Rule In Favor Of Guillaumes
David Voreacos and David McLaughlin, Bloomberg
The case involves the foreclosure on an East Orange home owned by Maryse and Emilio Guillaume, who received a notice of intention to foreclose in May 2008. That notice included the name of the mortgage servicer, America’s Servicing Co., while omitting the name of the lender.Credit Suisse AG (CSGN) made the loan and assigned it to US Bank NA.
The state high court in Trenton ruled yesterday that the notice sent to the Guillaumes failed to comply with New Jersey’s Fair Foreclosure Act, which requires the name and address of the actual lender, as well as contact information for a loan servicer. Failure to do so creates “potential for significant prejudice” to homeowners, the court said.
“A misunderstanding about a lender’s identity could prompt a homeowner to make a critical error at a time when he or she is struggling to avert foreclosure,” the court said in the opinion.
The court ruled that while a trial court judge erred on that point in interpreting the Fair Foreclosure Act, the judge reached the correct conclusion in ordering a default judgment against the couple. The Guillaumes failed to demonstrate either “excusable neglect” or a “meritorious defense” to their foreclosure, according to the ruling.
The decision “restores order” to New Jersey’s real estate market, said Mark Melodia, a lawyer for Minneapolis-based US Bancorp (USB), the parent of US Bank.
“This is a reaffirmation that our Chancery Court judges are best positioned to determine in a given case whether a technical defect in foreclosure paperwork requires the extraordinary step of dismissing the case — which, like this one, may have been pending for years before the defect was identified — or whether a less drastic remedy, such as sending a new notice, is the fairer way to proceed,” Melodia, of Reed Smith LLP, said in a statement.by