MARTIN v. MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.
RENEÉ L. MARTIN, Plaintiff and Appellant,
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Court of Appeals of California, First District, Division Three.
Filed January 31, 2012.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS
Reneé L. Martin (appellant), in pro per, brought an action against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York, ReconTrust Company, and Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (together, respondents) after she defaulted on a secured real estate loan and foreclosure proceedings were initiated. The trial court sustained respondents' demurrer without leave to amend and granted their motion to strike appellant's "request for attorney's fees, punitive damages and damages for emotional distress." Appellant contends the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend because respondents had no legal authority to initiate foreclosure proceedings. She also contends the trial court erred in granting the motion to strike because her complaint "is proper and does not need to be . . . amended; nothing should be stricken from [appellant's] pleadings." We affirm the judgment.FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The following facts are taken from the complaint and from documents of which the trial court took judicial notice.1 In December 2004, appellant borrowed $290,000 from lender WMC Mortgage Corp. (WMC) to finance the purchase of real estate located in Fairfield, California (the Property). The Deed of Trust identified WMC as the lender and Westwood Associates as the trustee. It identified Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as "acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns," and stated that MERS was "the beneficiary under this Security Instrument." The Deed of Trust further stated that "Borrower [i.e., appellant] understands and agrees that MERS holds only legal title to the interests granted by Borrower in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for Lender and Lender's successors and assigns) has the right: to exercise any or all of those interests, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and to take any action required of Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument."
On August 11, 2008, ReconTrust Company (ReconTrust), acting as an agent for MERS, filed a Notice of Default and Election to Sell Under Deed of Trust (the Notice of Default) in the Solano County Recorder's Office. According to the Notice of Default, appellant owed $10,969.66 as of August 7, 2008. On March 2, 2010, MERS recorded a Substitution of Trustee substituting ReconTrust in place of Westwood Associates as the trustee on the Deed of Trust. That same day, ReconTrust recorded a Notice of Trustee's Sale, notifying appellant that the Property might be sold at a public sale unless he took action to protect the Property. The total unpaid balance with interest and various costs was $321,274.47.
On March 15, 2010, appellant, in pro per, filed a complaint against respondents alleging the following causes of action: (1) fraud and deceit; (2) unclean hands; (3) slander to title; (4) wantonness; and (5) negligence. According to the complaint, MERS, "c/o Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.," and ReconTrust initiated the foreclosure action despite the fact that they "did not then or does not now possess any licenses which would regulate its conduct by the State of California. Therefore, these entities are operating unlawfully by fraudulent practices and techniques in the State of California." Appellant further alleged the Notice of Default was "invalid" because MERS, Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (Countrywide), and ReconTrust were not in the chain of title.