In 2007, LG Auto Laundry sold a .8-acre tract to Shammy Man Auto Wash, with Shammy Man purchasing the land by means of a mortgage from Millennium State Bank. At the same time, LG and Shammy signed a ground lease permitting LG to possess .06 acres of the property containing a cell phone tower. LG and Millennium signed a Subordination, Non-Disturbance and Attornment Agreement (SNDA) providing that, in the event of foreclosure, LG’s possession of the leased property would not be disturbed. Shammy defaulted, but before Millennium could foreclose, the FDIC took over Millennium and transferred the assets to the State Bank of Texas. The plaintiff purchased the property from the State Bank of Texas and filed this lawsuit to establish that the foreclosure extinguished LG’s ground lease.
Although a valid foreclosure on a lien terminates leases, here the ground lease specifically stated that it was subordinate to Millennium’s deed, but the SNDA provided that LG’s possession would survive the foreclosure. However, because the FDIC took over Millennium, federal law prohibited LG from enforcing the SNDA. As a result, the Court found that the plaintiff acquired the land free and clear of LG’s lease.
Kimzey Wash v. LG Auto Laundry
After Brown missed at least twenty-five mortgage payments, the Bank sent Brown notice of default and he failed to cure. The Bank sought a declaratory judgment authorizing a non-judicial foreclosure sale of the property, and obtained summary judgment. Brown appealed, and the Court affirmed. First, the Court found that Brown’s attacks on the admissibility or competency of the Bank’s summary judgment evidence were largely inadequately briefed. Second, the Court rejected Brown’s argument that the trial judge erred by denying Brown a continuance of the summary judgment hearing because (1) Brown’s motion for continuance did not mention the summary-judgment hearing, (2) Brown failed to preserve error because there was no ruling on his motion, and (3) Brown failed to submit evidence demonstrating the materiality of the purportedly previously unavailable summary-judgment evidence. Finally, the Court held that Brown failed to show reversible error due to the clerk’s late filing of the record on appeal.
Brown v. Bank of America
Readers of the blog will probably be familiar with our “Waive Goodbye” series of posts on the Dallas Court of Appeals’ recent line of cases holding that borrowers and guarantors can contractually waive their statutory right to offset any deficiency if foreclosed property is sold for less than its fair market value. The Texas Supreme Court has now granted the petition for review in the first of those cases, Interstate 35/Chisam Road L.P. v. Moayedi, 377 S.W.3d 791 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2012, pet. granted). Oral argument has been set for January 8, and we will continue to keep our eyes on the issue.
The Court of Appeals has once again ruled that a contractual waiver prevents a guarantor from invoking its statutory right to offset if the foreclosed property was sold for less than its fair market value. This is the seventh time the Court has made that ruling in a little over a year, dating back to August 2012 in the case of Interstate 35/Chisam Road, L.P. v. Moayedi, and as recently as August 2013 in Compass Bank v. Manchester Platinum Mgmt. In this particular instance, the parties actually stipulated that the two homes at issue had fair market values in excess of the amounts owed under the promissory notes, even though they were sold for $582,623.07 less than those stipulated values. The Court further held that the broad waiver of “any statute or limitations or other defenses affecting [the guarantor's] liability hereunder” was sufficiently specific to include a waiver of the offset defense provided by section 53.001 of the Texas Property Code. The Court therefore reversed the trial court and rendered judgment for the deficiency in favor of the lender.
Given the importance of this recurring issue to borrowers, lenders, and guarantors, it would not be surprising to see the Texas Supreme Court weigh in. The petition for review in the Moayedi case has proceeded to briefing on the merits.
Compass Bank v. Goodman, No. 05-13-00447-CV
Cleveland Partners, L.P. took out a $520,000 loan from Live Oak State Bank to finance the purchase of an apartment building. The loan was personally guaranteed by the defendant in this case, Josiah Cleveland. The guaranty included a waiver of virtually all of the borrower’s defenses on the debt, including “any setoff available” against the lender. The borrower defaulted, and the bank purchased the property for $415,000 at the resulting foreclosure sale. The bank then sued the guarantor for the deficiency, with the guarantor arguing that the property sold for less than its fair market value. The trial court granted summary judgment for the bank.
On appeal, the guarantor argued that the waiver was “massively overbroad . . . unconscionable and unenforceable.” That issue was easily dispatched, with the court citing three of its four recent opinions holding that borrowers can validly waive their right to claim offset under Chapter 51 of the Texas Property Code. See Interstate 35/Chisam Road, L.P. v. Moayedi, 377 S.W.3d 791 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, pet. filed); King v. Park Cities Bank, 2012 WL 3144881 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.); Toor v. PNC Bank, N.A., 2012 WL 3637284 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.); see also Smith v. Town North Bank, 2012 WL 5499406 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, pet. denied). Bound by those precedents, the court concluded that Cleveland had validly waived his right to offset the difference between the foreclosure price and the fair market value of the property, rendering irrelevant his claim that he had raised a fact issue as to the property’s fair market value.
Perhaps notably, the petition for review in the Moayedi decision has already drawn some amicus support. If there are any further developments in this area, we’ll keep you updated.
Cleveland v. Live Oak State Bank, No. 05-11-00665-CV
In February, the court of appeals reversed a district court’s temporary injunction prohibiting a lender from foreclosing on the borrower’s properties, concluding that the testimony only established an agreement to negotiate, not an enforceable agreement to forebear from foreclosure. The court has now issued an updated opinion in that case that clarifies the standard of review. In the original opinion, the court wrote that “the trial court abuses its discretion when it misapplies the law to established facts or when the evidence does not reasonably support the trial court’s determination of the existence of a probable injury or a probable right of recovery.” In the revised opinion, the court states that an abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court “misapplies the law to established facts or when there is no evidence that supports the trial court’s determination of the existence of a probable injury or a probable right of recovery.” The difference between those two standards yielded no difference in the outcome of the case, but anyone appealing a temporary injunction should be sure to cite the correct standard of review.
Branch Banking & Trust Co. v. TCI Luna Ventures, LLC, No. 05-12-00653-CV
The court reversed a trial court’s judgment in favor of PlainsCapital Bank for damages and attorney’s fees resulting from Martin’s loan default based on Chapter 51 of the Property Code. In 2008 Martin defaulted and the Bank foreclosed upon and purchased the underlying property at auction for $539,000. Martin owed the Bank nearly $800,000. In 2009, over a year later, the Bank sold the property for $599,000 and sued Martin for the deficiency. Martin sought a damages offset under Property Code § 51.003 based on the value of the property, introducing expert testimony at trial that the property’s fair market value at the time of foreclosure was $850,000. The Bank argued that § 51.003 did not apply because it was not seeking to apply the foreclosure sale price as a credit but instead what the Bank actually received from the property: the 2009 sales price. The trial court agreed, holding § 51.003 inapplicable and crediting Martin $599,000 toward the deficiency.
On appeal, the court held that § 51.003 applies, regardless of the lender’s requested measure of damages, when (1) §51.002 foreclosure sale occurs, (2) the foreclosure sale price is less than the debt, and (3) an action is brought to recover the “deficiency,” or the amount owed on the debt after application of the collateral’s value. The court noted that the lender may not receive the benefit of a § 51.002 foreclosure sale but then “opt out” of § 51.003’s offset to the borrower. Additionally, the price received in the 2009 sale was legally insufficient evidence under § 51.003 because the Bank failed to link that price to the property’s value on the date of foreclosure. The court refused to render judgment based on Martin’s evidence, however, noting that the Bank refuted this value with its own expert testimony but indicating that the 2009 sales price was not evidence of the property’s fair market value at foreclosure.
It should be noted that the court did not hold that a later sales price of property can never be evidence of its fair market value. Rather, it is important for the lender to tie the actual sales price closely to § 51.003’s definition of fair market value, including a showing how it reflects the property’s value on the date of foreclosure.
Martin v. PlainsCapital Bank, No. 05-10-00235-CV
The court of appeals has reversed the grant of a temporary injunction that prohibited the lender from foreclosing on a pair of properties that secured a $10,000,000 promissory note. After multiple previous foreclosures, a bankruptcy filing, and the voluntary dismissal of the bankruptcy case, the borrower sued to enjoin further foreclosures, claiming that the parties had entered into a binding agreement that limited the lender’s ability to foreclose. The court of appeals rejected that argument, concluding that the testimony of the borrower’s witness at the injunction hearing only demonstrated an agreement to engage in further negotiations following dismissal of the bankruptcy, not any concrete and enforceable contractual terms. The court of appeals also rejected the borrower’s contention that the foreclosures would be wrongful because they would result in less than fair market value being received. That argument, the court held, was only applicable to a deficiency claim after foreclosure, not as grounds to prevent foreclosure itself. The court of appeals therefore dissolved the temporary injunction and remanded the case to the trial court.
Branch Banking & Trust Co. v. TCI Luna Ventures, LLC, No. 05-12-000653-CV
UPDATE: The court has issued a revised opinion in the case, in which it clarifies the standard of review. The outcome remains the same.
The court affirmed a judgment in a forcible detainer action awarding possession of a property purchased at a foreclosure sale to the buyer. The owners of a property defaulted on their promissory note, and the property was sold to FHLMC in foreclosure. FHLMC notified the former owners to vacate twice, the first in three and the second in ninety days, and eventually filed a petition for forcible detainer. After the former owners failed to object to FHLMC’s evidence or present any evidence of their own, FHLMC was awarded judgment. The former owners appealed arguing that the petition insufficiently identified the property and that the notice to vacate was insufficient. The court rejected both arguments, holding that the petition was sufficiently identified the property by including the address of the property and that the evidence of the notices to vacate was sufficient to support the judgment.
Caro v. FHLMC, No. 05-11-01023-CV
The court dismissed an appeal from post-judgment orders following foreclosure proceedings for lack of jurisdiction. After trial, the trial court entered one order denying Knoles’s efforts to avoid a writ of execution and prohibiting him from challenging the writ going forward and a second order sanctioning Knoles’s counsel for actions related to the writ. In a letter brief to the court of appeals, Knoles argued that the orders were appealable final judgments because they adjudicated a new set of facts and followed a conventional trial on the merits. The court rejected this argument, holding that the orders were issued to aid in the enforcement of the underlying unappealed judgment and that Knoles has no standing to appeal the order imposing sanctions against his counsel. Thus, the court had no jurisdiction over the appeal.
Knoles v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 05-12-00473-CV