News & Resources

Discharge Injunction Revisited: Question: Is a Creditor’s Good Faith Defense Applicable? Answer: It Depends on Which Circuit the Case Was Filed in.

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

We recently reported on the success of our client in obtaining the imposition of monetary damages against a creditor for its violation of the bankruptcy discharge injunction. Our local bankruptcy judge ruled in debtor’s favor, despite counsel’s alleged good faith belief that her actions to collect the discharged debt were without malice or in violation of the Bankruptcy Code. Depending on the nature of the debt, creditors may operate under an incorrect presumption that their debt has not been discharged under the provisions of 11 U.S.C. 523 and undertake steps to collect their debt without first seeking a declaratory ruling from the court. Such was the case in a recent First Circuit decision, found here, where the court ruled the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) violated the discharge injunction when its employee took deliberate steps to collect on a debt, even though it had an alleged good faith belief the debt was not discharged and the collection actions of the IRS employee did not violate the discharge injunction.

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Lender's Passive Response to Debtor's Inquiry Not an Attempt to Collect a Debt, Nor a Post-Discharge Violation of the Bankruptcy Discharge Injunction

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

A familiar scenario which Credit Unions and other lenders face is when their borrower obtains a discharge in bankruptcy, but still wishes to maintain a banking relationship with lender rather than try and obtain credit with a different institution. It is also common for Credit Union membership agreements to include standard verbiage that if the Credit Union incurs a loss due to borrower’s activities, or if an account is maintained in a manner to cause a loss to the Credit Union, then, in that instance, the Credit Union may terminate all accounts and services.  

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Lender Alert: Bankruptcy Court Concludes that a Lawful and Non-Collusive Foreclosure Sale Is Not a Preference

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

In a recent decision of particular relevance to mortgage lenders, Veltre v. Fifth Third Bank, 2017 WL 387361 (Bankr. W.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 2017), the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania held that property sold at a properly conducted and non-collusive foreclosure sale may not serve as the basis for a preference action under section 547 of the Bankruptcy Code. This decision focuses attention on the debate over whether a creditor who forecloses on real property receives a preference or fraudulent transfer, even if the foreclosure sale complied with applicable state law.   

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Lender Alert: Bankruptcy Court Holds that Mortgage with Incorrect Legal Description is Avoidable in Bankruptcy

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

In a recent decision of consequence to mortgage lenders, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts concluded that a Chapter 7 Trustee may avoid a debtor’s mortgage and maintain it for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate. See Eastern Bank v. Benton (In re Thomas H. and Nancy C. Benton), 2016 WL 53581 (Bankr. D. Mass. Jan. 4, 2017). Simply put, the Bankruptcy Court held that, when a mortgage contains a correct street address but an incorrect legal description, the mortgage lien is avoidable by the bankruptcy trustee in his or her role as a hypothetical bona fide purchaser of a debtor’s property under section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code.

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Creditor Alert: Bankruptcy Judge Holds That Claim Filing Deadline Applies to Secured Creditors in Chapter 13 Cases

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

In an opinion dated February 6, 2017, the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio disallowed a mortgage servicer’s untimely proof of claim in a Chapter 13 case, holding that secured creditors are subject to the same 90-day deadline for filing proofs of claim as unsecured creditors. In re Dumbuya, 2017 WL 486917 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio Feb. 6, 2017). Read the full opinion here.

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Weltman & Moskowitz Attorneys Named Super Lawyers for 2017

Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP is proud to announce that founding partners Richard Weltman and Michael Moskowitz have both been selected as Metro New York Area Super Lawyers for 2017. This is the fourth consecutive year each has been recognized as a top bankruptcy/debtor and creditors’ rights attorney. This honor is a product of a rigorous investigative process by the publishers of Law and Politics. Attorneys are selected based on professional accomplishments, licensing and certifications, peer recognition and personal achievement. The final published list represents no more than 5% of the lawyers in each state. The firm is also proud to announce that Melissa Guseynov, an associate of the firm, has been selected as a New York Metro Rising Star! This selection is limited to no more than 2.5% of the attorneys in New York State. The Super Lawyers objective is to create a credible list of outstanding attorneys, and the lawyers of Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP are proud to be recognized for their hard work and client dedication.

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Success Story: How Weltman & Moskowitz Bridged the Gap Between Mortgage Foreclosure and Chapter 13 to Successfully Protect Its Client’s Interests

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

Our firm was tasked by one of our lender clients to file a residential mortgage foreclosure case in New Jersey after borrower’s failure to make mortgage payments. Borrower, assisted by a purported residential foreclosure defense expert, sought to place numerous roadblocks to the foreclosure action, including the filing of an answer containing the usual boilerplate meritless “defenses.” Ultimately, after extensive discovery and unnecessary litigation caused by borrower’s “scorched-earth” tactics, final judgment of foreclosure was rendered in favor of lender. Of course, this is not the end of the story, only the beginning.

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Chapter 13 Alert: Lenders Must Confirm All Mortgage Payments Made By Borrower During Chapter 13 Plan

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

We previously reported about Lenders’ Chapter 13 obligations set forth in Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1, entitled Notice Relating to Claims Secured by Security Interest in the Debtor’s Principal Residence (click here). To reiterate, a mortgage lender must provide to debtor, debtor’s counsel, and the chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee, notice of any fees, expenses or charges incurred by lender in connection with its claim, following commencement of the chapter 13 case. In addition, lender must notify the same parties about any changes to the monthly mortgage payments which come due post-petition.

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Lender Alert: New Jersey Bankruptcy Court Allows Debtor to Strip Lien Securing Spousal Obligation

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

On September 23, 2016, Bankruptcy Judge Christine M. Gravelle, U.S.B.J. held that a chapter 13 debtor may strip off a wholly unsecured lien on a primary residence where the debtor is the sole owner of the property, even if the non-debtor ex-spouse is liable on the debt which the debtor seeks to strip. In re Mensah-Narh, 2016 WL 5334973 (Bankr. D.N.J.. Sept. 23, 2016).  Read the full opinion here.

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Creditor Alert: Ninth Circuit Holds That Creditor Has an Affirmative Duty to File a Timely Proof of Claim to Participate in Chapter 13 Plan Distributions

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

On October 27, 2016, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a credit union’s proofs of claim were properly rejected by the Bankruptcy Court as untimely, and that the debtor’s acknowledgment of debt owed to the credit union in her bankruptcy schedules was not an informal proof of claim. In re Barker, 2016 WL 6276078 (9th Cir. Oct. 27, 2016). Read the full opinion here.

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LENDER ALERT PART II: Changes to New York Foreclosure Laws Effective December 20, 2016

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

In Part I we highlighted how the amendments to the NY Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”), which became effective on December 20, 2016, affect lenders duties and obligations with respect to vacant and abandoned properties in foreclosure. In Part II we will address how the RPAPL amendments impact the foreclosure settlement conferences and pre-foreclosure notices.

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LENDER ALERT PART I: Changes to New York Foreclosure Laws Effective December 20, 2016

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

On June 23, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Chapter 73 of the Laws of New York 2016. We addressed the new law in a previous post which you can see here. We will address these changes in two separate blog posts. This first post addresses vacant and abandoned properties. Part II will address changes to foreclosure settlement conferences and the required pre-foreclosure notices.   

This legislation amends the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) and Civil Practice Law and Rules pertaining to residential mortgage loans and foreclosure. The changes go into effect on December 20, 2016. The new changes include provisions which govern procedures for vacant and abandoned properties, establish timelines for the sale of property post-foreclosure judgment, and provide enhanced protections for homeowners in default of their mortgage.  The new legislation imposes new obligations on lenders which will surely increase costs and add potential liability as follows:

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Lender Alert: Bankruptcy Judge Imposes Sanctions on Mortgage Servicer for Ignoring Bankruptcy Rules

By Richard E. Weltman and Melissa A. Guseynov

On September 12, 2016, the Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Vermont directed a mortgage servicer to pay $375,000 in sanctions for failing to adequately notify debtors before imposing certain post-petition mortgage account charges. The court relied upon Rule 3002.1 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“Rules”).  In re Gravel, 2016 WL 4765773 (Bankr. D. Vt. Sept. 12, 2016). Read the full decision here.

Rule 3002.1(c) requires creditors to file and serve notice of all fees, expenses, or charges (i) that were incurred post-petition in connection with a claim, and (ii) that the creditor asserts are recoverable against debtor or debtor’s principal residence.  In addition, the rule provides that the requisite notice must be served within 180 days after the date on which the fees, expenses, or charges are incurred.

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Weltman & Moskowitz Founding Partners Named Super Lawyers for 2016

Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP is proud to announce that Richard Weltman and Michael Moskowitz have both been selected as Metro New York Area Super Lawyers for 2016. This is the third consecutive year each has been recognized as a top bankruptcy/debtor and creditors’ rights attorney. This honor is a product of a rigorous investigative process by the publishers of Law and Politics. Attorneys are selected based on professional accomplishments, licensing and certifications, peer recognition and personal achievement. The final published list represents no more than 5% of the lawyers in each state. The Super Lawyers objective is to create a credible list of outstanding attorneys, and the partners of Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP are proud to be recognized for their hard work and client dedication.

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Lenders Beware: Bankruptcy Judge Orders Mortgage Lender to Pay $250,000 in Punitive Damages for $297.72 Stay Violation

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

In June, a Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Ohio calculated $250,000 in punitive damages against a mortgage lender for violating the automatic stay by incorrectly filing a proof of claim on a car loan that had not been transferred to that lender. In re Mocella, 552 B.R. 706 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 2016).

Here, the originating lender held a mortgage on debtors’ residence as well as a car loan. As part of a bulk transfer of loans, the originating lender assigned the mortgage to a new lender. The car loan was not transferred. Due to a bookkeeping error, the new lender mistakenly thought the car loan had been transferred to it, along with the mortgage loan. As a result of this error, the new lender filed a proof of claim for both the mortgage and car loan.

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Lender Alert: New York Legislation Requires Lenders to Maintain Abandoned Homes Before Foreclosure

By Michael L. Moskowitz

On June 23, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation which amends section 1307 of the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL). The new law becomes effective 90 days from June 23, 2016.

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Bankruptcy Update: District Court Prohibits Chapter 13 Debtors From Compelling Mortgagee to Accept Title to Surrendered Property

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

Bankruptcy Update: District Court Prohibits Chapter 13 Debtors From Compelling Mortgagee to Accept Title to Surrendered Property by Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa GuseynovWe previously reported on In re Sherwood, a Southern District of New York bankruptcy decision, wherein the court held a debtor could not confirm a chapter 13 plan over a lender’s objection where the plan would vest title to surrendered property in the mortgagee without its consent. See In re Sherwood, 2016 WL 355520, at * 7 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Jan. 28, 2016).

In a recent appeal of a bankruptcy court decision, the District Court for the Eastern District of New York agreed with In re Sherwood and other “persuasive authority,” in confirming that a secured creditor’s rights under the Bankruptcy Code are “impermissibly compromised by a Chapter 13 plan that provides for non-consensual” vesting of collateral. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Zair, 2016 WL 1448647, at * 1 (E.D.N.Y. April 12, 2016).

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Lender Alert: Chapter 13 Debtor Can't Compel Secured Lender to Accept Title to Surrendered Collateral

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

Lender Alert: Chapter 13 Debtor Can't Compel Secured Lender to Accept Title to Surrendered Collateral by Michael L. MoskowitzIn a recent opinion, Bankruptcy Judge James L. Garrity, Jr., sitting in the Southern District of New York, held that a debtor cannot confirm a chapter 13 plan over a lender’s objection where the plan would compel the transfer of title to the secured creditor, explaining that forcing title onto the creditor would transform the creditor’s right to recover its collateral into an obligation, thereby rewriting the Bankruptcy Code and the underlying loan documents. In re Sherwood, 2016 WL 355520, at * 7 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Jan. 28, 2016).

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Lenders’ Best Practices in Foreclosure Cases Revisited: Mortgagees’ Lack of Good Faith May Lead to Assessment of Sanctions by Courts

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele Jaspan

Lenders’ Best Practices in Foreclosure Cases Revisited: Mortgagees’ Lack of Good Faith May Lead to Assessment of Sanctions by Courts by Michael L. MoskowitzWe previously reported on cases where lenders are forced to forfeit accrued mortgage interest as a result of a court’s finding of “bad faith,” regarding borrower requests for mortgage modifications. The foreclosure courts are continuing to find new ways to sanction lenders as evidenced below.

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Foreclosure Alert: Failure to Establish Proper Mailing Practices Can Lead to Foreclosure Case Dismissal

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele Jaspan

Foreclosure Alert: Failure to Establish Proper Mailing Practices Can Lead to Foreclosure Case Dismissal by Michael L. MoskowitzWe previously reported on the importance of strict compliance with the mailing of the 90-day pre-foreclosure notice pursuant to RPAPL §1304 (“Notice”). Such strict compliance has become fodder for defendants’ lawyers as failure to give such notice to all persons signing either the note or mortgage, as a borrower, is a fatal defect. Lender’s failure to comply with this important condition precedent will result in case dismissal.

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Lender Alert: Two New York Federal Courts Find No FDCPA Violation -Where Debtor Account Numbers Appear on Collection Envelopes

By Richard E. Weltman and Melissa A. Guseynov

Lender Alert: Two New York Federal Courts Find No FDCPA Violation By Richard E. WeltmanWe have previously reported on the nuances of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the pitfalls to lenders who fail to strictly adhere to its requirements. However, in two recent unrelated federal court decisions, Judge Colleen McMahon of the District Court for the Southern District of New York and Judge John Curtin of the District Court for the Western District of New York, both concluded that the mere appearance of an account number on a collection envelope, without more, does not violate FDCPA.

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Foreclosure Advisory: Mortgagee's Lack of Good Faith May Lead to Forfeiture

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Melissa A. Guseynov

Foreclosure Advisory: Mortgagee's Lack of Good Faith May Lead to Forfeiture By Michael L. MoskowitzIn the recent case of Federal National Mortgage Assoc. v. Singer (Case No. 850039/2011, Sup Ct, NY County, July 21, 2015), Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton determined that two mortgage banks, Federal National Mortgage Association and Bank of America, N.A. (“Lenders”), must forfeit more than $100,000.00 in accrued mortgage interest for acting in bad faith regarding borrower requests for mortgage modifications.   

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Supreme Court Asked to Resolve Circuit Split Regarding Consumer Bankruptcy Fraud

By Richard E. Weltman and Melissa A. Guseynov

Supreme Court Asked to Resolve Circuit Split Regarding Consumer Bankruptcy Fraud By Richard E. WeltmanThe United States Supreme Court has been asked to resolve another split among the circuit courts assessing fraud in consumer bankruptcy cases. At issue is whether debtors in chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases can have their debt discharges blocked under section 523(a)(2)(A) of the bankruptcy code, following pre-petition efforts to transfer assets away from creditors without directly misleading them. The First and Seventh Circuit Courts of appeal have both issued holdings that directly conflict with a recent ruling by the Fifth Circuit. The Second Circuit has not directly addressed whether a court may find “actual fraud” absent a specific finding of misrepresentation by a debtor.

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2015 Mid-Year Review of Supreme Court Bankruptcy Decisions: Part 1

Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett

Junior Mortgages Remain Viable Liens Even if Residential Property is Completely Underwater in a Chapter 7 Case

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

2015 Mid-Year Review of Supreme Court Bankruptcy Decisions: Part 1 By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. JaspanThe United States Supreme Court recently reversed a ruling from the Eleventh Circuit in the case of Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett, which had permitted individual chapter 7 debtors to “strip” junior liens off their homes when the first mortgage lien was underwater. The Supreme Court held that a debtor in a chapter 7 proceeding may not void a junior mortgage lien under section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code when the debt owed on a senior mortgage lien exceeds the current value of the collateral, if the creditor’s claim is both secured by a lien and allowed under section 502 of the Bankruptcy Code.

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LENDERS BEWARE: How One Borrower Acquired His House Practically for Free

By Michael L. Moskowitz and Michele K. Jaspan

LENDERS BEWARE: How One Borrower Acquired His House Practically for FreeIn the case of In re Washington, No. 14-14573-TBA, 2014 WL 5714586 (Bankr. D.N.J. Nov. 5, 2014), the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey held that the mortgagee and mortgage servicer (“the Mortgagees” or “Plaintiff”) were time-barred under New Jersey state law from enforcing borrower’s default under both the note and mortgage. As a result, the borrower hit the jackpot and was entitled to own his home, free and clear of the mortgage debt, even though he only made three mortgage payments before the loan went into default.

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Get It Right the First Time: Best Practices for Mailing and Recording the New York RPAPL 90-day Pre-Foreclosure Notice

By Michael L. Moskowitz

 Get It Right the First Time: Best Practices for Mailing and Recording the New York RPAPL 90-day Pre-Foreclosure Notice By Michael L. MoskowitzNew York’s Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) § 1304 requires a mortgage lender to notify a residential home borrower of an impending foreclosure action at least 90 days before the foreclosure action is commenced, using specific statutory language, printed in 14 point type, sent by registered or certified mail, as well as by first class mail, to the borrower. The emphasis of this article is the peril which will befall a lender if it fails to timely register the statutorily mandated notice.  

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Lenders Beware: Automatic Freezing of Debtor’s Account Without Legal Review Can Be Costly

By Michael L. Moskowitz

Lenders Beware: Automatic Freezing of Debtor’s Account Without Legal Review Can Be Costly By Micahel MoskowitzIn December 2014, the Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York, Cecelia Morris, handed a setback to lenders (In re Weidenbenner, Bankr. S.D.N.Y., No. 14-35443, 12/12/14), when she concluded a financial institution violates the automatic stay imposed upon the filing of a chapter 7 petition pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §362, simply by freezing a debtor’s bank account where it turns out no right of setoff exists.

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Lender Alert: New Jersey Appeals Court Holds that Homeowners May Sue Over Denial of Mortgage Modifications

By Michael L. Moskowitz

Lender Alert: New Jersey Appeals Court Holds that Homeowners May Sue Over Denial of Mortgage Modifications By Michael L. MoskowitzA New Jersey Appeals Court recently held that homeowners who enter into trial agreements to modify their mortgages under the Federal Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”), and comply with the terms thereof, may commence suit for breach of contract, and possibly consumer fraud, if lenders deny them permanent modifications.

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Success Stories: 2 Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings Withdrawn Early, Saving Time & Resources - Part 2

By Michael L. Moskowitz

Success Stories: 2 Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings Withdrawn Early, Saving Time & Resources - Part 2  By Michael L. MoskowitzIn our previous article, we shared the story of a personal injury attorney that was recently sued in an adversary proceeding filed in the United States bankruptcy court. Weltman & Moskowitz successfully established that the complaint was without merit and Plaintiff agreed to withdraw the complaint before answers were required to be filed or discovery ensued. In doing so, we saved our client the time and expense associated with protracted litigation.. Today, we bring you the story of another client of ours, a large regional banking institution, in the same position with the same successful results.

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Success Stories: 2 Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings Withdrawn Early, Saving Time & Resources - Part 1

By Michael L. Moskowitz

Success Stories: 2 Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings Withdrawn Early, Saving Time and ResourcesTwo of our clients, one, a large regional bank, and the other, a personal injury attorney, were both recently sued in adversary proceedings filed in the United States bankruptcy courts. Weltman & Moskowitz successfully established that both complaints were without merit and each plaintiff agreed to withdraw the complaint before answers were required to be filed. In doing so, we saved these clients significant legal fees and expenses and the distractions associated with protracted litigation.

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CASE STUDY: BANKRUPTCY RULE 3002.1(c)

Lenders Must Strictly Comply with Chapter 13 Noticing Procedures to Avoid Possible Motion Seeking Sanctions for Inadvertent Stay Violation

By Richard E. Weltman

CASE STUDY: BANKRUPTCY RULE 3002.1(c) The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure were amended late in 2011 to include Rule 3002.1, entitled Notice Relating to Claims Secured by Security Interest in the Debtor’s Principal Residence. Simply put, a mortgage lender must provide to the debtor, debtor’s counsel, and the chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee, notice of any fees, expenses or charges incurred by lender in connection with its claim, following commencement of the chapter 13 case. The lender must use Official Form B10, Supplement 2, found here.  A deviation from the use of this official form and its noticing procedure can result in an unwanted motion seeking damages for technical violation of the bankruptcy stay. The lesson here for lenders is to be careful and adhere to strict protocols.

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ALERT: Update on Debtor Efforts to Strip-Off Underwater Mortgages in Chapter 7 Supreme Court Grants Certiorari to Mortgage Lender

ALERT: Update on Debtor Efforts to Strip-Off Underwater Mortgages in Chapter 7  Supreme Court Grants Certiorari to Mortgage Lender By Michael L. MoskowitzWe have previously reported on an Eleventh Circuit case entitled Bank of America, N.A. v. David Lamar Sinkfield (No. 13-700), in which the Supreme Court denied Bank of America’s petition for certiorari regarding whether section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to remove or strip-off a wholly unsecured—or “underwater”—mortgage lien in chapter 7 bankruptcy. See the original article here.

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Stern v. Marshall Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms Bankruptcy Court Power to Enter Money Judgments in Non-Dischargeability Actions

By Richard E. Weltman

Stern v. Marshall Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms Bankruptcy Court Power to Enter Money Judgments in Non-Dischargeability ActionsIn its recent decision, Hart v. Southern Heritage Bank, 2014 WL 1663029 (6th Cir. April 28, 2014), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the United States Supreme Court’s seminal holding in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011) does not preclude a bankruptcy court from issuing final judgments in non-dischargeability challenges under section 523(a)(2)(B) of the Bankruptcy Code.

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New York Courts Target Rules on ‘Zombie Debts’

By Richard E. Weltman

New York Courts Target Rules on ‘Zombie Debts’ By Richard E. WeltmanResponding to what he termed a “continuing stream of complaints,” New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman on May 1 announced that New York courts are proposing new rules to crack down on the filing of so-called “zombie debts,” insufficiently documented claims for default judgments against consumer debtors.

Judge Lippman wants creditors seeking to collect the debts—some of which may have been sold and resold by third-party credit buyers—to prove the obligations are actually outstanding and owed by those named in collection actions before New York courts will enforce them on behalf of creditors.

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Update On NYC Rent Stabilization: Bankruptcy Law Meets Public Policy

By Michael L. Moskowitz

Last October we reported on the travails of Mary Veronica Santiago (“Debtor”), a 79-year-old widow embroiled in a dispute with her chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee John Pereira. The issue is whether the “value” in her New York City rent-stabilized lease can be considered an exempt asset protected from sale in a bankruptcy case. At stake is the Debtor’s ability to continue to reside in her apartment free of creditor claims. Given the many thousand rent protected tenants, this is where public policy and federal bankruptcy law intersect. To see the prior article click here.

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NY Court of Appeals Confirms Judgment-Debtors May Not Sue Banks Directly for EIPA Violations

New York’s highest court recently announced that account holders do not have a private right of action to sue banks for alleged violations of the Exempt Income Protection Act (“EIPA”). Cruz v. TD Bank, 2013, NY Slip. Op. 07762 (November 21, 2013). EIPA exempts certain Social Security, veterans, disability and unemployment benefits from creditor restraining orders and requires banks to inform affected account holders of their right to obtain exemptions from collection.

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New Federal Mortgage Disclosures Merit Lenders’ Careful Attention

In a major change, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) will soon require financial mortgage lenders to offer borrowers a greater disclosure at loan closings. The new disclosures replace existing Truth-In-Lending Statements, HUD-1 Settlement Statements and Good Faith Estimate disclosures.

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Creditors Face Liability for Misrepresentations from Their Third-Party Debt Collectors

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently held that creditors may be liable under the false name exception to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) if they falsely represent to debtors they retained a third-party collection agent, when in fact the agent made no “bona fide” effort to collect.

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Chapter 13 Creditor’s Success Story Starts With Engagement of Skilled NY Bankruptcy Law Team

One of our lender clients, a New York City-based Federal Credit Union, came to us with a dilemma.

It seems the credit union was not receiving post-petition mortgage payments from its borrower, a chapter 13 debtor. Nor was the client receiving distribution payments from the debtor’s chapter 13 trustee. The lender had relied upon foreclosure counsel to handle the chapter 13 filing. Unfortunately, foreclosure counsel, not familiar with chapter 13 practice, only filed a Notice of Appearance and nothing else, not even a proof of claim.

 

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Loss Mitigation: How Borrower Bankruptcies Impact Lenders

Between 1998 and 2007, home mortgage debt nearly tripled from 4 trillion dollars to 10 trillion dollars. This mortgage boom resulted from easy lending and questionable subprime market practices. When the housing bubble burst, the economy tumbled. Many borrowers found themselves both unable to make mortgage payments and owners of real property worth less than what they owed. In response, many homeowners filed bankruptcy petitions either under chapter 7 to surrender their home, or chapter 13 to stop a foreclosure, repay pre-petition arrears, and hold on to their home.

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“Shadow Docket” Reform Moves New York Foreclosure Cases to Settlement Conferences

On July 31, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the so-called “Shadow Docket” Bill in connection with New York residential foreclosure actions. The bill adds a new section 3012-b to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”). The new law also amends CPLR § 3408.

The new law is intended to promote the honesty and transparency in the residential foreclosure process by clarifying the obligations of lenders’ attorneys to the court and eliminating the growing number of “shadow docket” cases. Such cases are held in legal limbo while awaiting critical information necessary to trigger the scheduling of mandatory settlement conferences.  The Office of Court Administration estimates that as of July 7, 2013, there are between 5,000 to 7,000 shadow foreclosure cases.

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Second Circuit Confirms Madoff Trustee Lacks Standing to Assert Common Law Claims against Third-Party Financial Institutions

In Picard v. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (In re Bernard L. Madoff Invest. Secs. LLC), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held last month that the “doctrine of in pari delicto" precluded Irving H. Picard, the trustee under the Securities Investor Protection Act (“SIPA”), from pursuing JP Morgan Chase & Co., HSBC Bank PLC, and other third-party defendants, on behalf of defrauded customers for certain common law claims.  In re Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC, 2013 WL 3064848 (2d. Cir. June 20, 2013).

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Lenders Who Fail to Comply With CPLR 3408 Risk Significant Penalties

As lenders are aware, foreclosure proceedings in New York have changed considerably subsequent to the enactment of CPLR § 3408 and similar legislation, which placed additional obligations on lenders commencing a foreclosure action with respect to a homeowner’s primary residence. 

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ALERT -- RECENT OPINION OF THE SECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS REGARDING REPOSSESSED COLLATERAL AND POTENTIAL DAMAGES – In re Weber

Last month the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (“Second Circuit”) issued a decision of interest to all secured lenders. The case, Christopher Weber v SEFCU, rejected the reasoning of the District Court for the Northern District of New York in the Alberto case that had allowed a secured creditor to essentially sit on repossessed collateral until the debtor makes an offer of adequate protection.  This decision now becomes the law of New York and Connecticut, unless the matter is appealed and reversed by the United States Supreme Court which is highly unlikely.

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CPLR §3215(c) Mandates Moving For Entry of Judgment Within One Year After Default Or Face Dismissal – A Cautionary Tale and A Success Story

Our client, a major New York-area Credit Union, hired outside counsel to file a residential foreclosure action involving a home loan. The complaint, filed by another law firm, was not verified by an officer or employee of the foreclosing lender.  Rather, it was signed only by the attorney.  Defendant homeowner failed to file an answer to the complaint...

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9 Videos About Bankruptcy Basics

The United States Courts created 9 videos to help explain the basics of filing for bankruptcy relief. Whether you are a debtor or a creditor, these resources will be helpful to understand bankruptcy process.

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NEW YORK’S COURT OF APPEALS SAYS FEDERAL CREDIT UNIONS MUST PAY NEW YORK’S MORTGAGE RECORDING TAX

NEW YORK, NYOn October 18, 2012, the New York Court of Appeals held that federal credit unions are subject to New York State’s Mortgage Recording Tax.  The Mortgage Recording Tax requires a payment to New York State of one half of one percent (.5%) for the privilege of recording a mortgage.rpt info here.

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CREDIT UNION LENDER MUST IMMEDIATELY RETURN TO DEBTOR REPOSSESSED VEHICLE UPON NOTICE OF BANKRUPTCY FILING

On December 22, 2010, an upstate New York bankruptcy court in an adversary proceeding filed by debtor Christopher Weber against SEFCU (“Credit Union”), granted Credit Union’s motion for summary judgment. 

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HOW TO DEAL WITH LOUSY CREDIT REPORTS?: Why Knowing What Your Creditors are Saying About You Can Help You Take Charge

Often people with less than perfect credit scores are surprised that locating one standardized credit profile or a “uniform” credit report is more myth than reality. Judgments, repossessions, slow payment history, tax liens--as well as bankruptcy filings--are reported to a varying degree by creditor filings or with public record databases maintained by one of the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”). Sometimes adverse information is reported by other sources as well. In order to learn how badly your credit rating may have been damaged, you must first identify what personally identifiable credit information has been reported about you to the CRAs.

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New Website! PaperStreet launches weltmosk.com re-design!

PaperStreet Web Design's development team just wrapped up the brand new re-design of weltmosk.com.   The new site not only has a modern design but is using the latest web technologies, JavaScript libraries, and web standards.

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ATTORNEY RICHARD WELTMAN RECOGNIZED FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE BY NEW JERSEY'S FEDERAL BANKRUPTCY COURTS.

FAIR LAWN, NJ - Richard E. Weltman, a New York and New Jersey business attorney concentrating on creditor protection, debt relief, and business counseling, and founding member of the law firm of Weltman & Moskowitz, LLP, was recently acknowledged by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey for his service to New Jersey's low-income consumers in need of debt relief and bankruptcy services.

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