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Chase Wins Appeal in Florida Foreclosure Case

Trial court had reversed foreclosure because wife allegedly mentally incapacitated

Dec. 27, 2012

By Mortgage Daily staff

After Chase Home Loans LLC foreclosed on a Florida couple, the husband claimed that his wife was mentally impaired and hid the foreclosure notices from him. A sympathetic trial judge reversed the foreclosure judgment even though Chase properly served the couple.

When Hilario and Isabel Sosa defaulted on their home loan, Chase properly conducted service of process, according to an appellate decision.

Problem was that when Mrs. Sosa's 78-year-old mother-in-law gave the summons and complaint to her, she "actively concealed" all notifications of foreclosure from her husband by hiding them under the family sofa.

Chase obtained a $26,500 foreclosure judgment and acquired the property in a foreclosure sale.

So the Sosa's daughter, acting on behalf of her father, filed a motion to vacate the foreclosure sale. She claimed that hiding the foreclosure notices was just "one of several bizarre acts concerning the family finances that have come to light since the foreclosure sale" that led the family to conclude Mrs. Sosa is mentally disturbed.

Mr. Sosa asserted that he was prepared to pay the foreclosure judgment in full.

The Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County ordered that the foreclosure sale be vacated on the basis of unsworn allegations by Mr. Sosa.

Chase appealed the order, and the trial court's order was reversed.

In the decision, Florida's Third District Court of Appeal said that while the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure permits a trial court to relieve a party from a final judgment based on a mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect -- unsworn representations of counsel about factual matters don't have any evidentiary weight in the absence of a stipulation.

"We have no doubt the trial court's motivation in reaching its decision was inspired by benevolence and compassion for the family," the decision stated. "We also are mindful that in equity jurisdiction there is some play in the joints...

"However, as we recently have said, '[a] trial court is not free to refuse to follow the law because of some personal disinclination or otherwise.'"

The decision said that even if Mrs. Sosa was mentally incapacitated during the foreclosure action, there was not a "sufficient showing of mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect to warrant vacating a final judgment."

Chase Home Loans, LLC, Appellant, vs. Hilario Sosa, et al., Appellees.
Case No. 3D12-1783, opinion filed Dec. 26, 2012 (Third District Court of Appeal, State of Florida).

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