Tennant v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, [Ms. 2140122, July 24, 2015] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2015). In April 2011, Chase sued to reform a mortgage “to reflect that the mortgage was secured by a residential lot instead of a neighboring vacant lot.” The Tennants counterclaimed based on Chase’s entry in August 2010 into the house on the residential lot and changing a lock on the house. The trial court reformed the mortgage and entered a summary judgment on the counterclaim for Chase, holding that the reformation of the mortgage related back to its execution and that therefore Chase did not trespass when it entered the property. The Court of Civil Appeals affirms the summary judgment on the trespass claims, holding that the default of the Tennants on the mortgage gave Chase the right to enter under the terms of the mortgage. It does not analyze in detail the question whether the reformation of the mortgage retroactively justified entry on to property that was not then covered by the mortgage. Apparently the Tennants argued only that the terms of the mortgage did not authorize the entry. The Court of Civil Appeals does cite a case for the proposition that “except in certain instances not here relevant, ‘reformation, if granted, will be effective as of the date of the instrument to be reformed.’” One favorable aspect of the opinion is that the Court of Civil Appeals construed the counterclaim liberally, citing authorities for liberal construction of pleadings in favor of the pleader, and held that the substance of the counterclaims included a statement of a cause of action for negligence. Because Chase’s motion for summary judgment did not refute the allegations of negligence and because there was substantial evidence that Chase’s agent negligently placed a defective lock that allowed burglars to enter the house, the Court of Civil Appeals reverses the summary judgment as to the negligence claim within the counterclaim.
Related Documents: Tennant v. Chase Home Finance