Provident Funding Associates, L.P. v. CampneyAnnotate this Case
Senior mortgagee Provident Funding Associates, L.P. appealed the trial court’s order dismissing junior mortgagee E-Loans, Inc. as a defendant from the senior's fourth foreclosure action against mortgagors Arnold and Peggy Campney. The trial court determined that E-Loans was entitled to dismissal as an equitable remedy because Provident had imposed unnecessary costs on E-Loans by repeatedly filing foreclosure actions against defendants and failing to prosecute them to completion. The court’s order had the effect of reordering the priority of mortgages, making Provident's interest second in priority to that of E-Loans. The issue raised to the Vermont Supreme Court in this matter was whether the trial court appropriately invoked equitable authority to dismiss E-Loans as a defendant as a penalty for Provident's conduct in the prior foreclosure actions. The Supreme Court found the trial court was "justifiably frustrated" with Provident's litigation behavior: this was the fourth foreclosure action Provident had filed against defendants in less than four years. The second and third actions were dismissed due to Provident's documented failure to follow procedural rules and court orders. E-Loans suffered the inconvenience and expense of having to hire an attorney to respond to each new action. The Court concluded, however, the record here did not show that E-Loans would be prejudiced by sanctions short of dismissal. "[Provident's] litigation behavior could have been sanctioned, and the harm to junior mortgagee redressed, with a less extreme sanction such as attorney’s fees." The Court therefore reversed and remanded for the trial court to consider monetary sanctions (such as attorney's fees) as an alternative sanction.