Banking Law

Compassion Is No Reason to Delay Foreclosure, Appeals Court Tells Judge

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A Florida appeals court has told a judge that “benevolence and compassion” are not grounds for delaying a foreclosure sale.

“Although granting continuances and postponements are, generally speaking, within the discretion of the trial court, the ‘ground’ of benevolence and compassion … does not constitute a lawful, cognizable basis for granting relief to one side to the detriment of the other,” the court said in its opinion (PDF posted by the Daily Business Review).

The appeals court ruled in the case of a Florida couple, Joseph and Blanca Doyle, who owned an 8,300-square-foot home, the Daily Business Review (sub. req.) reports. The Republic Federal Bank obtained a $2.5 million foreclosure judgment against the Doyles in November 2008, nine months after initially filing suit.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Valerie Manno Schurr delayed the foreclosure sale by a month to allow the couple time to sell the home. “Everybody knows that we are in a bad time right now, and I hate to see anybody lose their home,” Schurr explained.

The extension would have given the couple enough time to file for bankruptcy outside a six-month moratorium on a new filing issued by a federal judge who tossed their initial bankruptcy petition as frivolous, the story says. The bank’s lawyer, Charles Rosenberg of Carlton Fields, told the Daily Business Review that “the immediate reason we filed was because of their abuse of the bankruptcy system.”

The appeals court noted the Florida statute governing foreclosure sales imposes a deadline that was contravened by Schurr’s ruling. “The continuance thus constitutes an abuse of discretion in the most basic sense of that term,” the court said.

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