Delaware struggles to sustain its MERS lawsuit

(Reuters) – Attorneys for the state of Delaware struggled at a court hearing on Wednesday to keep alive a closely watched lawsuit against MERS, the electronic mortgage registry accused of abuses in housing foreclosures.

The state’s lawsuit, announced at press conference in October, is seen as a test case for addressing concerns that homes were being seized from defaulted borrowers without following proper procedures.

The Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc, known as MERS, is an electronic-lien registry created by the mortgage banking industry as a way to streamline and speed up the mortgage recording and transfer process.

Delaware attorneys are seeking an injunction to force MERS to correct problems with its database. MERS, meanwhile, asked the chief judge of the state’s Court of Chancery to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the allegations did not violate Delaware’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

And while Judge Leo Strine was clearly sympathetic to the problems faced by delinquent borrowers who had no idea with whom to negotiate when trying to save their homes, he repeatedly questioned a state lawyer about why they had decided to sue MERS and under the deceptive trade practices law.

“The system has errors. How do I get to deceptive?” Strine asked Deputy Attorney General Jeremy Eicher.

Strine also told Eicher twice not to “make stuff up” as Eicher seemed to veer from the original arguments made in the state’s briefs.

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