On March 24, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases involving whether a chapter 7 debtor may strip off a second (or any junior) mortgage that is not secured by the home’s actual market value.
In Bank of America, N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona
, No. 14-163, the market value of the chapter 7 debtor’s home was $77,689.00. The first mortgage owed to Quicken Loans had a balance of $135,703.00, and the second mortgage owed to Countrywide Bank had a balance of $32,000.00.
In Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett
, 13-1421, the market value of the chapter 7 debtor’s home was $98,000.00, the Countrywide Financial first mortgage balance was $183,264.00, and the Countrywide Financial second mortgage balance was $47,855.00.
Thus, in each of the two cases, the homes were worth less than the balances owed on the homes’ first mortgages. This meant that the second mortgages were completely unsecured by any value. The chapter 7 debtors argued that under bankruptcy code section 506(a), the second mortgages should be declared avoided and stripped from the homes.
In each case, the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals approved the strip-off of the second mortgages, and the banks have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.