Judge Rules Register of Deeds’ “underlying causes of action are fatally flawed”
Reston, Virginia – May 30, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. today announced that a North Carolina State Superior Court Judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Guilford County, NC Register of Deeds, ruling in favor of MERSCORP Holdings, Inc., Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) and multiple member institutions.
In Guilford County, ex rel. Jeff L. Thigpen, Guilford County Register of Deeds v. Lender Processing Services, Inc., et al., John R. Jolly, Jr., Chief Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases of the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, found that Thigpen lacked standing to bring the suit on behalf of the county and its citizens.
Thigpen alleged that numerous fraudulent and invalid satisfactions were filed in violation of the statute, which requires secured creditors to submit for recording satisfactions within 30 days after receiving full payment. Judge Jolly found that “[T]he Guilford County Register of Deeds is not a ‘landowner’ as defined in the statute, and therefore, it may not bring a cause of action” under this North Carolina law.
Thigpen also alleged that the use of the MERS System by its members is an unfair and/or deceptive act or practice that has harmed and damaged the County, the Register and the public. Judge Jolly held that the act of submitting documents to the Register for recording is not a “business transaction between the parties as to give rise to liability under Chapter 75,” but instead is the Register “fulfilling a statutorily-defined administrative role and acting as a governmental body.” Therefore, the Register’s claim failed as a matter of law.
As for Thigpen’s claim unjust enrichment which covers “lost filing fees,” Judge Jolly found that the Register failed to demonstrate that its office conferred any benefit to MERS and its members. He noted that “North Carolina law does not require an assignment of a mortgage or deed of trust to be recorded in order to be effective.”
Lastly, Judge Jolly denied Thigpen’s request for a special master to identify fraudulent or invalid documents at the expense of the defendants, holding that the “portion of Plaintiff’s Motion seeking the appointment of a special master must also be DENIED as there is no basis for the appointment of a special master pursuant to [North Carolina law] where there is no underlying cause of action.”
“This court decision joins other dismissals of lawsuits brought by county recorders in Michigan, Oklahoma, Iowa, Florida, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky,” MERSCORP Holdings’ Director for Corporate Communications Jason Lobo said.
For description of cases and other materials pertaining to MERS’ business model and role in U.S. housing, please visit www.mersinc.org.
MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. is a privately held corporation that owns and manages the MERS® System and all other MERS® products. It is a member-based organization made up of thousands of lenders, servicers, sub-servicers, investors and government institutions. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) serves as the mortgagee in the land records for loans registered on the MERS® System, and is a nominee (or agent) for the owner of the promissory note. The MERS® System is a national electronic database that tracks changes in mortgage servicing and beneficial ownership interests in residential mortgage loans on behalf of its members.