Case Blurb: U.S. Bank v. Edna and John Schumacher

U.S. Bank National Association v. Edna and John Schumacher is scheduled for oral arguments in front of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) on Thursday, November 7th.  If you want to watch the live streaming of the oral arguments, Suffolk Law has a webcast available here.  Suffolk Law also archives webcasts in case you are not available at the exact time the video is real-time broadcasted.

U.S. Bank v. Schumacher is a post-foreclosure case that was originally argued in the Worcester Housing Court before it was transferred sua sponte from the Appeals Court to the SJC.  In the Worcester Housing Court, Judge Sullivan ruled in favor of U.S. Bank.  Mr. Schumacher was originally represented by the Alliance for Affordable Housing.  When Mr. Schumacher appealed, he obtained legal representation with Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center.  U.S. Bank was originally represented by Harmon Law Offices.  U.S. Bank is currently represented by Nelson Mullins in the SJC matter.

In this case, Mr. Schumacher argues that the foreclosure is void because the Bank failed to fully comply with M.G.L. c. 244, sec. 35A.  Pushing for strict compliance of the statute, the Appellant emphasizes that the right to cure letter that was mailed to him did not state the name of the mortgage holder of record.  In contrast, U.S. Bank argues that substantial compliance is enough.  Through out Massachusetts, the courts are split on the interpretation of this particular law.

In addition to the appellant and appellee briefs that were filed, several amicus briefs were submitted in support of both sides.  For the Plaintiff/Appellee U.S. Bank, the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA) and the Abstract Club wrote a combined brief.  For the Defendant/Appellant Mr. Schumacher, Community Legal Aid, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office submitted three separate briefs.  The docket and electronic versions of the amicus briefs are available here.

In addition, Brandon Gee at Mass Lawyers Weekly recently published an article titled, “SJC to Consider Foreclosure Sale Notice Mistakes,” regarding the U.S. Bank v. Schumacher case.  The publication is available here, but you will need a subscription to access the full article.  Gee wrote in the piece:

[I]n an amicus brief submitted in support of the defendant-appellant, Community Legal Aid Inc. says the mistakes being made are more than mere technicalities and that strict compliance must be required.

Community Legal Aid attorneys Allen Acosta, Sora J. Kim and Uri Y. Strauss argue in the brief that one of the purposes of the notices was to allow the Division of Banks to develop a database to track foreclosure activities by particular lenders, brokers and servicers. Even if a mistake identifying the players has no practical impact on individual foreclosures, it undermines the monitoring effort, the organization contends.

Community Legal Aid says mistakes are widespread and varied and have included notices that list incorrect telephone numbers, that have been sent to the wrong people, that have identified the wrong mortgage, and that have included the incorrect amount of money required to cure a default.

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