WILMINGTON SAVINGS FUND SOCIETY, FSB, d/b/a CHRISTIANA TRUST, not in its Individual Capacity, but Solely as Trustee for BCAT 2015-13BTT, Plaintiff-Appellee,
SHEREE SMITH-MARTINEZ and MICHAEL MARTINEZ, Defendants-Appellants.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Mary E.
Chicchelly (summary judgment) and Patrick R. Grady
Smith-Martinez and Michael Martinez appeal from the district
court's grant of summary judgment in a
mortgage-foreclosure action. AFFIRMED.
L. Smith-Martinez and Michael Martinez, Cedar Rapids, pro se
Margaret A. Hanson and Matthew E. Laughlin of Davis, Brown,
Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Vogel, S.J.
MULLINS, PRESIDING JUDGE
Smith-Martinez and Michael Martinez appeal the district
court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Wilmington
Savings Fund Society, FSB, d/b/a Christiana Trust not in its
individual capacity but solely as trustee for BCAT 2015-13BTT
(Wilmington), in a mortgage-foreclosure action. The Martinezes
assert the court should have dismissed the foreclosure action
based on Wilmington's lack of standing, the court's
lack of jurisdiction, and because the note and mortgage
documents were not attached to the foreclosure petition.
Further, the Martinezes assert the court abused its
discretion by refusing to hold a hearing on Wilmington's
motion for summary judgment and genuine issues of material
fact remain regarding the note and mortgage documents that
preclude summary judgment. Finally, they challenge the order
of a supersedeas bond in order to stay the proceedings. The
Martinezes request appellate attorney fees and the assessment
of the costs on appeal to Wilmington.
Background Facts and Proceedings
September 2001, Katharin Stevens executed a uniform
residential loan application and a promissory note for $165,
400.00, in favor of IMS Mortgage Company (IMS), for property
in Linn County. As security for the note, Katharin; her
husband, Jack; her daughter, Sheree; and Sheree's
husband, Michael, executed a mortgage on the property, in
favor of IMS. In October, the mortgage was recorded. IMS
assigned the mortgage to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc.
(Wells Fargo HM). The assignment of the mortgage was also
recorded. Katharin died in 2005, and Jack died in 2006.
2013, Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (Wells Fargo), successor by
merger with Wells Fargo HM, filed a foreclosure petition
against multiple parties including Sheree, Michael, and
Katharin's estate. Wells Fargo alleged the note was in
default due to nonpayment and sought to foreclose the
mortgage. Wells Fargo alleged an outstanding and unpaid
principal balance of $146, 875.60, plus interest. Sheree and
Michael generally denied the petition. In August 2015, Wells
Fargo assigned the mortgage to Wilmington. In October, the
assignment was recorded.
January 2016, Sheree moved to dismiss the foreclosure based
on, among other things, Wells Fargo's alleged lack of
standing and the court's lack of subject matter
jurisdiction over the matter. She further challenged the
validity of the mortgage, note, and the mortgage's
original assignment from IMS to Wells Fargo HM. In February,
over Sheree's resistance, the court substituted
Wilmington as plaintiff after finding the assignment from
Wells Fargo to Wilmington was effective and Wilmington became
the real party in interest. The court also denied
Sheree's motion to dismiss, finding it had jurisdiction
over the matter and any issues relating to the validity of
the various documents in the cases were matters best suited
to examination at trial. The court also stated that if the
Martinezes believed that they had claims specifically against
Wells Fargo, they could seek to add Wells Fargo as a party or
could file an appropriate motion to challenge
Wilmington's status as the real party in interest. The
Martinezes did not file any pleadings related to these two
April, Wilmington moved for summary judgment. In her
resistance, Sheree alleged several issues that she contended
were genuine issues of material fact precluding summary
judgment, repeating many of the same arguments from prior
pleadings, including standing and thus the court's lack
of subject matter jurisdiction as well as the authenticity of
the mortgage and note documents.
June, the court denied summary judgment. In its ruling, the
court found Sheree's multiple allegations were largely
duplicative and mostly unsupported by evidence. The court, in
response to Sheree's challenge to the authenticity of the
mortgage and note document, found the mortgage documents in
the record to be identical. However, it found discrepancies
between the filed note documents in the record, which Sheree
had raised in her resistance to the motion but which
Wilmington had not addressed in its reply. The court noted
Wilmington could submit a renewed motion for summary judgment
after resolving the issues with the note documents.
September, Wilmington renewed its motion for summary
judgment. In October, it filed the affidavit of Ashley
Dellinger, a vice president for loan documentation for Wells
Fargo. Her affidavit stated that Jack signed the loan
application but was not a borrower, so Jack's signature
on the note was an error. Wilmington provided a copy of the
note with Jack's signature redacted as well as the loan
application, which did not list Jack as a borrower.
the court considered the renewed motion in November, it
determined its June ruling had resolved all issues except the
unexplained crossing off of Jack's signature on one
version of the note. Based upon the Dellinger affidavit, the
court determined no genuine factual dispute remained as to
the note's validity. For that reason, it granted summary
judgment. Sheree moved for reconsideration. However before
the court could rule on the motion, Sheree and Michael filed
notices of appeal, divesting the court of jurisdiction.
March 2017, Wilmington moved for entry of a foreclosure
decree given the court's grant of summary judgment and
though the Martinezes filed notices of appeal of the grant,
they had not posted a supersedeas bond to stay the
proceedings while their appeal was pending. The supreme court
determined the appeal was interlocutory, treated the
Martinezes' filings as applications for interlocutory
appeal, and denied the applications.
August, the district court entered a foreclosure decree and
ordered the sale of the property. The court also ordered the
Martinezes to post a supersedeas bond of $285, 000.00 if they
wished to stay the proceedings. Sheree moved for reconsideration.
However before the court could rule on the motion, the