Monday, March 6, 2017
The conference is over but the scholarship lives on. This is one of a series of posts highlighting several KCON XII presenters who graciously provided me with abstracts or summaries of their presentations.
The Statute of Limitations, Res Judicata, and Acceleration Clauses in Mortgage Foreclosures
Eric A. Zacks (Wayne State University Law School)
The high volume of foreclosures during and following the Great Recession in the United States has led to the revelation of many troubling lending practices. It also has led to problematic judicial decisions that erode borrower protection by curtailing or eliminating procedural requirements and substantive defenses with respect to foreclosure. My article examines the treatment of statute of limitation and related defenses after a loan has been accelerated following a default. In particular, one would expect the formalism that is used to justify strict enforcement of the loan instruments for foreclosure purposes would also be employed when mortgagors fail to comply with statutory, common law, or contractual requirements regarding mortgage assignment, enforcement, acceleration, or foreclosure. In each instance, however, mortgagors are often instead protected by a contextual or equitable approach that seeks to preserve their right to foreclose. Some courts have ignored the traditional rule that acceleration under a contract starts the clock for statute of limitation purposes or that acceleration consolidates the loan instrument into a single obligation as opposed to an installment obligation. Instead, these courts have permitted lenders to accelerate loans repeatedly without triggering the statute of limitations or res judicata defenses. Consequently, lenders are permitted to assert foreclosure claims with respect to the same underlying debt amount over and over again. Instead of being used as a last-resort, acceleration and the subsequent foreclosure process can now be wielded as a significant threat to borrowers throughout the life of their home loan. My article explores the tendency of, and justification for, adjudicators to liberalize the foreclosure process and provides a critique of this approach.