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U.S. Bank National Association v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

January 9, 2020

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TERRENCE ROBINSON, ET AL., Defendants-Appellants.

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-15-841611

          McGlinchey Stafford, and James W. Sandy, for appellee.

          John Wood, for appellants.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendants-appellants, Terrence and Kelene Robinson (collectively "the Robinsons") appeal the trial court's decision granting a decree of foreclosure in favor of U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for the Holders of the Specialty Underwriting and Residential Finance Trust Mortgage Loan Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2007-BCI ("U.S. Bank"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's decision.

         {¶ 2} In 2006, Terrence Robinson ("Terrence") executed a note in the amount of $368, 000 in favor of FMF Capital, L.L.C. ("FMF Capital") to secure funds used to purchase property located on Tinkers Valley Drive in Glenwillow, Ohio. The Note contains an allonge with an endorsement in blank from FMF Capital.

         {¶ 3} In order to secure payment on the note, the Robinsons jointly executed a mortgage in favor of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS") as mortgagee and nominee for FMF Capital, and its successors and assigns. The mortgage was recorded on October 4, 2006. On July 24, 2007, MERS, as nominee for FMF Capital, its successors and assigns, assigned the mortgage to U.S. Bank, National Association as Trustee for the MLMI SURF Trust Series, 2007-BC1 ("original assignment"). On May 23, 2014, a corrective assignment was executed by MERS as nominee for FMF Capital, its successors and assigns, to U.S. Bank ("corrective assignment"). The corrective assignment provides that it was "being recorded to clarify the full name of the assignee" on the original assignment.

         {¶ 4} In 2015, U.S. Bank initiated a foreclosure action against the Robinsons alleging that Terrence had defaulted under the terms of the note and failed to make monthly mortgage payments. Due to the default, U.S. Bank alleged that it was entitled to foreclose on its mortgage interest. Because Terrence's obligation on the note was discharged through a 2008 bankruptcy, U.S. Bank did not seek a personal monetary judgment against Terrence. Nevertheless, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Robinsons finding that any action on the note, including foreclosure on the mortgage, was time-barred.

         {¶ 5} U.S. Bank appealed this decision contending that enforcing the debt obligation under the note and foreclosing on the property are separate and distinct causes of action. US. Bank v. Robinson, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105067, 2019-Ohio-5585 ("Robinson I "). This court agreed, concluding that U.S. Bank can maintain an action in equity to enforce its mortgage lien on the Robinsons' real property for the unsatisfied debt. Id. at ¶ 13. "U.S. Bank is entitled to maintain an action in foreclosure to secure its interest as the mortgagee - upon default, legal title to the mortgaged property passes to the mortgagee as between the mortgagor and mortgagee.'" Id. at ¶ 8, quoting Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v. Holden, 147 Ohio St.3d 85, 2016-Ohio-4603, 60 N.E.3d 1243, ¶ 23. Additionally, this court stated that whether the Note was discharged in bankruptcy or barred by the relevant statute-of-limitations period to pursue a judgment on the note had no effect on whether U.S. Bank could foreclose on the mortgage. Robinson I at ¶ 8, 11. Accordingly, this court reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the matter for further proceedings.

         {¶ 6} On remand, a magistrate conducted a bench trial on U.S. Bank's foreclosure action and subsequently issued a decision in favor of U.S. Bank's claim. The Robinsons filed timely objections. The trial court denied the objections, adopted the magistrate's decision, and entered judgment in favor of U.S. Bank on its mortgage interest and ordering a decree of foreclosure. The proceedings were stayed pending appeal.

         {¶ 7} The Robinsons now appeal contending in their sole assignment of error that "the trial court erred in finding that [the Robinsons were] liable for a default on the [m]ortgage."

         I. Standard of Review

         {¶ 8} In reviewing a civil appeal from a bench trial, this court applies a "manifest weight standard of review." Benton Village Condominium Owners Assn. v. Bridge, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 106892, 2018-Ohio-4896, ¶ 13. A reviewing court "will not reverse the judgment as being against the manifest weight of the evidence if some competent, credible evidence supports all the essential elements of the case." Huntington Natl. Bank v. Miller, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 14AP-586, 2016-Ohio-5860, ¶ 13, citing C.E. Morris v. Foley Constr. Co., 54 Ohio St.2d 279, 280, 376 N.E.2d 578 (1978). Further, "[i]n determining whether a civil judgment is against the manifest weight of the evidence, an appellate court is guided by a presumption that the findings of the trial court are correct." Id., citing Seasons Coal Co., Inc. v. Cleveland, 10 Ohio St.3d 77, 80, 461 N.E.2d 1273 (1984).

         II. Law of the Case

         {¶ 9} In Robinson I, this court held that although Terrence's personal obligation under the note was discharged through a bankruptcy proceeding, U.S. Bank could maintain an action to enforce its mortgage lien on the property for the unsatisfied debt. Robinson I, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105067, 2017-Ohio-5585, ¶ 13. This court also specifically concluded that any statute of limitations prohibiting enforcement of the note had no application on enforcing the mortgage lien on the property. Id. at ΒΆ 11. Accordingly, the law of the case is that U.S. Bank may pursue its foreclosure action against the Robinsons. Any argument raised in this appeal by the Robinsons on this issue is barred by res judicata. The only ...


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