2022 was a banner year for The Ryan Firm’s appellate practice, led by Mr. Mase. The Ryan Firm reversed four judgments after trial and obtained affirmance of an order granting summary judgment among other appellate successes. Andrew Mase led the firm’s appellate practice in drafting and arguing each of the below – significant – appellate victories – including four reversals! Katherine Meleski’s contributions to each of these appellate victories cannot be understated – as she pored over transcripts that occupied every inch of her office, and extended from the floor to above her desk – ensuring that each golden nugget from trial was properly mined. Ms. Meleski was also deeply engaged in early drafts of several of these significant decisions.
At the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two, Mr. Mase was lead appellate counsel reversing over $2,800,000.00 in punitive damages awarded against a national residential loan servicer for an alleged wrongful foreclosure. (Galyardt v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC et. al., E074731.) The opinion resulted in a complete reversal of all punitive damages awarded in the matter – with the matter going straight to judgment with no opportunity for a retrial.
Additionally, The Ryan Firm reversed an interlocutory judgment of partition that effectively stripped The Ryan Firm’s client of any benefits as an equal co-tenant of the real property under the erroneous judgment. As the Fourth District, Division Three stated in reversing the lower court, the judgment represented a “miscarriage of justice” in that it came from the trial court’s impermissible independent research undertaken outside of trial. (Hogan v. Hogan, G059131.)
At the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Seven, The Ryan Firm reversed a judgment after bench trial that significantly compromised the secured lien of a national Government Sponsored Enterprise. In obtaining complete reversal, Mr. Mase successfully argued that the plaintiff lacked standing to assert its claims and that the damages awarded against the GSE must be reversed. Both positions were successful and the judgment was reversed in full. Plaintiff, the property owner who had not assumed the obligations of the secured loan, lacked standing to challenge the amounts claimed as owed by the GSE. Likewise, damages were not permitted to be awarded under Civil Code section 2943, as the statute was preempted by the Federal Home Owner’s Loan Act in this instance. (1197 West 39th Street, LLC v. Seterus, Inc., B299994.)
The Ryan Firm also reversed an interlocutory order approving sale of real property emanating from the Probate Court of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. In particular, the order was reversed in full on the basis that the probate court exceeded its jurisdiction in authorizing the sale of real property that was not, and is not, property of the probate estate. Mr. Mase successfully argued that the property that was the subject of the order was owned by a third-party (client of The Ryan Firm), and that the Probate Court had no jurisdiction to order a sale thereof. The appeal involved the unique intersection of probate, real property financing, and complex civil procedure. (Gaines v. Longwood 18, LLC, B311210.)
The Ryan Firm’s last appellate victory of 2022 came from the Second District, Division Two, whereby the Court of Appeal affirmed an order granting summary judgment in favor of The Ryan Firm’s client. The client was accused of defrauding property investors in a residential real estate transaction concerning a multi-million dollar residential development project. At the trial court, The Ryan Firm obtained an order granting summary judgment in favor of the client on all claims. Mr. Mase successfully defended the judgment at the Court of Appeal and obtained a complete affirmance thereof. (Triwest Homes II, LP v. Ostayan et al, B307708.) The Ryan Firm’s client was further awarded all of its attorney fees incurred in defending the case.
Mike Stoltzman, who has been with The Ryan Firm for over a decade, was also red-hot at the appellate court, once again going undefeated - and notching the below victories:
The Ryan Firm convinced the California Courts of appeal to affirm or dismiss the appeal from numerous orders entered by the Superior Court against a borrower who has been litigating various challenges to the validity of a loan and related foreclosure proceedings since 2009. One of these orders declared the borrower a vexatious litigant, prohibited future filings unless the borrower obtained court approval of the filing, and required the borrower to post a $250,000.00 bond as a prerequisite to continued prosecution of the case—which ultimately led to a dismissal of the case after the bond was not posted. (Merritt v. US Bank, et al.; Case No. H048463.)
The Ryan Firm was retained to defend a lawsuit by defaulted borrowers who had engaged in repeated litigation related to their defaulted loan. The Ryan Firm successfully moved to dismiss the complaint, which led to an order of dismissal that was appealed by the borrowers. However, the order of dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (Deville v. Specialized Loan Servicing LLC, et al.; Case No. 20-56328.)
The Ryan Firm was retained by a loan servicer to defense allegations related to its servicing of the loan and related foreclosure proceedings. The Ryan Firm successfully demurred to the complaint and obtained a judgment of dismissal that was appealed by the borrowers. However, the California Courts of Appeal affirmed the judgment of dismissal in full, which led to the completion of foreclosure proceedings and eviction of the borrowers from the property. (Rezapour v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, et al.; Case No. A155505.)