Knight v. Brown, 031419 MDSCA, 1916-2017

Docket Nº:1916-2017
Opinion Judge:Meredith, J.
Party Name:ANTOINETTIA KNIGHT v. KRISTINE D. BROWN, ET AL.
Judge Panel:Meredith, Reed, Zarnoch, Robert A. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.
Case Date:March 14, 2019
Court:Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
 
FREE EXCERPT

ANTOINETTIA KNIGHT

v.

KRISTINE D. BROWN, ET AL.

No. 1916-2017

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 14, 2019

Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No. 24-0-17-000519

Meredith, Reed, Zarnoch, Robert A. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

OPINION [*]

Meredith, J.

This case arises out of a foreclosure sale of a home owned by Ms. Antoinettia Knight, appellant, located at 1642 Northwick Rd., Baltimore, MD 21218. On July 25, 2017, Ms. Knight's home was sold via a foreclosure sale by Kristine D. Brown, William M. Savage, Gregory N. Vritto, and R. Kip Stone., appellees ("Substitute Trustees"). After the sale, Ms. Knight filed exceptions alleging that the foreclosing party had misled her regarding her legal rights prior to the sale. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City overruled her exceptions and ratified the foreclosure sale. This appeal followed.

QUESTIONS PRESENTED Ms. Knight presents the following questions for our review, which we have rephrased: 1. Did the circuit court err when it overruled Ms. Knight's exceptions to the foreclosure sale based on allegedly fraudulent statements from the lender?

2. Did the circuit court abuse its discretion when it failed to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Ms. Knight stated a credible allegation of extrinsic fraud in her exceptions pleading?

3. Did the circuit court violate Ms. Knight's rights to procedural due process?1

For the reasons set forth herein, we shall affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 26, 1987, Mr. James Edward Knight, Jr., purchased the home at 1642 Northwick Road, Baltimore, MD 21218. On May 26, 1990, Mr. Knight married Ms. Antoinettia Knight (the appellant in this appeal), and they lived together in the family home from that time forward. On November 12, 2007, Mr. Knight, as the sole owner of record and sole signatory, refinanced the property and executed a promissory note in the amount of $144, 231, secured by a deed of trust lien against the property. (We may refer to that debt and lien instrument herein using the colloquial term "mortgage.") On May 9, 2008, Mr. Knight executed a deed that conveyed the property to himself and his wife as tenants by the entireties. Unfortunately, in February 2014, Mr. Knight passed away.

Ms. Knight alleges that, after Mr. Knight's untimely death, Nationstar, who then held or serviced the mortgage, told her she needed to either assume the mortgage or obtain a new loan to refinance the unpaid balance on the loan her husband had negotiated in 2007. Ms. Knight was upset to be told, after living in the property with her husband for so many years, and knowing that they had made timely payments on the debt for many years, that her ownership of her home was in jeopardy. Concerned that Nationstar would accelerate the loan and foreclose, Ms. Knight reached out to representatives from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and Senator Barbara Mikulski, seeking assistance to protect the home from foreclosure. Senator Mikulski's office forwarded Ms. Knight's concerns to the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB"). The CFPB contacted Nationstar and requested its response to Ms. Knight's concerns.

In a letter dated October 5, 2015, Nationstar advised Ms. Knight that an assumption of the loan her husband negotiated may be possible, but that she would need to apply for and obtain Nationstar's approval. The letter further asserted: Loans are assumable based on loan type and investor guidelines among other criteria. The Assumption Department must review each loan to determine eligibility. An Assumption requires the applicant to qualify financially. They must go through an underwriting process similar to one required for a new loan. Please contact our Assumption Representative, William Brandenburg, at 972.956.6598 for further information regarding this program.

Ms. Knight asserts that she applied to Nationstar to assume the mortgage, but she was denied. She also applied to Sun Trust Bank for a new mortgage loan, but was denied. Despite this series of events, Ms. Knight continued to make the monthly mortgage payments to Nationstar on time through October 3, 2016.

However, in November 2016, Ms. Knight concluded that Nationstar was determined to proceed with foreclosure, and she stopped making mortgage payments, and, at all times thereafter, the loan was in a default status. Although Ms. Knight asserts that she had the ability to continue paying the mortgage, she believed that, if the house was going to be sold at foreclosure, she would need to save money to prepare to move.

On December 14, 2016, after two missed mortgage payments, Nationstar sent a Notice of Intent to Foreclose on the home. The notice stated that the mortgage loan was past due for the November 1, 2016 payment and was "due for all payments from and including that date" which, at that point, amounted to $2, 294.07. On March 21, 2017, the Substitute Trustees filed a foreclosure action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, and the court entered it on the docket three days later (March 24, 2017). Prior to the foreclosure sale, nothing was filed by or on behalf of Ms. Knight in the foreclosure case.

On July 6, 2017, the property was sold at a foreclosure auction, and the report of that event was entered on the docket on July 25, 2017. On August 21, 2017, Ms. Knight filed exceptions to the foreclosure sale. In her exceptions, she alleged the...

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