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Biles v. Roby

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

August 11, 2017

ALFONZIA BILES, ET AL.
v.
TIFFANY ROBY

          Session June 28, 2017

         Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-001050-15 Gina C. Higgins, Judge

         This case involves residential property that was purchased after a foreclosure. The purchaser filed this detainer action against the original homeowners, who refused to vacate the property. The general sessions court ruled in favor of the purchaser, and after a de novo trial in circuit court, the circuit court ruled in favor of the purchaser as well. We do the same. The decision of the circuit court is hereby affirmed and remanded for further proceedings.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed and Remanded

          Drayton Durell Berkley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Alfonzia Biles, and Tonya Biles.

          Brandon Franklin McNary, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tiffany Roby.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Kenny Armstrong, J., joined.

          OPINION

          BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE

         I. Facts & Procedural History

         Alfonzia and Tonya Biles constructed a home in 2005. They executed a deed of trust and promissory note for $223, 840. The original lender was MILA, Inc., a Washington corporation, but the deed of trust was subsequently assigned to U.S. Bank, N.A. Mr. and Mrs. Biles admittedly fell behind on their mortgage payments, and U.S. Bank foreclosed on the property. The foreclosure sale occurred in October 2014, and U.S. Bank purchased the property. U.S. Bank recorded its substitute trustee's deed in November 2014. In December 2014, U.S. Bank filed a detainer action against Mr. and Mrs. Biles in Shelby County Circuit Court, as they refused to vacate the property.

         In February 2015, Tiffany Roby purchased the property from U.S. Bank for $189, 000. U.S. Bank conveyed the property to Ms. Roby by special warranty deed, which was promptly recorded. As Mr. and Mrs. Biles remained in possession of the property, Ms. Roby filed a detainer action against them in Shelby County General Sessions Court. Ms. Roby's detainer action was heard on March 11, 2015, and the general sessions court found that she was entitled to possession of the property.

         The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Biles filed a petition for writs of certiorari and supersedeas seeking de novo review in Shelby County Circuit Court. They asserted that Ms. Roby's detainer action should be dismissed on the basis of prior suit pending due to the detainer action previously filed by U.S. Bank, which still remained pending at that time. Mr. and Mrs. Biles also asserted the defense of wrongful foreclosure and alleged numerous violations of provisions of the deed of trust and federal regulations. For these various reasons, Mr. and Mrs. Biles argued that "all of these transfers, assignments, or endorsements are void and of no effect, " and therefore, Ms. Roby never acquired valid title. U.S. Bank subsequently nonsuited its detainer action against Mr. and Mrs. Biles.

         The circuit court ordered the clerk to issue both writs, staying execution of the general sessions court's judgment in favor of Ms. Roby pending further orders of the circuit court. The case was tried in circuit court on September 2, 2015. Three witnesses testified: Mrs. Biles, Ms. Roby, and the vice president of a bank, who was tendered by Ms. Roby as an expert witness in the area of mortgage banking. At the conclusion of the testimony, the trial court took the matter under advisement. The trial judge announced her ruling in favor of Ms. Roby on February 15, 2016, and entered a written order on March 31, 2016.[1] For reasons that will be discussed in detail below, the trial court rejected each of the arguments set forth by Mr. and Mrs. Biles to challenge the validity of the foreclosure, assignments, and instruments. The trial court concluded that U.S. Bank validly acquired title to the property and that title to the property ultimately vested in the subsequent purchaser, Ms. Roby. The court ruled that Ms. Roby was entitled to possession of the property as the valid owner of the fee simple interest in the property.

         Mr. and Mrs. Biles timely filed a motion to alter or amend, which was denied. They subsequently filed a notice of appeal to this Court.

         II. Issues Presented

         Mr. and Mrs. Biles present the following issues, as we perceive them, for review on appeal:

1. Was the foreclosure sale void due to the lack of evidence that U.S. Bank transmitted a valid acceleration letter to Mr. and Mrs. Biles;
2. Was the foreclosure sale void due to the loan modification package submitted by Mr. and Mrs. Biles;
3. Did Ms. Roby fail to establish her chain of title;
4. Did U.S. Bank have the right to enforce the promissory note;
5. Is the note a negotiable instrument;
6. Did Ms. Roby fail to establish that she was a bona fide ...

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