PLS Services v. Clear Creek Retirement Plan, et al.Annotate this Case
PLS Services appealed a district court’s amended summary judgment dismissing its complaint against Valueplus Consulting, LLC, relating to a mortgage priority dispute. In February 2014, PLS was assigned two mortgages executed June 29, 2012, and recorded on July 10, 2012, against certain Williams County real property owned by Clear Creek Retirement Plan LLC. The mortgages and assignments to PLS contained incorrect legal descriptions and were therefore recorded in an errant tract index. Clear Creek and Valueplus executed a June 2012 purchase agreement whereby Valueplus agreed to purchase the subject property from Clear Creek. In January 2014, Fidelity Capital Services LLC assigned to Valueplus a mortgage against the subject property. The mortgage contained the correct legal description and was recorded in August 2013. In 2017, Valueplus sued Clear Creek to foreclose the mortgage. PLS moved to intervene, asserting its mortgages had priority. The district court denied PLS’s motion, and Valueplus subsequently purchased the subject property in June 2019. PLS sued Clear Creek, Valueplus, and others, alleging it had a superior interest in the subject property. PLS sought reformation and foreclosure of its mortgages. Valueplus denied the allegation and moved for summary judgment, arguing it purchased the property in good faith because it was unaware of PLS’s mortgages containing an incorrect legal description. PLS opposed Valueplus’ motion, asserting Valueplus was not a good faith purchaser. The district court granted Valueplus’ motion, concluding Valueplus was a good faith purchaser of the property and did not have actual knowledge or constructive notice of PLS’s mortgages. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the summary judgment against PLS as final under N.D.R.Civ.P. 54(b), but that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. Instead of addressing PLS’s request for additional discovery in its order granting summary judgment, the district court concluded an affidavit was “uncontradicted” and Valueplus had no actual knowledge of PLS’s mortgages. However, PLS did not have the opportunity to cross-examine the statements made in the affidavit or depose the affiant.