Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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Quail's 47,480-square-foot unincorporated Sonoma County property contained two houses, garages, and several outbuildings. In 2013, a building with hazardous and unpermitted electrical wiring, hazardous decking and stairs, unpermitted kitchens and plumbing, broken windows, and lacking power, was destroyed in a fire. Two outbuildings, unlawfully being used as dwellings, were also damaged. One report stated: “The [p]roperty . . . exists as a makeshift, illegal mobile home park and junkyard.” After many unsuccessful attempts to compel Quail to abate the conditions, the county obtained the appointment of a receiver under Health and Safety Code section 17980.7 and Code of Civil Procedure section 564 to oversee abatement work. The banks challenged a superior court order authorizing the receiver to finance its rehabilitation efforts through a loan secured by a “super-priority” lien on the property and a subsequent order authorizing the sale of the property free and clear of U.S. Bank’s lien.The court of appeal affirmed in part. Trial courts enjoy broad discretion in matters subject to a receivership, including the power to issue a receiver’s certificate with priority over pre-existing liens when warranted. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in subordinating U.S. Bank’s lien and confirming the sale of the property free and clear of liens so that the receiver could remediate the nuisance conditions promptly and effectively, but prioritizing the county’s enforcement fees and costs on equal footing with the receiver had no basis in the statutes. View "County of Sonoma v. U.S. Bank N.A." on Justia Law

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Coinbase is an online digital currency platform that allows customers to send, receive, and store certain digital currencies. Archer opened a Coinbase account to purchase, trade, and store cryptocurrency. On October 23, 2017, a third party launched a new cryptocurrency, “Bitcoin Gold,” Coinbase monitored and evaluated Bitcoin Gold’s network and informed its customers via its website: “ ‘At this time, Coinbase cannot support Bitcoin Gold because its developers have not made the code available to the public to review. This is a major security risk.’ ” In 2018, the Bitcoin Gold network was attacked by hackers who stole millions of dollars of funds from trading platforms and individuals on its network.Archer sued Coinbase, based on Coinbase’s failure and refusal to allow him to receive his Bitcoin Gold currency and Coinbase’s retention of control over his Bitcoin Gold. The trial court rejected his claims of negligence, conversion, and breach of contract on summary judgment. The court of appeal affirmed. Archer failed to establish the existence of an agreement by Coinbase to provide the Bitcoin Gold to him and failed to demonstrate Coinbase acted in any way to deprive him of his Bitcoin Gold currency. View "Archer v. Coinbase, Inc." on Justia Law

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Alviso filed suit against numerous parties, including Wells Fargo, that were allegedly involved in a sham transaction by which a seller purported to sell a property to a buyer who obtained a mortgage loan from Aviso to fund the purchase. The title insurer involved in the sham transaction, WFG Title, is Alviso's successor-in-interest and is not prosecuting the action. The trial court granted summary judgment for Wells Fargo, finding that it had no legal obligation to maintain public title records and further finding that equity did not justify displacing Wells Fargo as senior lienholder.The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that the trial court properly granted Wells Fargo's motion for summary judgment. The court held that a fraudulent or forged deed does not convey valid title and, because Wells Fargo was not negligent, neither equitable estoppel nor Civil Code section 3543 is applicable. Finally, the court held that Alviso's remaining arguments are forfeited. View "WFG National Title Insurance Co. v. Wells Fargo Bank NA" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Adams obtained a loan secured by a deed of trust against Vallejo residential property. Adams obtained a loan from an individual, Gallegos, secured by a separate deed of trust recorded against the same property. Adams defaulted on the junior loan, resulting in foreclosure and a trustee’s sale in 2008. Gallegos was the purchaser. The property was still subject to the senior loan; Adams remained the "Borrower,” named on the deed of trust. In 2017, Adams filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. After her discharge, Adams filed a complaint, alleging “Violations of the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights” (HBOR), based on her 2016-2017 negotiations for a loan modification. She claimed that the defendants recorded notices of default and of trustee’s sale on the senior loan and failed to provide her with a single point of contact while her application was pending. The court granted the defendants judgment on the pleadings.The court of appeal reversed. While the complaint failed to allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action under the HBOR the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Adams leave to amend. The facts alleged in the complaint together with matters that are subject to judicial notice do not establish that the property is Adams’s principal residence as required under HBOR but there is a reasonable possibility that amendment of the complaint would cure this defect. View "Adams v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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Abelardo Martinez, who was blind, brought an action against San Diego County Credit Union (Credit Union) claiming its website was incompatible with software permitting him to read website content. He alleged this defect denied him equal access to, and full enjoyment of, the Credit Union's website and its physical locations. Martinez asserted a single cause of action under the Unruh Civil Rights Act based on two alternate theories: (1) Credit Union's website violated the American Disabilities Act (ADA); and (2) Credit Union's actions constituted intentional discrimination prohibited by the Unruh Civil Rights Act. On the day scheduled for jury selection, the court dismissed the action on its own motion based on its understanding Martinez was intending to pursue only the ADA theory, and the court's finding Martinez had not sufficiently alleged Credit Union's website constitutes a "public accommodation" within the meaning of the ADA (although the court characterized its ruling as a nonsuit, the parties agree it was a conclusion based solely on Martinez's pleadings). Martinez appealed. The Court of Appeal found the trial court erred in dismissing the action at the pleadings stage based on the ADA's public-accommodation element: a disabled plaintiff can state a viable ADA claim for alleged unequal access to a private entity's website if there is a sufficient nexus between the claimed barriers and the plaintiff's ability to use or enjoy the goods and services offered at the defendant's physical facilities. Under this standard, the Court found Martinez alleged a sufficient nexus to state an ADA violation. The Court rejected the Credit Union's alternate argument that the dismissal was proper because the United States Congress has not enacted specific website accessibility standards. View "Martinez v. San Diego County Credit Union" on Justia Law

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The owner of the unencumbered 25 percent interest in the real property is entitled to a proportionate share of surplus proceeds. The Court of Appeal's conclusion is based on Caito v. United California Bank (1978) 20 Cal.3d 694. The court held that the 1990 enactment of Civil Code section 2924k did not change the principles set forth in Caito.Applying this principle about the rights of junior lienors to the undisputed facts of this case, the court held that the creditor holding the second deed of trust encumbering an undivided 75 percent interest in the real property was entitled only to a 75 percent share of the surplus funds. The court held that the remaining 25 percent must be distributed to the person who owned the interest that was not encumbered by the second deed of trust. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's judgment. View "Zieve, Brodnax & Steele, LLP v. Dhindsa" on Justia Law

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Freelance bookkeeper Elizabeth Mulder perpetrated a nearly five-year fraud against her client, plaintiff Kurtz-Ahlers. Both Kurtz-Ahlers and Mulder coincidentally had their checking accounts at defendant Bank of America (the Bank). Mulder ran her scam through her account at the Bank. After discovering the fraud, Kurtz-Ahlers notified the Bank and made a claim for its losses. The Bank denied the claim and Kurtz-Ahlers sued the Bank for negligence. After a two-week jury trial, the trial court granted the Bank’s motion for nonsuit, essentially holding the Bank owed Kurtz-Ahlers no duty to investigate or monitor Mulder’s account. Finding no reversible error in that conclusion, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Kurtz-Ahlers, LLC v. Bank of America N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2000, the Fasslers obtained a Wells Fargo (WF) home equity line of credit (HELOC), secured by a deed of trust (DOT). In 2003, they secured a $530,000 World Savings home loan, then obtained another WF HELOC. In 2004, they refinanced, using a $682,500 Countrywide Loan (secured by a DOT) to pay off World Savings and eliminate the HELOC balances. WF never issued any reconveyance of its DOTs. In 2005-2008, the Fasslers drew upon both HELOCs; as of 2016, the outstanding balances totaled over $224,000. In 2007, they refinanced the Countrywide Loan with a $1 million WaMu loan They defaulted. WaMu foreclosed. In 2008, LaSalle obtained title at a nonjudicial foreclosure auction. The following month, WF recorded a notice of default and election to sell under its DOT. The Huangs purchased the property from LaSalle in February 2009. In August 2009, WF recorded its notice of trustee’s sale. The Huangs received the notice when it was posted on their door.The Huangs' suit to quiet title was rejected as time-barred because, more than three years before they filed suit, they were aware of a recorded notice of trustee’s sale. The court of appeal reversed, finding that the notice of sale did not disturb or otherwise interfere with the Huangs’ possession sufficiently to start the running of the limitations period. After receiving the notice of sale, the Huangs provided it to their title insurer. The trustee’s sale did not take place as scheduled; the Huangs heard nothing substantive about the matter for years, while they continuously lived in the home. View "Huang v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Robert Weimer, Jr., purchased real property in Carnelian Bay in 1993. He refinanced the mortgage in 2006 with a loan from defendant Bank of America, N.A. (BANA). After defaulting, plaintiff entered into a loan modification process with BANA. Subsequently, loan servicing was transferred, successively, to defendants Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC (SLS) and Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (Nationstar). According to plaintiff, BANA, SLS, and Nationstar successively each engaged in deliberate and negligent misconduct in the loan modification process. In 2014, BANA transferred beneficial interest in the loan to defendant U.S. Bank, N. A. (U.S. Bank), as trustee for the Certificateholders of Banc of America Funding Corporation Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2007-7. Eventually, Nationstar, acting as U.S. Bank’s agent, recorded a notice of trustee’s sale and had an agent enter onto the property and change the locks. After plaintiff commenced this action, BANA, U.S. Bank, and Nationstar demurred to a first amended complaint. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend as to BANA, concluding that the action against it was time-barred. As to the other defendants, the court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, asserting intentional and negligent misrepresentation, negligence, trespass to land, seeking declaratory relief, and asserting violations of the unfair competition law. U.S. Bank and Nationstar demurred, SLS separately demurred, and the trial court sustained the demurrers without leave to amend. On appeal, plaintiff contended the trial court erred in concluding that the action against BANA was time-barred because BANA’s actions were part of a civil conspiracy with the other defendants, and the timeliness of plaintiff’s action against BANA must be measured from the last overt act. Plaintiff further asserted the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrers to the second amended complaint because he sufficiently stated each cause of action. Furthermore, plaintiff asserted the trial court should have granted him leave to amend, however, he largely contended his complaint required no amendment. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded that the action as asserted against BANA was indeed time-barred. The Court further concluded plaintiff sufficiently stated causes of action sounding in intentional and negligent misrepresentation and violations of the unfair competition law against the remaining defendants. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court concluded the remaining defendants had a duty of care and that plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action for negligence against them. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgments of dismissal as to U.S. Bank, SLS, and Nationstar and reversed the orders sustaining the demurrers as to the causes of action in the second amended complaint for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of the unfair competition law. In all other respects, the judgments were affirmed. View "Weimer v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleges she bought her Richmond home in 1973, refinanced her mortgage in 2005, and unsuccessfully applied for a loan modification in 2015. Plaintiff was not allowed to make payments in the interim and owed $20,000 in arrears. Plaintiff sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief. She was required to make monthly payments to cover her pre-petition mortgage arrears plus her regular monthly mortgage payments. Plaintiff failed to make her regular October 2016 mortgage payment. Defendant sought relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay. The bankruptcy court approved an agreement that she would pay the October and November payments over a period beginning in January 2017. Plaintiff claims defendant violated that agreement, that her attempts to make those payments failed, and that she was unable to contact the defendant’s “single point of contact” for foreclosure avoidance (Civil Code 2923.7) Defendant obtained relief from the bankruptcy stay and would not accept the January 2017 payment. At the time of the bankruptcy sale, plaintiff’s home was worth approximately $550,000; defendant sold the home for $403,000.The court of appeal reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim that she should have been able to avoid foreclosure by tendering the amount in default (Civ. Code 2924c) and that it was unlawful for defendant also to demand payment on amounts subject to a confirmed bankruptcy plan and reversed the dismissal of the section 2923.7 claim but upheld the dismissal of breach of contract, negligence, and elder abuse claims. View "Williams v. 21st Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law