Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

U.S. Bank National Association v. Christophersen

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

January 30, 2018

US BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, TRUSTEE
v.
BONNIE L. CHRISTOPHERSEN ET AL.

          Argued September 20, 2017

          Bonnie L. Christophersen, self-represented, the appellant (named defendant).

          Jeffrey M. Knickerbocker, for the appellee (plaintiff).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Kahn and Sullivan, Js.

          OPINION

          KAHN, J.

         The defendant Bonnie L. Christophersen[1]appeals from the judgment of strict foreclosure, rendered in favor of the plaintiff, U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee of Maiden Lane Asset-Backed Securities I Trust 2008-1. On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the foreclosure action, (2) the court improperly failed to consider the defendant's concerns regarding the amount of debt, (3) the court abused its discretion in denying her motion for a continuance, and (4) the court abused its discretion in ordering a judgment of strict foreclosure rather than a foreclosure by sale. We affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. On July, 11 2003, the defendant secured a promissory note in the amount of $460, 000 by a mortgage on premises known as 2 Woodcock Lane in Westport. As of September, 2008, the defendant had failed to pay the installments of principal and interest. In May, 2011, the plaintiff commenced this action, seeking to foreclose the mortgage on the defendant's property.[2] The plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure, to which the defendant objected.[3] On February 21, 2014, the defendant, who then was represented by counsel, [4] filed an answer and special defenses. The parties later negotiated an agreement that the defendant would accept a judgment of strict foreclosure in exchange for an eight month law day. On April 14, 2014, the defendant informed the court of that agreement and withdrew both her answer and her objection to the plaintiff's motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure. The court accepted the agreement and, accordingly, granted the plaintiff's motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure, setting a law day of January 6, 2015. On December 24, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to open the judgment and extend the law day. The court denied the motion to open but sua sponte set a new law day of March 31, 2015. Just prior to the expiration of the new law day, on March 27, 2015, the defendant filed a bankruptcy petition, which resulted in an automatic stay of the foreclosure proceeding. On August 7, 2015, however, acting on a motion filed by the plaintiff, the bankruptcy court lifted the automatic stay.

         Following the termination of the bankruptcy stay, the plaintiff, on October 1, 2015, filed a motion to open and modify the judgment of strict foreclosure. In its motion, the plaintiff requested that the court make a new finding of debt, award the plaintiff additional costs and attorney's fees, and set a new law day. The defendant filed four successive motions for a continuance of the hearing on the plaintiff's motion to open and modify the judgment. The court, Povodator, J., granted the plaintiff's first three motions for a continuance, and the court, Hon. David R. Tobin, judge trial referee, denied the fourth motion for a continuance. On January 19, 2016, following a hearing, Judge Tobin granted the plaintiff's motion to open and rendered a modified judgment of strict foreclosure with the law days to commence on March 1, 2016. This appeal followed. Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.

         I

         The defendant first claims that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the foreclosure action. We disagree.

         ‘‘Standing is the legal right to set judicial machinery in motion. One cannot rightfully invoke the jurisdiction of the court unless he [or she] has, in an individual or representative capacity, some real interest in the cause of action, or a legal or equitable right, title or interest in the subject matter of the controversy. . . . [When] a party is found to lack standing, the court is consequently without subject matter jurisdiction to determine the cause. . . . We have long held that because [a] determination regarding a trial court's subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law, our review is plenary.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Equity One, Inc. v. Shivers, 310 Conn. 119, 125-26, 74 A.3d 1225 (2013).

         ‘‘Generally, in order to have standing to bring a foreclosure action the plaintiff must, at the time the action is commenced, be entitled to enforce the promissory note that is secured by the property. . . . Whether a party is entitled to enforce a promissory note is determined by the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code, as codified in General Statutes § 42a-1-101 et seq. . . . Under [the Uniform Commercial Code], only a holder of an instrument or someone who has the rights of a holder is entitled to enforce the instrument. . . .

         ‘‘The plaintiff's possession of a note endorsed in blank is prima facie evidence that it is a holder and is entitled to enforce the note, thereby conferring standing to commence a foreclosure action. . . . After the plaintiff has presented this prima facie evidence, the burden is on the defendant to impeach the validity of [the] evidence that [the plaintiff] possessed the note at the time that it commenced the . . . action or to rebut the presumption that [the plaintiff] owns the underlying debt . . . . The defendant [must] . . . prove the facts which limit or change the plaintiff's rights.'' (Citations omitted; emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Bliss, 159 Conn.App. 483, 488-89, 124 A.3d 890, cert. denied, 320 Conn. 903, 127 A.3d 186 (2015), cert. denied, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 2466, 195 L.Ed.2d 801 (2016).

         The trial court had before it evidence that, as of the time of the commencement of the foreclosure action in May, 2011, the plaintiff was the holder of the note endorsed in blank by virtue of an assignment. In a motion to substitute filed on January 16, 2013, the plaintiff attached documents detailing a chain of assignments, including: (1) an assignment of the mortgage deed, executed by the defendant, from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., successor by merger to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., to EMC Mortgage Corporation on January 18, 2007; (2) an assignment of the mortgage from EMC Mortgage Corporation to the plaintiff on December 12, 2008; (3) an assignment of the mortgage deed from the plaintiff to Kondaur Capital Corporation in December, 2011; and (4) an assignment of the mortgage deed from Kondaur Capital Corporation back to the plaintiff on September 12, 2012.[5] At a hearing on August 20, 2012, the plaintiff submitted an affidavit of an employee of Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, the mortgage loan servicer from July, 2010 to October, 2011, which stated that the promissory note reflected that on July 11, 2003, the defendant owed Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., $460, 000. The note was endorsed in blank and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.