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Jp Morgan Chase Bank v. Michael J. Ackley

April 24, 2013

JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, SUCCESSOR BY MERGER TO CHASE HOME FINANCE, L.L.C., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MICHAEL J. ACKLEY, APRIL ACKLEY AND PARTIES IN POSSESSION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Tama County, Marsha A. Bergan, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bower, J.

Michael and April Ackley appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of JP Morgan Chase Bank. AFFIRMED.

Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

Michael and April Ackley appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of JP Morgan Chase Bank in this foreclosure action. The Ackleys argue on appeal that summary judgment is precluded because of unclean hands on the part of JP Morgan Chase Bank. Because we find that the district court properly applied the law, and that no questions of material fact exist, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

On June 14, 2010, JP Morgan Chase Bank (Chase) filed a foreclosure petition in district court. The petition alleged Michael and April Ackley executed a promissory note in the amount of $66,810, and to secure the debt executed a mortgage for the benefit of Weststar Mortgage, Inc. Chase is the successor in interest to Weststar Mortgage, Inc. The petition further alleged that because the Ackleys are in default, Chase has the right to foreclose upon the property. The Ackleys answered the petition on July 12, 2010, and raised various defenses. In this appeal the Ackleys claim Chase failed to comply with the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and therefore possessed unclean hands, precluding foreclosure.

Chase moved for summary judgment on January 30, 2012. The Ackleys resisted by arguing that Chase had failed to consider their eligibility under the HAMP, as required by the program. Michael Ackley provided an affidavit that Chase had failed to respond to any of his attempts to apply for relief under HAMP. The Ackleys also argued Chase lacked clean hands due to noncompliance with the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS).

On June 28, 2012, the district court granted Chase's motion for summary judgment. The court analyzed the Ackley's claim of unclean hands and determined they lacked standing under the HAMP and that the NMS did not apply.

II. Standard of Review

We review the grant of summary judgment by the district court for errors at law. Mueller v. Wellmark, Inc., 818 N.W.2d 244, 253 (Iowa 2012). "Summary judgment is appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Emp'rs Mut. Cas. Co. v. Van Haaften, 815 N.W.2d 17, 22 (Iowa 2012). We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Mueller, 818 N.W.2d at 253. When the motion is properly supported, however, the non-moving party is required to establish genuine issues for trial by coming forward with specific facts. Id.; see also Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.981(5).

III. Discussion

On appeal, the Ackleys argue they have raised a genuine issue of material fact. They contend there are questions as to Chase's actions concerning the HAMP and the NMS.

The doctrine of unclean hands rests on the principle that courts sitting in equity will not provide shelter or aid to a party who seeks the benefit of their own wrongdoing. Opperman v. M. & I. Dehy, Inc., 644 N.W.2d 1, 6 (Iowa 2002).*fn1

"The maxim means that whenever a party who seeks to . . . obtain some equitable remedy has violated good conscience or good faith . . . the doors of equity will be shut." Id. (quoting 27A Am. Jur. 2d Equity ยง126, at 605 (1996)). To avail oneself of the defense, the bad conduct must have damaged or prejudiced the defensive party in some way. Midwest Mgmt. Corp. v. Stephens, 353 N.W.2d 76, 81 (Iowa 1984). "The defense ...


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