Real Estate & Property Law

Set to Move Ahead on Possible MERS Suit, Texas County Instead Looks to State AG to Take Lead Role

Seemingly on the verge of retaining counsel to follow the lead of another Texas county and file suit against a national electronic mortgage recording entity, officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, instead decided to look to the state attorney general to take a potential leading role.

“If this is something that affects county government all over the state, why isn’t the state attorney general pursuing it?” Judge Ed Emmett told Bloomberg. He is the highest elected official in Harris County.

As detailed in earlier posts, the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems has largely substituted, in recent years, for the traditional method of recording mortgage assignments between lenders in bricks-and-mortar county courthouses. Tens of millions of dollars in county recording fees have reportedly been lost as a result, and this is giving impetus to government officials’ concern about the situation.

MERS should not be sued by the Texas AG because it has done nothing wrong, says spokeswoman Janis Smith of its Virginia-based parent company, Merscorp Inc., in an e-mail to the news agency.

“MERS complies with the recording statutes and mortgage regulations in Texas, as well as in all the other states,” she statedl. “The legality of MERS’ business model has already been affirmed in numerous cases decided by Texas courts and by other state and federal courts.”

Earlier Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) articles discuss litigation in other jurisdictions in which challenges to MERS were not upheld.

Additional and related coverage: “Dallas County DA Sues MERS, Says Shadow Recording System Confused Title and Cost Money” “Another Texas County Mulls Possible MERS Suit; Up to $100M Could Be In Issue in Harris County”

Crain’s Cleveland Business (reg. req.): “Geauga prosecutor sues electronic mortgage registry”

The Intelligencer: “Montco [Pa.] to file lawsuit to recover fees”

Lansing State Journal: “Ingham Co. [Mich.] aiding homeowners in legal battles over foreclosures”

San Antonio Express-News: “Bexar to sue over lost fees”

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