FLORIDA COURT REVERSES DISMISSAL | Key Points

  1. Florida’s Second District reversed a judgment of dismissal entered against US Bank and in favor of mortgagor Charles Engle (“Engle”) concluding the lower court erred when it held the bank failed to establish a prima facie case for foreclosure and reformation of the mortgage. U.S. Bank N.A. v. Engle, No. 2D18-3384, 2020 WL 4724511 (Fla. 2d DCA Aug. 14, 2020). By way of background, Engle was deeded property in 2003 and took out a $100,000 adjustable rate mortgage on that property in 2006. The mortgage’s legal description contained a scrivener’s error. In 2008 Engle stopped making mortgage payments and US Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings seeking both to foreclose its mortgage and reform the legal description.

  2. The matter proceeded to a non-jury trial where the bank presented documentary evidence and witness testimony establishing its standing to foreclose, satisfaction of conditions precedent, damages, and the basis for reforming the legal description of the mortgage. Engle argued the Bank’s evidence was insufficient and the lower court agreed with him and entered an order of dismissal based on “all grounds stated by defense counsel.” The Bank appealed.

  3. On appeal, the Second DCA found the Bank had standing via its holder status, satisfied conditions precedent via its use of a third party to send out the demand letter, established its damages with the payment history, and was entitled to reform the mortgage based on various warranty deeds which reflected the correct legal description varied only slightly from the one used in the mortgage. The Court reversed the order of dismissal and remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings. This opinion provides a helpful synopsis and welcome limitations on the type and scope of evidence required to foreclose a loan.

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