Well, after many years of complex litigation, the fighting is seemingly over. The attorneys at Gordon Etzler & Associates, LLP prevailed as a team to finally achieve the relief that our clients truly deserved.
Vanderwoude and Koster v. First Midwest Bank, Cause No. 64DO1-0605-PL-3878, was brought about as a result of the Bank’s zealous efforts to foreclose on a property it did not hold a mortgage to. More specifically, the Bank made an error back in 2004 recording its mortgage in the wrong county. Unfortunately for the Bank, First Midwest did not discover its error until after a sheriff sale had taken place, and the plaintiffs in the above action–without actual or constructive notice of the Bank’s interest–took title to the property free and clear of the Bank’s interest. Under Indiana law (and in most states) when a bona fide purchaser takes title to a property without knowledge of a prior existing claim or interest against the property, the purchaser takes title to the property free and clear of liens and encumbrances the purchaser should not reasonably be on notice of. In this case, because the mortgage was recorded in the wrong county, it was “imperfect”. In other words, Mr. Vanderwoude and Mr. Koster could not have reasonably known that the Bank had an interest in the property by performing the usual title search. Because they were not on notice of the interest, and because they took title to the property in the sheriff’s sale, Mr. Vanderwoude and Mr. Koster took title free and clear of First Midwest’s interest in the property.
Despite this defect, however, the Bank continued efforts to foreclose on its mortgage. In fact, even after realizing its mistake and realizing that Vanderwoude and Koster were now the fee simple owners of the property, the Bank continued to interfere in the quiet enjoyment of the property by Mr. Koster and Mr. Vanderwoude. The Bank’s interference was so egregious in fact, that Mr. Vanderwoude and Mr. Koster, engaged in the business of “flipping” houses, lost substantial profits as well as missed out on many attractive business opportunities as a result of the Bank’s actions.
The case was heard before a jury in the Porter Superior Court on February 14-16 2011. Leading up to the February trial, Attorney Jonathan Pratt put in countless hours of pleadings and exhibits, and conducted the detailed research and analysis necessary to prepare for the trial. The evidence was presented by Gordon Etzler and Christopher Buckley over three (3) days of opening arguments, witness examination, jury instructions, and closing arguments. Evidence closed on Wednesday afternoon, and closing arguments were heard. The jury deliberated for approximately forty-five minutes, and closed on verdict for the Plaintiffs in the amount of $99,900 for damages resulting from the Bank’s erroneous foreclosure.
At the end of the day, the experienced lawyers of Gordon Etzler & Associates prevailed and achieved justice for their clients, Mr. Vanderwoude and Mr. Koster. First Midwest has until March 18 to file a Notice of Appeal, and Gordon Etzler & Associates is anxiously waiting… Check back to see the details if and when an appeal is filed!
Do you have a real estate dispute? Put Gordon Etzler & Associates to work for you! Contact our office if you would like to be represented in a similar real estate matter. (219) 531-7787.