Bank of America, N.A. v. O'KellyAnnotate this Case
Bank of America appealed a trial court order confirming the sale of a foreclosed property in favor of Sandra Lockerby. The property at issue was foreclosed by judicial order in December 2015. The foreclosure order included a six-month redemption period, permitting Seamus and Jennifer O’Kelly and the Vermont Department of Taxes to redeem the property before or during June 2016. If the property was not redeemed, it would be sold to the highest bidder at a public sale. A year later, six months after the redemption period expired, Bank of America held a foreclosure sale of the property. The Bank’s representative had difficulty locating the property on the day of the foreclosure sale and did not arrive at the sale in time to enter the Bank’s bid. The auctioneer entered the Bank’s bid on behalf of the Bank. Sandra Lockerby, the only bidder who appeared in person at the foreclosure sale, entered a bid approximately one-third the amount of the Bank’s bid. The Bank subsequently filed a motion to void the foreclosure sale, noting that the Bank’s representative was not able to find the property in time for the sale and therefore could not enter the Bank’s bid. The Bank requested that the trial court grant it sixty days in which to hold a new foreclosure sale. The court issued an order after the hearing stating that the auctioneer’s bid on behalf of the Bank would not be confirmed because it was “improper.” The court further stated that it had learned during the hearing that a bidder was present at the foreclosure sale and “may be entitled to have his or her bid declared as the successful bid.” The court ordered that a second hearing be held on the Bank’s motion to void the foreclosure sale; the bidder hired by the Bank to make its bid did not appear at the hearing. The Bank focused on asking the trial court to exercise its discretion to decline confirmation of the foreclosure sale where, the Bank argued, excusable neglect in the failure to appear and the commercial reasonableness of bids received supported voiding the foreclosure sale. The court resolved the matter by confirming the sale in Lockerby's favor. The Vermont Supreme Court determined the record was not clear whether the trial court believed it had discretion with respect to the confirmation of the sale. Accordingly, the Supreme Court remanded for the trial court to exercise its discretion in confirming, or not confirming, the sale, including consideration of whether the foreclosure sale satisfied statutory requirements and other factors relevant to the integrity and fairness of the sale.