Justia Pennsylvania Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking

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James and Beryl Wicker signed a mortgage agreement for their residence in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in favor of Countrywide Bank, FSB (Countrywide) in February 2008. The mortgage agreement indicated that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) would act as nominee for Countrywide and its successors and assigns and was designated as the mortgagee. In an assignment of mortgage recorded in November 2011, MERS, as nominee for Countrywide, assigned the mortgage to Bank of America. In May 2012, Bank of America filed a mortgage foreclosure action against the Wickers alleging that the Wickers defaulted on their mortgage as of September 1, 2010. It further averred that it had provided the Wickers with the statutorily required foreclosure notice on September 21, 2011. Bank of America then moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted in part and denied in part. In so doing, the trial court narrowed the issues for trial to determining whether Bank of America had provided proof of: (1) the required foreclosure notices; (2) the date of default; and (3) the amount of indebtedness. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted review to consider the application of Pennsylvania’s business records exception to the rule against hearsay, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 803(6) and the Uniform Business Records as Evidence Act, 42 Pa.C.S. 6108. The parties agreed that then-current Pennsylvania precedent allowed a records custodian to authenticate documents even if the witness did not personally record the specific information in the documents. The parties disagreed, however, as to whether a records custodian could lay a foundation for documents incorporated into the files of the custodian’s employer when the information in the documents was recorded by a third party, a process which was allowed under the similar but not identical Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6), pursuant to the so-called adopted business records doctrine. The Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court in concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the testimony of the records custodian and admitting the documents under the facts of this case. View "Bayview Loan v. Wicker" on Justia Law

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Appellant Lebanon Valley Farmers Bank (LVFB) is a Pennsylvania chartered bank, and a subsidiary of Fulton Financial Corporation, which merged with Keystone Heritage Group, Inc. The merger made Fulton the parent company of Lebanon Valley National Bank, which merged with Farmers Bank as part of the transaction, thereby forming LVFB. Prior to the merger, both Farmers Bank and National Bank were "institutions" subject to the Shares Tax. For the 2002 tax year, LVFB filed a Bank Shares Tax return, which included National Bank's pre-merger value in its calculation of its six-year average share value, as required by the combination provision. However, in 2005, LVFB filed a petition with the Board of Appeals, seeking a refund of the portion of its 2002 tax payment attributable to National Bank’s pre-merger share value. It claimed disparate treatment because the combination provision was inapplicable when mergers involved out-of-state banks or banks less than six years old. The Commonwealth Court has held, under the plain language of the statute, the combination provision applied only to combinations of "institutions" (i.e., banks with Pennsylvania locations). The trial court held LVFB, as the survivor of the merger of two Pennsylvania banks, should have reported a taxable share value which averaged the combined share value of each constituent institution over the past six years and was, therefore, not entitled to a refund. However, the court ordered the Commonwealth "to provide meaningful retrospective relief" to cure LVFB’s non-uniform treatment. The Commonwealth Court affirmed the Board of Finance and Revenue's classification of the merged LVFB and the 2002 tax assessment. After careful review, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Commonwealth Court's decision and reversed for further proceedings. View "Lebanon Valley Farmers Bank v. Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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Appellee Pamela Vukman appealed a superior court order that affirmed the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. That order granted appellees motion to set aside judgment and sheriff's sale, and dismissed appellant Beneficial Consumer Discount Company's praecipe without prejudice. Beneficial moved to foreclose appellee for being in default of her mortgage. The parties agreed to a settlement whereby Beneficial received judgment for the accelerated amount due on the mortgage as long as appellee made regular payments. Appellee eventually defaulted according to the terms of the settlement; Beneficial filed for a writ of execution. The property was sold at a sheriff's sale, and Beneficial was the successful bidder. Appellee then moved to set aside the sale, arguing Beneficial failed to comply with the requirements under the Homeowner's Emergency Mortgage Act. The court concluded that Beneficial did not follow the Act's requirements, and as a result, it id not have jurisdiction. Therefore the court set aside the sale and dismissed Beneficial's original complaint. Beneficial appealed; the superior court affirmed. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Act's notice requirement did not implicate subject matter jurisdiction of the trial court, it reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Beneficial Consumer Discount Company v. Vukman" on Justia Law