Florida Supreme Court Takes Over Significant Foreclosure Case

The Florida Supreme Court has opted to retain jurisdiction on an already settled foreclosure case because the high court's ruling could dramatically impact the state's foreclosure crisis.

The court will decide whether a plaintiff in a foreclosure action may be subject to sanctions for filing what is alleged to be a fraudulent mortgage assignment if the plaintiff voluntarily dismisses its filing before a trial court had the chance to rule on the motion for sanctions.

The decision relates to the case of BNY Mellon v. Roman Pino. After Pino claimed that BNY Mellon's paperwork contained a fraudulent assignment, BNY Mellon voluntarily dismissed its foreclosure action. Five months later, the bank refiled an identical action.

In regard to the first, voluntarily dismissed action, Pino sought to vacate the dismissal on the grounds that BNY Mellon defrauded on court. Pino also asked for a dismissal of the new foreclosure action, but a trial court denied the request, citing a lack of jurisdiction (because the original foreclosure action had been voluntarily pulled).

The case moved to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the trial court's denial but, in doing so, noted that the case represents "a question of great public importance," as "many, many foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents.’ The District Court then posed to the Supreme Court the question of whether a trial court has the authority to grant relief from a voluntary dismissal in a case where the motion alleges fraud but no affirmative relief has been obtained for the plaintiff.

Four Supreme Court justices concurred with the opinion, while three justices dissented.

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