Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. BehrendtAnnotate this Case
A purchaser of property that is subject to a mortgage to which the purchaser is not a party may challenge a foreclosing plaintiff’s entitlement to enforce the note.
Karen Zakarian executed a promissory note secured by a mortgage executed on certain property. The mortgage was ultimately assigned to Wells Fargo. As a result of a separate foreclosure action, a court-appointed commissioner conveyed the property to Jonathan Behrendt. Wells Fargo filed a complaint seeking foreclosure of the mortgage and sale of the property. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Wells Fargo, concluding that Wells Fargo was entitled to have the property sold free and clear of Behrendt’s claim. On appeal, Behrendt argued that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding Wells Fargo’s standing to sue and whether Wells Fargo was the holder of the note. In response, Wells Fargo argued that because Behrendt was not a party to the mortgage and the mortgage conferred no contractual rights or standing on Behrendt, Behrendt could not attack the foreclosure. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Behrendt may challenge the foreclosure; and (2) the evidence Wells Fargo presented regarding its entitlement to foreclose at the time the complaint was filed was not admissible on the grounds asserted.