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N.C. federal court sides with MERS, bank in lawsuit alleging fraud

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 11, 2013

GREENVILLE, N.C. (Legal Newsline) -- A federal judge in North Carolina has sided with MERS, the national mortgage registry, and JPMorgan Chase Bank in a lawsuit filed by a North Carolina homeowner who claimed fraud.

Judge Terrence W. Boyle for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Eastern Division granted defendants JPMorgan Chase Bank and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc.'s motion to dismiss and fellow defendant Trustee Services of Carolina LLC's motion to dismiss.

The judge, in his Oct. 22 ruling, dismissed plaintiff James Porterfield's claims against the defendants.

In Porterfield v. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, Inc. MERS, et al, the plaintiff, a Butner, N.C., homeowner, brought several counts, including "fraud by use of MERS," alleging that the mortgage registry could neither be a named beneficiary nor a nominee of a lender in the deed.

Porterfield also claimed that the "the hidden purpose of MERS is to defraud borrowers and the clerks of court by hiding the true owners of secured interests on property in opposition to common law policies and the laws of North Carolina, and that all transfers of the deed or the note by MERS are void."

Boyle, in his 12-page order, found that "despite the plaintiff's contention to the contrary, the deed unequivocally identifies MERS and its position."

Additionally, the judge ruled that "the plaintiff has failed to uncover any case finding that MERS violates North Carolina law whereas several other courts have held that MERS is lawful and accordingly has the authority to assign it rights under deeds of trust."

Click here to read the judge's order.

MERSCORP Holdings Vice President for Corporate Communications Janis Smith said Thursday the ruling serves as a reminder that prior case law has been settled.

"Courts have consistently found that MERS has authority to assign its rights under deeds of trust," she said in a statement.

"MERS has legal authority to act on behalf of the lender -- including the right to execute the assignment -- and this authority is granted by plain language in the mortgage document signed at closing by the borrower."

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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