 2014, the Court having considered this matter on the briefs filed by the parties and after oral argument has determined that:
(1) This is an appeal from the Superior Court's grant of summary judgment for the defendant below and appellee here, Eugene Moss, in an action for foreclosure brought by the plaintiff below and appellant here, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as trustee for the registered holders of Morgan Stanley ABE Capital I Inc., trust 2007-NC# mortgage pass-through certificates, series 2007-NC3 (" Deutsche Bank" ). By granting summary judgment, the Superior Court found that there was no dispute of material fact that Deutsche Bank was not the proper owner of the mortgage loan and note that Moss executed in connection with his purchase of his home. The effect of the final judgment would seem to be to allow Moss to keep his home and be released from any obligation to make future mortgage payments to Deutsche Bank, even though there is no dispute that he owes a substantial sum of money to whoever now owns the mortgage loan and note.
(2) On January 10, 2007, Moss executed a note in favor of New Century Mortgage Corporation (" New Century" ). On the same day, Moss executed and delivered a mortgage on the property as security for the note. The proceedings in the Superior Court focused on whether, since that time, the mortgage, the note, or both had been transferred to Deutsche Bank validly. Deutsche Bank claims that the mortgage and note had been transferred to it validly, and that Deutsche Bank was entitled to foreclose on the mortgage because Moss failed to make the required payments. Moss, on the other hand, argued that the mortgage and note had not been validly transferred to Deutsche Bank, and that Deutsche Bank was not entitled to foreclose on the mortgage.
(3) The proceedings below were confusing. In Moss's Answer to Deutsche Bank's Complaint filed in the Superior Court, Moss embraced the notion that Deutsche Bank was the owner of the mortgage and note, and sought to enforce against Deutsche Bank a modification to the loan he entered into in 2009. Moss then changed course, and through counsel, filed a motion for summary judgment. In that motion for summary judgment, Moss contended that there was no material dispute of fact that Deutsche Bank was not, in fact, the owner of the mortgage and the note and that Deutsche Bank, therefore, could not foreclose on the mortgage. Moss raised arguments that cast doubt on the chain of transfers of the mortgage and note from the original lender with whom Moss dealt -- New Century Mortgage Corporation (" New Century" ) -- to Deutsche Bank. In particular, Moss argued that because New Century filed for bankruptcy on April 7, 2007, there was no way that New Century could have transferred the mortgage and note validly on January 17, 2008 -- when the first assignment of the mortgage from New Century was dated -- because Deutsche Bank had not produced an order of the Bankruptcy Court dated between the time of the bankruptcy filing and the first assignment of the mortgage that would allow such a transfer.
(4) Deutsche Bank then responded in a confusing and unhelpful way that understandably was vexing to the Superior Court. In its response to Moss's motion for summary judgment, Deutsche Bank argued that it did have authority from the Bankruptcy Court to transfer the mortgage and note, but attached an order of the Bankruptcy Court that was dated after the assignment of the mortgage and note in this case and that did not provide New Century with authority to transfer its assets as Deutsche Bank represented. Deutsche Bank also argued that Moss did not have standing to challenge the validity of the assignment. After the response was filed, Deutsche Bank hired new counsel.
(5) At oral argument on the motion for summary judgment, the Superior Court expressed its frustration with ...