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HSBC Bank USA v. Whitter

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

March 28, 2018

HSBC Bank USA, etc., respondent,
v.
Leeroy Whitter, appellant, et al., defendants. Index No. 27963/08

          Submitted - August 23, 2017

         D54273 C/hu

          Solomon Rosengarten, Brooklyn, NY, for appellant.

          Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, New York, NY (David Dunn, Chava Brandriss, and Ryan Sirianni of counsel), for respondent.

          REINALDO E. RIVERA, J.P. ROBERT J. MILLER JOSEPH J. MALTESE FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Kathy J. King, J.), dated July 31, 2015. The order denied, without a hearing, the motion of the defendant Leeroy Whitter to vacate a judgment of foreclosure and sale of the same court dated February 5, 2015, and to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against him.

         ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with costs.

         On November 7, 2005, the defendant Leeroy Whitter (hereinafter the defendant) executed a note promising to repay the principal sum of $484, 000. As security for the loan, the defendant executed and delivered a mortgage encumbering residential property in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The mortgage was subsequently assigned to the plaintiff.

         The defendant defaulted on the loan by failing to make the payment due on July 1, 2008. In October 2008, the plaintiff commenced this mortgage foreclosure action against the defendant and others.

         Service upon the defendant was accomplished pursuant to CPLR 308(2). The plaintiffs process server averred that, on October 15, 2008, he delivered the summons, complaint, and notice required by RPAPL 1303 to ''Veronica Cobourn (Family Member), '' a person of suitable age and discretion at the subject property, "[s]aid premises being the defendant's dwelling place within the State of New York." The process server further averred that, on October 20, 2008, he mailed those documents to the defendant at the address of the subject property "by depositing a true copy of the same in a postpaid, properly addressed envelope in an official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States post office."

         The defendant did not answer the complaint or timely appear in the action.

         On or about February 18, 2009, the plaintiffs prior counsel, Steven J. Baum, P.C., moved for leave to enter a default judgment and for an order of reference. However, Administrative Order 548/10 of the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts went into effect on October 20, 2010, imposing a requirement that a plaintiffs attorney in certain mortgage foreclosure actions submit an affirmation confirming the factual accuracy and the accuracy of notarizations of all filings in support of foreclosure (see Bank of N.Y. Mellon v Izmirligil, 144 A.D.3d 1063, 1065). Consequently, the 2009 motion for a default judgment and an order of reference was withdrawn on December 2, 2010, in order to comply with the requirements of Administrative Order 548/10. During that time period, the defendant did not appear for settlement conferences held on April 8, 2010, and May 6, 2010.

         On or about December 27, 2011, the law firm of Frenkel, Lambert, Weiss, Weisman & Gordon LLP was substituted as counsel for the plaintiff, and the plaintiff filed a second motion for leave to enter a default judgment and for an order of reference. On April 29, 2013, the Supreme Court granted the motion and appointed a referee to compute the amount due and owing. In that order, the court stated, among other things, that the defendant "defaulted in pleading and no answer to the motion directed to the sufficiency of the complaint has been interposed by the [defendant] though the time to do so has expired."

         On November 3, 2014, approximately 18 months after the Supreme Court directed the matter to a referee, the defendant's counsel filed a notice of appearance. On November 18, 2014, upon the return of the referee's oath and report, the plaintiff moved for a judgment of foreclosure and sale. This motion was made on notice to the defendant's counsel, but he did not submit ...


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