US BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR WELLS FARGO ALTERNATIVE LOAN TRUST, SERIES 2005-1 Appellee
LESLIE M. FINKEL A/K/A LESLIE M. ALTIERI AND ALEXANDER BRYAN ALTIERI Appellants
from the Judgment Entered December 15, 2015 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Northampton County Civil Division at No(s):
BEFORE: BOWES, OLSON AND STABILE, JJ.
M. Finkel a/k/a Leslie M. Altieri and Alexander Bryan Altieri
appeal from the judgment entered December 15, 2015, in favor
of U.S. National Association (the "Bank") as
Trustee for Wells Fargo Alternative Loan Trust, Series
2005-1. Appellants challenge the trial court's June 26,
2013 order, as amended July 29, 2013, granting partial
summary judgment in favor of the Bank and imposing an
equitable lien on Appellants' property. After careful
review, we vacate the judgment and remand for further
proceedings in accordance herewith.
record indicates that, on March 12, 2004, Leslie Finkel
individually secured a $300, 000 mortgage with Wells Fargo to
purchase a residence located at 4120 Douglas Drive,
Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania (the
"Property"). She purchased the Property with
Alexander Bryan Altieri, who was then her boyfriend. Mr.
Altieri neither applied for nor executed the mortgage.
Rather, he contributed $300, 000 in cash to purchase the
Finkel and Mr. Altieri were present at closing. Both of their
names appeared on the deed to the Property as grantees. Ms.
Finkel executed the mortgage and note, which were in her name
alone. She also signed various notices and documents
associated with the mortgage. A HUD-1 statement bears the
signatures of Ms. Finkel and Mr. Altieri on the lines
designated for "Borrowers, " although neither
of them recalled signing the document at closing.
2004, the mortgage was assigned to the Bank. Ms. Finkel and
Mr. Altieri married on June 12, 2004, and continued to live
at the Property. In February 2009, the mortgage was allegedly
in default. On August 11, 2010, Ms. Finkel penned the first
of three letters to the Bank seeking accommodation. She
explained therein the reasons for the arrears on
"our" mortgage, and how "they" intended
to pay them.
2, 2011, the Bank commenced this action to reform the
mortgage to add Mr. Altieri as a mortgage obligor on the
Property. In the alternative, the Bank sought imposition of
an equitable lien. The Bank pled that Mr. Altieri was not on
the mortgage due to a "mutual mistake" which did
not reflect the true intentions of the parties. Amended
Complaint, 8/15/11, at ¶10. Appellants filed preliminary
objections to the complaint and amended complaint, which were
overruled. In their Answer and New Matter, Appellants denied
that there was any mutual mistake, and averred that the
mortgage, which was prepared by the Bank, was never intended
to be in Mr. Altieri's name. Answer and New Matter and
Counterclaims, 1/30/12, at ¶¶4, 5, 7. Appellants
further alleged that the Bank "specifically and
purposefully excluded [Alexander] Altieri from the
loan." Id. at ¶10. They also filed
counterclaims asserting violations of the Unfair Trade
Practices and Consumer Protection Law, the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Extension
Uniformity Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
close of the pleadings, the Bank moved for partial summary
judgment on the equitable lien claim. At that point, minimal
discovery was completed. The Bank had propounded requests for
admissions, interrogatories, and requests for production of
documents to which Appellants had responded. The trial court,
by order of June 26, 2013, granted the Bank's request for
partial summary judgment on the equitable lien claim, basing
its decision on the HUD-1 form designating Mr. Altieri as a
"Borrower, " Appellants' responses to requests
for admission Nos. 6 and 8, Ms. Finkel's letters to the
Bank, and Mr. Altieri's presence at the closing on the
3, 2013, Appellants asked the trial court to amend its order
to include a determination of finality pursuant to Pa.R.A.P.
341(c), to permit an immediate appeal to this Court, which
the trial court denied. The Bank sought clarification of
whether the June 26, 2013 order imposing the equitable lien
was interim or permanent relief. By order dated July 29,
2013, the court amended its earlier order to clarify that the
equitable lien was indeed permanent and independent of the
mortgage reformation claim.
August 30, 2013, Appellants filed an appeal to this Court
from the order granting partial summary judgment. This Court
quashed the appeal on March 20, 2014, as interlocutory.
U.S. Bank National Association v. Finkel, 100 A.3d
313 (Pa.Super. 2014) (unpublished memorandum).
continued on Appellants' counterclaims. On June 10, 2015,
the Bank filed a second motion for summary judgment on those
claims. Appellants sought reconsideration of the June 2013
order, as amended July 2013, which imposed the equitable
lien. By order dated December 15, 2015, the trial court
granted the Bank's motion for summary judgment and denied
reconsideration, thus finally disposing of all claims.
timely appealed and present three questions for our review:
A. Whether the trial court failed to properly apply the
standard applicable to summary judgment motions under Rule
B. Whether it was an error of law to conclude that no showing
of injustice or unjust enrichment was required to ...