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Bank of America, National Association, As Successor By Merger To v. Scranton Center Holdings

May 31, 2012

BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS SUCCESSOR BY MERGER TO LASALLE BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS
TRUSTEE FOR THE REGISTERED CERTIFICATEHOLDERS OF BEAR STEARNS COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE SECURITIES II INC., COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE PASSTHROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-PWR-11 PLAINTIFF
v.
SCRANTON CENTER HOLDINGS, LP, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

We are considering a motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff, Bank of America, National Association ("Bank of America"). This matter involves the attempted foreclosure by Plaintiff of property owned and mortgaged by Defendant, Scranton Center Holdings ("SCH").

II. Background

Plaintiff is a national banking association with its principal place of business in North Carolina. Defendant, SCH, is a Pennsylvania limited partnership with its principal place of business in New Jersey. On May 19, 2005, Wells Fargo Bank, National Association made a loan (the "Loan") to Defendant in the amount of $6,000,000 pursuant to the terms and conditions of a Promissory Note Secured by Mortgage (the "note"). To secure payment under the note, a mortgage (the "mortgage") was executed to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS"), the nominee of Wells Fargo, on May 19, 2005. The mortgage was recorded on June 22, 2005 at the Recorder of Deeds of Lackawanna County. The mortgaged premises is located at 401 Adams Avenue, City of Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.

Defendant admits that it "has not made payment relating to the subject mortgage since on or before December 1, 2009." (doc. 49, ¶ 14). Defendant, however, denies that it is in default. (doc. 49, ¶¶15-16).

Plaintiff alleges that Wells Fargo assigned the note to it through an endorsement stamped on the back of the note itself. Plaintiff also asserts that MERS assigned the mortgage to it. The assignment of the mortgage became effective on March 1, 2006, and Plaintiff recorded the assignment on May 26, 2010 at the Recorder of Deeds of Lackawanna County. Defendant disputes the assignments and argues that Plaintiff has failed to provide admissible evidence in support of its claims.*fn1

III. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

We will examine the motion for summary judgment under the well-established standard. Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d. Cir. 2008) ("Summary judgment is only appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact."). We "must view all evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party" and we will only grant the motion "if no reasonable juror could find for the non-movant." Id."Material facts are those 'that could affect the outcome' of the proceeding, and 'a dispute about a material fact is genuine if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Roth v. Norfalco, 651 F.3d 367, 373 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(2), "[a] party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)(2).

B. Bank of America Has Standing to Bring the Instant Suit

Plaintiff moves for summary judgment, asserting that Defendant has admitted it has not made payments under the loan. "In a mortgage foreclosure action, the plaintiff must show the existence of an obligation secured by a mortgage, and a default on that obligation." Chemical Bank v. Dippolito, 897 F. Supp. 221, 224 (E.D. Pa. 1995).

Defendant admits it obtained a loan from Wells Fargo that was secured by a mortgage in favor of MERS, meeting the first requirement in a mortgage foreclosure action. Plaintiff argues that it is the rightful holder of the note and the mortgage, and any obligation under these instruments is now owed to Plaintiff. In support of its claims, Plaintiff provides a copy of the note with a stamped endorsement on the reverse side (doc. 79-1) and a copy of the mortgage assignment (Doc. 1-9). Defendant argues that Plaintiff has not established these facts with admissible evidence, because it failed to identify any witness from Wells Fargo or MERS who can authenticate the assignment of the note or mortgage. However, Plaintiff has provided sufficient evidence of standing by providing the promissory note and mortgage, the document assigning the promissory note and mortgage, and an affidavit attesting to the damages. See HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Keenhold, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16081, *5 (M.D. Pa. 2009); First Wisconsin Trust Co. v. Strausser, 653 A.2d 688, 692 (Pa. Super. 1995) (finding general denials in mortgage foreclosure actions ...


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