HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Lassman, No. 16-1150 (1st Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The underlying dispute in this case concerned a mortgage purported granted by Andrew and Maureen DeMore to the predecessor in interest to HSBC Bank, USA, N.A. on a parcel of property owned by the DeMores. This appeal came by way of bankruptcy court after each of the DeMores filed separate voluntary petitions for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. Donald Lassman, as trustee for the DeMores’ bankruptcy cases, filed adversary actions against HSBC to avoid the mortgage, arguing that the mortgage on the DeMores’ property was voidable under Massachusetts state law because the certificate of acknowledgment was “materially defective.” Specifically, Lassman asserted that the certificate failed to make clear that the DeMores executed the mortgage as their free act and deed. The Bankruptcy Court granted summary judgment to Lassman. The district court reversed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the certificate of acknowledgment was not materially defective because it made clear that the DeMores had executed the mortgage as their free act and deed.