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Fla. Supreme Court Bars Vexatious Borrower from Future Pro Se Filings

The Supreme Court of Florida recently denied a pro se borrower’s petition to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court, and imposed sanctions against him for filing numerous meritless and inappropriate petitions for relief pertaining to trial court foreclosure proceedings to which he is a defendant.

In so doing, the Supreme Court barred the borrower from filing any future pleadings, motions or requests for relief in the Supreme Court related to his foreclosure proceedings, unless filed in good faith by an attorney in good standing.

A copy of the opinion in Rivas v. Bank of New York Mellon is available at:  Link to Opinion.

A pro se borrower who is the named defendant in foreclosure proceedings before the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Palm Beach County, Florida (the “foreclosure action”), filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Florida seeking to invoke its jurisdiction based upon express and direct conflict.

As you may recall, Article V, Section 3(b)(3) of the Florida Constitution provides that the Florida Supreme Court “[m]ay review any decision of a district court of appeal that expressly declares valid a state statute, or that expressly construes a provision of the state or federal constitution, or that expressly affects a class of constitutional or state officers, or that expressly and directly conflicts with a decision of another district court of appeal or of the supreme court on the same question of law.”

As the Supreme Court’s opinion noted, the borrower had filed five pro se actions in the Florida Supreme Court against the plaintiff lender in the foreclosure action in 2017— four in November 2017 alone — and two additional actions in 2018.  All of the prior actions had been denied review or dismissed, but for one petition that was transferred to the appellate court.

During the pendency of the instant petition, the Florida Supreme Court directed the borrower to show cause as to why he should not be barred from filing any future pro se pleadings, motions, or other requests for relief in the Supreme Court pertaining to the foreclosure action.

After considering the borrower’s response, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that he failed to show cause why he should not be sanctioned as a result of his history of pro se filings before the Supreme Court that were devoid of merit or inappropriate for review.

Accordingly, the Clerk of the Supreme Court was instructed to reject any future pleadings, petitions, motions, documents or other filings submitted by the borrower pertaining to his foreclosure proceedings, unless filed on behalf of a member in good standing of the Florida Bar who determines any such proceeding has merit and can be brought in good faith, and denied the borrower’s petition.

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Christopher P. Hahn practices in Maurice Wutscher’s Commercial Litigation, Consumer Credit Litigation and Insurance Recovery and Advisory groups. Prior to joining Maurice Wutscher LLP, he served under the General Counsel at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. He also obtained extensive experience litigating property insurance claims through all phases of discovery, motion practice and other pre-trial activities. Christopher obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, followed by his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Miami School of Law. He is also a graduate of the University of Miami’s Masters of Business Administration program, completing his degree with an emphasis on finance and mergers and acquisitions.

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