Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Bartlett
Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC filed a complaint seeking a judgment of foreclosure against John and Cheryl Bartlett, alleging that the Bartletts had defaulted on a note secured by a mortgage on their home. After Bayview failed to appear at three mediation sessions, the district court dismissed Bayview’s complaint with prejudice, concluding that dismissal was the only appropriate sanction in light of Bayview’s pattern of disruptive behavior. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Bayview’s action with prejudice, as the district court understood the gravity of the sanction it was imposing, did not improperly rely on the Bartletts’ motions to dismiss, and correctly weighed the applicable facts in making its decision.View "Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Bartlett" on Justia Law
Gower v. Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc., et al.
Charles Gower petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate an arbitration award in favor of Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc., Caribe Realty, Inc., Larry Wireman, and Judy Ramsey Wireman(collectively, "Turquoise"). The underlying dispute arose from Gower's preconstruction agreement to purchase a condominium unit in a complex developed by Turquoise. The arbitrator's decision was based in large part on Turqoise's successfully raising a statute-of-limitations defense to Gower's claims. The Supreme Court found that Turquoise expressly argued, and then abandoned, one specific statute-of-limitations defense and then it never again urged the arbitrator to apply a statute of limitations to the various claims actually brought by the claimants. Through its arguments, Turquoise distilled the issues and arguments submitted to the arbitrator for consideration. Gower argued, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Turquoise "affirmatively chose to forgo any statute of limitations defense to the [c]laimants' ... claims and therefore did not submit [the] same to the Arbitrator for decision." Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that because the issue of the applicability of a statute of limitations was not submitted to the arbitrator for decision, the arbitrator exceeded his powers in applying a statute of limitations to Gower's claims. The Court reversed the judgment entered on the arbitrator's award, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Gower v. Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc., et al. " on Justia Law
State ex rel. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC v. Circuit Court of Kanawha County
In 2006, Respondents obtained an adjustable rate mortgage loan from a mortgage company. Respondents executed a deed of trust on the real property being purchased and separately executed an arbitration rider. Respondents later defaulted on the loan, and Petitioner, which serviced the loan, assessed a number of fees. Respondents filed an action against Petitioner alleging violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. Petitioner filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable under the Dodd-Frank Act and that it was procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The Supreme Court granted Petitioner's requested writ of prohibition to prevent enforcement of the circuit court's order, holding (1) the Dodd-Frank Act did not apply to the mortgage loan because the loan was executed prior to the Act's enactment; and (2) the arbitration agreement was neither procedurally nor substantively unconscionable.View "State ex rel. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC v. Circuit Court of Kanawha County" on Justia Law
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. O’Brien
At a foreclosure mediation, Homeowners and representatives of Lender agreed that foreclosure proceedings would be halted while Homeowners were being considered for a loan modification. Several months later, Homeowners petitioned for judicial review, asserting that Lender breached the parties' agreement. The district court granted the petition, finding Lender had violated the agreement and directing Lender to participate in and pay for further mediation. The Supreme Court dismissed Lender's appeal, holding (1) to preserve and promote the interests of judicial economy and efficiency, an order remanding for further mediation generally is not final and appealable; and (2) the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear this appeal because, given the remand for additional mediation, the district court's order was not final and appealable.View " Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. O'Brien" on Justia Law
Markowitz v. Saxon Special Servicing
Saxon Special Servicing serviced a promissory note that secured a home loan for Appellants. After Appellants stopped making payments to Saxon, a notice of default was recorded. Appellants elected to mediate in Nevada's Foreclosure Mediation Program (FMP). Saxon provided all of the required documents for the mediation, including an eighty-three-day-old broker's price opinion (BPO). The mediator ultimately determined that Saxon failed to provide "an appraisal within sixty days of mediation" because the BPO was not prepared within sixty days of the mediation. The district court concluded that the parties had negotiated in good faith with valid authority and that there was no reason to withhold the FMP certificate. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order denying the petition for judicial review, holding (1) the mediation rule requiring an appraisal or broker's price opinion that is no more than sixty days old at the time of the mediation requires substantial, rather than strict, compliance; and (2) Saxon substantially complied with the foreclosure mediation rule requiring a current appraisal. View " Markowitz v. Saxon Special Servicing" on Justia Law
Energy Home, Div. of S. Energy Homes, Inc. v. Peay
Brian and Lori Peay purchased a home manufactured by Energy Homes, Division of Southern Energy Homes, Inc. (SEHI). At closing, SEHI offered the Peays certain warranties on the home in exchange for the Peays' agreement that any disputes over the home would be submitted to binding arbitration. Brian Peay accepted the warranties and signed the arbitration agreement. After discovering flaws in the home, the Peays filed suit against SEHI, among other defendants. SEHI moved to enforce the arbitration agreement by ordering the parties to arbitrate the dispute. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed the order denying enforcement of the arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding, contrary to the findings of the court of appeals, (1) the arbitration agreement was not prohibited by the merger and integration clause of the purchase contract; (2) the arbitration agreement was not unconscionable; and (3) Lori Peay was bound to the arbitration agreement even though she did not sign the agreement. Remanded. View "Energy Home, Div. of S. Energy Homes, Inc. v. Peay" on Justia Law
Willingboro Mall, LTD. v. 240/242 Franklin Avenue, L.L.C.
In 2007, Franklin Avenue, LLC forwarded a letter to the trial court judge and its opponent, Willingboro Mall, Ltd. announcing that the case had been "successfully settled" and outlined the purported terms of the settlement. Franklin's attorney sent a separate letter to Willingboro stating that he held $100,000 in his attorney trust account to fund the settlement, that Franklin had executed a release, and that the monies would be disbursed when Willingboro filed a stipulation of dismissal in the foreclosure action and delivered a mortgage discharge on the mall property. Willingboro rejected the settlement terms and refused to sign a release or to discharge the mortgage. Franklin filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement and attached certifications from its attorney and the mediator that revealed communications made between the parties during the mediation. Willingboro did not move to dismiss the motion, or strike the certifications, based on violations of the mediation-communication privilege. Instead, in opposition to the motion to enforce, Willingboro requested an evidentiary hearing and the taking of discovery, and filed a certification from its manager. The trial court ordered the taking of discovery and scheduled a hearing to determine whether an enforceable agreement had been reached during mediation. The issues on appeal to the Supreme Court reduced to: (1) whether Rule 1:40-4(i) required a settlement agreement reached at mediation to be reduced to writing and signed at the time of mediation; and (2) whether plaintiff waived the privilege that protects from disclosure any communication made during the course of mediation. The Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiff expressly waived the mediation-communication privilege and disclosed privileged communications. The oral settlement agreement reached by the parties was upheld. Going forward, however, a settlement that is reached at mediation but not reduced to a signed written agreement will not be enforceable. View "Willingboro Mall, LTD. v. 240/242 Franklin Avenue, L.L.C." on Justia Law
O’Neal v. Bama Exterminating Company, Inc.
The O'Neals appealed a circuit court order that granted Bama Exterminating Company, Inc.'s motion to compel arbitration. The dispute arose shortly after the O'Neals closed on the purchase of a house. As part of the loan disclosures, Bama Exterminating prepared an inspection report that the house was termite-free. The report did disclose a prior infestation at the house's carport from several years earlier. Mr. O'Neal signed the report right below the arbitration provision. Two weeks after closing, the O'Neals discovered "bugs" in the walls. They called Bama Exterminating who confirmed that the bugs were termites. The O'Neals then sued Bama Exterminating alleging negligence, wantonness and breach of contract. Bama Exterminating answered their complaint with the affirmative defense of the arbitration clause in the inspection report. The parties moved toward trial in the circuit court. When mediation failed, Bama Exterminating moved the court to compel arbitration. The O'Neals argued that the exterminator waived its right to compel arbitration by its participation in the litigation process. The Supreme Court found the exterminator did not waive its right to compel arbitration, and therefore affirmed the circuit court's decision to grant the company's motion.View "O'Neal v. Bama Exterminating Company, Inc. " on Justia Law
Ass’n of Apartment Owners of Waikoloa Beach Villas v. Sunstone Waikoloa, LLC
The Waikoloa Beach Villas condominium project was developed by Respondent, Sunstone Waikoloa, LLC. Petitioner, the Association of Apartment Owners of the Waikoloa Beach Villas, contacted Respondent to resolve issues resolving purported construction defects. Petitioner then filed a motion to compel mediation and arbitration. Respondent argued that it could not request arbitration because it had failed to comply with the requirements of the Declaration of Condominium Property Regime for the Villas. The Declaration imposed numerous requirements that Petitioner must meet before initiating arbitration or litigation proceedings against Respondent. The lower court granted Petitioner's motion. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) reversed. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the ICA, holding that section R.4(c) of the Declaration violated Haw. Rev. Stat. 514B-105(a) because it imposed limitations on Petitioner in arbitration or litigation more restrictive than those imposed on other persons. Remanded.View "Ass'n of Apartment Owners of Waikoloa Beach Villas v. Sunstone Waikoloa, LLC" on Justia Law