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Eugenia Calvo v. Hsbc Bank Usa

September 13, 2011

EUGENIA CALVO, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
HSBC BANK USA, N.A., AS TRUSTEE ETC., DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT.



APPEAL from the judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Mark V. Mooney, Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC415545)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Grimes, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Affirmed.

Plaintiff Eugenia Calvo obtained a loan secured by a deed of trust against her residence. The original lender assigned the loan and deed of trust to HSBC Bank USA, N.A. (HSBC Bank). A new trustee was also substituted after the loan was originated. Plaintiff defaulted in payment of the loan. The new trustee initiated foreclosure proceedings and executed a foreclosure sale of plaintiff's residence. Notice of the assignment of the deed of trust appeared only in the substitution of trustee, which was recorded on the same date as the notice of trustee's sale. The second amended complaint seeks to set aside the trustee's sale for an alleged violation of Civil Code section 2932.5,*fn1 which requires the assignee of a mortgagee to record an assignment before exercising a power to sell real property. HSBC Bank and its agent, the nominal beneficiary under the deed of trust, demurred to the second amended complaint, and the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend.

We find defendant HSBC Bank did not violate section 2932.5 because that statute does not apply when the power of sale is conferred in a deed of trust rather than a mortgage. We affirm the judgment dismissing the complaint.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff sued HSBC Bank and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), its agent and nominal beneficiary under the deed of trust recorded against her residence. Plaintiff had borrowed money from CBSK Financial Group, Inc., which is not a defendant in this lawsuit. Her loan was secured by a deed of trust against her residence that was recorded on September 1, 2006. The deed of trust identified plaintiff as the trustor, CBSK Financial Group as the lender, MERS as the nominal beneficiary and lender's agent, and Lawyers Title Company as the trustee. In the deed of trust, plaintiff granted title to her residence to the trustee, in trust, with the power of sale. The deed of trust stated: "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 the Security Instrument."

Aztec Foreclosure Corporation was substituted as trustee under the deed of trust on or about June 2, 2008. The substitution of trustee stated that MERS, as nominee for HSBC Bank, "is the present Beneficiary" under the deed of trust, as MERS had been for the original lender. The substitution of trustee was not recorded until October 14, 2008, the same date on which Aztec Foreclosure Corporation recorded a notice of trustee's sale. More than three months before recordation of the substitution of trustee, Aztec Foreclosure Corporation had recorded a notice that plaintiff was in default in payment of her loan and that the beneficiary had elected to initiate foreclosure proceedings. The notice of default advised plaintiff to contact HSBC Bank to arrange for payment to stop the foreclosure.

HSBC Bank bought plaintiff's residence in the foreclosure sale, and a trustee's deed upon sale was recorded on January 9, 2009. The gist of the complaint is that HSBC Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings under the deed of trust without any recordation of the assignment of the deed of trust to HSBC Bank in violation of section 2932.5.

DISCUSSION

A demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. We review the complaint de novo to determine whether it alleges facts sufficient to state a cause of action. For purposes of review, we accept as true all material facts alleged in the complaint, but not contentions, deductions or conclusions of fact or law. We also consider matters that may be judicially noticed. (Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 318.) When a demurrer is sustained without leave to amend, "we decide whether there is a reasonable possibility that the defect can be cured by amendment: if it can be, the trial court has abused its discretion and we reverse; if not, there has been no abuse of discretion and we affirm." (Ibid.) Plaintiff has the burden to show a reasonable possibility the complaint can be amended to state a cause of action. (Ibid.)

The trial court did not err in sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend. Plaintiff's lawsuit rests on her claim that the foreclosure sale was void and should be set aside because HSBC Bank invoked the power of sale without complying with the requirement of section 2932.5 to record the assignment of the deed of trust from the original lender to HSBC Bank. We find no merit in this contention.

Section 2932.5 provides: "Where a power to sell real property is given to a mortgagee, or other encumbrancer, in an instrument intended to secure the payment of money, the power is part of the security and vests in any person who by assignment becomes entitled to payment of the money secured by the instrument. The power of sale may be exercised by the assignee if the assignment is duly acknowledged and recorded."

It has been established since 1908 that this statutory requirement that an assignment of the beneficial interest in a debt secured by real property must be recorded in order for the assignee to exercise the power of sale applies only to a mortgage and not to a deed of trust. In Stockwell v. Barnum (1908) 7 Cal.App. 413 (Stockwell), the court affirmed the judgment against a plaintiff who sought to set aside and vacate a sale of real property under a deed of trust. In Stockwell, a couple borrowed money from two individuals and gave them a promissory note that provided, in case of default in the payment of interest, the holder of the note had the option to demand payment of all the principal and interest. To secure payment of the note, the borrowers executed and delivered a deed of trust by which they conveyed to the trustee legal title to a parcel of real estate, with the power of sale on demand of the beneficiaries of the promissory note. The borrowers defaulted. The original lenders assigned the note to another individual who elected to declare the whole amount ...


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