Greenberg Traurig Appellate Team Wins 2 Landmark Real Property Cases Before New York’s Highest Court

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Greenberg Traurig (GT) Appellate team led by Shareholder Patrick Broderick and Of Counsel Brian Pantaleo won in two landmark real property cases before the New York Court of Appeals involving the statute of limitations in mortgage foreclosure cases.

A Greenberg Traurig (GT) Appellate team led by Shareholder Patrick Broderick and Of Counsel Brian Pantaleo won in two landmark real property cases before the New York Court of Appeals involving the statute of limitations in mortgage foreclosure cases. The two cases are ground-shifting in New York real property law. Their state-wide application will likely protect billions in assets for mortgage holders throughout New York State.

In Vargas v. Deutsche Bank National Trust [APL-2020-00026], GT attorneys convinced New York’s highest court – for the first time in 89 years – to grant leave to address a mortgage-acceleration issue. GT defended a mortgage lender in a quiet title action where the borrower sought to void the mortgage, arguing that the statute of limitations had expired. The plaintiff property owner prevailed before the lower courts, claiming that a notice letter stating the lender will accelerate the mortgage loan in 32 days automatically invoked the mortgage’s acceleration clause when the cure period ended. The letter triggered New York’s six-year statute of limitations for mortgage foreclosures. Prevailing in this appeal, GT’s team argued that a foreclosure notice letter alluding to a future event is not a clear and unequivocal act sufficient to accelerate a mortgage loan. As a result, the intermediate appellate court was reversed, and the quiet title action was dismissed.

The second case, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Donna Ferrato [APL-2020-00138], involved similar issues relating to a mortgage acceleration clause. To preserve the client’s right to foreclose upon a multi-million-dollar Manhattan condominium, GT attorneys persuaded the Court of Appeals to adopt a clear rule for how a mortgagee can revoke a loan’s acceleration to avoid forfeiting the asset under the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the Court held “the noteholder’s voluntary withdrawal of [a foreclosure] action revokes the election to accelerate, absent the noteholder’s contemporaneous statement to the contrary.” GT also successfully argued that acceleration cannot occur from a dismissed foreclosure complaint that was substantively deficient.

Broderick focuses his practice on litigation related to claims arising out of federal consumer protection statutes, including the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Telephone Consumer Protection Act as well as various state consumer protection statutes.

Pantaleo has a wide-range of experience in commercial litigation. Currently, his practice focuses upon defending businesses against various statutory claims, including the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as well as other state consumer protection statutes.

About Greenberg Traurig’s Appellate Practice: Greenberg Traurig’s Appellate Group has been involved in some of the most important and consequential cases of our time. In recent years, GT’s Appellate lawyers have played key roles in cases addressing voting rights and election law, federal constitutional law, environmental law, labor law, white collar criminal law, First Amendment law, real estate law, civil rights law, intellectual property and patent law, and administrative and regulatory law. The GT appellate philosophy is to combine forum-knowledgeable lawyers who have a comprehensive understanding of their jurisdictions with colleagues who have a proven record of substantive excellence in the legal issues involved in our clients’ appellate cases.

About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has approximately 2200 attorneys in 40 locations in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the U.S. on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100. The firm is net carbon neutral with respect to its office energy usage and Mansfield Rule 3.0 Certified. Web: http://www.gtlaw.com

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Lourdes Brezo Martinez
@GT_Law
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