R.I. judge rejects claim of wrongful foreclosure against mortgage registry

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) -- A Rhode Island judge, in a ruling last week, rejected a claim of wrongful foreclosure against the national mortgage registry known as MERS.

In his ruling Thursday, Providence County Superior Court Justice Allen Rubine sided with the defendants in the case -- RBMG Inc., IndyMac Federal Bank FSB, OneWest Bank FSB, Bendett & McHugh PC and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc.

In Akalarian v. RMBG Inc. et al, the borrower, Clara Akalarian, challenged the registry's authority to assign the mortgage and claimed that the MERS assignment to IndyMac nullified IndyMac's subsequent foreclosure.

"This issue has been conclusively resolved by the recent Rhode Island Supreme Court decision in Bucci v. Lehman Bros. Bank FSB, wherein the Court affirmed MERS' authority to act as a mortgagee and as nominee of the lender pursuant to a mortgage contract and to exercise the statutory power of sale granted to MERS under that contract," Rubine wrote in his 11-page decision.

Rubine also found that the state Supreme Court's adoption of a lower court's reasoning in Culhane v. Aurora supported his finding that a mortgagee executing a mortgage assignment need not be explicitly acting as an agent of the noteholder in order to transfer its bare legal interest in the mortgage.

Click here to read the judge's complete ruling.

"With the Superior Court's consistent rulings on this issue, and the Rhode Island Supreme Court's decision in Bucci, the questions regarding MERS' role in mortgage loan transactions has been consistently upheld," MERSCORP Holdings Vice President of Corporate Communications Janis L. Smith said in a statement Monday.

"The law in Rhode Island is clear."

MERSCORP and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. were formed in 1995 to facilitate the growing mortgage finance market.

The privately-held electronic registry is designed to track servicing rights and ownership of mortgage loans in the United States.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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