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Iowa Counties Lose Appeal in Recording Fee Case

Upholds District Court’s Decision that Counties’ “Unjust Enrichment” Claim Lacks Merit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Janis Smith
Phone: 703-738-0230
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Reston, Virginia, December 23, 2014—MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. today announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued a favorable ruling in an Iowa recording fee case.

In pdf Plymouth County, Iowa by and through Darin J. Raymond, Plymouth County Attorney v. MERSCORP, Inc, MERS, et al. (194 KB) , the County, on behalf of other Iowa Counties, allege that Lenders failed to record mortgage assignments resulting in MERS being unjustly enriched by not paying recording fees for mortgage assignments not recorded. The U.S. District Court had granted a motion to dismiss with prejudice holding that there can be no unjust enrichment if there is no obligation to record the mortgage or mortgage assignment.

The County had argued that while Iowa law imposes no duty to record, MERS was nonetheless unjustly enriched because it enjoys the protection afforded by recording mortgage assignments at the expense of the County. The Eighth Circuit, citing to its recent decision in Brown, iterated that, “when state law imposes no duty to record a mortgage or subsequent assignment, a county cannot successfully state a claim for unjust enrichment.” See  pdf Brown v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. (132 KB) , 738 F.3d 926, 934-35 (8th Cir. 2013). The 8th Circuit concluded that with no legal obligation to record, lenders could not possibly have withheld recording fees that should have been paid to the County.

“We believed that there was no merit to the claims made in the complaint,” said MERSCORP Holdings Vice President for Corporate Communications, Janis Smith. “We are pleased with the Court’s decision.”

For descriptions of cases and other materials pertaining to MERS’ business model and role in U.S. housing, please visit www.mersinc.org.

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MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. is a privately held corporation that owns and manages the MERS® System and all other MERS® products. It is a member-based organization made up of thousands of lenders, servicers, sub-servicers, investors and government institutions. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) serves as the mortgagee in the land records for loans registered on the MERS® System, and is a nominee (or agent) for the owner of the promissory note. The MERS® System is a national electronic database that tracks changes in mortgage servicing and beneficial ownership interests in residential mortgage loans on behalf of its members.

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