On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Ocean County, Docket No. F-36916-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Grall and Koblitz.
Defendant David Serido appeals from the September 16, 2011 decision*fn1 denying his motion to vacate the final foreclosure judgment of June 3, 2010. He also appeals from the November 16, 2011 order denying his motion for reconsideration and the December 16, 2011 order appointing a rent receiver. He based his application to vacate the judgment on the fact that the assignment to Wachovia Bank, NA*fn2 occurred after it had already filed the original foreclosure complaint. After considering the issues raised by Serido in light of the facts and applicable law, we affirm.
On November 30, 2007, Serido executed a note in the amount of $315,000 to Wachovia Mortgage Corporation (Wachovia Corp.) to purchase rental property in Ocean Gate. The record indicates that Wachovia Bank, NA took immediate possession of the note. To secure payment of the note, he executed a mortgage that same day to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), as nominee for Wachovia Corp.
Serido did not make the mortgage payment due on July 1, 2008 or any time thereafter. On September 22, 2008, Wachovia Bank, NA filed a foreclosure complaint. On October 20, 2008, MERS assigned the mortgage and note to Wachovia Bank, NA. Two weeks later, Wachovia Bank, NA filed an amended complaint noting the assignment of the mortgage and note from MERS to Wachovia Bank, NA.
At no time after the initial or amended complaint did Serido file an answer. At no time has he denied his responsibility for the debt or argued that TruCap is not legitimately owed the debt.
In August 2010, Wachovia Bank, NA sent Serido a notice of a scheduled sheriff's sale. Serido received two statutory stays after filing two separate Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions, which caused additional delays.
On April 27, 2011, the mortgage and note were assigned from Wells Fargo Bank, NA, the successor by merger to Wachovia Bank, NA, to TruCap.*fn3 Three months later, an order acknowledging the assignment was entered.*fn4
It was not until July 22, 2011, that Serido prepared a motion to vacate the June 3, 2010 final judgment and dismiss the complaint.*fn5 He argued that Wachovia Bank, NA lacked standing and that he was not served with the complaint or the amended complaint.*fn6 The motion judge provided Wachovia Bank, NA the opportunity to brief our just-published case, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Mitchell, 422 N.J. Super. 214 (App. Div. 2011), and adjourned the sheriff's sale. By the next court date, a certification from Edward G. Olson, Vice President of Loan Documentation at Wells Fargo Bank, NA was presented to the motion judge and to Serido. The certification in part states, "Wachovia Bank, N.A. and its successor in interest Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. were in possession of the original [n]ote and [m]ortgage from origination on November 30, 2007 until the loan was sold to Trucap, LLC." The motion judge determined that, although the mortgage and note were assigned after the complaint was filed, Wachovia Bank, NA had possession of the note at the time of the filing of the complaint and therefore had standing to bring the foreclosure action.
In determining that the final judgment should not be vacated after plaintiff waited three years to contest the foreclosure, the court explained, "[f]rom a pure point of equity, the defense was never raised. Had it been raised with an answer filed in the beginning, the Court may have permitted an amended pleading and may have said start all over again."
Nearly eighteen months after final judgment was entered, a rent receiver was appointed, as Serido had been collecting rent from tenants at the property even though final judgment had been ...