Despite a phenomenally difficult and unbalanced environment in Florida courts where nearly the entirety of the judicial system is titled against the interests of consumers and favoring banks, big business and any other entity that looks to abuse individuals (you don’t see any consequence against Wells Fargo do you?), we at WeidnerLaw continue to knock our cases out of the park with one foreclosure win at trial after another.
The win today is particularly sweet because it comes from a long battled trial that was held many, many months ago….and it comes in a case filed in 2009!
Now, I love to win but to be completely frank, it’s just crazy that banks are so bad that they are still losing cases that have been pending for nearly an entire decade. Think about that for a moment. In this case, the allegation is that a homeowner has not paid a mortgage in more than a decade…and the bank still cannot win.
A plaintiff must acquire standing before filing suit. Boyd v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 143 So. 3d 1128 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) (reversing summary judgment of foreclosure because foreclosing lender failed to produce documentation establishing that it had standing at the time it filed the foreclosure complaint); LaFrance v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass’n, 141 So. 3d 754, 755 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) (“A crucial element in any mortgage foreclosure proceeding is that the party seeking foreclosure must demonstrate that it has standing to foreclose…Standing to foreclose is determined at the time the lawsuit is filed.”) (Citations omitted).
And standing is established at the time the initial complaint is filed regardless of whether amended complaints are later filed in the case. Corrigan v. Bank of America, N.A., 189 So. 3d 187 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) (en banc).
Furthermore, a substituted plaintiff only takes whatever standing the original party plaintiff had at the time the complaint was filed. Assil v. Aurora Loan Services, LLC, 171 So. 3d 226, 227 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) (“[A] substituted plaintiff acquires the standing of the original plaintiff.”). But in addition to proving the prior plaintiff’s standing, the substituted plaintiff must also prove its standing at the time of judgment. Creadon v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 166 So. 3d 952 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015). And an order of substitution does not create standing in a substituted plaintiff. Geweye v. Ventures Trust 2013-I-H-R, 189 So. 3d 231 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016).
Where a foreclosing plaintiff fails to establish its standing, entry of an involuntary dismissal is appropriate. See Sorrell v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass’n, __ So. 3d __, 2016 WL 1360758, * 3 (Fla. 2d DCA April 6, 2016) (“Therefore, because U.S. Bank’s evidence was legally insufficient to prove it had standing when it filed the complaint, we must reverse and the final judgment in favor of U.S. Bank and remand for dismissal.”); Correa v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 118 So. 3d 952, 955 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013). See also Balch v. LaSalle Bank N.A., 171 So. 3d 207 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015); Joseph v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, 155 So.3d 444 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015); Lacombe v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co., 149 So.3d 152 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014); cf. Guerrero v. Chase Home Fin., LLC, 83 So. 3d 970, 973 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012) (remanding with specific directions to allow the plaintiff to properly reestablish the note upon a proper pleading—but only because the evidence “confirmed the current owner/holder’s entitlement to foreclose the mortgage attached to the complaint”).
Although the Second District apparently has not addressed the question, and although Defendant does not agree with the Court’s analysis, the Fifth District has held that such a dismissal does not act as an adjudication on the merits. Brown v. M&T Bank, 183 So. 3d 1270, 1270 (Fla. 5 th DCA 2016) (“This foreclosure action presents an issue that does not appear to have been previously addressed in Florida: Whether the dismissal of a foreclosure action for lack of standing operates as an adjudication on the merits for purposes of res judicata. We hold that it does not, and affirm.”).
Read the beautiful opinion here: