Monday, May 3, 2010



THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON FKA THE BANK OF NEW YORK, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE CERTIFICATEHOLDERS CWALT, INC., ALTERNATIVE LOAN TRUST 2006-18CB, MORTGAGE PASSTHROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-18CB, Plaintiff, Case No. 2009-CA-21844NC v. THOMAS JOSEPH TAKACS A/K/A THOMAS J. TAKACS; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INCORPORATED, AS A NOMINEE FOR COUNTRYWIDE BANK, N.A.; ROGER JOSEPH TAKACS; UNKNOWN SPOUSE OF ROGER JOSEPH TAKACS; UNKNOWN SPOUSE OF THOMAS JOSEPH TAKACS A/K/A THOMAS J. TAKACS; et. al., Defendants. __________________________________________/ MOTION TO DISQUALIFY COUNSEL Defendants, THOMAS TAKACS, ROGER TAKACS, and LINDA TAKACS (collectively ³TAKACS´), by and through their undersigned counsel, move this Court for entry of an Order disqualifying the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson from (³Watson´) from representing Plaintiff in this case, and would show: 1. Plaintiff has initiated this lawsuit for mortgage foreclosure, yet TAKACS never
signed a Note and Mortgage with Plaintiff. The Note and Mortgage upon which this lawsuit is based reflect that they were entered in favor of Defendant, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. (³MERS´), not Plaintiff. As such, it is axiomatic that
Plaintiff¶s standing to bring this lawsuit is predicated on an alleged Assignment of Mortgage
from MERS to it. 2. Florida¶s appellate courts have, for lack of a better term, begun ³cracking down´
on banks vis a vis these Assignments of Mortgage. To illustrate, on February 12, 2010, the Second District reversed a summary judgment of foreclosure where the plaintiff bank did not show a proper assignment of mortgage. See BAC Funding Consortium, Inc. v. Jacques, Case No. 2D08-3553 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010). This ruling comes on the heels of the Florida Supreme Court¶s recent rule change requiring that all mortgage foreclosure lawsuits be executed under oath. Suffice it to say that Florida courts are increasingly concerned about Assignments of Mortgage and ensuring that the correct bank has filed suit for foreclosure. 3. In the case at bar, the Official Records of Sarasota County, Florida reflect that an
Assignment of Mortgage, purporting to transfer the instant Mortgage from MERS to Plaintiff, was recorded on December 31, 2009 (³the Assignment´). A copy of the Assignment is attached as Exhibit ³A.´ 4. The legitimacy of the Assignment is very much in question. Quite frankly, it
seems clear the Assignment was not executed by MERS in the ordinary course of business, as required, but was fraudulently executed by Plaintiff and Watson in a fraudulent attempt to ³push through´ this mortgage foreclosure case. 5. TAKACS and the undersigned realize that is a serious allegation. As such, they
invite this Court to take a look at Exhibit ³A´ hereto. Even an initial, cursory review of the Assignment calls into question its legitimacy. First, it was not executed until December 31, 2009 (after Watson had already filed this lawsuit). Second, the Assignment was ³prepared by´ and to be ³returned to´ Watson. Third, the notary block indicates that the Assignment was executed in Broward County, Florida, which is where (as the Assignment reflects), Watson¶s office is 2
located, not where the assignor conducts business. If an agent of MERS signed this Assignment, as required and as purported, it strains logic to understand why its agent would sign in Broward County, Florida, where the assignee¶s attorney conducts business, rather than in Virginia, where MERS conducts business. Finally, but perhaps most troubling, the Assignment reflects that it was executed by Caryn A. Graham, purportedly as Assistant Secretary of MERS, yet a simple internet search reveals that Caryn Graham is an attorney of Watson, assignee¶s attorney. 6. These facts, viewed in conjunction with one another, raise serious questions. For
example, if the Assignment was a legitimate business transaction, and Plaintiff actually obtained an assignment of the instant Note and Mortgage from MERS, then why did Watson, Plaintiff¶s counsel in this case, prepare the Assignment? And sign it as the assignor? Shortly after this suit was filed? If this was a legitimate assignment, why was it signed by Plaintiff¶s own lawyer rather than an agent of MERS? 7. Depending on the response interposed to this motion, more discovery on these
issues may be necessary. At this point, though, the answer to these questions seems clear. It seems Plaintiff retained Watson to file this foreclosure case and that, upon being retained, Shapiro realized that no Assignment of Mortgage had ever been executed or recorded. As such, Watson drafted the Assignment and caused Caryn Graham, one of Watson¶s own lawyers, to sign it (purportedly as Vice President of MERS), in an attempt to ³push through´ this mortgage foreclosure case.1 In other words, it seems that Plaintiff and Watson have created, executed, and recorded a fraudulent assignment and are relying on that Assignment as the basis for standing to sue TAKACS in this case. 8.
Plaintiff and Watson may not agree with these facts. At this point, though, the
Shapiro¶s own website reflects that it has four employees who act as ³assignment processors.´ 3
issue is not whether TAKACS can unequivocally prove that the Assignment is fraudulent. Said issue is for another day, i.e. a hearing on a motion for sanctions for fraud on this Court. Rather, the issue at bar is whether Watson should be permitted to remain as Plaintiff¶s counsel in this case. For the reasons set forth herein, Watson should be disqualified. 9. Rule 4-1.7(a), R.Reg.Fla.Bar, provides:
A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to the interests of another client, unless: (1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not adversely affect the lawyer¶s responsibilities to and relationship with the other client; and (2) each client consults after consultation. 10. Rule 4-1.7(b), R.Reg.Fla.Bar, provides:
A lawyer shall not represent a client if the lawyer¶s exercise of professional judgment in the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer¶s responsibilities to another client or to a third person or by the lawyer¶s own interests, unless: (1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and (2) the client consents after consultation. 11. Shapiro¶s conflict of interest is obvious. As the pleadings reflect, Watson is
acting as counsel for Plaintiff against Defendant, MERS. Incredibly, Watson is Plaintiff¶s counsel in this case even though it has already acted as counsel for Defendant, MERS, in this very case! It is fundamental that the same law firm cannot represent a plaintiff and a defendant in the same case. 12. Watson may dispute its representation of MERS, but there is no other explanation
for why Watson¶s own attorneys prepared the Assignment and executed it on behalf of MERS. In other words, if Watson was not representing MERS in this case, then why did it prepare the Assignment and sign it for MERS? Notably, Watson is counsel of record for MERS in many other, active cases before this Court. As such, Watson¶s status as counsel for Defendant, MERS is not reasonably in dispute. 4
The problems do not end there. After Watson represented MERS vis a vis the
Assignment and filed suit against MERS in this case (on behalf of Plaintiff, its other client), Watson moved for and obtained a Clerk¶s default against MERS, its own client. As such, Watson represented MERS in the transaction at issue in this case but sued MERS on behalf of a different client, then obtained a default against MERS on behalf of a different client. 14. Watson¶s conflict is not only a textbook violation of Rule 4-1.7, it calls into
serious question the fair administration of justice. To illustrate, TAKACS fear that MERS may institute legal proceedings against them in the future. After all, what is to stop MERS from taking the position, at some point in the future, that it is the owner and holder of the Note and Mortgage? Where would that leave TAKACS? Or the then-owner of the subject property? Or the title insurance company that writes title insurance based on the title that is derived from a foreclosure on the subject property (if a foreclosure is allowed)? 15. Under a myriad of Florida cases, the conflict of interest by which Watson is
operating, coupled with the affect that conflict is having on the administration of justice, requires its disqualification as counsel. See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. K.A.W., 575 So. 2d 630 (Fla. 1991); Koulisis v. Rivers, 730 So. 2d 289 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999); Campbell v. American Pioneer Savings Bank, 565 So. 2d 417 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990). 16. The Campbell decision is particularly apt, as it required disqualification of
attorney who represented a defendant regarding her interest in property and later tried to represent the plaintiff who sued for mortgage foreclosure on that property. 565 So. 2d 417. 17. To the extent Watson disagrees with the facts set forth herein, this Court cannot
simply accept Watson¶s version of events as true. Rather, in that event, an evidentiary hearing is required. See School Bd. of Broward County v. Polera Building Corp., 722 So. 2d 971 (Fla. 4th 5
DCA 1999). 18. TAKACS have not encountered many Florida cases that evaluate a motion to
disqualify counsel on facts like those herein. After all, only in recent years have banks and their lawyers begun drafting assignments in mass quantities in an attempt to ³push through´ foreclosure suits. Other jurisdictions, however, have begun catching on to these unseemly tactics. One New York court, for example, after discussing problems with an assignment of mortgage similar to those set forth above, ruled: Even if [plaintiff] is able to cure the assignment defect, plaintiff¶s counsel then has to address the conflict of interest that exists with his representation of both the assignor of the instant mortgage, MERS as nominee for HSBC Mortgage, and the assignee of the instant mortgage, HSBC. « HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Vazquez, 2009 N.Y. Slip. Op. 51814 (2009); see also Bank of N.Y. v. Mulligan, 2008 N.Y. Slip. Op. 31501 (2008) (³The Court is concerned that [the person who signed the assignment] may be engaged in a subterfuge, wearing various corporate hats«´); Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Castellanos, 2008 N.Y. Slip. Op. 50033 (2008) (³If he is a Vice President of both the assignor and the assignee, this would create a conflict of interest and render the July 21, 2006 assignment void.´); HSBC Bank, N.A. v. Cherry, 2007 N.Y. Slip. Op. 52378 (2007) (³The Court is concerned that there may be fraud on the part of HSBC, or at least malfeasance. Before granting an application for an order of reference, the Court requires an affidavit from [the person who signed the assignment] describing his employment history for the past three years.´). 19. As if Watson¶s conflict of interest is not bad enough, the problems do not end
there. The propriety of the Assignment is a huge issue in this case. It will be a feature at trial and pre-trial discovery. The obvious problem is that testimony and discovery concerning this Assignment is not possible without involving Watson. 6 After all, Watson prepared the
Assignment, executed the Assignment, and is a necessary witness regarding its propriety. That is unfortunate, but that is the situation that Watson created when it prepared the Assignment and puts its name and address in place of MERS on the Assignment. 20. The situation here is similar to that presented to the First District in Live and Let
Live, Inc. v. Carlsberg Mobile Home Props., Ltd., 388 So. 2d 629 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980). In that case, plaintiff¶s attorney was the escrow agent for the real estate transaction upon which the lawsuit was based. What he knew or was told at closing was relevant at trial. Id. Deeming him a ³central figure in the lawsuit,´ the First District required his disqualification. Id. In so ruling, the court cited ethical considerations promulgated by the Florida Supreme Court in In Re Integration Rule of The Florida Bar, 235 So. 2d 723 (Fla. 1970), including DR 5-102, which provides: (A) If, after undertaking employment in contemplated or pending litigation, a lawyer learns or it is obvious that he or a lawyer in his firm ought to be called as a witness on behalf of his client, he shall withdraw from the conduct of the trial and his firm, if any, shall not continue representation in the trial. (B) If, after undertaking employment in contemplated or pending litigation, a lawyer learns or it is obvious that he or a lawyer in his firm ought to be called as a witness other than on behalf of his client, he may continue the representation until it is apparent that his testimony is or may be prejudicial to his client. 21. The situation here is analogous. Watson will be a central figure at trial. There is
no way to litigate this case without Watson¶s testimony regarding the circumstances in which the Assignment was entered. 22. Watson may not like this outcome, but it put itself in this position. This is not one
of those cases where a party wants to call opposing counsel on an immaterial issue just to generate a disqualification. Watson chose to represent MERS and Plaintiff in the same case, draft the Assignment, and execute the Assignment, all before TAKACS ever knew about this lawsuit. Watson chose to make itself a central figure in this case. It must now reap the 7
consequences. 23. Notably, this case is still in its early stages. Defendants¶ Motion to Dismiss has
yet to be heard. As such, there is no reason that Plaintiff cannot procure a different attorney (who lacks a conflict of interest and will not have to testify). Other parties should not be prejudiced by Watson¶s conflict where a different attorney can be procured. 24. In light of the foregoing, the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson have an
irreconcilable conflict of interest, having represented both Plaintiff and Defendant on the matters at issue in this case. As such, Watson should be disqualified. Additionally or alternatively, because Watson is a ³central figure´ in this litigation, the case cannot proceed with it acting as counsel. WHEREFORE TAKACS respectfully request an Order disqualifying Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson from acting as counsel for Plaintiff in this cause. VERIFICATION Under penalty of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing document and that the facts stated in it are true. ____________________________________ Thomas Takacs
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been furnished via U.S. Mail to Rebecca Nilsen, Esq, Law Offices of Marshall Watson, 1800 N.W. 49th Street, Suite 120, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309 on this 2nd day of March, 2010.
/s/ Mark P. Stopa______________ Mark P. Stopa, Esquire FBN: 550507 STOPA LAW FIRM 2202 N. West Shore Blvd. Suite 200 Tampa, FL 33607 Telephone: (813) 639-7634 ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANTS
If the laws of evidence, rules of courts, case law and statutory law were upheld and applied in foreclosure cases--particularly when the loan has been sold and securitized--it would be virtually impossible for lenders to prevail in their mortgage foreclosure actions. One of the fundamental problems is the party that owns or holds the note has no right to collect any payment on that note because he has sold the right to collect the payments on that note to investors. The note holder has no idea whether the investors are receiving their payments because the function of collecting the payments is handled by a third party, the loan servicer. From a purely legal and technical perspective, the servicer probably has no idea who actually owns the note and probably has no admissable knowledge regarding who has a right to collect the payments on the note. Securitized mortgages were bundled into billion dollar piles of obligations. Every month dutiful homeowners make their payments to servicers. The servicers aggregate each months' worth of mortgage payments, then dole the payments from homeowners out to the investment pools that purchased into that pool.
Attached Judge Arthur Schack, Supreme Court, Kings County, New York.

Foreclosure Fraud Fighters Motion to Disqualify Counsel

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